RBC Wealth Management Women’s Summit aims to help women rise

Women and wealth
Community involvement

Annual event encourages attendees to take charge of their future, set ambitious goals and support their communities and each other.


RBC Wealth Management–U.S. has long supported women in the workplace—including through the Women’s Association of Financial Advisors (WAFA) and the Women Empowered (WE) employee resource groups—as well as in the community. An annual event called the Women’s Summit aims to tie those themes together and showcase how RBC helps women, and how women can help each other, rise.

Spearheaded by two RBC Wealth Management–U.S. leaders—Nicole Dunham, co-chair of the WE group and deputy head of RBC Wealth Management–U.S. Fixed Income, and Kelly Johnson, head of RBC Clearing & Custody Client Experience—the Women’s Summit was held for the first time in 2022. The second summit, held in May 2023, built on the momentum of the first year’s event, inspiring attendees to support their communities and each other, and to take charge of their future and set ambitious goals in their lives.

The 2023 summit was open to employees and clients of any gender, with more than 1,200 people attending in person or online. Attendees heard from various speakers, including Helima Croft, head of Global Commodity Strategy with RBC Capital Markets; a panel of women in the Minnesota professional sports industry; a panel of RBC Wealth Management–U.S. leaders and influencers; and keynote speaker Alison Levine, the captain of the first American women’s Mount Everest expedition.

With the theme of “RISE!,” the 2023 summit focused on the advancement and support of women at all stages of their career at RBC Wealth Management–U.S., spotlighting all the ways women at RBC can support their communities, colleagues and themselves.

“The Women’s Summit provides such an exciting opportunity to hear from exceptional women sharing their inspiring stories of overcoming challenges, speaking up for equality and building their careers,” Dunham says. “We are making exciting progress as an organization, and the Women’s Summit showcases RBC’s commitment to achieving gender equality in financial services.” 

Photo of Suzanne Spellacy, Meka White Morris, Maureen Smith and Shareen Luze in discussion about the sports industry.

Suzanne Spellacy, general counsel of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Lynx; Meka White Morris, chief business officer of the Minnesota Twins; and Maureen Smith, COO of Minnesota United, joined Shareen Luze, head of culture and field experience at RBC Wealth Management–U.S., in a discussion about the sports industry.

Empowering college-bound women through scholarships

One of the ways the Women’s Summit aims to help women in the community rise is through a student scholarship program, which was initially funded in 2022 by a donation of $20,000 from an anonymous employee in memory of their mother.

“My mom was an amazing influence on my life, well ahead of her time in recognizing the importance and benefits of diversity and championing the role of women in our society,” the employee wrote. “She lived her life trying to lift other women up.”

The donation was matched by the RBC Foundation – USA, allowing the program to award scholarships to two women students over the course of their two- or four-year post-secondary education. So far, four scholarships have been awarded, helping women in high school to rise for years to come.

Helping communities rise

In addition to the scholarship program, the Women’s Summit also includes an element of broader community support, aligning with RBC’s purpose of helping clients thrive and communities prosper.

“So many of our employees are involved in their communities, and that’s such a key part of our culture,” Dunham says. “We felt it was important to showcase that through any event we do.”

In the weeks leading up to the 2023 Women’s Summit, RBC Wealth Management–U.S. offices across the country were encouraged to hold clothing or fundraising drives to benefit women in need. Several branches held drives in support of nonprofit organizations that help women achieve economic independence, including Dress for Success; Suited for Change and the Harriet Tubman-Catholic Charity Shelter in Washington, D.C.; Child & Family Services Haven House in Buffalo, N.Y.; Water Street Mission of Lancaster, Pa. and Project Prom in Rochester, N.Y.

Photo of RBC Wealth Management employees holding clothing donations.

RBC Wealth Management employees across the country held clothing drives for women in need as part of the 2023 Women’s Summit. Pictured are employees from the firm’s Mount Laurel, N.J., branch.

Women-owned businesses from the Minneapolis area were also featured prominently at the event, from catering to marketplace vendors.

Featuring those small businesses and including the charitable element were essential for organizers of the Women’s Summit. Together with the other parts of the event, they serve to demonstrate how the firm is committed to supporting women in the workplace and in the community, explains Johnson.

“Our values and our purpose, as an organization, should be reflected in what we do both inside and outside of the office,” Johnson says. “That’s what we wanted to accomplish with this event.”

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