Not Canadian Enough? My Experience with RBC

  • The largest Bank of Canada continues to have discrimination.
  • There is no one to address the discrimination at the entity.
  • As society we should be able to do better.

Today, I have experienced true sadness about Canada. The beautiful country that is welcoming to immigrants is not the same. Always tolerant and accepting? Not so fast. Yes, I have experienced prejudice this week. The same Royal Bank of Canada, who just pledged in June support for anti-racism and diversity, just discriminated against me.

According to the RBC statement:

“Diversity and inclusion is a key enabler in bringing RBC’s purpose of helping clients thrive and communities prosper to life. It is a core value at RBC, and we are committed to making our workplaces, culture and communities inclusive and welcoming for all. This week, our Diversity Leadership Council met to discuss anti-Black racism and to chart our own path forward by listening and providing support and opportunities for Black voices to be heard. We need to continue on this journey every day, because in this divisive age, respect and empathy matter more than ever.”

The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) is a Canadian multinational financial services company and the largest bank in Canada by market capitalization. The bank serves over 16 million clients and has 86,000+ employees worldwide.

This statement is just that, a statement. The truth is much different. There have been previous complaints, and even an ongoing lawsuit pertaining to discrimination against a foreign-born Canadian citizen.

In my case, I was told I need to verify that I am indeed a Canadian citizen. I was surprised, since it is an established relationship with the institution.  The only thing different about me is my place of birth and my accent. I never found it before to be a disadvantage. RBC thinks differently.

Once verifying tax forms and my place of birth is not Canada, there was an immediate demand to verify my passport information. Even though in Canada, just like in the US, you have to provide a Social Insurance Number, which is equivalent to a Social Security Number in the US. This is necessary to  to open an account, investments, etc.

At that point, I bluntly asked, if it is because of my accent and place of birth. No explanation was given, but remarks were made that make sure the passport is valid and mine. I felt humiliated.

Most immigrants have a dream. My parents had a dream to escape a horrid regime and to give the children a better life. My parents came under business class and invested in the Canadian economy. There were certain ups and downs and multiple events that changed my life.

Nevertheless, I always thought I am Canadian. I always believed that I am Western. I never once thought otherwise. My parents put a huge emphasis on me speaking French and English, even before coming to Canada. I always had government jobs in Canada, and have done bilingual work. I always thought it is wonderful, how diverse and amazing to have people, who all have a dream at a safe, good life.

As I am writing this, I never thought Canada 2020, will be like this. How did we go wrong as society and as such large institution to even do such things to customers? How is it ok? I am educated, well spoken, and yet not “Canadian” enough.

Conversation with RBC

Upon recovering of the initial shock of the experience, I have asked for the manger and was told no one is available. I have posted on social media what happened under my personal account. I received a response, “thank you for your feedback we will send it to the head office.” No one to call me back. It seems it was ok to do that to a person.

As a principal, I did  have provide a copy of my passport, but I am disgusted. I can’t even imagine what a newcomer would experience, or even worse, someone who is a visible minority by RBC. I have spent all my cognitive years since middle school in Canada. I have attended one of the best private schools. Yet, I didn’t sound Canadian to RBC. Not even an apology, not even concern. Just that cold response.

When will the day come when we stop this behavior?  When will corporations decide to stop doing this to people. How is it ok? Should everyone file complaints with human rights? How many times, under the guise of verification and the claim, we are protecting you from possible fraud, one is allowed to discriminate?

What does a Canadian look or sound like? The problems seem to be both in the US and Canada. In the US, people blame Trump’s politics, who do we blame in Canada?

We as civilized society need to do better. Until better days, it will continue. When it be enough? Why does such big entity in Canada like RBC not have a discrimination hotline, or even an easy way to have a call back to report such incidents? Are clients invisible? Should people just comply and feel powerless?

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Christina Kitova

I spent most of my professional life in finance, insurance risk management litigation.

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