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Corporate Responsibility

1891Royal Bank’s first donation on record was to the Springhill Mine Accident Relief Fund, Halifax, Nova Scotia, for $250.
1902The first woman employed by Royal Bank was probably Jennie Moore, hired as a secretary in Vancouver, British Columbia.
19181,495 Royal Bank employees enlisted for active service during the First World War (1914-1918). A total of 318 employees (including the bank’s pre-1925 merger partners) made the ultimate sacrifice.
1926Royal Bank implemented a Group Life Insurance Plan for employees, making it one of the first businesses to offer this form of benefits to its employees.
1929Royal Bank started its corporate art collection.
1943The first issue of Royal Bank Monthly Letter (now RBC Letter) devoted to citizenship issues was published. Since 1920, the letter had focused on economic issues.
1945A total of 2,321 Royal Bank employees enlisted for active service during the Second World War (1939-1945). 202 employees made the ultimate sacrifice.
1947Royal Bank first sponsored the Canadian Olympic Association.
1967Dr. Wilder Penfield was given the first Royal Bank Award, the prize consisting of a gold medal and cash grant of $50,000. Originally known as the Royal Bank Centennial Award, the award was established as part of the bank’s contribution toward marking the celebration of the Centennial of Canadian Confederation, and was awarded annually for 35 years.
1968Georgette St. Cyr was the first woman to be appointed as a Royal Bank branch manager (Place Longueuil branch, Montreal).
1976Mitzi Dobrin was the first woman to be appointed to Royal Bank’s Board of Directors.
The Committee on Social Responsibility was established within Royal Bank’s Board of Directors, and a Social Policy Action Group was established within Corporate Communications.
1979Royal Bank established an Equal Employment Opportunity program, the first of its kind for a Canadian bank.
Suzanne Labarge was the first woman to be appointed as a Royal Bank executive.
1984Royal Bank’s first $1 million donation – was made to McGill University (University of Toronto received a similarly sized donation in 1988, and Queen’s University in 1989). Before 1995, these were the only three donations of $1 million or more.
Royal Bank was the first private sector corporation in Canada to pledge to abide by privacy protection guidelines issued by the Organization for Economic Co–operation and Development (O.E.C.D.).
Royal Bank released a directory of 450 locations equipped to provide access and services for the physically disabled.
1986Royal Bank introduced an instruction kit to help blind or visually impaired clients use its Personal Touch Banking (ATM) machines. Royal Bank also developed oversized copies of the ATM keyboard that could easily be folded and carried in a wallet, for use at ATMs when it was hard to see the small print on the keyboard.
1988Royal Bank was a founding sponsor, along with Imperial Oil, Labatt’s and F.W. McConnell Foundation, of the Canadian Philanthropic Society’s “Imagine” campaign. The campaign’s objective was to raise the level of individual and corporate giving to at least one percent of pre-tax income by profit by 1993.
1989Royal Bank responded to the call for corporations to introduce environmentally–friendly practices in their own shops. At the supply end, several stationery items were printed on recycled paper. The bank was the first major Canadian company to go this route.
Royal Bank sponsored the Harmony Foundation of Canada’s book, “Home & Family Guide: Practical Action for the Environment.” The book’s purpose was to help individuals and families translate their concern for the environment into action.
1990Royal Bank was the first chartered bank in Canada to adopt a comprehensive environment policy that addresses all aspects of business, from internal operations to commercial lending.
1991Royal Bank was the first chartered bank in Canada to publish a privacy code.
Royal Bank was the first major financial institution in Canada to open a full-service branch on a reserve in the Six Nations of the Grand River community at Ohsweken, Ontario.
1992Royal Bank published a new brochure entitled “Harassment – Don’t Let it Happen,” that included the bank’s policy on harassment.
Royal Bank was the first North American signatory to a United Nations policy on the environment.
Royal Bank was the first bank in Canada to provide Braille statements.
1996Royal Bank was named “Canada’s Most Respected Corporation” in social responsibility in the Globe and Mail’s annual poll and retained this position until the poll was discontinued in 2011.
1997Royal Bank was the first bank in Canada to install talking bank machines.
1998Royal Bank was the first financial institution in Canada to create an Advisory Council of Employees with Disabilities.
Royal Bank launched the RBC Canadian Painting Competition.
1999Suzanne Labarge was appointed Royal Bank’s first female Vice–Chairman.
2000Royal Bank was first Canadian bank to be named to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, remaining on this Index every year since.
2003Royal Bank was first Canadian financial institution to adopt the Equator Principles, bringing the number of banks adopting the Principles to twelve, and the number of countries they represent to eight. The Equator Principles are a framework for financial institutions to manage environmental and social issues in project financing.
2004Janice Fukakusa was appointed Royal Bank’s first female Chief Financial Officer.
2005Royal Bank released “The Diversity Advantage,” the first report of its kind to quantify the contribution of newcomers to the Canadian economy.
2007Royal Bank launched the Blue Water Project, a ten-year, $50 million donations program supporting not-for-profit organizations that protect watersheds and provide or ensure access to clean drinking water.
2009Royal Bank was named one of Canada’s Greenest Employers for 2009 in a competition organized by the editors of Canada’s Top 100 Employers.
Royal Bank launched the RBC Children’s Mental Health Project, a multi-year philanthropic commitment to support early intervention and public education programs in Canada.
RBC named Phil Fontaine, former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), as Special Advisor.
2010Royal Bank sponsored the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games and Olympic Torch Relay.
Royal Bank earned the prestigious Catalyst Award for advancing women and other diverse groups.
Royal Bank was the first Canadian financial institution to offer telephone customer service in Cree and Inuktitut.
Royal Bank of Canada is honoured with the GLOBE Foundation’s 8th annual 2010 GLOBE Corporate Award for Environmental Excellence for its outstanding achievement in environmental stewardship and corporate-wide approach to sustainability.
2012Royal Bank launched the RBC Impact Fund, the first of its kind in Canada, intended to help finance projects by organizations and entrepreneurs tackling social and environmental challenges.