Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Canada’s most-awarded
newsroom for a reason
Stay informed for a
lot less, cancel anytime
“Exemplary reporting on
COVID-19” – Herman L
per week
for 24 weeks
Get full access to
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Royal Bank of Canada is raising its target for visible minorities in executive roles to 30 per cent while also boosting support for young people of colour and Black entrepreneurs. The new commitments comes as the bank’s chief executive acknowledged that systemic racism has been a blind spot in its efforts to promote diversity.

Initiatives announced on Monday by Canada’s largest bank include the new executive staffing target, which replaces the current 20-per-cent goal for promotions and new hires. RBC is also making anti-racism and anti-bias training mandatory for all staff, promising to make $100-million in loans available to Black entrepreneurs over five years and increasing its recruiting goal for summer internships to fill 40 per cent of spaces with candidates who are Black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC), up from 30 per cent.

The new pledges follow a wave of protests against anti-Black racism that have brought widespread attention to issues of bias, inequality and the disadvantages faced by visible minorities. That has highlighted inequities across Corporate Canada, especially in companies’ most senior ranks, including at banks.

Story continues below advertisement

The outcry that has spread since the the death of George Floyd, a Black man killed by police officers in Minneapolis in May, spurred RBC to hold conversations with senior Black employees about their experiences. The stories they told – of everyday racism when shopping at stores, having their successes discounted, being afraid to disclose their race because they feared it would hurt their chances of being hired – were “eye-opening,” chief executive officer Dave McKay said.

“We never listened, really, as a society. I have to say maybe we didn’t listen close enough at RBC. And we have to do something about that,” Mr. McKay said in an interview. “When you have this type of systemic racism you can’t say your community’s healthy.”

Even at the bank’s Global Diversity Leadership Council, which oversees its inclusivity strategy and is chaired by Mr. McKay, “we were never sensitized to how serious the issue was,” he said.

On Monday, RBC also announced it is earmarking $50-million of funds to offer skills development and mentoring to 25,000 BIPOC young people. The funds were previously committed to its RBC Future Launch program, a $500-million program designed to help prepare youth for the workplace. The bank will also add diversity and inclusion objectives to its performance management process, and expanding its public disclosure on diversity efforts starting in 2021 to include racial and ethnic data in pay equity reporting.

A lack of good data is one challenge to confronting bias. RBC does not currently track race in its lending, for example, but will need to start collecting those data to ensure it’s meeting its loan target for Black entrepreneurs.

Current RBC statistics suggest that 37 per cent of the bank’s 85,000 staff are minorities and 1.3 per cent are Indigenous, according to 2019 figures. Among executives, 19 per cent are minorities and the bank hopes that number will rise as a result of its new executive hiring and promotion target. As it stands, none of the 10 most senior executive officers listed on the bank’s website identifies as a visible minority, though RBC’s chief auditor William Onuwa is Black, and reports directly to Mr. McKay.

The bank needs to be more deliberate about moving people of colour into key roles that serve as staging grounds to reach the bank’s most senior jobs, Mr. McKay said. “We have a plan, and it will change,” he said.

Story continues below advertisement

Direct comparisons with other banks are difficult, as data are not reported consistently. At Toronto-Dominion Bank, visible minorities represented 38 per cent of all staff and held 18 per cent of senior management roles in 2019, but the bank doesn’t publish specific representation targets. Nearly 24 per cent of employees at Bank of Nova Scotia were visible minorities last year, while Bank of Montreal said minorities currently occupy 34 per cent of senior roles. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce says 18 per cent of board-approved executive roles are held by visible minorities, and has a target to reach 22 per cent by 2022.

Pressure has been mounting on large companies to take action on diversity not only in their own ranks, but to fight racism by using their clout to help bring about wider social change.

Last week, RBC and other large Canadian banks announced they would pause all paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram for July, in step with international business boycott of Facebook Inc.‘s ad business by hundreds of companies. The movement is led by U.S. civil-rights groups including the Anti-Defamation League, and aims to put pressure on Facebook to do more to combat racist and hateful content on its platforms.

To make sure RBC’s latest push for diversity lasts, Mr. McKay has asked Black and Indigenous leaders at the bank to tell him directly whether the plan stays on track. “We have to create a safe environment to speak up and hear if we’re not making the change,” he said.

Your time is valuable. Have the Top Business Headlines newsletter conveniently delivered to your inbox in the morning or evening. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Tickers mentioned in this story
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies