With public gatherings on hold for 2020, RBCers couldn't celebrate Pride or National Indigenous History Month as they usually do. With a bit of creativity and a healthy dose of competition, however, it was an obstacle employees proved was easily overcome.

June is typically a month for coming together, with Pride and National Indigenous History Month celebrations dotting the calendars of RBC employees across Canada. Traditionally, it’s been an opportunity to come together.

Although the company couldn’t come together physically this year due to COVID-19, that didn’t stop RBC from experiencing, acknowledging and celebrating these two important events.

Share Your Colours Campaign

Given the large percentage of RBCers working from home these days, the Diversity & Inclusion team had to get creative to find a way to bring people together. The Share Your Colours campaign was designed to accomplish three things:

1) Encourage regional celebrations to mark Pride month and National Indigenous History Month

2) Bring the global population of RBC together

3) Raise funds for organizations that support LGBT+ and Indigenous communities in Canada

“We wanted to take this opportunity to get as many people together as possible,” says Gopal Bansal, Vice President, Diversity and Inclusion at RBC. “We wanted to get everybody involved.”

The idea of Share Your Colours sprang from the challenge of connecting people from different geographies to recreate the Pride flag and the Indigenous Medicine Wheel. Based on RBC’s pre-existing regional breakdown, employees in each region were encouraged to wear a particular colour — whether it be a shirt, hat, pants, skirt — or a combination of them all! Employees were then asked to send a photo of themselves in their colour. For every photo submitted, a donation would be made to an organization selected by the RBC Corporate Citizenship team.

This created a team atmosphere, as regions competed to get as many ‘sharing their colours’ as possible.

“We tend to be a competitive bunch as it is,” says Bansal. “If we’re encouraging employees to put on a team colour, we know they’re going to do their best to represent it.”

Community Impact

Photo submissions through the Share Your Colours campaign translated to the donation of funds to two organizations that align to RBC’s diversity and inclusion goals and values.

Canadian Roots Exchange

The Canadian Roots Exchange (CRE) is a group of Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth who believe that in order to bridge the gap between Canada’s peoples and work towards reconciliation, Canadians need to become educated and aware of the teachings, triumphs and daily realities of Indigenous communities.

Through exchanges, workshops, conferences and leadership training, the CRE brings together youth in cities, towns, and traditional territories across Canada in an effort to break down stereotypes, open a dialogue, and build honest relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people living on this land.

“CRE is incredibly grateful to employees of RBC for selecting us as a recipient for this donation. RBC has been an incredible partner in our work to build a generation of youth reconciliation leaders, work that is especially important to celebrate this month. We’re looking forward to sustained partnership, dialogue, and activities with our friends at RBC.” – Max FineDay, Executive Director at Canadian Roots Exchange

Egale Canada

Egale is Canada’s leading organization for LGBT+people and issues. Their mission is to improve the lives of LGBT+ people in Canada, and enhance the global response to LGBT+ issues. For RBC, Egale is a natural fit as a community partner based on their meaningful work, their research and education initiatives, and the impact they have on LGBT+ communities.

“We are extremely grateful to partners like RBC, whose support allows us to reach the homes and hearts of our LGBTQI2S community and beyond. Now, more than ever, it’s important to stay connected and share our Pride, which is why RBC’s donation and virtual employee engagement will have an impact on LGBTQI2S people across the country. RBC’s generous support will allow Egale to further support our community through our research, education, and awareness initiatives, helping to build a more inclusive post-COVID Canada and world.” — Helen Kennedy, Executive Director at Egale Canada

Thousands of photos and comments have been submitted to date, and RBC is on track to donate a total of $45,000.00 to its community partners.

Not only did the Share Your Colours campaign create impact for important community organizations, it advanced a sense of belonging and inclusion at RBC, during a time when many people might feel alone.

“We have a culture that is inclusive by nature,” says Bansal. “Belonging is important to people, and without the benefit of your floor mates, your employee resource group, colleagues or friends, you lose that regular interaction. That’s why it’s important to bring people together, whether that comes through in a Share Your Colours campaign, hosting virtual events, or after hour video gatherings.

Whatever we need to do , it’s really important for us to continue to lean in on the importance of inclusion as part of our culture. We want to feel like we have not just RBC in common, but that we have each other in common.”

Diane Amato is a Toronto-based freelance writer who loves to talk about finances, travel and technology.

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