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2014 Catalyst Canada Honours Champions celebrated - Five exceptional role models for women's advancement

RBC’s Zabeen Hirji receives 2014 Catalyst Canada Honour for Championing Women and Minorities in Business

TORONTO, October 8, 2014 -  Today, Catalyst Canada celebrates its Catalyst Canada Honours Champions for 2014, five outstanding business leaders who have challenged the status quo and taken concrete action to advance and advocate for women in their organizations, their industries, and their communities.  All are true examples of the Catalyst Canada Honours mission to create visible role models for Canada’s current and future business leaders

These extraordinary leaders will be celebrated today, at a full-day conference and gala dinner at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto. The group includes Zabeen Hirji, RBC’s Chief Human Resources Officer.

Ms. Hirji is a member of RBC’s Group Executive and has global responsibility for Human Resources, Brand, Communications and Corporate Citizenship. Zabeen plays the lead role in developing and implementing RBC’s diversity and inclusion strategy.

RBC is recognized as a diversity leader in Canada and is increasingly being recognized in the US and UK, for best practices, such as ambitious goals for women and visible minorities in leadership roles and for a culture of inclusion.  

Ms. Hirji co-led the establishment of a global RBC Diversity Leadership Council in 2001, which is chaired by the CEO, and includes senior leaders from all businesses. Under her leadership, the RBC Diversity Blueprint was introduced to outline RBC’s priorities, goals, and organizational commitments and communicate them externally.

A long-time champion of diversity, Ms. Hirji has led the introduction of high impact initiatives to attract, develop and retain a diverse workforce at all levels. A recent example is introducing the concept of Unconscious Bias at the bank, which has become an integral part of RBC’s Diversity and Inclusion framework. Going forward, RBC will continue to explore this theme with leaders, employees and community partners.

“Zabeen is a true role model of a leader making investments in diversity for growth and innovation. Her passion for inclusion and building a workplace where everyone can reach their full potential is inspiring. This award celebrates Zabeen’s leadership at RBC and in the broader community. On behalf of all RBCers, I congratulate Zabeen on this well deserved recognition,” says Dave McKay, President & CEO, RBC.

“We have made significant progress and built a strong foundation, yet we know there is more to do. This is a journey, as we go from diversity to inclusion,” says Zabeen Hirji. “I know Dave is deeply committed to talent development and a culture of inclusion and I look forward to partnering with him, to break new ground at RBC. Creating a future where everyone has the opportunity to achieve their full potential leads to successful organizations and a stronger Canada, both socially and economically.”

RBC congratulates the other Catalyst Canada Honours Champions for 2014:

  • Dean Johnson, Past President and CEO, Sodexo Canada Ltd. (Company/Firm Leader Champion)
  • Ellen Moore, President and CEO, Chubb Insurance Company of Canada (Company/Firm Leader Champion)
  • Sharon MacLeod, Vice President, Personal Care North America, Unilever (Business Leader Champion)
  • The Hon. I. Howard Wetston, Q.C., Chair and CEO, Ontario Securities Commission, (Special Recognition – Board Diversity Champion)

“These outstanding individuals have had a powerful impact on the careers and opportunities of countless women across Canada,” says Alex Johnston, Executive Director, Catalyst Canada.  “As we celebrate five years of Catalyst Canada Honours, these extraordinary Champions join 16 others, who are helping transform the workplace for women, and inspiring others to follow their lead.  They are true leaders in Canadian business, sharing a conviction that inclusion is vital for business success and our economic future.”

The five Catalyst Canada Honours Champions have leveraged their influence to help expand opportunities and leadership roles for women in business, and inspired others in corporate Canada to create sustainable change.

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RBC supports a broad range of community initiatives through donations, sponsorships and employee volunteer activities. In 2013, we contributed more than $104 million to causes worldwide, including donations and community investments of more than $69 million and $35 million in sponsorships. Learn more at

Founded in 1962, Catalyst is the leading nonprofit organization expanding opportunities for women and business. With operations in the United States, Canada, Europe, India, Australia, and Japan, and more than 700 members, Catalyst is the trusted resource for research, information, and advice about women at work.

The Catalyst Canada Honours celebrates champions of women in Canadian business. Recognizing that what’s good for women is good for business, these exceptional individuals are personally and visibly committed to the advancement of women and serve as powerful role models for Canadian corporate leaders.

Champions are nominated and once applications are received, Catalyst Canada looks for clear indications of championship through leadership behaviours that have had a visible impact on the advancement of women both inside and outside their organization. The nomination process is supported by interviews with the nominees and references.

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