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Rania llewellyn, the new CEO for Laurentian Bank, is seen outside one of their branches in downtown Toronto on Oct. 20, 2020.Aaron Vincent Elkaim/The Globe and Mail

Laurentian Bank of Canada chief executive Rania Llewellyn says that early in her career she was told by a manager that he was looking for a man to fill a job she was vying for.

Llewellyn, who in October became the first woman to lead a major Canadian bank, made the comments at the The Empire Club of Canada today in a celebration of International Women’s Day.

Llewellyn’s speech came on the heels of a report from DBRS Morningstar, which found that the six largest Canadian banks score better than the Australian and U.S. bank averages on attracting, retaining, and developing women into senior leadership positions.

But DBRS Morningstar also says BMO, Scotiabank, CIBC, National Bank, RBC and TD are on average falling behind the three large Australian banks on the issue of gender pay equity.

Llewellyn says that she supports having diversity and inclusion targets written into the financial packages that go to the board, just as there are financial targets for leaders at the bank.

The bank CEO says those targets, which she has introduced at Laurentian, should be not only on recruiting diverse talent but also on retaining women as they move up the bank’s ranks.

“I remember, there was a vacant job. I was ready to go for it. I was trained,” said Llewellyn at the webcast event on Monday.

“And he said, ‘I’m looking for a man and I’m looking for someone who’s older.’ And this was going to be my new boss. Right? So, I would say there’s lots of those little stories across along the way.”

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