The Scotiabank Women Initiative® spoke with Rob Sainsbury, Managing Director and Head, and
John Medland, Managing Director, Telecom, Media, Technology and Healthcare, about their experiences with the program and the positive impact it is having with their Global Banking and Markets’ clients.

Q&A Session

Rob Sainsbury, Managing Director and Head, Telecom, Media, Technology and Healthcare

John Medland, Managing Director, Telecom, Media, Technology and Healthcare

Q. Tell us about your involvement with The Scotiabank Women Initiative.

Rob: John and I have both supported The Scotiabank Women Initiative since it was introduced in Global Banking and Markets in 2019. It complements our own longer-term commitment to building greater diversity within Corporate and Investment Banking and offers relevant opportunities for our clients – both as a resource for emerging and current women leaders, and in support of those companies’ focus on diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I), especially as they continue to focus on strengthening their senior leadership and boards.

John: That’s right. While I’ve recently became Co-Lead of the Innovation Pillar – Rob and I have seen the great added value the program offers to our clients since the beginning. For example, we’ve recommended women from our clients’ senior leadership teams to take part in the Advisory Pillar’s Good Corporate Governance Program, a bespoke development opportunity for them to prepare for or expand their corporate board participation. We’ve also leveraged the Board-Ready Database, a diverse pool of C-Suite women leaders, which includes alumni from the governance program, to help clients searching for strong and diverse candidates for board positions in their organizations.

Q. Can you describe how those programs are relevant to your clients?

Rob: The Scotiabank Women Initiative is extremely relevant. There are higher expectations today for companies to deliver greater DE&I: businesses that recognize the better outcomes that result from diversity of thought and perspective to investors who are mindful of the importance of diverse board composition. Companies – across sectors – also now have specific criteria when assessing a new investment.

Today, companies are held to account not just to set, but to meet the diversity targets. Through our Good Corporate Governance Program, run by our own Chief Corporate Governance Officer at Scotiabank, we have a list of board-ready talent we can recommend to fill diversity gaps by matching clients’ needs to candidates’ areas of expertise, industry specialization, geographical location, and board experience. We are well-positioned to help, since we can put forward a list of high-calibre candidates who can hit the ground running and add meaningful value to their company.

John: That’s especially true in the technology space where my team helps new companies that are starting up, or forming boards for the first time. Many companies have grown so fast that they quickly pulled together boards of directors, but when they start considering external sources of capital and the public markets, they realize the importance of focusing on governance issues, board composition and finding candidates with solid technology competencies.

The Scotiabank Women Initiative offers benefits across this ecosystem. It’s a win for an emerging woman leader and her company, and it’s a win for the management team and the board of directors of the company to whom we are introducing these very qualified board-ready candidates.

Q. What has been the response from clients who have participated in The Scotiabank Women Initiative?

John: The feedback we’re getting on these programs has been phenomenal, particularly regarding the networking opportunities with very senior women executives. For example, we hosted a Good Corporate Governance Program specifically for women in the technology sector to provide a unique opportunity to share ideas and insights and discuss common issues in a comfortable, supportive space. Participants have also responded very well to the content we’ve presented across the programs, whether it’s one of our client speaker events, including the recent Fireside Chat with Indra Nooyi, Former Chair and CEO, Pepsico and Corporate Director, or our Learn, Engage, and Partner (LEAP) Series offered though our Education Pillar, or the Innovation Pillar client roundtables, during which we showcase women who are active in topics ranging from ESG and carbon credits to AI and RPA to open banking and crypto, and more.

Rob: Our clients say they really appreciate our commitment to The Scotiabank Women Initiative, and they are proactively contacting us because they’ve heard how other companies have benefited and leveraged our platform to address their needs. That includes CEOs who want to provide their up-and-coming women executives with enhanced development opportunities. Or, a CEO might be trying to perform a board search and they want to expand their pool of candidates. The Scotiabank Women Initiative programs really differentiate Scotiabank’s offering in a very competitive market.

Q. Anything else you’d like to share?

John: Rob, myself and our teams are focused on advising companies in changing and disruptive markets and there is, right now, a heightened opportunity to distill the elements of The Scotiabank Women Initiative. For example, while the technology sector had a great year in 2021, it is now facing headwinds and many are taking a more internal focus, including improving their unit economics, profitability and governance structures. That means we are talking with their boards and leadership teams about diversity, and how this is the right moment to work on these fundamentals, so they are well positioned when markets shift back.

Rob: The other critical part of it is, of course, continuing to embed even more DE&I across Global Banking and Markets. We’re pleased that our own team is nearing 60 percent representation of women at all levels of the business, and we’re fortunate that we have many remarkable leaders who serve as impressive role models and oversee The Scotiabank Women Initiative offerings, complemented by many team members who are also actively delivering these programs to our Scotiabank relationship managers and corporate clients. Together we can build something special, and I think we’ll all see the benefits of the very important efforts we’re making today, for now and the future.

For more about The Scotiabank Women Initiative and the various programs available, please reach out to your Relationship Manager at Global Banking and Markets or email us at