Canadians who care: Super Mentor- Dauna Jones-Simmonds of TD Canada Trust

by Adrienne Robertson

Dauna Jones-Simmonds - Super MentorLike a mother bragging about her kids or a teacher gushing about the successes of her students, Dauna Jones-Simmonds proclaims how proud she is of her mentees.

“I’ve seen them grow, progress and blossom,” she says. “I tell them not to give up and they’ve held on.” Jones-Simmonds is a mentor to over 30 people. She advocates for homeless youths, youth at risk, people with disabilities and new immigrants.

These passions mirror the goals of Jones-Simmonds’ career, as well: she is the Manager of Diversity for TD Canada Trust, where she works on programs created to help integrate newcomers in the Canadian workforce and to celebrate and encourage diversity.

Jones-Simmonds is happy to work for TD Bank Financial Group, a company that works to build a culture of inclusion and a fair workplace where all employees have the opportunity to grow.

“We need to make sure we have a workforce that represents our communities,” says Jones-Simmonds. This means hiring new employees from all different backgrounds and setting them up for success.

The first program to which new employees might be exposed is the TD Workplace Readiness Program According to Jones-Simmonds, this initiative is designed for individuals such as newcomers and for people with disabilities, to “give them a leg up.”

The program introduces new employees to the company, gives them information about accommodations and generally gives them the knowledge and information they need to be successful.

This program is important for new employees so that “when they come to the organization, they’re not thrown cold into the job. We hope that integration will be seamless for them,” says Jones-Simmonds.

TD Canada Trust also runs mentorship programs for new employees. These programs are intended to help recently hired newcomers advance their careers more strategically.

As part of their Group Mentoring Program, employees who are mentees have the opportunity to hear more from local leaders. They can then discuss the presentations and learn from other people’s experiences, hopefully inspiring them to think about their careers and progress.

In order to maintain consistency in all parts of the company, Jones-Simmonds also introduced the concept of the TD Canada Trust Diversity Network, which aligns all of TD’s diversity committees so they share similar visions. The committees can now share best practices and are aligned in terms of their goals and directions.

All of these programs and initiatives are in place so that new immigrants don’t arrive at their first day of work at TD and end up thrown into a job without knowing about the company and what other opportunities they might have in the future. Rather, they are integrated into their new positions and they are encouraged to grow within the company.

As for future projects, whether through TD Canada Trust or otherwise, Jones-Simmonds would like to help newcomers to Canada with their interviewing skills.

She says this is where many new immigrants fail – they don’t know how to market their transferable skills and impress recruiters.

Depending on what culture someone comes from, “it is not necessarily appropriate to sell yourself. I’d invest in helping people learn to boast without sounding boastful,” says Jones-Simmonds.

Breaking down some cultural barriers and helping newcomers prepare for job interviews would set them up with the skills they need to impress recruiters from large companies like TD and could help speed up integration.

Outside of TD Canada Trust, Jones-Simmonds’ dedication to helping others is just as deep.

“I like to say I can provide guidance based on my experience – ‘here’s what worked for me’ or ‘here’s what to look for,ˮ she says. “I can help them with how to progress.”

Jones-Simmonds is an Executive Board Member of ACCES Employment Services, which helps job seekers from all backgrounds find employment and integrate into the Canadian workforce.

She is also the Chair for JOIN, the Job Opportunity Information Network, a network of community organizations that assists persons living with disabilities to find and maintain employment. The organization also works with employers and recruiting programs, matching the right employee to the right employer.

But Jones-Simmonds’ real soft spot is helping people one-on-one which is why she cares so deeply for all of her mentees.

“I want to continue helping people with disadvantages in the workplace,” she says. “My first goal is to help people succeed in their careers and find success in employment.”

For more information on TD Bank Financial Group’s commitment to diversity, please visit
www.td.com/hr/diversity.jsp.

CNM