Jen Popkey has a simple mantra when it comes to diversity, inclusion, and hiring talent at TD: "People with disabilities should be considered for any job at any level."
As a Diversity and Inclusion Talent Partner at TD in Toronto, Popkey serves as an advocate for people with disabilities across Canada, ensuring that they are considered for employment at all levels of the organization, that the hiring practice meets their accessibility needs, and that they get the ongoing support they need if they are hired.
“We really want to set people up for success,” Popkey said. “We don't want to have a limiting idea of someone else’s potential.”
To do this, Popkey takes a multi-faceted and intentional approach to hiring, one which is designed to remove systemic barriers to employment and seeks out people with disabilities at universities and other hiring events in an effort to expand the diversity of the organization.
"I want to let disabled candidates know: 'We are looking for you'," she said.
As a result of her work to create a more welcoming and accessible environment for employees at TD, Popkey was recently honoured alongside six other TD colleagues from across North America with a TD Disability Inclusion Changemakers for 2023 award.
Launched in the United States in 2022, and expanded to Canada in 2023, the Changemakers awards were created by TD to recognize colleagues within the Bank who promote significant advances in disability inclusion through their actions within the Bank and beyond.
Jen helped create an inclusive interview model so that when a candidate with a disability applies for a job, people managers are better equipped to create more welcoming and accessible interview situations while ensuring candidates feel comfortable to share how they might benefit from an accommodation.
Once hired, Jen works with new employees and their people managers to ensure that barriers are removed. This might involve ensuring that a new hire is placed at an accessible location, providing assistive technology to do their job, or creating a consistent schedule.
Going beyond the "day job"
Many of those recognized by TD as Changemakers in 2023 are involved in disability inclusion efforts because it's a passion and not necessarily part of their "day job," according to Patricia Foley, Associate Vice President, TD Insurance and TD Disability Inclusion Network Executive Pillar Lead.
"We have many people who champion change for the better and help to make a difference in the organization to create a more inclusive environment," Foley said.
"They do it with passion and put their all into it looking for ways to think differently to truly help move the dial and create a space where everyone can feel included. This year's Disability Changemakers didn't just think about what we could do better, they acted on it and made things happen. I'm so proud of each and every one of them and I'm grateful to work amongst people that want to create an inclusive environment for everyone."
Helping people with disabilities thrive at work
Although much of the Bank's digital content is accessible now, that wasn’t always the case.
“TD was sharing great content, but it was not always accessible,” said Peter Armstrong, a Colleague Experience Manager for Canadian Personal Banking, who was also honoured with a Changemakers award from TD in 2023.
Today, Armstrong helps ensure that the Bank's digital communications have an inclusive design from the start. This means creating content that is easily accessible to disabled and non-disabled users alike, including clear language, easy navigation for screen reader technologies, and captioning on videos.
Armstrong proactively reaches out to people with disabilities throughout his project life cycles because those individuals are the best resources to "tell me what they need" to make digital communications accessible, he said.
Armstrong said he also wants to help continue the Bank's progress towards disability inclusion and action. He was instrumental in launching the Bank’s “I Will” program to more than 3,000 colleagues in Canadian Personal Banking.
The program's goal is to move the Bank from inclusion awareness to accountability by encouraging colleagues at all levels to not only reflect upon their own biases but also develop a concrete action plan to intentionally increase inclusion across all diversity areas. Through the program, many of Armstrong's colleagues became empowered to share their own stories about how they have struggled with inclusion.
"Having a formal program focused on inclusivity and equity is important because what gets measured gets done,” Armstrong said.
Forging a new path towards inclusion
Sudha Tangudu says she has been supported at TD through both her work and health journeys. Tangudu was born with a degenerative eye disease. When she first started her career at TD, she had some vision loss and had assistive technology support for eyesight on the job, but eventually, she lost all her vision, and both her daily and work experience changed.
“That’s when I noticed things were not accessible,” said Tangudu, who works as a Credit Support Officer, and received a Changemakers award from TD in 2023.
After she lost her vision, Tangudu needed additional tools to be able to work. However, she found that everything from using the elevator to grabbing lunch in the cafeteria became more difficult because the building where she worked was not fully accessible for her changing needs.
Tangudu decided to share her story in a series of blog posts to educate her colleagues about how being Blind affects her life. Soon after that, she joined the Bank’s People with Disabilities Committee, where she has continued to volunteer her time to help make every facet of the Bank accessible.
Tangudu's goal wasn’t just to make the Bank a better place for herself. She wanted to bring about large-scale changes that would help TD colleagues and customers with a range of disabilities. She is currently testing a new platform the Bank is preparing to roll out to ensure it’s accessible to Blind users.
When Tangudu realized that she could not activate a new credit card on her own because she could not read the small Card Verification Code (CVC) on the back of the card, she spearheaded a program to offer Braille and large print credit cards for customers with vision disabilities.
“People want to be independent,” Tangudu said.
Learn about the U.S. recipients of the TD Bank Disability Inclusion Changemakers for 2023 award.
The TD Bank Disability Inclusion Changemakers for 2023 recipients exemplify the Bank's culture of care and inclusive workplace where all employees are encouraged to bring their authentic selves to work, which includes fostering conversations and actionable outcomes to help drive a more inclusive, equitable workplace. TD has long been recognized for its achievements in disability inclusion, including top rankings in DiversityInc, Forbes list of Best Employers for Diversity 2023 and the Disability Equality Index DEI, the benchmark of excellence within the disability community.