Women Leaders Q&A: Leanne Kaufman

We connected with several prominent women leaders in Canada to hear their thoughts on women in the workplace, women’s health, and why they support Women for Women’s.

Meet Leanne Kaufman, President and CEO of RBC Royal Trust RBC Royal Trust

I’m the President and CEO of RBC Royal Trust, the personal trust company for RBC in Canada. We act as executor, trustee and power of attorney for clients, or help clients who find themselves acting in those roles. I head up the business, meaning I’m responsible for the strategic direction and ultimate delivery of the services directly to clients, as well as the relationships that flow with their other professional advisors.  

How do you think the pandemic has changed the landscape for women in the workforce – particularly at a leadership level?

One distinct difference I have noticed about leadership in the pandemic environment is the focus on empathy, compassion, and the “soft skills” of leadership – areas in which women often have the advantage. Beyond that, women of course at all levels have been particularly challenged by balancing the needs of home and work during the pandemic.

Caregiving, whether for young children or ageing adults, still more commonly falls to the women in the family. With limitations on outside services such as school, daycare, and adult day services, and possible hesitancy to bring caregivers into the home during peak waves, it is easy to see how overwhelming caregiving and working at the same time has been for so many women.

How does your company help to create equity for women in the workplace? 

RBC is committed to increasing the representation of women in leadership and promoting equal access to career opportunities for everyone. Women hold many critical roles across our VP, SVP and EVP population, and also represented 51% new hires, 54% of promotions and 44% of executives last year.  Women currently represent 30% of Group Executive and 46% of the Board of Directors.  Since 2015, RBC has increased the representation of women executives from 38% to 44%.

What advice, support or habit has most helped you to thrive as a woman in the workplace?

I’ve always felt that it is important to be an authentic representation of my true self at work. When I was offered a promotion once, I expressed concern that I didn’t have some of the personality traits of my predecessor. But I was reminded that, being who I am had got me to that point in my career, so it probably wasn’t the best time to start pretending to be something else.

Why are you raising your voice for women’s health at Women for Women’s?

I’m a supporter of women’s health and in particular, healthy ageing. Women continue to live longer than men, but also end up disproportionately represented in long term care facilities, and in need of care towards end of life in greater numbers. Health and wealth are inexorably linked, so the work we do in impacted by the health of our clients; in some cases, wealth can also determine what kind of health care and living choices are available. It’s a delicate balance, but it’s all connected.  

To join the movement to revolutionize healthcare with Rona at Women for Women’s, visit: womenforwomens.ca