At Scotiabank, the inclusion of people with visible and non-visible disabilities remains a priority for the long-term success of our Bank. We seek to develop an inclusive workplace by recruiting, developing, and advancing people of all abilities and promote an environment where every Scotiabanker has access to workplace resources and accommodations to reach their fullest potential.

We have many Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) within Scotiabank that help advance our inclusive culture through grassroots efforts, which enable employees to learn and affect change at the individual level. This month, we are highlighting our DivserABILITY ERG so we caught up with the co-chairs, Rylan, a Digital Accessibility Lead, and Ryan a Manager of Health and Safety to find out how they are driving Scotiabank to be a more inclusive and accessible workplace.

Julie: Tell me about the DiversABILITY ERG at Scotiabank and why did you decide to be involved?

Rylan: Our mission is to be a resource where all Scotiabankers can connect, learn, and develop to influence change and promote accessibility for the full participation of persons of all abilities at Scotiabank. The ERG is a growing group of like-minded employees who want to contribute their skills and insights towards the goal of helping Scotiabank become a role model for disability inclusion within the industry.

Ryan: Yes, and as employees with disabilities, we saw the need to help make Scotiabank a more inclusive and accessible workplace. We both joined the ERG as an avenue to make this impact and help bring that goal to fruition.

Julie: Why is it important in having this ERG at Scotiabank?

Rylan: We believe that a fully accessible and inclusive workplace is where employees and customers can thrive and be their best selves. We are working towards a future where all employees can access all documents and applications and also help eliminate bias or discrimination.

Ryan: This ERG is a supportive community of both employees with disabilities and allies and we aim to be a partner for our employees and our business, helping to shape and create an accessible future.

Julie: December 3rd is International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPWD), how is the ERG helping Scotiabankers celebrate this year?

Ryan: This is an important day for us as an ERG as it is a celebration of the achievements of people living with disabilities across the world. Even though IDPWD is one day, it symbolizes the actions we should take every day, in order to create diverse and accepting communities.

Rylan: Not all of us are aware that IDPWD exists, so one of our primary activities is to spread awareness of the day and what it stands for through internal and external campaigns. Everyone can get involved in IDPWD, and to that end, we have published a self-service toolkit with additional information and calls to action for Scotiabank employees.

Julie: What are some of the key initiatives to help create a more accessible and inclusive culture for persons with disabilities and future employees at Scotiabank?

Rylan: The work the ERG does is divided into several high-level buckets: awareness, advocacy, education, and support.

  • Awareness:  Throughout the year, we try to create as much awareness around people with disabilities and celebrations!
  • Advocacy: As ERG members, we focus on contributing to the formation of bank-wide employment equity and inclusion strategies.
  • Education: We want to provide as much information to our employees and ensure that events are accessible, so we educate different teams on the digital capabilities that we have.
  • Support: The ERG itself is a support network for Scotiabankers with disabilities, it is a place to meet with others who might be having similar experiences, get mentorship or advice, and build a network with like-minded people.

Some future aspirations include a mentorship program, the ability for employees with disabilities to provide input into the applications that are being developed at the bank for employees, and greater collaboration with outside organizations.

Julie: What are you most proud of that Scotiabank has done or that you have accomplished with Scotiabank to support this ERG?

Ryan: Our team has accomplished a lot over the recent months and years but what stands out most came to light during the height of the COIVD-19 pandemic. Our team worked extremely hard with our partners at Microsoft to create a webcast that would promote accessibility while working remotely. It was a huge success that will act as a guideline for future initiatives.

Rylan: We also have many partnerships that we are also very proud to work with. We continuously partner with the Rick Hansen Foundation School Program which provides educators and students with a comprehensive set of free, bilingual resources designed to increase disability awareness, accessibility, and inclusion.

Julie: How do you feel you are making a difference?

Rylan: We feel fortunate and privileged to have the opportunity to shape change in both our workplace and in our communities. We are working to educate our workforce on the challenges and successes of people with disabilities at Scotiabank. We will continue to push the organization forward and be a trusted partner in ensuring that Scotiabank is a place for everyone, and for every future.

Learn more about all of our Employee Resource Groups at Scotiabank.