If you're a young person working at RBC, you're likely to hear from Montu Gupta. Not because he's a product manager in Business Investments, but because he co-chairs the bank's NextGen employee group, and he's likely to persuade you to join.
NextGen, which brings together employees in their 20s and 30s, helps its 3,500 members connect across the organization, volunteer in the community, and gain mentorship and exposure to senior leaders. “The vision is to be the voice of youth for RBC,” says 34-year-old Gupta, who also sits on RBC’s Diversity Leadership Council.
After starting informally five years ago, NextGen was given official status as a fully supported Employee Resources Group (ERG) last year. “RBC gets it,” says Gupta. “It has the appetite to mould itself to the needs of youth. It’s a business imperative.”
RBC gets it. It has the appetite to mould itself to the needs of youth. It's a business imperative.
Montu Gupta, Product Manager and Co-Chair, NextGen Employee Resources Group
Zabeen Hirji, RBC’s Chief Human Resources Officer, readily agrees. She notes that about 20 per cent of RBC’s 58,000 employees in Canada are under 30, and every year the bank hires some 2,400 people under age 25. Another 800 students work at the bank each summer.
“Our starting point is to create a workplace where everyone can be successful and reach their potential,” says Hirji. “And to support young people, we have a three-pronged approach that addresses career, community and connection.”
For the first “c”, a bank as large as RBC offers young people a wide variety of career paths, as well as the chance to try many different roles through its robust system of promoting from within. “Every year, 20-25 per cent of our people move into new opportunities,” says Hirji. There is plenty of training as well as tuition assistance for further professional development.
For promising new MBA grads, the bank mounts a two-year Graduate Leadership Program in which participants spend six months in each of four areas of the bank. “It’s great,” says Gupta, who started in it in 2009. “You get a broad cross-enterprise view.”
A range of initiatives offer career mentorship to younger employees. “But it’s not just about formal programs – it happens organically,” says Hirji. “We have a culture where people want to help others develop.”
In the community, says Hirji, “we make it easy for people to get involved.” The bank provides opportunities for employees to volunteer across a range of causes, including an annual Blue Water Day, Runs/Races for the Kids and Free the Children’s WE Days.
And as part of its five-year, $100 million RBC Kids Pledge to help children and youth reach their potential, RBC recently started an innovative program called Career Launch, aimed at helping new graduates who haven’t yet found employment in their chosen field. The bank hires 100 people across Canada under age 24 to work at RBC and in the community for a year. With RBC on their resumes, “the idea is that now their careers are launched, and they will find jobs in their chosen areas or some may stay with us,” says Hirji.
As for connection, the bank counts some 35,000 users of its internal social media networking platform, RBC Connect. Not only does this help with work collaboration, it also makes it easier for younger employees to connect with senior leaders. There are also town halls, CEO walkabouts, employee fireside chats and other opportunities to get to know leaders as people, says Hirji. “We do a lot more of this than we did 10 years ago, and that’s partly because the younger generation looks for it as part of a less hierarchical culture.”
Then there’s RBC’s NextGen group, alongside similar ERGs for women, the LGBT community, new immi- grants and other employee groups that young people may be part of. Gupta is convinced RBC is working hard to make a great environment for younger employees. “When I think about ‘what next’, I don’t think of another bank,” he says. “I’m already in the best place possible.”
Reproduced with permission from the announcement magazine for Canada's Top 100 Employers (2017), published November 7, 2016 in The Globe and Mail. © 2016 Mediacorp Canada Inc. and The Globe and Mail. All rights reserved.
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