RBC Wealth Management has long supported women in the workplace—through employee resource groups such as the Women's Association of Financial Advisors and Women Empowered (WE)—as well as in the community. A recent event aimed to take this support a step further and give all women the chance to rise and succeed together.

Spearheaded by two RBC Wealth Management women leaders—Nicole Dunham, co-chair of the WE group and deputy head of Fixed Income, and Kelly Johnson, director of Client Service & Support—the inaugural RBC Wealth Management Women's Summit was held in May 2022 in the firm's new RBC Gateway building, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The summit, which was open to employees and clients of any gender, focused on inspiring attendees to support their communities and each other and to take control of their financial wellness, drive their future and achieve their goals.

More than 1,000 employees attended in person or online. Attendees heard from various speakers, including Nancy Lyons, an advocate for making work more inclusive, flexible and adaptable; Tiffany Dufu, founder of a peer-coaching company for women who are looking to accelerate their careers; Leslie Barlow, a visual artist based in Minneapolis who focuses on themes of belonging, identity and family; firm executives, including RBC Wealth Management CEO Michael Armstrong and City National Bank CEO Kelly Coffey; and a panel of women employees who discussed their unique personal and professional experiences.

The inspiration for the summit, Dunham says, came from wanting to connect all the different ways that RBC Wealth Management supports women.

“We wanted to put something together that showed how we as a firm support women in the workplace, the community and their personal lives," she explains.

Womens Summit Sarasota

Employees in the Sarasota, Florida branch watched the Women's Summit together.

Helping women students rise

To open the summit, Wanda Brackins, RBC Wealth Management's head of Global Diversity and Inclusion, announced a new RBC Wealth Management college scholarship program, which was funded by an initial 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 scholarship program to award $5,000 per year to two women students over the course of their two- or four-year post-secondary education.

Since the scholarship was announced at the summit, several employee donors have helped to raise an additional $2,000 in support of the program.

The selection process will take place in the winter of 2022–23, when most students are applying for scholarships, and the first-year funding will be awarded to the recipients when school begins in the fall of 2023.

“Our hope is that the scholarship can continue to help young women rise for years to come," Brackins says.

WomensSummit SanAntonio Clothing Drive

RBC Wealth Management employees across the country held clothing drives for women in need as part of the inaugural Women's Summit. Pictured are employees from the firm's San Antonio, Texas branch.

Helping communities rise

The Women's Summit also included a focus on community support, as organizers wanted the event to reflect what matters to RBC Wealth Management and its employees.

“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 summit, RBC Wealth Management offices across the country were encouraged to hold clothing or fundraising drives to benefit women in need. In all, 21 different branches held drives in support of five different organizations that help women achieve economic independence. These included national nonprofit Dress for Success; Maryland-based A Wider Circle; Trinity Center in Austin, Texas; My Sister's Place in Connecticut; and St. Jose's Women Center in Tucson, Arizona, which received more than $13,000 in donations from Tucson-area RBC Wealth Management employees.

Additionally, the event provided employees in Minneapolis with the opportunity to support Girls on the Run, a national nonprofit that works to inspire girls of all abilities to recognize their strengths while building a sense of connection in a team setting. Employees assembled 160 sets of beaded necklaces to be given to girls participating in a practice 5K run, as well as 150 gifts for Girls on the Run coaches to thank them for their time and energy.

That community support also extended to the businesses providing services for the event. Both the summit's catering and gifts that were given to attendees came from women-owned businesses in the Minneapolis area.

Featuring those small businesses and including the charitable element were important aspects of the Women's Summit. Together with the other parts of the event, they served to demonstrate how the firm is committed to supporting women in the workplace and in the community, explains Johnson.

“Our values, 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."

Committed to a better future. Learn how RBC Wealth Management supports the communities where we live and work.

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