Senior Vice President of Total Rewards, Scotiabank
Executive Director, Pride At Work Canada
Director of Sales Effectiveness, Scotiabank
Leaders in the Pride community discuss how Scotiabank supports LGBT+ individuals worldwide.
Sometimes, the conversations around our community can centre on cisgender, lesbian, and gay folks,” says Colin Druhan, Executive Director of the not-for-profit member services agency Pride at Work Canada, which helps companies develop their diversity and inclusion strategies. “There’s definitely discrimination around sexual orientation in Canada, but it’s also important to remember that many folks are marginalized based on their gender identity and expression. I think Scotiabank, as one of our founding members, is really leading the charge in that regard when it comes to inclusivity in its workplace culture.”
Scotiabank’s inclusive culture is driven by concrete initiatives
Pride at Work Canada emphasizes tangible, results-driven diversity and inclusivity strategies — an approach that Druhan says is exemplified by Scotiabank. The company addresses diversity at multiple levels, from expansive global commitments — like being the first Canadian bank to sign the UN Global LGBTI Standards of Conduct for Business in 2019 — to day-to-day practices among its employees.
Scotiabank’s leadership plays an active role, setting the strategic direction and prioritization of diversity and inclusion initiatives through an Inclusion Council championed by Scotiabank’s President and CEO, Brian Porter. Initiatives like its global LGBT+ ally learning program, strong partnerships within the LGBT+ community, and sponsoring and hosting Pride at Work Canada’s summit, among other efforts, are a few ways the bank practises its stated principles and upholds its company values. “We believe that diverse opinions, backgrounds, and perspectives make us stronger and more adaptable for the long term,” says Dominic Cole-Morgan, Senior Vice President of Total Rewards and a leader for diversity and inclusion at Scotiabank.
Beyond its inclusion initiatives, Scotiabank has also taken measures to support employees in Canada who are transitioning their gender, having put in place Gender Transition in the Workplace Guidelines, training for managers to support employees, and enhanced care benefits.
Scotiabank celebrates LGBT+ leaders
“I thrive here because I know I’m a part of an organization where my voice is valued,” says Val Walls, Director of Sales Effectiveness at Scotiabank. Walls is openly gay and identifies as non-binary, using they/them pronouns. “This is the first organization I’ve worked for where I can confidently say my pronouns are always respected,” they say. “But beyond that, I’m able to do so much more than the role I was hired to do by engaging directly with LGBT+ communities. I feel like I’m really making a difference through my work here. Scotiabank walks the walk when it comes to its values.”
Walls is co-chair of the Toronto chapter of Scotiabank’s Pride Employee Resource Group, which engages employees by running educational programs and events that foster diversity and inclusion. Its activities include an active LGBT+ allies’ program, educational resources for employees, and inspiring events across many regions — including rural parts of Canada and outside Canada’s borders. “Scotiabank has a huge footprint in Latin America and they do such great work engaging with employee resource groups in that region,” says Druhan.
As a result of COVID-19, Scotiabank had to reimagine Pride Month celebrations. Pride at Work Canada is currently working in tandem with the bank to develop an online Pride event that will be extended to employees around the world featuring numerous speakers from the LGBT+ community and allies. As a leading bank in the Americas, Scotiabank will also simultaneously translate the virtual event to Spanish to support employees across its global markets.
“I’ve worked at organizations where diversity and inclusion are highly siloed, but here, I feel very much a part of our human resources department and our diversity and inclusion team,” says Walls. “I have a real voice in developing the culture of an organization I desire to work in and in educating others. Scotiabank lets me be my authentic self by standing tall on the diversity and inclusion platform and integrating that within the work I do.”
I thrive here because I know I’m a part of an organization where my voice is valued.Val Walls, Director of Sales Effectiveness at Scotiabank
Canadian employees still face barriers to advancement
Canada is often viewed as having one of the world’s most inclusive societies when it comes to LGBT+ rights, but there’s still significant work to be done. Individuals in the LGBT+ community are overrepresented in the homeless population and earn, on average, significantly less than peers with similar education levels.
“There are a number of factors that can negatively impact the economic outlook of LGBTQ+ individuals, including getting off to a bad start because of strained or severed relationships with family early on,” says Druhan. “To confront these arresting statistics, queer and trans people need better access to jobs. That includes the hiring and advancement of queer and trans people to leadership positions. That’s something I think Scotiabank has been really good at.”