09/20/2013 01:29 pm ET Updated Nov 20, 2013

Race for the Kids

When it comes to discussing big business, we often hear about the need for companies to be good corporate citizens. And while I'm sure most of us agree that corporations have certain social responsibilities, it is not so clear what that means, exactly. Making an impact on the environment? Your employees? The community? Stakeholders? Paying taxes? The answer is a combination of all of these.

Corporate responsibility is about setting a good example. It's about inspiring other organizations to operate with integrity and earn the respect of their clients, employees, shareholders and, just as important, communities. At RBC, corporate citizenship is ingrained in our culture. We are committed to supporting organizations around the world that make a difference and inspire others, particularly those organizations focused on helping our youth and on the environment. And generally, as institutions, it's important that banks focus on serving the social purpose of what they were originally intended to do -- to be a pillar of their local community, to be a good corporate citizen, and to lend money responsibly and to protect and help grow the assets of their customers, whether they be individuals or institutions.

RBC, the 11th largest bank in the world by market capitalization, has more than 8,000 employees in the U.S. and 80,000 globally. Since 2005, RBC in New York City has grown employee count from roughly 450 to more than 3,000 today. The creation of a strong corporate culture throughout the hiring of many individuals was not left to chance. Throughout the financial crisis, our strong culture was built in part through our commitment to corporate responsibility. This served as the anchor both for our employees within the firm and for our firm within the community.

We became the proud title sponsor of the RBC Race for the Kids five years ago. Each September, employees across our firm participate in the BBBS RBC Race for the Kids -- part of the Nickelodeon Worldwide Day of Play. It is an incredible day in which RBC employees and their families gather to support an organization that provides young people throughout New York City with caring adult role models who help them reach their full potential.

Last year, the RBC Race for the Kids raised close to $850,000 and roughly 1,000 RBC employees -- almost one-third of our New York staff -- participated in some way. The commitment demonstrated by our employees at the Race and our other initiatives around the world has also allowed us to add real value for our clients.

And our support goes beyond just a financial commitment. The RBC Race for the Kids is our flagship event in the U.S. and RBC's largest charitable event outside of Canada. Team RBC has by far the largest presence of any team on Race day, and a number of our employees serve as a "Bigs" as part of BBBS' match program. Our commitment to BBBS has been a source of unity internally and has been deeply rewarding for us. And it has been positive for employee morale and has helped build our firm's culture.

As a trustee of Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC -- the nation's first and New York's largest mentoring organization -- I've personally witnessed the difference a caring, adult mentor can make in the life of a child. The foundation of BBBS is built on setting a good example: being a mentor and role model for children who may not have someone else to set that example for them. We are honored to help them in their efforts to make a larger impact - and to set a good example for other corporations.

We're inspired by the work of BBBS and other nonprofits that we support in the U.S., such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award, the Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and the Ronald McDonald House.

Globally, RBC supports a broad range of community initiatives through donations, sponsorships and employee volunteer activities. In 2012, RBC contributed more than $95 million to causes worldwide.

On Saturday, September 21, thousands of New Yorkers will come together at Brooklyn's Prospect Park for the 9th annual Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City RBC Race for the Kids, to raise awareness of the power of mentoring and to generate funding critical to the organization's mission. BBBS of NYC has set a fundraising goal of $1 million for this year's race, which will go toward providing one-to-one mentoring relationships for at-risk youth throughout the five boroughs.

It is time for all of us to start thinking more about corporate citizenship and how it can be a key contributor in building the culture of any organization. I encourage you to make a difference by joining the cause. Lay the foundation for future goodwill now, so over time it will become embedded in your organization's DNA. The sooner you start to lead, the sooner others will start to follow. We've done that at RBC, and it's undoubtedly one of the things that I am most proud of in my career.

To register for Race for the Kids, please visit All proceeds will benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC's youth mentoring programs. For more information about BBBS of NYC, visit