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Q&A: How TD Is Living Its Purpose, Driving SDGs with The Ready Commitment

Image courtesy of TD.

TD Bank Group recently launched its corporate citizenship strategy to center on a new multi-year program, The Ready Commitment. Guided by the bank’s purpose, focus on creating shared value and desire to support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), TD is targeting CDN $1 billion (US $775 million) toward community giving by 2030 in The Ready Commitment’s four focus areas:

  • Financial Security - Increase access to the opportunities people need to help improve their financial security, over the short, medium and long-term, ranging from access to affordable housing to financial literacy to early learning and income stability;
  • Vibrant Planet - Help elevate the quality of our environment to ensure both people and economies can thrive, including enhancing green spaces, and supporting the transition to a low-carbon economy with a target of CDN $100 billion (US $78 billion) in low-carbon lending, financing, asset management and other programs by 2030;
  • Connected Communities - Create opportunities for everyone to participate and be included in their community, by bringing people together through shared experiences, supporting diverse narratives in arts and culture, and responding to local needs; and
  • Better Health - Support more equitable health outcomes through investing in research, technology and innovative solutions that improve access for all.

We spoke with Andrea Barrack, VP of Global Corporate Citizenship at TD Bank Group, to learn more.

What prompted the creation of a new, multi-year program, and how did TD select The Ready Commitment’s four focus areas?

Andrea Barrack: We are living in a time of unprecedented change — from the digitization of industry and the transition to a low-carbon economy, to changes in consumer behaviour and the unintended impacts of urbanization. There is a lot of uncertainty around what this change will bring and what the future will look like, which is undermining people's confidence that they can meet their personal and financial goals today and in the future. That's why we started The Ready Commitment — to help open doors for a more inclusive and sustainable tomorrow. As a financial institution and one of North America's largest employers, we have a responsibility to help our customers, colleagues and communities feel ready to not only embrace change, but to live well today and succeed tomorrow.

To help develop this program, we conducted internal and external research to better understand the issues impacting all of us today, as well as those that may continue to affect us 10, 20, 30 years from now. Through that effort we identified the Four Drivers of Interconnected Change — Financial Security, Vibrant Planet, Connected Communities and Better Health. These four drivers are where we feel we can make the greatest impact and we are targeting a total of $1 billion by 2030 towards community given in those areas.  

TD’s latest Corporate Responsibility Report outlines the ambition, approach and actions for each of The Ready Commitment’s four focus areas. How is TD measuring progress against these actions?

TD Bank's
Andrea Barrack
will discuss
Activating Employees
Around the World and
Measuring the Value
of Volunteering

next week at
SB'18 Vancouver

AB: To make sure we are creating meaningful and tangible change, we will look at the outcomes of the programs and initiatives we support — lives touched, lives enhanced, live changed — instead of just focusing on outputs such as dollars spent. We are in the process of developing an impact measurement framework that will help us track our efforts in these areas so that we can create impact beyond our last dollar invested. As a bank with purpose, we also firmly believe that we can create shared value through our business, products and services, colleagues and community investments. Our aspiration is to link those pieces together to help create social, environmental and economic value, and we will measure our efforts against that.

Each focus area relates to at least one of the SDGs and The Ready Commitment shares the SDGs’ 2030 deadline. Did TD base the new program on the SDGs? Will they influence which actions or projects TD will take on?

AB: TD has a long-standing history of championing diversity, human rights and financial education. Equally important has been our efforts to support the transition to a low-carbon economy and to grow and enhance green spaces so that people and economies can thrive. Our alignment to the Sustainable Development Goals reflects our commitment to helping make the world a better, more inclusive place for all. In some way our work touches on all 17 of the SDGs, but we have prioritized the nine where we feel we can make the greatest impact through The Ready Commitment.

We will look for opportunities to support initiatives and programs that elevate more than one of our four drivers at a time, which will also touch multiple SDGs at once. Because many of the issues are interconnected, when the four drivers are addressed together we can make an even greater impact.

Click to enlarge. How TD’s four focus areas align with the SDGs. | Image courtesy of TD.

You have said TD’s purpose is “enriching lives.” What does that mean for TD, and how is being a bank with purpose adding value for the company?

AB: At TD, we firmly believe that we will do well by doing good. This has been our guiding light for many years and one of the reasons why I joined TD. We know that the long-term success of our business depends upon the resilience and health of the people we serve — our customers, colleagues and communities. We are in the business of helping people achieve their financial and personal goals, and this is a responsibility we take to heart. Today, 62 percent of people globally believe companies have a responsibility to act with purpose, each year more people around the world are willing to pay more for purpose-driven products and services, and employees that derive meaning from their work are three times more likely to stay with their organization. The benefits of creating shared value are no longer a myth. Business has the power of scale to drive change in a way that will create value for communities and economies. That is what The Ready Commitment seeks to do — we are applying our business expertise to scale innovative, collaborative solutions that will help us continue to serve those around us.

What can attendees expect from TD at SB’18 Vancouver?

AB: TD is fortunate and thrilled to present two different sessions during the Sustainable Brands conference. On the morning of day one, I hope you’ll join us, along with Arbor Day, to plant trees in Stanley Park. The tree-planting initiative is a great way to spend time outside, to get to know the other conference participants, and to explore one of the many beautiful green spaces that Vancouver is known for. In fact, TD has a long history with Stanley Park. For the last seven years we have been supporting tree plantings and revitalization initiatives there through our TD Friends of the Environment Foundation (TD FEF). Dan Lambe, President of Arbor Day, and Carolyn Scotchmer, the Executive Director of TD FEF, will also be speaking about how sustainability goals can connect our communities, customers and colleagues together.

The session I will be speaking at is on the power of engaging your employees to achieve your philanthropic goals and of creating meaningful work. Along with Kirsty Jennings, the Global Corporate Responsibility Leader at PwC, I will be co-hosting the session. We will shine a spotlight on a new global initiative, IMPACT 2030, which is a private-sector led collaboration with the United Nations, of which TD is a founding partner. It formed around the notion that human capital investments — our employees, our time, our skills — will help move the dial on the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Launched in 2006, Sustainable Brands has become a global learning, collaboration, and commerce community of forward-thinking business and brand strategy, marketing, innovation and sustainability professionals who are leading the way to a better future. We recognize that brands today have… [Read more about Sustainable Brands]

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