The Women to Watch: No. 7, TD Bank's Ellen Patterson
Group Head and General Counsel, TD Bank Group
If there's been a downside to the #MeToo movement it's that some men have pulled back from engaging too much with women in the workplace out of fear that their actions might be misinterpreted.
That so concerns Ellen Patterson, the general counsel at TD Bank Group, that she has spearheaded a program across the Toronto company's footprint that aims to counteract any #MeToo backlash and reinforce the idea that men need to be a big part of any organization's diversity and inclusion efforts.
Patterson, who chairs TD's global Women in Leadership program, has brought in subject matter experts to lead forums that engage TD employees in frank discussions about relationships in the workplace and encourage them to open up about any anxieties they may have.
TD has a strong history of promoting women — three of the company's 10 group heads, including Patterson, are women — and Patterson said that "open dialogue and proactive engagement" will allow the bank "to build on our track record of success to create an even more inclusive and diverse workplace for the future."
Patterson has been TD Group's general counsel since 2016 and before that was the general counsel for the company's U.S. unit, TD Bank. Her group provides legal and compliance advice to all the company's business lines, oversees TD's anti-money laundering and risk mitigation efforts and runs all internal investigations.
Patterson is a strong believer that collaboration across business functions produces the best outcomes for the customers and the communities TD serves.
An example: A few years back, when she was still running legal and compliance for the U.S. operations, Patterson instructed the compliance team to work closely with business line head in structuring TD Bank's Community Reinvestment Act program. This involved ceding some responsibilities that once fell under legal and compliance in order to establish clear accountability for meeting the bank's CRA requirements.
The result was an "outstanding" CRA rating from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency for the years 2014 to 2017.