Why Inclusion Matters During a Time of Crisis

Girish hiking with family

TD has a culture of care where all are seen, included, appreciated and supported

Girish is Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion, TD Bank Group and Head of Talent, AMCB.

You've held the Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion role for five months. What are some of your early thoughts on D&I at TD?

I've been with the Bank since November 2016 and I've been lucky enough to hold multiple roles across Canada and the U.S. What was clear to me from my first day at TD is that at the heart of all that we do here is a culture of care where everyone is seen, included, appreciated and supported. Our unique and inclusive culture starts with great colleagues who feel engaged, take pride in their work, and feel respected and valued for who they are.

Feeling included and empowered are hugely important at the best of times. But even more so in the face of the unprecedented COVID-19 situation that has created significant challenges for individuals and organizations across the globe.

Can you share with us your personal experience with COVID-19?

Just over a month ago, I came down with a cold and was advised to get tested for COVID-19, which I was able to do thanks to a mobile clinic. The results took a while, so as I isolated at home, watching case after case confirmed on the news, I wondered if I would be included in the next report. A week later, I was.

Each day brought varying symptoms and it felt like a different battle, but there was one constant: support.

From accessible health care, my support system at home and routine check-ins from my colleagues and leaders, to our HR advice counsel and benefits plan, I never felt overlooked.

Even the mobile clinic that administered my test was funded by TD. It was so surreal; it was as if the Bank was watching out for me in more ways than one. At the same time, I recognized that many others aren't as fortunate.

Why do you view inclusion to be more important than ever?

While this pandemic is a globally shared experience, the impact of COVID-19 has fallen disproportionately on certain vulnerable and underrepresented communities. When you look at the numbers broken down by race and ethnicity it is quite alarming. The effects of bias are clear to see.

For me, this hammers home the importance of - and need for - our continued focus on inclusion. It reminds us of the value of connectedness, the power of human kindness and empathy, and our responsibility to help build a more inclusive workplace.

There are so many occasions during the past few months when I have heard "I never thought of it from that perspective". I think our leaders at the Bank are acutely aware of the need to emphasize connectedness and inclusion. As we continue to navigate this evolving situation, the Bank is unifying multiple efforts to ensure an inclusive experience for our colleagues, customers and communities.

Can you give us some examples?

The pandemic is affecting us all in different ways. Everyone's experience is unique. For example, we have colleagues who are still working from TD locations, colleagues who are working from home while trying to homeschool children or provide care to elders, colleagues whose living arrangements may make it difficult for them to work effectively from home etc. Each unique experience brings its own challenges. As leaders, we need to be aware that there is no one-size-fits-all response to the needs of our team members. It's important that we offer broad support.

For colleagues, one of the examples that springs to mind is the Employee & Family Assistance Program that offers online resources and the opportunity to speak confidentially with a consultant about their physical, mental, social and financial well-being.

Another is the recently announced virtual healthcare program. To support colleagues through this challenging time, the Bank has partnered with Manulife Financial to provide unlimited, on-demand and 24/7 access to online medical consultations from the comfort of your home.

As for communities and customers, the Bank continues to support existing D&I sponsorships and grants. We are helping the external not-for-profit organizations we sponsor adapt or pivot their programs to address COVID-19 challenges, defer programs, or move funds to other program or operating budgets. More broadly, the Bank recently announced the TD Community Resilience Initiative that is dedicated to COVID-19 response and community recovery.

June is an especially busy month on the D&I calendar with both Pride and Indigenous History Month. Obviously, things will be a little different this year. What can we expect?

I believe feeling connected to your colleagues is critical during a crisis, especially one as isolating as the COVID-19 pandemic.

In recognizing our colleagues' desire to stay connected with Diversity and Inclusion initiatives, we have turned to virtual programming to keep the D&I spirit alive. This past March, we virtually celebrated Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV) with 150 attendees and plan to do the same for both Pride and Indigenous History Month. The success of our TDOV event and the demand for our future events highlights the importance of maintaining our connectedness at a time when we are so physically disconnected.

Our virtual enterprise-wide Pride event is scheduled for June 8 with our Indigenous History Month event scheduled for June 19. We will be releasing invitation and agenda details shortly so be sure to keep an eye on TD Web for more info.

Any final thoughts?

I'm grateful and proud to be part of an organization that cares for its people and values diversity, inclusivity and humanity. And when we arrive on the other side of this pandemic, I'm confident we will continue to build on this long-standing commitment, not only in times of crisis but also in times of calm.


Stay up to date with email alerts