TORONTO — Royal Bank of Canada and Bank of Montreal have committed to conducting racial equity audits after facing pressure from shareholders.
RBC announced on Friday that it will carry out a third-party audit of its employment practices next year, and another one on its business practices in 2025.
“We remain focused on identifying and helping to address barriers that can impede the success of Black, Indigenous and other racialized groups,” said RBC spokesman Jeff Lanthier in an email.
Racial equity audits aim to identify and address practices that may have a negative impact on Indigenous peoples and communities of color, and evaluate how well a company is dealing with systemic racism overall.
The announcement comes after RBC met with the shareholder advocacy group SHARE and the British Columbia General Employees’ Union this week, which had jointly proposed a resolution at RBC’s annual general meeting calling for an audit. The resolution received 42 percent approval from shareholders.
The two groups also submitted a similar resolution at BMO, which received 37 percent support. SHARE raised concerns earlier this week that six months after the vote, neither bank had publicly committed to carrying out the audits.
On Friday, BMO confirmed that it, too, would be conducting a racial equity audit.
“BMO is committed to equity, equality and inclusion through BMO’s Zero Barriers to Inclusion Strategy, and we will be conducting a third-party racial equity audit,” said spokeswoman Kate Simandl in a statement.
“We look forward to updating our shareholders on our progress in 2024 and we appreciate SHARE’s engagement with us on this topic.”
CIBC and National Bank had previously committed to carrying out audits earlier this year, while TD Bank had announced last year that it would do one, with the results expected soon.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on November 10, 2023.
Companies in this story: (TSX:RY; TSX:BMO)
Ian Bickis, The Canadian Press
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