The Financial Alliance for Women recently welcomed TD Bank Group. Established in 1855, TD Bank Group is the only Alliance member in Canada, making their decision to join a landmark in our network’s efforts to create female-friendly entrepreneurial ecosystems. In this interview, Chantal Pitre, National Manager, Women Entrepreneurs, spoke with us about financial inclusion of women in Canada, the bank’s strategy for supporting women — particularly women-owned/led businesses — and why they are joining the Alliance.
Financial Alliance for Women: For our global readership, can you share TD Bank Group’s market position in Canada — and globally — and overall strategic vision for the organization?
Chantal Pitre: TD is a top ten bank in North America.
We aim to stand out from our peers by having a differentiated brand – anchored in our proven business model, and rooted in a desire to give our customers, communities and colleagues the confidence to thrive in a changing world.
Alliance: As per the Key Small Business Statistics from the Government of Canada, there are 1.1 million SMEs in Canada, with women leading or co-leading 16 per cent of them. Why is it so important to offer tailor-made support to women entrepreneurs?
CP: That’s right, only 16 percent of Canadian businesses are owned or led by women. This represents an opportunity. Studies show that advancing women’s economic participation in the economy could add up to $150 billion to Canada’s GDP. Just like any other segment, the key is to understand their needs and provide advice and resources tailored to their unique needs. For many people, apart from attaining wealth, starting a business is often a way to realize their full potential and make a contribution to the world.
We are choosing to provide an environment where more women can choose to become entrepreneurs because of the resources available to them.
Alliance: How does TD Bank Group collaborate with the public sector/government/ Not-for-profit to create a more female-friendly enabling environment?
CP: We are very fortunate to have our government’s Women Entrepreneurship Strategy in Canada. To date, the public sector has invited the private sector to a number of roundtable discussions, where we work collaboratively to identify how to better support women entrepreneurs. I have been participating in these meetings and created solutions from those discussions. Every new solution for women entrepreneurs can be found on TD’s website.
Our intent with the Women Entrepreneurs segment is to promote an environment where more women choose to become entrepreneurs and to provide meaningful ways for women-owned businesses to benefit from their relationship with us.
We are looking to facilitate the success and growth of women entrepreneurs by collaborating with internal and external partners that can provide education, financing, mentoring and community support to women entrepreneurs.
Alliance: With over 50 banks in Canada, how does TD differentiate itself to remain in the “big 5”?
CP: TD differentiates itself through its brand, which is brought to life through our vision of being the better bank and fulfilling our purpose to enrich the lives of our customers, communities and colleagues. We also have a diversified business mix and geographic footprint, which allows us to focus on advancing our business strategy and innovating for the future as we help our customers feel confident about their finances.
Alliance: How are you segmenting the Women’s Market? What are your financial services and non-financial services value proposition to each segment — current or planned?
CP: Our approach is to facilitate the success and growth of women entrepreneurs both internally and externally. Our strategy focuses on offering concrete solutions to help women in business meet all milestones on their journey to success, in all industries and at all stages. We’re looking to address a wide array of issues, from access to capital, as well as access to markets and mentorship programs.
Alliance: Do you sex-disaggregate gender data internally?
CP: Our system allows us to track our customer by gender, if they self-report it.
Alliance: TD was named one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers in 2019 and was named one of the Best Workplaces in Canada by the Great Place to Work Institute for the 13th year in a row. Can you share with our readers how TD attains such results?
CP: Diversity and inclusion are part of our fundamental values that help us support our customers, colleagues and communities. From our hiring practices to our accessible building designs, we’re working toward maintaining a welcoming, barrier-free culture for everyone.
Diversity and Inclusion are core values at TD, and part of our strategic advantage. We take pride in creating a culture that celebrates the unique talents and contributions of each individual. Our commitment to inclusion is grounded in a belief that our future success depends on the quality and engagement of our colleagues to achieve our shared purpose.
Alliance: How did you first hear about the Financial Alliance for Women, and why did you decide to join?
CP: I heard about the Alliance from Elizabeth Vazquez, CEO, President and Co-Founder of WEConnect International. The Alliance is a wonderful resource since it groups terrific organizations from around the globe that serve women and share best practices. The Alliance produces high-quality reports that I can access easily, helping me to move the dial in the right direction. The workshops offered are incredible with wonderful information provided at each one.