Big Six banks missing the mark on hiring people with disabilities

By Jonathan Got | February 6, 2024 | Last updated on February 6, 2024
3 min read
Toronto Financial District Skyscrapers look-up: Bay and Adelaide
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The financial sector and each of the Big Six banks have hired women, Indigenous people and visible minorities close to their availability rate in the sector’s labour force, but the representation of people with disabilities is still low, according to data from 2021 released by Equi’Vision, the federal government’s new equity tool.

Over half of all employees (54.7%) in the financial sector were women, similar to the percentage of women in the labour market available to work in the sector, which was 58.9% (referred to as sector availability below). Although visible minorities as a whole were overrepresented at 39.5% compared to sector availability of 31.2%, the proportion of Indigenous employees (1.5%) in the sector was below sector availability (1.7%).

People with disabilities were also underrepresented in financial services, at 5.2% compared to sector availability of 9.2%.

The Equi’Vision data was provided by federally regulated private-sector employers under the Employment Equity Act.

The rates of female employees among the Big Six banks hovered between 54% and 56.3%. However, there was a wider range of Indigenous employees (0.6% to 3.1%) and employees of colour (23.6% to 46.1%) at the big banks. The percentage of employees with disabilities at the Big Six banks was between 2.6% and 8.7%.

Toronto-based CIBC was a leader in equitable hiring among the Big Six. It had the highest proportion of visible minority and Indigenous employees. It also had the second-highest proportion of women (behind RBC) and people with disabilities (second to TD). On the flip side, Montreal-based National Bank of Canada was the least diverse.

BankWomenIndigenous peoplePeople with disabilitiesVisible minorities
Bank of Montreal54.3%1.4%4.0%41.9%
Bank of Nova Scotia55.0%1.2%7.4%40.4%
National Bank of Canada54.0%0.6%2.6%23.6%
Royal Bank of Canada56.3%1.3%3.3%39.1%
Toronto-Dominion Bank54.4%1.1%8.7%42.3%
Sector representation54.7%1.5%5.9%39.5%
Sector availability58.9%1.7%9.2%31.2%

Equi’Vision also collected data on the mean hourly wage gap (excluding bonus and overtime pay) in 2021 from all four diversity categories. While people with disabilities in the financial sector were paid almost the same as their able-bodied colleagues (97 cents to the dollar), the data shows that women (82 cents), Indigenous employees (89 cents) and visible minorities (89 cents) were paid less.

The situation was more encouraging among the Big Six banks. All six banks paid employees with disabilities 95 cents or more for each dollar an able-bodied colleague earned, with the Bank of Montreal exceeding that at $1.09. Similarly, visible minorities were paid 96 cents or more per dollar a non-minority colleague earned, except National Bank, which paid 89 cents.

Female employees in the Big Six earned between 81 to 85 cents per dollar a male colleague earned, except National Bank at 75 cents. The numbers varied for Indigenous employees from a low of 81 cents at Scotiabank to a high of $1.02 at National Bank.

Most of the banks provided additional context on the wage gaps. Several noted that the Equi’Vision data does not adjust for differences in an employee’s experience, location or personal situation, among other factors. BMO, Scotiabank and CIBC said their adjusted pay gaps have narrowed to within 3% for all segments.

BankMen vs womenNon-Indigenous vs IndigenousPersons with disabilities vs persons without disabilitiesVisible minorities vs non-minorities
Bank of Montreal$0.81 $0.84 $1.09 $0.98
Bank of Nova Scotia$0.81 $0.81 $0.97 $1.02
CIBC$0.84 $0.86 $0.97 $0.96
National Bank of Canada$0.75 $1.02 $0.95 $0.89
Royal Bank of Canada$0.82 $0.86 $0.97 $0.99
Toronto-Dominion Bank$0.85 $0.89 $0.99 $0.96
Sector-wide$0.82 $0.89 $0.97 $0.89

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Jonathan Got

Jonathan Got is a reporter with and its sister publication, Investment Executive. Reach him at