At TD, disability inclusion starts with you.
Analyst II, Global Anti-MoneyLaundering, Toronto ON
Having recently graduated from University with a degree in Business Administration, Kevin was living in Montreal in 2004 and finding odd jobs. The job market was tight, so he had to keep an open mind to find an accessible full-time role as a person who is deaf. After coming across an employment opportunities website for people with disabilities, he applied to several roles, including one at TD.
When he was invited to interview for a role in Toronto, he made the trip, and shortly thereafter landed the job. It was an entry-level position and didn’t immediately relate to his studies, but he focused on career growth potential and moved to join Global Operations and Technology within TD Securities. Showing his drive to perform every day and developing his transferable and soft skills, he secured his first promotion within a few years, then using more of his post-secondary studies as a departmental trainer.
In 2010, Kevin started to learn American Sign Language (ASL) because he found out that TD had a full-time ASL-English interpreter on staff to make conversations more accessible for teams with colleagues who are Deaf. He made the time to meet other colleagues, including those who are Deaf. He joined networking, mentoring, and volunteering events, including TD Tree Days, that support People with Disabilities. “Networking is important to get to know other people, other departments and businesses within the company.” He recommends, “Start with people who have gone through similar experiences and can give you valuable insights to learn from, then expand to different businesses to learn about their areas and environments,” adding, “After an event, follow up with a quick email to connect.”
“You also don’t need to wait for an event. Invite someone you find interesting to go for an in-person or virtual coffee. At TD, most of the time people are more than happy to meet, and you end up feeling like you’re talking to a friend,” Kevin recommends.
In 2017, he interviewed and was the successful candidate for a new role, this time with Global Anti-Money Laundering (GAML). For interviews he shares, “Be your authentic self. Don’t think of it as an interview; it’s just a conversation to get to know each other to see if you would be a good fit for that particular team.” He has thrived within GAML including winning TD’s League of Excellence award, which recognizes top performers across the Bank’s corporate businesses.
Kevin adds, “Be confident knowing who you are and execute with the best you can offer. You never know, it may have a snowball-effect on your career journey.”
Manager Commercial Credit, Commercial Banking, Montreal QC
A simple question to a stranger, asking where she was going that day, led Mano to a career in financial services. Four years ago, she joined TD, where she has excelled as Manager of Commercial Credit.
Mano’s question to that fellow passenger happened over 20 years ago on a wheelchair accessible bus, shortly after she had come to Canada on her own as a refugee from Africa.
Mano had only recently returned to her family home in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, then in the midst of a civil war, after completing her university degree in Belgium. She and her parents saw the situation around them and the additional accessibility barriers she might face due to using a wheelchair during that tumultuous time. They made the very difficult decision that it would be safer for her to leave. In part for her fluency in French, she chose Montreal, QC to try to make a new home.
The woman on the bus that day had mentioned she was applying for a role at one of Canada’s national banks. Mano quickly asked more questions and soon enough she made her own plans to apply.
She was successfully hired shortly thereafter at a financial institution. Mano showed her drive in her work and her education, doing well in her roles and, over time, achieved her Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation, writing her last exam when she was 8 months pregnant with her third child.
Thinking of her experience since joining TD four years ago, Mano shares, “I must admit, having worked in different financial institutions, I can really feel that TD is more inclusive and really cares about diversity and inclusion. I am proud to work at TD.” And she knows that we’re better with more diversity at the table. “It is not a secret anymore: an inclusive work culture benefits the company in terms of a large variety of ideas and, of course, better productivity.”
She would share with any successful candidate who has a disability, “You have been hired not because you have a disability and you fill a quota, but because you are adding value, because you deserve it and because you are the best person to fill the position.”
Mano shares her passion at work as well as in the community. “I am passionate about financing for women. Being a woman and coming from an under-developed country, I believe that when you raise a woman, you raise a country. I have been a business coach for women entrepreneurs, spoken at conferences, and am part of an organization which helps immigrant women from Africa with their business goals and community leadership.”
For all her successes and contributions, she wants her parents to know how grateful she is to them. “They taught me to never give up.” After her accident when she was 18 that started her path using a wheelchair, her father had told her, “It doesn’t matter. You still have things to do in life, you still have to do them.”
“If I’m here today, it’s because of my parents.”
Branch Manager, Canadian Personal Banking, Vancouver BC
On his second day of work at TD, Paul asked his Branch Manager if he could go home early, saying he must have eaten something bad the day before and he wasn’t feeling well. Looking back, Paul wonders how different his experience would have been if he felt comfortable to say his stomach was in knots due to his anxiety. He was still early in his own journey in living with anxiety, depression, and later ADHD, and he wasn’t yet comfortable sharing the real reason he needed to leave early.
From that early day in 2007 as a Customer Service Representative in Langley, BC, Paul has come into his own. He’s excelled at multiple promotions throughout branches in the Lower Mainland and is now leading by example as a Branch Manager in Richmond, BC.
Paul wants new hires to feel accepted and understood when they join TD, and to know that they are not alone. “I would say people with disabilities need to know that others in the organization are going through the same things they are; that their disability is not seen as a ‘disability’ but as another piece of our diversity. TD has been doing incredible work here, but it is a journey.”
Paul has become more involved with that inclusion work at TD and loves the growth he’s seen over the years. “I feel more motivated and engaged in my own role since joining the Pacific PWD committee. I am connecting with more of my colleagues across the district, region and nation. Speaking with executives and hearing from them that TD is directly challenging old stereotypes around disabilities is empowering. I would say more diverse voices are heard and better represented. It is quite fulfilling to work for a company that is moving in the direction we are.”
He brings this focus back to his team, knowing that being open about his own experience helps his colleagues feel safe to come to him if they’re having a challenging time. He’s grateful for their authenticity. Even before they join the team, he takes an inclusive and flexible approach when interviewing candidates. “A candidate might not have a strong interview, but they have the results and they will do a great job for you.”
At the end of the day, Paul says, “People are people and it is intersectional. If we stereotype others, we can negatively affect solutions and outcomes. Instead, when we see and listen to one another, we open the door to meaningful connections and great learning. “
Delivery Executive, AMCB Change Office and Enablement, Toronto ON
No matter what you look like, what your job is or how you identify, disability is the one identity group that any of us can join at any time in our life.
“About 4 years ago, I started experiencing a range of disabling symptoms, including loss of vision, painful joints and mobility challenges,” she shares. “I was driving on a major highway in Toronto one Saturday morning when I suddenly couldn’t see. I was able to make my way off the road and to the emergency room. Not long after, my joints started to become swollen and painful, and I lost the ability to fully control my body. These symptoms got progressively worse and at times partially limited my daily activities and at other times were fully debilitating. As someone who has always been very active, it was a difficult time both physically and mentally.”
Jocelyn was diagnosed with several autoimmune diseases, which are chronic conditions where the immune system accidentally attacks the body instead of protecting it. They typically are not curable but often can be managed with treatment. It took some time for Jocelyn to adjust to her new normal. “I’d like to say that I had it all figured out from day one, but it took time to fully accept my illness and associated disabilities. It also took time to learn to do my job differently by using assistive technology, formal and informal accommodations and working from home periodically. It wasn’t easy. The workplace and the commute to work aren’t fully accessible for people with disabilities and figuring out how to navigate those barriers was like learning a new language.”
Disclosing is a personal decision, and it’s one Jocelyn has made. “In the past couple of years, I have decided to speak openly about my illness to help create an inclusive work environment and hopefully reduce stigma, to bring awareness to the barriers that still exist for people with disabilities and other identity groups, and because it is part of who I am.”
“Disclosing when I am experiencing low vision gives others the opportunity to ensure their documents are accessible when they send them to me and reminds team members of the option of using verbal vs. written communication when appropriate. My team often switches to using voice texts and Microsoft Teams calls when they know I am experiencing low vision and also use larger fonts.”
Another change Jocelyn implemented with her team was to shift from emails to regular open office hours, where her direct reports could talk to her about any issues. “I asked them, what if you save up all your questions and ask me directly, instead of having to draft an email? It saves everyone time and is often more effective.”
HR Advice Partner, Montreal QC
When Martin began his role as a Financial Services Representative at a TD branch in Montreal, QC, he worked with his Branch Manager as well as an ergonomic assessor to set him up for success. Martin, who uses a wheelchair, opted for simple solutions to remove barriers: he asked for a desk that would be comfortable to work at and to have a printer available close by to reduce travel to the shared printer. “Start with the right expectation,” he says, “the basics that you need to perform, and from there you can adjust.”
Martin understands how each interaction like this one impacts his personal brand. In fact, being known as a strong performer who is trustworthy and involved at work has been a key factor in his career progression. From his first promotion to Financial Advisor to becoming a Team Manager in the contact center, then a Recruiter with Talent Acquisition, and recently accepting a short-term assignment with HR Advice, Martin has been recognized by leaders as having a high potential for success.
His leaders value him and his input. So much so that when the Contact Center operations were slated to move to a new building, the Vice-President asked for Martin’s direct guidance, which included seeing the construction site to ensure that the new building would be accessible. “[He] wanted it to be accessible for me and so that we could hire others with disabilities who could use the same tools.”
Martin is always thinking of other candidates and colleagues, especially those with disabilities. He recommends, “Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Sometimes you can feel lesser than someone else and you’re really not. You learn to do things differently. Be open about your difference.” For example, when he was Team Manager for a new team in the Contact Center, Martin gathered his team and talked about his backstory and his accommodations at work. He then opened the conversation and created a safe and welcoming environment for his team members to ask questions.
When speaking to your strengths, he shares, “Focus on the ‘how’”. A person with any type of disability or challenge will want to do well in their role. “To think you don’t have the experience is not necessarily true. You had to develop a lot of skills just to function in life. Show that you have the aptitude and ability to learn, and start with the right expectation, the basic modifications that you need to perform, and from there you can adjust for success.”
Operations Officer II, MBNA, Ottawa ON
When Sudha was invited to interview for a Customer Service position in a Contact Centre in Ottawa, ON, she wanted to be straightforward from the beginning about her vision loss. Wanting to respect the interviewers’ time and her own if the role itself wasn’t accessible, Sudha felt that being open and honest was important. She also knew she had transferable skills from working for years in busy, fast-food restaurants where putting the customer first and making it right were essential skills to succeed.
“[The recruiters] asked about accommodations for the interview,” and she felt comfortable to say what tasks would or wouldn’t work easily for her. Overall, she impressed the recruiters and managers and was soon given a job offer. The team worked with her to install screen magnification software called ZoomText on her work computer and developed one-on-one training that supported her learning style and set her up for success.
After a year and a half in customer service, then building her experience in Credit Union Electronic Transaction Services (CUETS), she moved to a new role with Anti-Money Laundering with MBNA under TD. In this role, she started to use a new adaptive software called JAWS that she continues to use today. JAWS is a software program that reads out all the text and information on Sudha’s screen. Sudha listens to JAWS – at very high speech rates – through her headset. She then uses her keyboard to navigate her digital environments and complete her tasks, often exceeding expectations by doing twice the daily volume targets given to the team.
If some functions within a role aren’t accessible, Sudha says, “Speak with your Manager. There are always ways to work around things. Be open and up front about the barriers and find a solution together. People can assume that [People with Disabilities] can’t do certain things without the chance to prove it, but we can do it with the right technology.”
She knows the importance of self-advocacy. “The disability isn’t who you are, it’s part of who you are; something to adapt to and move forward with. There are more positives than negatives, and it’s an asset to bring more diversity and awareness. Others can know you and learn from you.”
Customer Experience Associate, Canadian Personal Banking, Calgary AB
Jose moved to Canada from the Philippines over 14 years ago with his young family. It was certainly a transition from his early success in the Philippines as an Operations Analyst where he reviewed multiple stages of his organization’s operations.
Moving from a comfortable role and tropical climate back home to a new country was a shock, especially landing one cold, wintry day in Winnipeg, MB. The airport staff asked Jose about his family’s specially bought but still-too-thin coats for a Canadian winter. The adjustments were countless to support his family in those early days, including building connections and setting up new bank accounts. The day he walked into a TD branch, though, he says he “felt so wanted, like he was coming home.” Jose knew he wanted to work at TD.
After moving shortly thereafter with his family to Calgary, AB, he continued to hone his English communications skills and soon interviewed successfully with TD as a Customer Experience Associate. To others who also have physical disabilities and might be nervous in the interview, he shares, “Don’t be afraid of what others think. You owe it to yourself. Be transparent about what you bring.”
His positive attitude persisted. He quickly gained confidence in his sales skills and he grew customer loyalty along with a strong brand for himself and his team. His daily efforts have won him a trip to TD Champions, which recognizes top performers across Canada in Retail Banking, and even the Bank’s most prestigious Vision in Action award, which recognizes the top 1 in every 1000 colleagues from across the globe.
“TD is a people bank,” he says, recalling his first visit to a branch and the interactions he sees every day. He sees it too for the internal support he’s received through an ergonomic assessment and modified equipment to help him succeed more comfortably. His modified chair and workstation help to reduce the chronic pain he feels from his scoliosis, which affects the curvature of his spine and can have multiple impacts, including back pain and intense headaches.
Jose’s intentional focus to contribute and make days better for every person who walks through the branch doors truly shines through in his conversation and ready smile. Always looking for the potential and the positive, he says, “Don’t be afraid to try things. Be genuine and true to yourself and your customer.”
Senior Financial Operations Analyst, Finance, Moncton NB
Justin’s response to an injury from a former job shows that he can shine in just about any situation.
For over 10 years, Justin worked in commercial painting, growing his business and brand through exceptional quality of work and customer service. When he injured his shoulder and over the next few years underwent five surgeries, he didn’t know what he was going to do.
He took the plunge and went back to school for Business Administration where he most enjoyed Accounting. After graduating, Justin contacted a local organization that supports people with disabilities and injuries to find jobs. He was soon connected with a specialized rep from Talent Acquisition at TD and “the rest is history,” he says.
When thinking about changing from one career to another, Justin recognizes the value of varied experience. “A lot of people get stuck,” he shares, “but you’re the sum of everything you’ve learned.” He knew the strengths of his transferable skills including analytical thinking, exceeding customer expectations, communication, and process improvement, and he was able to show these in new ways with TD Finance Operations in Moncton, NB. “I’m able take my education and my experiences from other roles and apply them here.”
Since joining when the corporate office opened in 2019, Justin has continued his professional development. He has already been promoted twice, and he has his eye on further progression. He advises, “Make sure that you always ask questions and never stop learning. Do job shadows in your team and other teams to see how things connect, and so that you can know the next step in the process. You can learn how it all connects right from the top.”
“TD has so many resources like mentorship programs, and events to meet colleagues, and TD Thrive,” which is our self-directed learning platform with virtual access to thousands of resources to foster colleague development.
And Justin knows that everyone can be a teacher. He shares, “I believe we shouldn’t judge anyone. Nobody is better than anybody else. Because someone can’t do one thing, they could do something that you can’t. Just be a good person.”
He brings that inclusive view to his contributions to his team. “Growing up, I kind of felt like the smartest person in the room. At TD, everyone is the smartest person in the room, and they’re all in it together. It’s such a big group of talented people working towards the same thing.”
Looking at his career growth at the bank, he says, “[Starting later], it might have taken me a little longer, but I did it the right way and I’m proud of what I’ve done. It’s a good feeling.”
Senior Business Analyst, Strategic Initiatives, Toronto ON
Bruce knew his job offer at TD would be a great way to get in the door and grow.
After being impacted by a downsizing in the technology sector in the early 2010s, he started his journey with TD at a Lime Connect recruitment event in Toronto. From that initial conversation to an onsite job interview, he began a new role in a new industry: Fraud and Financial Crimes. His transferable skills and laser focus helped him succeed in his role quickly.
Bruce knew that if he wanted to grow further, he needed to talk to his Manager about career development. And he did. He proactively talked with his manager about job shadows, courses, added responsibilities, and job paths every month during standard one-on-one meetings.
With his transparency, and his People Managers’ support, Bruce progressed multiple times within Financial Crimes and Fraud Management, ultimately becoming a Project Manager. From that jumping point, he moved to a Project Manager role in Technology Solutions, going back to his IT roots. At each stage, he felt comfortable to be as open about his disability as his career ambitions, seeing the strengths his lived experience brings. “Prior to TD, I spent a large portion of my career hiding my disability. There is absolutely no reason to hide that at TD. There is no stigma or shame with disclosing. Here it is a part of our culture. TD will work with you so you can work with us.”
Bruce shared that he was legally blind during the hiring process, and he was given the technology to excel in his role. “TD outfitted me with a large screen display and screen magnification software, which allowed me to perform my duties.” Going forward, he knows the supports are available if he needs to explore alternate accommodations. He says, “TD has a wide variety of technologies such as screen reader software, and I can work with the Assistive Technologies team as my needs change.”
To the many colleagues with disabilities whom he has mentored, and to candidates joining TD, he says, “Identify that you have a disability right up front. Have the conversations with your Manager about any challenges that you are experiencing and assemble plans with ownership to address them.” His solutions focus has helped him be a partner in everyday work strategies. For Bruce, that partnership shows how TD embraces diversity. “A diverse workforce helps us to find new and innovative solutions and to identify customer irritants quickly and resolve them fully. People with Disabilities have overcome challenges in their lives. They are not an impediment to progress but rather the fuel that drives TD to be the better bank for our customers, colleagues, and shareholders.”