Senior Vice-President of Automotive Finance, Scotiabank
Helming a team of more than 700 people at Scotiabank Automotive Finance, John Hiscock is working to drive diversity, equity and inclusion at the bank and throughout the wider automotive sector.
Providing a platform, as well as mentorship for staff from diverse groups, Hiscock has brought a wider set of voices to the decision-making table, while championing inclusivity through encouraging team members to bring their “authentic self” to the office.
“You don’t have to express what your sexual orientation is, or what your beliefs are of certain things, but we want you to feel safe to bring that to work,” Hiscock said.
Such initiatives have already paid dividends, he added, pointing to high marks employees have provided on internal surveys when asked to rank the sense of inclusivity at the office.
Scotiabank Automotive Finance, whose business spans the retail, commercial and non-prime segments of the industry, began focusing on diversity about six years ago. As with automotive more broadly, auto banking had traditionally been “very white male-dominated,” and the process at Scotiabank began with closing the gender gap through initiatives such as Women in Automotive, Hiscock said.
“On the gender front, I feel we’ve done a good job in a relatively short period of time,” he said, noting 60 per cent of staff today identify as non-male.
Building on the success of adding women to the workforce, Hiscock and the bank’s other diversity champions began broadening their focus to other underrepresented groups just before the pandemic.
To push the automotive finance team in this direction, Hiscock has taken a leading role developing programs to attract more Indigenous talent, as well as mandated balanced hiring practices through diverse hiring panels and encouraging broader representation among candidates. He has also seen that all leaders within the division have received unconscious bias training.
Hiscock was instrumental in the formation of the bank’s Automotive Finance Diversity and Inclusion Group, which he said is now driven mainly by several senior leaders, including Anne Marie Desando, vice-president of manufacturer partnerships and dealer programs within the division.
“Last year was really focused on just driving awareness across the business. This year we’re going to focus a little bit more on driving activities. ... Next year, we’ll probably start getting deeper into measuring success.”
As it advances its own diversity and equity initiatives, Scotiabank Automotive Finance is lending its expertise to clients. Hiscock said the team’s head of diversity and inclusion council highlighted the diversity work under way across Scotiabank for Mazda Canada’s senior management, offering it up to be replicated at the auto brand.
Under Hiscock’s guidance, the banking division is also branching out with new partnerships in the wider automotive community. It is providing financial backing or other support for events aimed at bringing a greater range of perspectives into the industry that will help the sector’s workforce better reflect its diverse customer base.
“If we do that, we make better decisions for the products we give our dealers and OEMs, and that means success for them,” Hiscock said. “It’s really that whole chain that we’re trying to drive the change with.”