Grant Minish started as a farmer from Saskatchewan before moving to Vancouver Island in 1987 to open a restaurant. After building a successful business and selling it, Minish moved to Vancouver and started working for TD Bank Group in 1989.
“Farmer to restaurateur to banker,” jokes Minish. “Before my current role I was branch manager for the two Davie Village locations. This changed twelve years ago when TD approached me for help in revamping their diversity portfolio.”
Thanks to his efforts, TD decided to significantly expand a grassroots campaign to engage and support LGBT employees and clients. TD asked Minish to take the reins and lead the campaign in B.C.
“It’s an interesting experience when your company 'outs' you to 50,000 co-workers,” said Minish. "But it turned out to be a great opportunity for me and TD. This was the right thing to do for our customers, the community and our employees. We set up an employee resource group right away and the top-down, bottom up support from the company made this a resounding success.”
As the Regional Manager for LGBT Business Development, Minish’s day-to-day involves engaging the community in B.C. and supporting relevant provincial initiatives like Out In Schools and local events like the annual Vancouver Pride Parade and Festival.
“I was reaching out to community organizations unofficially before this,” said Minish. “But being given legitimacy by the company helped things out a great deal: it formalizes relationships with the community in a more structured way.”
Grant lived through the negativity that was prevalent throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Vancouver’s inclusive LGBT community welcomed Grant, while his company recognized the importance of him bringing his 'whole self' to work and supported him.
“It’s important to be who you are at work,” said Minish, “We’ve come a long way since 1989 when there was need to be a little closeted and fearful for your career, but there’s still more work to do.”
TD is now taking a lead role among North American companies in supporting transgender employees and customers. In 2009, they developed workplace transition guidelines to help support employees who choose to transition in the workplace and recently partnered with the Canadian Professional Association for Transgender Health to establish a community of practice program.