Branksome Board of Governors Vice-Chair Mona Malone earns Report on Business ‘Best Executive’ Award
When Mona Malone, Vice-Chair of Branksome Hall’s Board of Governors, was a little girl, she told her mom she wanted to be a teacher. Though her career path led to the upper ranks of BMO Financial Group—where she just earned one of 50 coveted Report on Business Magazine’s ‘Best Executive’ Awards, in the Human Resources category—her ambitions have remained constant since childhood.
“There’s nothing more fulfilling than seeing others grow and develop,” says Malone, BMO’s Chief Human Resources Officer and Head of People & Culture. “In my role I have an opportunity to put in place programs that allow others to build new skills, coach and develop others and allow them to grow as people.”
The bank has launched welcome initiatives this past year, including the “Wellness at BMO” hub for employees, a one-stop shop providing quick access to resources under the pillars of mental, physical, social and financial health. Malone has also been integral to enacting pandemic supports such as paid time-off for vaccination, extra lieu days for pandemic-related matters and regular call-in sessions with mental-health experts.
Likewise, for more than 20 years, Malone has been innovating for BMO. As a member of the bank's Executive Committee, she has played a key role in advancing the bank's diversity, equity and inclusion strategy.
“We are building an inclusive work environment through learning,” says Malone. “For example, we developed [a 45-minute e-learning experience for] indigenous training we call Nisitohtamowin (ᓂᓯᑐᐦᑕᒧᐃᐧᐣ) pronounced ‘Nis-toh-tum-win,’ which means ‘understanding’ in Cree. It provides a historical view of Canada reframed from an Indigenous perspective, to promote awareness, understanding and positive relations with Indigenous Peoples today.”
As well, she was an advocate for workplace structures that recognize and value diversity. More than a decade ago her leadership helped create a “Count Me In” campaign to promote the importance of being open about differences, self-advocating and sharing stories.
“This contributes to a culture of belonging where people feel valued, respected and heard,” says Malone. “Employees are encouraged to self-identify as members of diverse groups. While the aggregate data is important for benchmarking and development of programs, it’s equally important to build a safe environment for people to ‘count themselves in.’”
Throughout her 25-year career, learning and development, especially of young people, has been a consistent theme. In addition to her work with Branksome as Board of Governors Vice-Chair and Chair of the People and Culture Advisory Committee, she has earned a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition of her community service with youth development organizations. She also teaches at BMO’s Institute for Learning. Built in 1994, it is one of the few standalone, corporate learning facilities in Canada.
“Outside of work my passion is development and mentorship of youth,” says Malone. “Developing the next generation is what will make Canada competitive on the global stage. This is relevant to my contributions as a Branksome Board member and parent [to Grade 11 student Sarah]; we have an exceptional school and opportunity to prepare our girls with a social, emotional and academic foundation for the future. Creating a safe and open learning environment that fosters meaningful connections and experiences could not be more important for youth; this is what inspires and brings out the best in everyone.”
Definitely fellow Branksome Board Vice-Chair Don Guloien speaks for so many when he says, “Heartiest congratulations Mona! [This award is] very well-deserved. It’s a great honour working with you.”