Our People Are Our Competitive Advantage

Nov 01, 2013
TD Canda Trust

Sharlene Decloux, TD Canada Trust District Vice President for London East Area, talks about how TD puts Ability First in the workplace. In this interview, Decloux demonstrates why TD was named one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers as well as one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers in 2013.  

Sharlene Decloux, TD Canada Trust, supports the Ability First Coalition in November 2013 edition of Business London.

Does TD have a prescribed standard for hiring people with disabilities?

At TD, we’re committed to building a unique and inclusive employee culture and reflecting the communities and customers we serve. A key part of this is our commitment to a broad diversity agenda, which includes our strategic areas of focus, one of which is People With Disabilities. We want to attract the best and brightest people to TD and that means looking at a broad slate of candidates for every position. We value the different skill sets and experiences people bring to the table, regardless of background, religion, race, disability, gender or sexual orientation. We look at ability first because we see people as our biggest asset.

How did TD initially begin to hire those with disabilities? 

Diversity became a strategic business priority for TD in 2005. That year, we established the Diversity Leadership Council (DLC) at the bank, which consists of senior executives leading committees that are dedicated to our areas of focus, including People With Disabilities. The DLC and its committees are focused on embedding diversity and inclusion into every aspect of our businesses.

As an employer, how does TD create an inclusive work environment for people with disabilities? 

Creating a diverse and inclusive work environment at TD is not an item on a list, it’s at the very core of who we are and everything we do. Through initiatives like our Workplace Accommodation program and the Employee Experience Committee, we are continually looking for ways to create a comfortable environment where every employee feels valued, respected and supported.

Have there been any stumbling blocks on the road to creating an inclusive work environment for people with disabilities? 

The challenge is helping people understand another person’s circumstances because it is not always apparent, as in the case of invisible disabilities such as mental health issues. This can often lead to misconceptions about our colleagues. We encourage our employees to be as open and honest about their circumstances as they feel comfortable with in order to support their success at work. This transparency creates a work environment where everyone can respect each other’s strengths and value our differences.

With your position as District Vice President TD Canada Trust, how do you contribute to putting Ability First at TD?

Putting ability first means we always ensure a diverse slate of candidates during the hiring process. We also ensure awareness among business areas of the Workplace Accommodation Program. TD also has an assistive technologies lab that looks at innovative ways to help employees with disabilities do their jobs more effectively. Centralizing our hiring is also a big win for TD because it means consistency as well as becoming a centre of excellence and effectively deploying resources.

Have you yourself ever faced any personal challenges that assist you in your hiring practices and creating such an inclusive workplace at TD

I have not faced any personal challenges myself but I have many close friends who have. I’ve seen firsthand their determination to overcome their challenges. It’s both amazing and inspiring and this helps me in my work at TD to better understand the importance of inclusivity.

Please finish this sentence, “I hire for Ability First because….”

There’s a war for talent. We want to attract the best and brightest people to TD and the way to do that is to have a diverse workforce, with many different skill sets and experiences. Our people are our competitive advantage.

Did you have any prior experience working with people with disabilities prior to TD

I have been in a number of situations where I have worked with people with disabilities both visible and invisible. What I have learned is that it can be very easy to fall into the trap of focusing on disability rather than capability. As a leader at TD, I am committed to bringing out the best in people. We want to help all our employees reach their full potential.

Do you have any stories that stand out for you involving TD employees that have thrived in the workplace with their disabilities?   

I have seen many employees with disabilities achieve success in their careers. Some of them are now managing teams and businesses. There is no better feeling than sharing in their accomplishments.

What is the best piece of advice you would offer employers that are interested in creating an inclusive workplace for people with disabilities but are unsure where to begin? 

I would say we need to start the conversation. Or, if the conversation has already started, let’s keep it going! Let’s de-bunk the myths. If you don’t know something, it’s ok to ask. Let’s focus on strengths and success stories.

Thank you Sharlene Decloux and TD for leading by example. To remain competitive in today’s market, you owe it to your business to consider hiring for Ability First as a viable option. There is no charge to the employer to work with our non-profit Partners in Employment and a great many benefits. When you recognize, interview and hire Ability First you are making a sound business decision and a smart move.


  • Approximately 85,000 employees
  • TD named one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers (2013)
  • TD named one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers (2013)
  • TD named one of Canada’s Top Employers for New Canadians (2013)
  • The Toronto-Dominion Bank and its subsidiaries are collectively known as TD Bank Group (TD). TD is the sixth largest bank in North America by branches and serves approximately 22 million customers in four key businesses operating in a number of locations in financial centres around the globe: Canadian Personal and Commercial Banking, including TD Canada Trust and TD Auto Finance Canada; Wealth and Insurance, including TD Wealth, TD Direct Investing, an investment in TD Ameritrade, and TD Insurance; U.S. Personal and Commercial Banking, including TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank, and TD Auto Finance U.S.; and Wholesale Banking, including TD Securities. TD also ranks among the world’s leading online financial services firms, with approximately 8 million active online and mobile customers. TD had CDN$835 billion in assets on July 31, 2013.