Christina Ho: Stepping Out of Our Comfort Zones
Walid Ali  |  OSFI Cloud Program Lead

Being My Authentic Self

For Walid Ali, working at RBC means he can be his true and authentic self. And he hopes he can serve as an example for other members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community. “When they see somebody like me, fully expressing myself, it helps build trust and it’s easier for them to bring more of themselves to work.”

Walid believes this level of authenticity allows employees to contribute their ideas more freely and focus their energy on their job — rather than worrying about whether or not they need to hide their identities. “You are not just happier, but more productive overall when you don’t have these invisible barriers that take up valuable mental space,” observes Walid.

As chair of RBC’s T&O PRIDE Employee Resource Group, Walid is helping to foster that open and safe environment. The group is doing incredible work to create safe spaces and opportunities for leadership and mentorship. The Employee Resource Group provides content to teach people about gender identity and sexual orientation, while tackling unconscious bias in the hiring process and well beyond. 

They also have events celebrating all identities in the 2SLGBTQ+ community all year round — not just in June during Pride month. Outside of the office, the group facilitates meaningful volunteer opportunities for RBC employees with 2SLGBTQ+ organizations like QueerTech, Sherbourne Health, ArQuives, amongst others. “This ultimately benefits us all, including the disadvantaged communities that need our help,” says Walid. 

He believes the group is having an even deeper impact on all employees: “To see a company really care about Pride throughout the year and support representation from the executive level all the way down is really inspiring. It helps us feel more comfortable to bring more of ourselves to work.” 

Walid doesn’t think any of this openness would be possible if it wasn’t for RBC’s “flat” organization structure that prioritizes collaboration. This essentially means that a more junior staff member can walk into a Vice President’s office and ask for feedback without having to go through several managerial layers. “With that kind of openness, you can really gain a different perspective on your career,” says Walid. “That environment of trust helps foster our creativity and allows us to build our careers.” 

On a personal level, Walid has found the work he’s done with the PRIDE committee to be invaluable in helping him reach his own potential. Employee Resource Groups provide leadership opportunities, mentorship, a chance to speak up and a way to give back. “Executives support a number of resource groups, including women in tech and our pride group,” says Walid. “This shows someone who may be a minority that their voice is there to be heard and it does matter.” 

Walid is extremely grateful for the work environment at RBC. As he puts it: “We celebrate one another’s differences. This in turn helps fuel improved overall productivity, creativity and can serve to enrich one another’s lives beyond our careers.”

Christina Ho

Walid Ali

OSFI Cloud Program Lead