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† There were 7,657,777 unique visitors to (desktop and mobile) for the 12 months ended December 31, 2018. Source: Google Analytics. ® ELUTA is a registered trade mark of Mediacorp Canada Inc.



12th Annual Edition

2019 Magazine Anthony Meehan, PUBLISHER

Editorial Team:


Kristina Leung, SENIOR EDITOR



Advertising Team:

Kristen Chow,


Ye Jin Suhe,


Sponsored Profile Writers:

Berton Woodward, SENIOR EDITOR

Michael Benedict Brian Bergman Sheldon Gordon Simon Hally Patricia Hluchy D’Arcy Jenish Bruce McDougall John Schofield Nora Underwood Barbara Wickens

©2019 Mediacorp Canada Inc. and The Globe and Mail. All rights reserved. CANADA’S BEST DIVERSITY EMPLOYERS is a trade mark of Mediacorp Canada Inc. Editorial inquiries:


CANADA’S BEST DIVERSITY EMPLOYERS p Employees at Vancouver Airport Authority taking part in a training session during the organization’s Diversity Month.

Best diversity employers build respectful, inclusive workplaces A truly diversified work force starts from the top down. It means creating an environment where employees, regardless of their race, gender, disability, country of origin or sexual orientation, can thrive.


iversity within an organization doesn’t just happen on its own. Canada’s Best Diversity Employers for 2019 understand that it takes more than good intentions to achieve a truly diversified work force. It starts from the top down with formulating a strategic plan for diversity that puts lofty words into meaningful action. Through a variety of innovative and progressive initiatives, these winning employers have each made huge strides toward creating a more inclusive and respectful workplace. That means providing the kind of environment where employees feel welcome and free to be themselves at work, regardless of race, gender, country of origin or sexual orientation. It means accommodating those with disabilities, including invisible ones such as mental-health issues, so that people get the support they need to succeed at their jobs. Some outstanding examples this year include Manulife, which recently embedded diversity and inclusion accountability into performance goals for its

leadership personnel, or Amex Canada, which launched a strategy to support the development and advancement of female employees. Currently, women represent 57 per cent of its senior leadership and 52 per cent of its board of directors. Many organizations have also formalized leadership or advisory groups to promote inclusivity, such as the City of Ottawa, which maintains a dedicated diversity and inclusion unit to help employees resolve discrimination issues and to raise awareness in the workplace and broader community, or the University of Victoria, which established a chair in transgender studies, the first of its kind, to further research the lives of trans and gender non-conforming people. The advantages of bringing in a broad variety of fresh voices to spark innovation and energize a company are already well established. Planning a more inclusive approach to hiring allows organizations to tap into the best talent Canada has to offer. For a road map on how to do it, take a look at this year’s winners. –Diane Jermyn





CANADA’S BEST DIVERSITY EMPLOYERS p With almost 7,500 employees, Health Canada recently launched a large, multiyear mental health and wellness initiative to improve the psychological well-being of all staff.


CCENTURE INC., Toronto. Management consulting; 4,864 employees. Continues to work toward advancing women in the workplace and achieving a gender-balanced work force by 2025. ACCESS COMMUNICATIONS CO-OPERATIVE LTD., Regina. Cable and telecommunications; 211 employees. Works with community organizations to provide employment opportunities to candidates from all walks of life, including SaskAbilities and Partners in Employment. AGRICULTURE AND AGRI-FOOD CANADA, Ottawa. Federal government; 4,609 employees. Created an Indigenous student recruitment initiative to provide opportunities for students to transition to the workplace after completing their education. AIR CANADA, Saint-Laurent, Que. Air transportation; 26,714 employees. Collaborated with Jazz Aviation to partner with First Nations Technical

Institute to help young aboriginal students pursue their ambition of becoming a pilot. ALBERTA HEALTH SERVICES / AHS, Edmonton. Health care; 46,765 employees. Maintains a diversity and inclusion community of practice and a diversity and inclusion employee network. AMEX BANK OF CANADA, Toronto. Credit card issuing; 1,555 employees. Maintains 10 active employee network chapters to provide networking and development opportunities.


C PUBLIC SERVICE, Victoria. Provincial government; 28,452 employees. Manages the Work-Able Graduate Internship program to provide opportunities to postsecondary graduates with disabilities to gain work experience within the public sector. BDC / BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT BANK OF CANADA, Montreal. Secondary market financing; 2,260 employees.

Aims to better serve female entrepreneurs through the Women Entrepreneur National Initiative, allocating funds for sponsorship of programs and initiatives for female entrepreneurs. BELL CANADA, Montreal. Communications; 38,613 employees. Maintains an internal mental-health policy and offers enhanced benefits coverage for mental-health care. BLAKE, CASSELS & GRAYDON LLP, Toronto. Law firm; 1,348 employees. Partnered with CIBC to create ReLaunch, a program focused on re-integrating talented female lawyers who have left the work force for two or more years. BOEING CANADA OPERATIONS LTD., Winnipeg. Aircraft equipment manufacturing; 1,808 employees. Works with Connecting Aboriginals to Manufacturing and the Centre for Aboriginal Human Resource Development to provide aboriginal youth employment opportunities.

BORDEN LADNER GERVAIS LLP, Toronto. Law firm; 1,356 employees. Created the Driven by Women initiative to support the needs of female-led and female-founded partners.


AMH / CENTRE FOR ADDICTION AND MENTAL HEALTH, Toronto. Specialty hospital; 2,432 employees. Provides bias-free interview training for recruiters and managers and ensures prospective candidates receive the appropriate accommodation if needed. CANADA MORTGAGE AND HOUSING CORP. / CMHC, Ottawa. Federal government; 1,861 employees. Established a unique special needs program for individuals with Down syndrome in 1993, providing mentoring, skills development and work experience. CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAY CO. / CN, Montreal. Railroad transportation; 16,597 employees. Created the Aspire program in 2012 to help educate young




p Taking the time to celebrate International Women’s Day at Export Development Canada.



women about opportunities in the railway industry. CAPGEMINI CANADA INC., Toronto. Information technology; 341 employees. Employs a supplier diversity director responsible for liaising with related associations to increase the diversity of the company’s supply chain. CAPITAL ONE BANK (CANADA BRANCH), Toronto. Credit card issuing; 1,242 employees. Established an associate consultation forum to help measure progress toward its three-year employment equity plan. CHILDREN’S AID SOCIETY OF TORONTO, THE, Toronto. Child and youth services; 792 employees. Provides hidden bias training for employees and uses World Education Services to assess immigrants’ qualifications. CIBC, Toronto. Banking; 36,203 employees. Created action plans to improve the

gender balance of women in leadership roles and manages a dedicated women’s network. CORUS ENTERTAINMENT INC., Toronto. Media production and broadcasting; 2,973 employees. Works with a number of local community organizations to support the employment of diverse individuals.


ENTONS CANADA LLP, Vancouver. Law firm; 1,138 employees. Implemented a national sexual orientation and gender identity policy and procedures to provide specific reference to how the LGBT community can expect to experience the workplace.


DMONTON, CITY OF, Edmonton. Municipal government; 9,817 employees. Works with local community organizations to support new Canadian job-seekers. EMPLOYMENT AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT CANADA, Gatineau,

Que. Federal government; 25,018 employees. Conducts gender-based analysis in order to assess the potential impact of new programs and policies on diverse groups of women and men. EXPORT DEVELOPMENT CANADA, Ottawa. International trade financing and support; 1,560 employees. Maintains a number of employee resource groups to support its diverse work force, including Women@EDC, Latinos Y Amigos, and LGBT+.


EALTH CANADA / SANTÉ CANADA, Ottawa. Federal government; 7,497 employees. Created a multi-year mental-health and wellness strategy to promote the psychological well-being of its work force. HOME DEPOT OF CANADA INC., Toronto. Retail; 13,175 employees. Participates in the federally-funded Ready, Willing and Able project.

HP CANADA CO., Mississauga. Computer technology and services; 485 employees. Participates in the regional Americas Diversity Council. HSBC BANK CANADA, Vancouver. Banking; 5,327 employees. Created a three-year diversity internship program that welcomed 30 employees, including individuals from Indigenous communities and persons with disabilities. HYDRO OTTAWA, Ottawa. Electric power distribution; 680 employees. Expanded its involvement in mental-health awareness by participating in Mental Health Week activities and offering Not Myself Today resources for employees.


BM CANADA LTD., Markham, Ont. Software development. Played host to multicultural women leadership forums across various locations in order to foster leadership development and networking opportunities





INNOVATION, SCIENCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CANADA, Ottawa. Federal government; 5,184 employees. Maintains a dedicated mental-health strategy as well as a mentalhealth network and champions.


AZZ AVIATION LP, Dartmouth, N.S. Air transportation; 4,660 employees. Provides mental-health awareness training to all managers from in-flight services teams.

AFARGE CANADA INC., Calgary. Concrete manufacturing; 6,844 employees. Committed to a 2030 action plan, which includes a goal of having 30 per cent of management roles held by women by the year 2030.

LOBLAW COMPANIES LTD., Brampton, Ont. Supermarkets; 32,448 employees. Created a formal process to help employees form “Loblaw Colleague Alliances,” groups of employees who come together with a common interest.


PMG LLP, Toronto. Accounting; 7,081 employees. Appointed its first chief mental-health officer in 2017 and added new mental-health and well-being questions to its global people survey.

p Elyssa Schmid, centre, an employee in the creative group at Capital One Bank, leads the purple team at Toronto’s Pride parade.


ANITOBA HYDRO, Winnipeg. Hydroelectric power generation; 5,124 employees. Participates in a transitional employment program called Project Search to provide work placements to high-school students with intellectual disabilities. MANITOBA, GOVERNMENT OF, Winnipeg. Provincial government; 12,536 employees. Manages a 12-month development program for high-potential employees who self-identify as aboriginal, visible minority, or a person with a disability.

MCCARTHY TÉTRAULT LLP, Toronto. Law firm; 1,400 employees. Maintains an internal pipeline scorecard to capture gender demographics of partners, associates and students, including


MANULIFE, Toronto. Insurance; 12,790 employees. Continues to engage employees in ongoing dialogue on inclusion through unconscious bias training.

p Bobby Wang, a partner in the business law group at McCarthy Tétrault LLP in Toronto, speaks at a Lunar New Year celebration.





statistics on advancement to partnership, lateral hires and departures. MCMASTER UNIVERSITY, Hamilton. University; 4,614 employees. Played host to disability discussions to provide space for students with disabilities to connect and present recommendations to address barriers.


ATIONAL BANK OF CANADA, Montreal. Banking; 16,047 employees. Established an employee resource group for LGBT employees.


NORTON ROSE FULBRIGHT CANADA LLP, Vancouver. Law firm; 1,620 employees. Manages a career strategies development program for high-potential women who aspire to partnership.


p Members of the women’s network at Procter & Gamble Inc. remind colleagues what it’s like to play #likeagirl.

NOVA SCOTIA GOVERNMENT, Halifax. Provincial government; 9,481 employees. Established a new Office of Workplace Mental Health to promote and support mental health and wellness internally.


NTARIO PUBLIC SERVICE/ OPS, Toronto. Provincial government; 65,136 employees. Manages a diversity career champions program to provide mentorship for employees from underrepresented groups. OTTAWA, CITY OF, Ottawa. Municipal government; 12,069 employees. Organizes diversity cafés to provide individuals with opportunities to talk about diversity related experiences and issues.


EPSICO CANADA, Mississauga. Soft drink and food manufacturing; 10,699 employees. Piloted mentoring circles to support the engagement, progression and retention of female employees. PROCTER & GAMBLE INC., Toronto. Consumer product manufacturing; 1,657 employees. Launched a Power of the Minds Champions program to engage employees who have experience with mental-health issues as role models and resources for others.

p Employees at the University of British Columbia enjoy the recently opened UBC Aquatic Centre in Vancouver.

PUBLIC SERVICES AND PROCUREMENT CANADA, Gatineau, Que. Federal government; 13,399 employees. Piloted a Positive Measure program to hire persons with developmental disabilities.






ED RIVER COLLEGE, Winnipeg. College; 1,406 employees. Offers “Girls Exploring Trades and Technologies Camps,” with female instructors as role models to encourage young girls to consider careers in trades and technology. ROGERS COMMUNICATIONS INC., Toronto. Communications, cable, publishing and subscription programming; 21,631 employees. Manages a sponsorship program to help female employees advance in their careers. ROYAL BANK OF CANADA, Toronto. Banking; 52,575 employees. Partners with the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council to provide mentoring relationships to new Canadian job-seekers. RYERSON UNIVERSITY, Toronto. University; 3,216 employees. Identifies, removes and prevents barriers to inclusion for persons with disabilities through its campus-wide “Access Ryerson” accessibility initiative.


ASKATOON, CITY OF, Saskatoon. Municipal government; 3,281 employees. Is developing new partnerships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. SASKPOWER, Regina. Electric power generation; 3,342 employees. Created a diversity department responsible for the development and implementation of the organization’s corporate diversity strategy. SASKTEL, Regina. Telecommunications; 3,000 employees. Maintains a hiring strategy for persons with disabilities and conducts information sessions and pre-employment workshops with community partners. SINAI HEALTH SYSTEM, Toronto. Hospitals; 3,496 employees. Maintains a gender identity and gender expression policy, which outlines fair treatment of all gender-diverse patients and employees. SODEXO CANADA LTD., Burlington, Ont. Food service contractors; 6,089 employees. Created an Indigenous steering committee to further strengthen its relationships with Indigenous employees and communities.

SURREY, CITY OF, Surrey, B.C. Municipal government; 2,049 employees. Created an Inclusive Employer Awards program to recognize local businesses that create a welcoming environment for persons with disabilities.


D BANK GROUP, Toronto. Banking; 46,871 employees. Maintains an enterprise-wide LGBTA Pride Network with nearly 3,000 members. TORONTO TRANSIT COMMISSION / TTC, Toronto. Public transit; 14,279 employees. Launched its first diversity and human rights executive steering committee, composed of senior leadership, staff and unionized employees. TORONTO, CITY OF, Toronto. Municipal government; 22,009 employees. Manages the Toronto Regional Champion Campaign Protégé program to help boost female participation in local government. TOYOTA MOTOR MANUFACTURING CANADA INC. / TMMC, Cambridge, Ont. Automobile manufacturing; 8,767 employees. Created a mentorship program to increase engagement and improve advancement opportunities for women.


BC / UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA, Vancouver. University; 11,097 employees. Manages the Beyond the Binary project to address gaps in awareness and inclusion of trans and gender diverse individuals through staff and faculty training. UNILEVER CANADA INC., Toronto. Consumer product manufacturing; 1,080 employees. Achieved gender balance in 2014 and currently has women representing 53 per cent of management-level roles. UNIVERSITY OF CALGARY, Calgary. University; 6,063 employees. Established a Newcomer Research Network to advocate and advance research in support of immigrants, refugees and international students. UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA, Winnipeg. University; 4,879 employees. Awards Success Through Wellness grants to staff and students who propose projects that engage the campus community to foster positive mental health and well-being.

UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO, Toronto. University; 9,809 employees. Maintains the Ludwick and Estelle Jus Memorial Human Rights Prize to recognize positive, long-term contributions to education and action against discrimination. UNIVERSITY OF VICTORIA, Victoria. University; 2,919 employees. Features improved accessibility, including family change rooms with space for transgendered individuals, at its Centre for Athletics, Recreation and Special Abilities. UNIVERSITY OF WATERLOO, Waterloo, Ont. University; 5,355 employees. Funds initiatives that advance and promote wage equality between women and men.


ANCOUVER AIRPORT AUTHORITY, Richmond, BC. Airport operations; 457 employees. Partnered with the Canucks Autism Network to create a resource kit and video series to assist families and individuals living with autism when they travel. VANCOUVER CITY SAVINGS CREDIT UNION, Vancouver. Credit unions; 2,147 employees. Works with Focus Professional Services to employ eight

individuals with autism in functional testing and data quality roles. VANCOUVER, CITY OF, Vancouver. Municipal government; 7,153 employees. Adopted a long-term strategy to address systemic issues that impact women’s full inclusion.


ILLIAM OSLER HEALTH SYSTEM, Brampton, Ont. Hospitals; 3,306 employees. Aims to foster an inclusive and respectful environment for LGBTQ employees and patients through its multi-disciplinary LGBTQ2IA Allies Advisory Group.


MCA OF GREATER TORONTO, Toronto. Individual and family services; 1,833 employees. Manages a PRIDE Initiative, which focuses on consciousness-raising activities throughout the GTA, including speaker series and workshops. YORK, REGIONAL MUNICIPALITY OF, Newmarket, Ont. Municipal government; 3,580 employees. Updated its most recent multiyear accessibility plan to meet the requirements of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. –Diane Jermyn

Methodology The methodology and selection criteria for Canada’s Best Diversity Employers competition remains the same as in previous years. The Mediacorp Canada Inc. competition recognizes employers across Canada that have exceptional workplace diversity and inclusiveness programs. These include successful diversity initiatives in a variety of areas, including programs for employees from five groups: women; members of visible minorities; persons with disabilities; aboriginal people; and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered/transsexual (LGBT) people. To determine the winners of the Canada’s Best Diversity Employers competition, Mediacorp editors reviewed diversity and inclusiveness initiatives at employers that applied for the Canada’s Top 100 Employers project. From this overall applicant pool, a smaller short list of employers with noteworthy and unique diversity initiatives was developed. The short-listed candidates’ programs were then compared to those of other employers in the same field. The finalists chosen represent the diversity leaders in their industry and region of Canada. Any employer with its head office or principal place of business in Canada, whether in the private or public sector, may apply for this competition.

– Diane Jermyn




Slivers of Difference


p Employees from Vancouver Airport Authority waving-in the crowd at Vancouver’s annual Pride parade.

Canada’s Best Diversity Employers increasingly support many aspects of identity and experience

f there is anyone who exemplifies the idea of diversity and inclusion in Canada in 2019, it might be Anas Qartoumeh. To start with, he’s a new immigrant – and a Syrian refugee at that. As an Arab and a Muslim, he’s a minority. And – most dramatically, given the past year of his life – he is gay. Dramatic, because as detailed later in this magazine (p.30), Qartoumeh came out – for the first time ever – at his welcoming staff meeting last June at KPMG LLP in Kelowna, B.C. It was a big move, since he had hidden his orientation from his family and colleagues in Syria and the Middle East for three decades. But he felt comfortable with the progressive policies of KPMG, one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers. “I

thought, why should I keep hiding this?” says Qartoumeh. “And it worked very well for me.” Indeed, he became a minor celebrity in Kelowna. But it is a story with highs and lows. He had to endure hostility when his family and colleagues back home learned about his orientation. And before he got his job with KPMG, he accepted a contract posting at a much more junior level than his experience would dictate. KPMG was notable in hiring Qartoumeh as Senior Accountant and Consultant, Audit, despite his lack of Canadian credentials, which too often stops lesser employers. Qartoumeh’s decade-plus of overseas experience and qualifications – along with his performance in a series of interviews – was enough.

So if you are a diversity and inclusion officer at a top employer like KPMG, what are you to make of a person like Qartoumeh? Kristine Remedios has some answers to that. As KPMG’s National Inclusion & Diversity Leader, she helped support him. But more to the point, she sees all the aspects of Qartoumeh’s situation as elements for employers to work on. Take getting hired as a new immigrant in Canada with qualifications from overseas. Remedios says newcomers increasingly feel they must redo their education in Canada in order to succeed. She asks: “What if we just did a better job of being more inclusive and addressing the bias issue around that? Because obviously there is some bias holding them back from getting a job.”

KPMG, she says, now tries to deal with unconscious bias at a very early stage of the hiring process. And it is very open to resumes like Qartoumeh’s. Canada’s talent pool, notes Remedios, is increasingly made up of new immigrants. “This is the population we’re hiring from, so it’s in our best interest to set them up for success.” That also means helping the organization build what she calls “cultural confidence”, understanding the ways of people from various minority heritages who may, for instance, be more indirect in speaking, or expect a more hierarchical structure, and may therefore avoid speaking up. That work can aid in more diversity in promotions, a widely stated goal among Canada’s Best Diversity Employers.





Even in the LGBTQ+ world, where so much progress has been made in recent years, firms like KPMG are still expanding their vision. Many employers, for instance, have revised documents to ensure the language is gender neutral. More broadly, employee resource groups (ERGs) for various identities continue to grow and spread. And people across the diversity spectrum – from women to Indigenous people to various generations – are getting ever more specialized attention.

“Every year things change,” says Remedios. “Diversity and inclusion is such an emotional, sensitive topic. Everyone has a different experience.” In fact, that is one of key trends showing up among Canada’s Best Diversity Employers in 2019, says Kristina Leung, Senior Editor for Mediacorp Canada, which produces the list. “We’re seeing more organizations address the intersectionalities of identity,” she says. “They are recognizing that there are many aspects to a person’s identity. For instance, when we say women, or talk about the women’s ERG – are we talking

about women of diverse backgrounds, Indigenous women, women with disabilities? A lot of organizations are creating programs that speak to the different experiences their workforce has. “An example is growing up gay in a multicultural context. There may be a difference between coming out in a new immigrant family versus a family that’s been in Canada for years. So organizations are working to address those different aspects of identity, all within the realm of diversity and inclusion.” Beyond the traditional ERG categories, says Leung, diversity is ultimately

very personal. “Groups are a great starting point, but now we’re seeing employers address all these various experiences. That’s the next level.” So is Anas Qartoumeh a refugee, a minority, an LGBTQ+ person? Obviously, he is all of these and much more, and brings all of these experiences to work. As employers drill down to an individual level, says Leung, “the mission is understanding what each employee needs, what their skills are, what they bring to the table, and helping them achieve their highest potential.” –Berton Woodward

City of Surrey

The City of Surrey’s Adapted Sports Program delivers introductory level programs that offer individuals with disabilities and their families the opportunity to participate in activities without barriers and develop skills in a fun and social environment. The programs have seen very positive results, leading to participants connecting with the community and gaining a sense of belonging while pursuing a healthy lifestyle. I am very proud to be a part of this program. Seeing people realize their own individual potential and progress in a positive direction is such a rewarding experience.

–Ross M., Community Service Assistant, Parks, Recreation & Culture Department, City of Surrey


Hydro Ottawa

Growing up my family faced a lot of challenges with mental illness. My one brother has schizophrenia and not until his early 30’s did he finally recognize and accept help. My other two brothers suffer from depression, drug addictions and suicidal tendencies. Hydro Ottawa has helped me to better understand how to both cope and support my family, and to truly understand what it means to suffer from a mental illness. Here at Hydro Ottawa, it’s about ending the stigma and being the support mechanism for those who need it. Without understanding what drives mental illness and the stigma that is attached to it, we will never truly understand the hidden stories and the challenges people deal with alone each day.

– Spencer W., Manager, Customer Experience, Hydro Ottawa u Employees at Hydro Ottawa getting loud for mental health awareness.


u An adapted sports instructor at the City of Surrey teaches kids wheelchair basketball.




Bell Canada

For many years, being a gay man in the corporate world, has been an ongoing series of uncomfortable ‘coming out’ moments. At times I struggled with feeling I was not ‘one of the guys’ on the team or was ‘less than’ and that others were so cool for being ok with the gay guy. I was expected to feel like my success had more to do with others’ acceptance of me, than with my professional contributions and abilities. Bell’s point of view on diversity changed that for me. In the past few years, Bell has gone the extra mile, supporting diversity initiatives that really make a difference, for me and other LGBT+ team members. This past year’s support of IDAHO, the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, exemplified this commitment. Bell’s Diversity and Inclusion team worked with our LGBTQ Network to launch events across Canada, opening the eyes of many fellow employees to the importance of real acceptance in the workplace, and to the idea that our diversity is what makes us stronger, a core Canadian value. While the success of that event made me feel more at home, what it did more than ever, was open my eyes to many other diversity aspects and groups at Bell. I began joining many other diversity and inclusion events, growing my network and learning about the incredible people working around me who make Bell what it is today. Thank you for making Bell an inclusive workplace. Thank you for making it more and more ‘normal’ to have a place for all of us around the table – women, LGBTQ, Indigenous peoples, visible minorities, people with disabilities and anyone who’s ever felt like me. Now, when I sit at home with my husband and 3 kids, and a Bell commercial comes on with a gay couple starring in it, I don’t feel like it’s just a marketing tactic. I feel like my company is just being normal. And it makes me proud. – Israel F., Senior Manager, Project Management, IT, Bell Canada

p Employees in the lobby at the head office of Bell Canada in Verdun, Que.



Access Communications reflects its diverse audience


or years, Saguna Dobariya dreamt of leaving her native India to re-unite with her brother and sister-in-law in Saskatchewan. Today, she’s building a new life in Canada – thanks in part to Saskatchewan-based telecommunications provider Access Communications Co-operative Limited, which hired her last year as an Internet Support Representative, Customer Care. With the co-operative’s support, she's quickly settling into her new home. Still, some things take longer to get used to. “I like the people in Canada,” she says. “They’re very helpful and friendly. I just don’t like the winter. Canada is very cold!” For Access Communications, it all comes down to having a workforce that reflects the diversity of its customers. “An important focus for Access is on inclusion,” says Carole Sauer, Manager, Human Resources and Safety. “For us, we have to pass that test – for women, for all groups. We’re always thinking about serving different cultures, right down to the channels that we offer.”

An important focus is on inclusion. For us, we have to pass that test – for women, for all groups. We’re always thinking about serving those different cultures. _______ Carole Sauer Manager, Human Resources and Safety

On the air, Access Communications offers customers in more than 90 communities across Saskatchewan unique

p Saguna Dobariya, Internet Service Representative at Access Communications Co-operative

Access7 television channels featuring local programming including The Four, a show geared to Indigenous women, and Prairie Pride, produced by and geared to LGBTQ+ issues and events in the province. Behind the scenes, the co-operative, which celebrated its 40th anniversary last year, assigns one of its staff to work closely with new-to-Canada recruits to help them with their work permits, obtain permanent residency and, ultimately, to gain Canadian citizenship. At Access Communications, diversity is engrained in the workplace culture – from start to finish. A two-day orientation program provided to all new employees has diversity training. When employees leave, the co-operative’s exit interview process includes questions designed to help pinpoint employee concerns with the working environment,

Experience an inclusive workplace.

workplace inclusion, or barriers of any kind. Every May the co-operative holds a multicultural potluck at its Regina head office to celebrate the diversity of its workforce. As well, Access staff celebrate the heritage and achievements of First Nations, Inuit and Metis people on National Indigenous Day in June. As with Saguna, Access Communications meets some of its diverse recruits as they prepare to graduate from Saskatchewan Polytechnic’s Computer Networking Technician or Telecom Networking Technician programs. Access Communications sits on the advisory board for both programs. The co-operative also attends career fairs geared specifically to diverse job seekers such as the Stepping Stones Career Fair, organized by the Regina Treaty Status Indian Service.

Co-sponsored by Access Communications, the event annually attracts more than 1,000 Indigenous youth from around southern Saskatchewan. In 2018, Access Communications also attended the Neil Squire Society’s Job Fair for People with Disabilities, and Careers Unlimited, organized by The Business Professional Women of Regina for young women of high school age. The co-operative looks for candidates who, like its 300 employees, not only have exceptional skills in their fields, but possess a sense of teamwork, customer focus and an interest in community involvement. In 2013, Access Communications expanded its work-from-home program in its call centre for employees who require an accommodation due to a physical disability, religious or cultural beliefs, or for personal reasons. It also conducts ergonomic assessments on workspaces for employees who have requested accommodations in their physical workspace. “The company provides great support,” says Dobariya. “They’re very helpful, and if you have a question, you can ask anytime.” With less than a year on the job, she adds, she is already loving it – and the future looks bright. “In this position,” she explains, “you have to deal with a variety of people over the phone, and I love to talk and help all of them.” ¡






Air Canada spreads the word in Indigenous communities


he first thing you notice about Air Canada Flight Attendant Shannon Sunshine is that she lives up to her name. She is outgoing, friendly, positive – and very used to being asked about it. “People say, you must be very happy with a last name like that,” she says. “And 99 per cent of the time I am.” But the name is also an important part of her identity. She is part of southern Saskatchewan’s Fishing Lake First Nation, home to a mix of Cree and Saulteaux people. “In the Indigenous language it’s a very long, long word,” she says. So government registrars of past times went with its English meaning, Sunshine. “I’m very proud of my name.” And at Air Canada, she’s proud that she has a lot of opportunity to help other Indigenous people consider a career with the airline. Sunshine herself grew up in Regina in a mainstream Canadian environment, but regularly visited her cousins on the Fishing Lake reserve. Then she moved to Calgary to attend Mt. Royal University, saw an ad for an airline customer service position, and once there became fascinated with aviation life. “I would see the flight attendants and think, I’d love to do that, I’d love to travel,” she recalls.

It was just amazing for them to know there was a company committed to Indigenous recruitment and diversity. _______ Shannon Sunshine Flight Attendant

p Flight Attendant, Shannon Sunshine, at Air Canada

She worked as a flight attendant for two airlines and then, two years ago, was thrilled to join Air Canada. “That was the top of my mountain,” she says. “I had always dreamed of working for Air Canada, because they’re the national carrier and a global company. I was absolutely thrilled.” Now she has actively participated in helping with Air Canada’s recruitment efforts, becoming part of a new Indigenous Resource Group and making visits in her uniform to reserves across the country. She describes going to a reserve school in Quebec with an Indigenous colleague from Operations and facing a very quiet group of students. “But they began asking questions, and two hours later it was a very different classroom,” she says. “It wasn’t just about flight attendants, but about being future

pilots, maintenance people, customer service agents – there was so much engagement and interest. It was just amazing for them to know there was a company committed to Indigenous recruitment and diversity, and to working within the community.” That commitment is genuine and comes from the top level, says Arielle Meloul-Wechsler, Senior Vice-President, People, Culture and Communications. “We want to reflect our global customer base,” she says. “We have consciously been very creative in our approach to recruitment, and we have increasingly been going out into the communities, to change how we source talent and make sure we’re looking beyond our own backyard.” She notes that Air Canada has diversity committees in all three of its

key hubs of Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, and has also been promoting cultural diversity in a section of the daily newsletter that goes to all employees, promoting events or explaining various cultural practices. “So our employees naturally become more open-minded,” she says. Air Canada has also been logging notable advances for women. The ratio of women pilots is now 6.5 per cent – “which sounds like a really low number, and we’re not stopping there, but it’s well above the North American average.” And a range of key leadership posi-tions are currently held by women, such as her own, the chief information officer, the head of inflight services, the corporate secretary, the chief commercial officer and the head of international operations. The airline’s support of the LGBTQ+ community has also been longstanding, and it is also working on new programs to enhance multi-generational mentorship before people retire. To Sunshine, the airline’s efforts on inclusion have had a very personal effect. “Air Canada really fosters a culture where we celebrate our diversity,” she says. “This is the first time in my career where I feel comfortable and proud to be Indigenous and to share my cultural background with others.” ¡







Thank you for recognizing us as one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers for 2019. We are proud of our progress and motivated by our ongoing commitment to inclusiveness and diversity.

Merci de nous considérer comme l’un des meilleurs employeurs pour la diversité au Canada en 2019. Nous sommes fiers de nos progrès et motivés par notre engagement indéfectible à promouvoir l’inclusion et la diversité.



Amex Canada’s employee networks focus on inclusion


merican Express Canada is committed to fostering a diverse work environment for its employees. Just ask Adil Kanji, Manager, Account Development, who is a part of Amex’s Millennial Network, one of 10 employee networks the company provides with ongoing resources and support. In 2016, Kanji co-founded the Millennial Network in Canada to help harness millennials’ skills and raise their profile within the company. “The motivation was to really connect and inspire millennials across the different business units,” says Kanji, “to give them a chance for professional development and business partnerships. It was also to bring millennials and non-millennials together, whether it be through forms of reverse mentorship or understanding the millennial demographic as a whole and making the workplace more cohesive overall.

What’s great about working at Amex is that it’s an organization that places value on having a diverse workforce. It’s a company where differences are embraced. _______ Nyree Embiricos

Vice-President and Senior Counsel, General Counsel’s Organization

“Sometimes millennials are misunderstood,” he continues, “and so we wanted to place an emphasis on millennials as

p American Express Canada employees participate in a self-development leadership workshop with

The Humphrey Group on International Women’s Day

consumers but also as future leaders of the business, and to make sure Amex understood that our expertise could benefit the organization.” Kanji notes that the Millennial Network was able to help with the launch of Amex’s millennial-targeted Cobalt Card by offering up its member base as a sounding board for ideas through focus groups. For Nyree Embiricos, Vice-President and Senior Counsel in American Express Canada’s General Counsel’s Office, the Millennial Network and nine other Canadian employee groups reflect the company’s strong emphasis on diversity and inclusivity. “What’s great about working at Amex is that it’s an organization that places value on having a diverse workforce,” she says. “It’s a company where differences are embraced, and where there are real initiatives to support and advance diversity and inclusion. We

know that it’s important to reflect the different customers that we serve.” Embiricos points out that, through the company’s employee networks, colleagues can connect through shared experiences and perspectives that represent the full spectrum of diversity within American Express. “I’m proud that I’m an executive sponsor of our PRIDE Network in Canada,” says Embiricos. “We’re committed to advancing the fact that, regardless of sexual orientation, we encourage our colleagues to bring their whole selves to work and to feel comfortable.” Embiricos says it’s also gratifying to work for a company which shares her personal commitment to the advancement of women in the workplace. “I’m very proud to say we’ve actually achieved gender parity in Canada, and by that I mean 55 per cent of Amex Canada’s leadership team is female and 59 per cent

THE BEST WAY TO BACK OUR CUSTOMERS IS TO BACK OUR PEOPLE. We provide an inclusive culture to help our colleagues thrive.

of the company’s senior leadership team is female. Overall, 60 per cent of all of Amex Canada’s employees are female,” she says. “This didn’t happen by accident; we’ve been strategic and proactive about how we empower women, building their careers, identifying development opportunities, hosting an array of events, encouraging mentorship of women by women but also by men, and also providing opportunities to move up through the ranks.” The company also supports female-focused networks through the Women’s Interest Network (WIN), Women in Technology and Women and Law, which Embiricos co-founded. She notes that the company is also open to flexible work arrangements, which can be a benefit for working parents ¬¬– including Kanji, who also happens to be a member of WIN. “I think the biggest thing for me here in terms of diversity,” he says, “comes down to feeling welcome at work. It’s about being accommodating towards me both as a young parent and as a younger colleague. The messaging around diversity, inclusion, accommodation and getting involved in our networks is across the board, from the local leadership in Canada all the way up to our global CEO in New York. We’re seeing a greater emphasis on this year after year, and it’s fantastic.” ¡







BDC’s values reflect the communities it serves


s one of nine members across the country of an employee-led LGBTQ2+ committee at the Business Development Bank of Canada, Melanie Blackbird represented the committee in the Atlantic region to gather support for a campaign called “I want to be an ally.” In addition to talking about LGBTQ2+ issues, Blackbird distributed postcards, stickers and other campaign material so that individual employees could demonstrate their acceptance and support for the LGBTQ2+ community. “It was an opportunity for individuals to stand up,” says Blackbird, the BDC’s Area Office Manager in Halifax. And they did: more than 500 employees from the bank’s 123 offices showed their support for the LGBTQ2+ community. While other employee-led committees within the bank’s Diversity and Inclusion Group focus on issues affecting groups like seniors, women and military veterans, Blackbird joined the LGBTQ2+ committee on the day it was formed, more than two years ago. Drawn from each of the bank’s regions and from all parts of the organization, committee members conduct a conference call every two months to discuss ideas and move forward with action items.

It’s not top down. It’s an employee-led initiative. It gives us a voice at the bank. _______ Melanie Blackbird Area Office Manager

p BDC employees celebrating Pride

“It’s not top down,” says Blackbird. “It’s an employee-led initiative. It gives us a voice at the bank.” For more than 70 years, the BDC has provided Canadian entrepreneurs with long-term loans for projects and working capital, tailored consulting services, hybrid debt and equity financing, and venture capital investments in high technology companies. It now serves more than 56,000 clients in a wide range of businesses and sectors. They also represent a wide range of cultures, backgrounds and orientations. “To be successful, we have to mirror

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the diverse communities that we serve,” says Mary Karamanos, Senior Vice President of Human Resources, at the bank’s head office in Montreal. “We look at the various aspects of diversity, how we learn about it, how we promote it and how we can leverage people’s strengths by understanding their experiences.” Married to an entrepreneur and having grown up in an entrepreneurial family in Montreal, Karamanos understands small businesses. After graduating from McGill, she held senior positions in several small entrepreneurial and global organizations.

“I understood what entrepreneurs face, so I was attracted by what BDC does to support them,” she says. “Being Canada’s bank for entrepreneurs, it’s important that we understand small business and the opportunities and challenges that our clients face. We’re here to help them along on their business journey”. As Blackbird points out, entrepreneurs assess the bank not only by its products and services but by its values as well. That makes her work with the LGBTQ2+ committee all the more important. “There’s a whole business community looking at our approach to diversity,” she says. Blackbird grew up in the Annapolis Valley and joined the bank 13 years ago as a temporary receptionist. With a bachelor’s degree from St. Mary’s University, she worked her way through advisory, underwriting and portfolio management positions before she became Area Office Manager five years ago. While her participation in the BDC’s diversity initiatives helps to further the bank’s client-centric mission, Blackbird also has a personal agenda in encouraging acceptance, support and inclusion of diverse communities. “I have two gay children,” she says. “I’m pretty sure that my kids will never work in a bank, but I hope they can at least work in a place where they feel openly welcome.” ¡





No other bank is doing what we do. At BDC, we’re devoted to Canadian entrepreneurs. We’re also dedicated to our employees. Adaptable. Inspiring. Different. BDC isn’t just a great place to work – it’s a great place to reach your potential. We’re hiring.

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Bell takes a comprehensive approach to diversity


t Bell Canada, creating a diverse and inclusive workplace isn’t formally written into most people’s job descriptions – but you’d think it was. Take Emily Young Lee. In addition to her full-time responsibilities as Communications Director with Bell Media, getting involved in important workplace issues has been a common theme in each of the roles she’s held over her 15 years with the company. So, it was an easy “yes” when she was asked to join the steering committee for Women at Bell, the employee-led network supporting the development, advancement and visibility of women. Young Lee now chairs the national committee, helping organize and promote scores of programs and events providing Bell employees throughout Canada with opportunities for professional development and networking.

You get a strong sense at Bell that we all have a part to play no matter what our role is in the company – and that kind of camaraderie, connection and belonging is huge. _______ Domenica Maciocia

SVP of Client Services & Sales Operations, Bell Business Markets

It’s been an “energizing” experience that’s helped her appreciate how deeply committed Canada’s largest communications company is about creating a diverse, inclusive workplace. Executives

p Bell is committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace

regularly participate in events, and their involvement, she says, does more than just send a clear message. “I can’t say enough about the positive role of our senior leadership,” says Young Lee. “I genuinely feel we’re making a difference for women at all levels, connecting them with people they wouldn’t have met otherwise and providing opportunities that help grow their careers. There’s a real commitment to building a diverse talent pipeline and solidifying Bell’s leadership in gender diversity.” Groups like Women as Bell are just one facet of the company’s comprehensive approach to building an inclusive workplace focused on enabling all team members to reach their potential regardless of age, gender, family status, cultural background, religion, sexual orientation or physical ability. Diversity and inclusion are championed throughout the organization, starting with its Diversity Leadership Council composed of senior leaders from Bell’s different

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business units. They are responsible for ensuring Bell’s business strategy and HR policies are in line with its diversity and inclusion goals. Council member Domenica Maciocia, SVP of Client Services & Sales Operations for Bell Business Markets, says the company has recently enhanced its emphasis on diversity with initiatives such as paying special attention to the language used in job postings and recruitment activities to forming strategic partnerships with outside organizations. But the first step is always education, Maciocia notes. To that end, Bell has introduced its Inclusive Leadership Program aimed at raising awareness of unconscious bias. To date, 400 Bell leaders have been trained in recognizing and putting aside the inherent beliefs that even the most well-intentioned can hold and then taught the best practices for ensuring all team members feel valued, respected and supported. “The feedback has been tremendous,”

says Maciocia. “People feel like they have more of a voice and are truly engaged in building a positive culture. You get a strong sense at Bell that we all have a part to play no matter what our role is in the company – and that kind of camaraderie, connection and belonging is huge. It can also lead to more innovation and creativity, which helps us provide the best solutions for our customers.” “It’s a continuous priority,” adds Tina Debos, Senior Consultant of Diversity & Inclusion, who is one of the team members dedicated full-time to implementing and monitoring Bell’s diversity and inclusion strategy. Part of her group’s work is helping to develop and implement plans relevant to each of Bell’s business units. “It’s not one and done,” says Debos, who adds that external forces, such as changing attitudes in society, also contribute to the ongoing evolution in how Bell approaches diversity and inclusion issues. Given its position in the Canadian marketplace, with more than 50,000 employees and a broad reach across the country, the company’s approach to diversity and inclusion has the potential to have a positive impact outside the office, too. Debos sounds unmistakably proud when she adds, “Bell is uniquely positioned to make a difference in a multitude of ways, both inside the workplace and in our larger community – and that’s really encouraging.” ¡





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Blakes goes all out to support female lawyers


awyers preparing for maternity leave at Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP, or Blakes, are asked two questions. “When I was planning my leaves,” explains Toronto Partner Bonny Murray, “I was asked first, ‘What do you need?’ and then, ‘How can we make it work for you?’” In fact, that caring attitude characterized the firm’s approach to Murray’s two pregnancies and maternity leaves over a nearly four-year period. “I have received nothing but support and accommodation,” she says. “Blakes recognizes the importance of supporting parents at work.” While Blakes offers generous financial provisions for maternity – and paternity – leaves, as well as a $175 per-month, per-child daycare subsidy, it provides assistance in other ways as well. Says Murray: “One size does not fit all. Some people need an extended leave, some want reduced hours, others the ability to work from home for some of the time, or a job shift when they return to the office. Each person needs her own plan.”

They keep offering resources to make parents’ lives more manageable. _______ Bonny Murray


Indeed, to help develop such a plan, Blakes connects parents with additional resources such as an internal support group for new mothers and outside parenting experts and one-on-one professional coaching. “They keep


p Blakes provides flexibility and support to female lawyers, including their Toronto Partner Bonny Murray and her family

offering resources to make parents’ lives more manageable,” Murray says. Accommodating women who want to raise a family is only one way the firm looks after its female lawyers. Blakes has made special efforts for more than a decade, starting with the still ongoing Women@Blakes network, focusing mainly on attracting new clients, leadership opportunities and retention. One initiative, Preparing for Rain, helps mid- and senior-level women associates and patent agents build business development skills. Murray, a program graduate, praises it for “demystifying” business development. “These days, it’s a lot more than golf and schmoozing,” she says. “Encouraging women to complete this program is another sign that Blakes values our

contribution. If you are talented and want to succeed, they will support you and try to make it work.” Nothing, perhaps, better demonstrates Blakes’ commitment to fostering and advancing professional women than a new program started last year. Called ReLaunch, the initiative is aimed at all women practitioners, not just former Blakes lawyers, who have been out of the office for two or more years. “There are many female lawyers who have exited the workforce, primarily for family reasons, and find it difficult to come back because they lack current experience,” says Toronto Partner Cheryl Satin, who proposed the ReLaunch idea and developed it with senior management. “These women are an underutilized and untapped market – they may not know the

latest legal developments but haven’t lost their legal or business judgment.” ReLaunch runs for 10 months, the first six of which are spent with Blakes in Toronto, where the candidate is brought up to speed by dedicated mentors. Then, the successful candidate spends four months with CIBC, which, like Blakes, has been one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers for many years running. The first ReLaunch participant had an extensive legal background but had taken time out of her career to focus on her family. After completing the program, she had several offers of employment. “The point of the program is to reintegrate women into the workforce,” says Satin. “Even if the person doesn’t come to work for us, it’s still the right thing to do. We believe in advancing women in multiple ways, and it sends a strong message that Blakes is truly an organization that supports women and their long-term career development.” For her part, Satin joined Blakes out of law school in 1998 with the expectation of staying just three to five years. “I wanted the experience and then imagined a career in-house or at a smaller firm,” she says. “But Blakes has provided such great support for me as a professional and a woman that, 20 years later, I am proud to still be here.” ¡





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In a workplace that’s people-powered, all families matter. #JoinBlakes

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People from all over fly higher at Boeing Canada


n his first plane flight, from his hometown of Owerri in Nigeria to big-city Lagos, a teenage Sixtus Ekezie asked his mother about a new word he saw – Boeing – and she explained their aircraft. Much later, Ekezie found himself nearing completion of his master’s degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. A friend told him he should look at a prime local employer: Boeing Canada Operations Ltd. “Most of the planes in Nigeria are from Boeing,” Ekezie says, “but I had no idea they had a manufacturing operation in Canada. I thought it was only in the U.S.” So he applied, and was hired as a plastics technician while still finishing his degree. But that was just the beginning of a very high-flying story. Only a month after he started in January 2018, his manager suggested he apply for Boeing’s management development program. That involved – no small process for a newcomer to Boeing and a newcomer to Canada – a series of interviews and then a full-out presentation to senior leaders offering his solution to a challenge in the business. And sure enough, he aced that, too.

I felt so welcomed at Boeing. It’s very multicultural here, and everyone is equal, everyone is treated the same way. _______ Sixtus Ekezie

Processing Centre Manufacturing Manager

p Boeing Canada manufacturing manager Sixtus Ekezie leads a stand-up meeting in the 800 000 square foot composite manufacturing facility in Winnipeg

So 11 months after he started, about three years after he left Nigeria, and only a month after he completed his master’s, Ekezie became Processing Centre Manufacturing Manager, overseeing how parts move through various production areas in his section before they are finally sent out to Boeing plants in the U.S. “I make sure everybody knows what to do and when to do it,” he says. The 18-month management program was still to come, beginning in January 2019. “It’s been an amazing journey,” says Ekezie, possibly with understatement. “Imagine – in less than a year a plastics technician is already a manager. Boeing is a wonderful place to work.” He credits his manager for spotting his skills, but he says he received broad

support from the company throughout the year. “I felt so welcomed at Boeing,” he says. “It’s very multicultural here, and everyone is equal, everyone is treated the same way.” Stephanie Kimberling, Boeing’s Winnipeg-based Human Resources Business Partner, says the company is committed to supporting diversity and inclusion across a broad spectrum of employees and candidates. There are enterprise-wide affinity groups for women, LGBT, veterans and Indigenous people, among others. There are also annual diversity conferences, where “we bring people from clear around the world to learn and grow with each other.” In Winnipeg, with its large Indigenous population, Boeing has partnered


with the Centre for Aboriginal Human Resource Development, or CAHRD, to set up classes for potential Indigenous candidates. “We try to recruit people and we work with CAHRD to make sure those employees are successful,” says Kimberling. “It’s a wonderful program.” Boeing also has an annual Women in Leadership conference. “What’s interesting about that conference is we now have several men coming to support the women, so it’s been a fun journey,” she says. In redressing the former overbalance of men at Boeing, “we don’t just look at engineering,” says Kimberling. “We also have a large IT organization, and so we focus on STEM in general.” In Winnipeg, as in other centres, Boeing works to encourage girls in high school to study STEM subjects. Nationally, it supports Engineers Canada in its “30 by 30” goal to raise the proportion of newly licensed engineers who are women to 30 per cent by 2030 from 17 per cent now. Boeing also employs several deaf employees, as well as sign-language interpreters, and trains managers to recognize unconscious bias. “For us,” says Kimberling, “supporting diversity comes in many different forms.” Sixtus Ekezie would agree. ¡







Respect and acceptance rule at Borden Ladner Gervais (BLG)


hen Kris Dalrymple decided to come out at work as a transgender man, he thought he knew what to expect. After working for Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG) for eight years, he’d seen how the national law firm’s proactive approach to diversity and inclusion had helped to create a team environment where everyone is valued and respected. Even so, Dalrymple was overwhelmed by the heart-warming reaction to his open letter explaining his decision after it appeared on BLG’s internal website. A flood of emails, voicemails and face-toface interactions revealed that people in the firm’s five offices not only accepted him, they were celebrating his decision to be true to himself. “I’ve always felt safe and welcome at work, but I had still prepared myself for just about anything,” says Dalrymple, Administrator, Records Management, in BLG’s Ottawa office. “And then there was such an outpouring of support. I was humbled by the feedback.”

There’s a genuine commitment to diversity and inclusion at BLG. Diversity is a core part of the firm’s strategy for developing talent. _______ Laleh Moshiri

National Director of Diversity and Inclusion

BLG’s first National Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Laleh Moshiri,

p Borden Ladner Gervais LLP students take a break at the Calgary Stampede

had worked with Dalrymple beforehand and then flown from the firm’s Toronto office to be with him when the article was posted. “That day our people literally and figuratively wrapped their arms around Kris,” she says. “That says a lot about our inclusive, welcoming environment.” Moshiri attributes that to the groundwork BLG had laid over the years. With more than 700 lawyers and intellectual property agents, BLG is one of Canada’s largest full-service law firms. It had long had a Diversity and Inclusion Committee and in 2016 it became the first Canadian law firm to appoint a National Director. The firm created the full-time dedicated position to give diversity and inclusion the attention it deserves, explains Moshiri. “There’s a genuine commitment to diversity and inclusion at

BLG,” she adds. “Diversity is a core part of the firm’s strategy for developing talent.” Since a first census in 2014, BLG has continued to update its demographic data to monitor its efforts at attracting and developing people of different ethnicities, cultures, genders, orientations, abilities and backgrounds. BLG also supports various organizations, including student and community groups that work to increase the numbers of those traditionally under-represented in the legal profession. Creating an inclusive workplace involves continuous efforts to raise awareness, Moshiri says. To that end, the firm offers training and education through seminars, regular bulletins and intranet resources on topics ranging from how to appropriately support a

co-worker in transition to understanding unconscious bias. As well, BLG hosts a variety of social events where everyone comes together to celebrate the diversity of firm members. Senior leadership demonstrates the importance of inclusion by participating in these and other events, Moshiri notes. BLG anticipates the needs of a diverse workforce and seeks opportunities to ensure that current and potential firm members feel included at work, Moshiri says. This proactive approach has resulted in many initiatives including the creation of reflection rooms to allow firm members to practice their faith at work, all-gender washrooms and a Transgender Inclusivity and Accommodation Policy. Moshiri pays particular attention to the wording of policies and documents. This includes everything from removing gendered references to suitable work attire to referencing “all genders” in communications instead of men and women. Says Moshiri: “Language really matters.” Dalrymple agrees. His open letter included a passage about how important pronouns are to transgender people. He asked his co-workers to refer to him using he, him and his and Dalrymple says they’ve been mindful of that ever since. “It may seem like a small change, but to me it’s about acceptance and respect.” ¡





Stronger Together. At BLG, we believe that diverse and inclusive teams are critical to our success.



At CAMH, a far-reaching drive for positive change


iversity and inclusion permeate every aspect of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). And it doesn’t stop there for Canada’s largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital. According to Carrie Fletcher, Vice President, People and Experience, “Diversity and inclusion go beyond our walls.” That straightforward statement reflects a complex reality. CAMH is on a mission to transform the lives of all who experience mental illness, including addiction. As well as providing care to more than 30,000 patients a year, CAMH is on the forefront of change in education, policy development and health promotion. Through its research, CAMH is helping to revolutionize the scientific understanding of the brain. Nevertheless, stigma still surrounds mental illness and substance use. This prejudice can negatively impact people when they’re experiencing difficulties or receiving treatment, and when their mental health problems are behind them.

There’s a fabulous team here that we can talk to. We all do a good job of supporting one another. _______ Denise Johnson

Social Worker, Complex Care and Recovery Program

One way CAMH works to change attitudes is by demonstrating to employers that people do recover and that most

p CAMH Social Worker Denise Johnson

can return to work and be productive. To that end, Employment Works! is a recruitment initiative that targets people with lived experience of mental illness to fill vacant CAMH positions. Through support and coaching, the program helps prepare them for this crucial next step – just as many organizations already do after a staff member has taken time off to recover from a heart attack or other serious ailment, Fletcher notes. “We spend more of our waking hours at work than anywhere else,” she says. “Being a contributing member of society contributes to your overall health and well-being.” Hiring people with different experiences and perspectives helps CAMH connect with its diverse clientele, Fletcher adds. CAMH also partners with other community agencies such as the CARE Centre for Internationally Trained Nurses to fill

vacancies. “We look to many diverse avenues to continually diversify our workplace,” she adds. As a Social Worker with CAMH’s Complex Care and Recovery Program, Denise Johnson is part of an interdisciplinary team that provides comprehensive care and services to a population that’s particularly stigmatized – people with serious mental illness who have come into contact with law. To support a successful discharge and transition into a life outside of CAMH, Johnson and her team put in motion a plan tailored to an individual’s specific needs and abilities. A key part her work involves reaching out to others on behalf of her patients. Johnson works with CAMH staff and a variety of community partners and support groups to arrange a structured routine and appropriate housing. The goal for discharge is to set an individual

Diversity Works! Join CAMH, Canada’s leading hospital for mental health, and help transform the lives of people living with mental illness and addiction. Visit our website and transform your career.

up for success while maintaining the safety of the community at large. “It’s a balancing act because we have to keep both the public and the individual in mind,” says Johnson, adding “I do my best to educate people in the community.” This kind of work can be stressful to CAMH employees. Johnson credits the team at CAMH for support: “There’s a fabulous team here that we can talk to,” says Johnson. “We all do a good job of supporting one another.” CAMH is dedicated to the safety and well-being of its employees, which includes having resources in place when meaningful work becomes stressful. The hospital has an on-site pool and wellness centre where activities include nutrition workshops, hands-on art programs and music sessions. CAMH facilities open to both patients and staff include a Sweat Lodge and Sacred Space, which is available for individual meditation and prayer, in addition to regular ceremonies for those of diverse faiths. Still, diversity and inclusion will always be a work in progress at CAMH. “We need to remind ourselves that not everybody sees things through the same lens,” says Fletcher. “We need to continually address matters as they arise to ensure the organization is living and breathing diversity and inclusion.” ¡







Diversity and inclusion have a solid home at CMHC


n Monica Diazgranados’ native Spanish, the word is “gratificante.” It means rewarding, and it’s the way the senior manager at Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) describes her employer, which she joined soon after emigrating from Colombia 13 years ago. “CMHC is a place that allows and encourages its employees to take on rewarding projects or career options,” says Diazgranados, whose full title is Senior Manager, People Analytics, Workforce Planning, and Diversity & Inclusion. “When I applied to CMHC,” she recalls, “I had no Canadian work experience, I had a Latin name and I had an accent – and they’ve never been a barrier for me to move or grow in my career. And I’m not an unusual example.”

When I applied to CMHC, I had no Canadian work experience, I had a Latin name and I had an accent – and they’ve never been a barrier for me to move or grow in my career. _______ Monica Diazgranados Senior Manager, People Analytics, Workforce Planning, and Diversity & Inclusion

When Diazgranados and her husband relocated to Canada in 2005, they had already decided to settle in Ottawa because they liked the prominence of both official languages in the national capital. Choosing a career direction was harder. Diazgranados, who had worked in the

It’s the


p President and CEO, Evan Siddall, raises the Pride flag in recognition of Pride Month

insurance management field in Colombia, wrestled with whether she should re-invent herself professionally because of her lack of Canadian experience. When she discovered CMHC, however, it immediately appealed to her and she started applying for positions. “I really liked the connection to housing and meeting Canadians’ housing needs,” she says. “I wanted to be part of that.” Since signing on, she’s worked in a variety of roles – initially moving from mortgage insurance underwriting to reviewing mortgage insurance servicing processes. She later worked on CMHC’s transformation team, helping to implement an organizational overhaul of processes, technology and culture. She started in her current HR role about 18 months ago. “Because it’s a big company, there are a lot of opportunities,” she says, “and the transferability of skills is really respected and

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supported. It’s a really good place to work.” Career mobility at CMHC is a reflection of the way it values the unique skills and identity of every individual employee, says Diazgranados. That celebration of diversity begins with President and CEO Evan Siddall, she adds. “CMHC has embedded diversity and inclusion everywhere,” she says. “And that comes from the top. When you have that point of reference from the top, it continues to cascade down.” Siddall says that valuing diversity is a fundamental part of CMHC’s mission to help all Canadians find affordable housing. “We recognize that to serve Canadians most effectively, we need to understand their diverse needs, experiences and challenges,” he observes. “We will continue to help our employees feel like they all belong at CMHC, and that we bring a commitment to inclusiveness in our service to all Canadians.”

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In recent years, the Crown corporation has achieved several significant milestones on its march to increasingly greater diversity and inclusion. Through an analysis of its workforce completed last year, CMHC was able to confirm that there is no salary disparity or discrimination in hiring practices affecting any of its four employment equity groups – women, Indigenous employees, other minority groups, or employees with disabilities. Last year, the organization also reached its goal of ensuring that at least 50 per cent of managers are women. And it conducted focus groups with female employees to survey perceived barriers to reaching their career objectives. A lack of flexibility in work arrangements was identified as the biggest barrier. CMHC’s current implementation of a Results-Only Work Environment will allow for much greater flexibility. This June, CMHC will host a two-day conference for leaders in the government and financial services sectors dedicated entirely to issues related to diversity and inclusion. There is still work to be done, says Diazgranados. The focus of CMHC’s current efforts is to find ways to give every employee more of a voice in the organization. “For us, diversity and inclusion is not a check mark,” she explains. “It’s a matter of continuous improvement.” ¡





ANTHONY Skills Samurai



CN stays on track in promoting women and many others


hen Sonia Behar was at Montreal’s Delta College in the early 2000s, she was among a mere handful of women studying computer programming. She was very heartened that, when she landed an internship at CN, her immediate and senior managers were both female. Over the years, as she rose through the ranks to her current position – Manager, Infrastructure and Technology – she has found the organization to be entirely woman-friendly. “My previous director was a woman,” says Behar. “She was an inspiration to me and always there whenever I needed help, always there to guide me. Women in IT are celebrated at CN and women executives and managers have given me a lot of good advice over the years.”

CN believes that having a diverse employee workforce allows for diverse thinking. It helps us succeed at delivering better and richer products and services to our customers, and better experiences to our employees. _______ Michael Foster

Senior Vice-President and Chief Information and Technology Officer

In Canada, women account for almost a quarter of the staff in CN’s IT department.

p CN’s Carole Michelucci (left), Melanie Allaire and Carmen Tanabe (right) speaking at John Molson Women

in Leadership Conference

For Behar, who was promoted to management in 2016 at the age of 36, it feels like the sky’s the limit. “Ultimately,” she says, “there are exactly the same opportunities for men and for women at CN.” Michael Foster, Senior Vice-President and Chief Information and Technology Officer, says that Montréal-based CN – North America’s only transcontinental railway and supply chain service company – is committed to greater inclusivity for an array of diversity groups, including women. “CN believes that having a diverse employee workforce allows for diverse thinking. It helps us succeed at delivering better and richer products and services to our customers, and better experiences to our employees.

“In fact,” he continues, “we’re in the middle of a four-year diversity and inclusion plan steered by a cross-functional committee that also includes union leaders, and we review it on a yearly basis to make sure we’re on track. We have a wide range of employees who are part of that committee and 83 per cent of the members of that committee are part of our diverse employee base. From the bottom up, we’re using employee feedback and employee input to make sure that we stay on track with our plans of becoming more and more diverse.” The statistics, Foster says, show that CN is making progress. In 2018, 36 per cent of total Canadian hires were from diverse groups. Women now account for 10 per cent of corporate and operations staff; First Nations people, five per cent; visible

Proud to be one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers

minorities, 11 per cent; and persons with disabilities, just under two per cent. This year, CN received the Progressive Aboriginal Relations Bronze Certification for its commitment to working with Aboriginal communities and businesses. CN is the first Canadian transportation company to receive this award. The company’s Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Training is available to CN employees and has been used by other organizations to train their staff. CN plans to continue to provide cultural awareness training as well as participate in Aboriginal events and Indigenous national associations. Foster points out that CN has opted for diversity hiring best practices. “A panelstyle interview process has been put in place to expose biases and address them should they arise,” he says. “It is a multicultural and multi-discipline panel that ensures we are walking the talk on being committed to diversity in our hiring practices. We are strong and consistent sponsors of many events that promote diversity in the workplace.” On the female equity front, in 2019 CN is launching a program that will provide hands-on experience and opportunities for women in non-traditional roles. CN will continue to work with its recruitment partners to host various industry and company-specific camps in which women can gain first-hand knowledge and experience of trade positions at CN. ¡







At CAST, employee diversity is part of the solution


s a Child Protection Worker with the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto (CAST), Aditi Deonarine occasionally heard of a CAST worker arriving for a meeting with a child’s family and a family member saying, “I thought you’d be a white man with a briefcase.” Deonarine doesn’t hear that story so often these days. That’s because, as an integral component of its governance philosophy, CAST adjusts continuously to Toronto’s dynamic matrix of communities. With almost 3 million people in the city, the organization now serves one of the most diverse populations not just in Canada, but in the world. “CAST tries to reflect the diverse population we serve,” says Deonarine. CAST has supported families for more than 125 years to protect children from abuse and neglect. The organization places children with foster parents for periods ranging from a few days to several months and, in some cases, several years.

CAST goes out of its way to emphasize equity, equality and diversity. _______ Aditi Deonarine Child Protection Worker

CAST also provides counselling and support to the children’s parents with the objective of returning each child to his or her home. It does all this while remaining sensitive to the city's diverse cultures.

p Children’s Aid Society of Toronto employees, Adita Deonarine and Blair Boddy, supporting Toronto’s PRIDE festival

“We strive to define what we need to do better to work with communities of different cultures,” says Chief Human Resources Officer Marnie Lynn. “In the process, we engage frontline employees to be part of the solution.” Before systemic racism was openly spoken about and addressed in most child welfare organizations in the province, CAST took note of the disproportionate number of black children in its care. With contributions from frontline employees, it gathered race-based data to find patterns that would help to identify and address the anomaly. Two years ago, CAST set up a program to formally tackle anti-black racism. The program extends beyond

the organization itself to include other stakeholders such as schools, community groups and police. CAST’s anti-black racism initiative and similar progressive policies help to attract potential employees, as well. The program has already made an impact. “In the last two years, we’ve seen a decrease in disproportionality amongst our employee demographics,” Lynn says. Within the organization, CAST builds diversity into its training programs, which include sessions on anti-oppression, legislation such as the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, sexual orientation and gender identity. To ensure that its employees reflect


the diversity of the communities they serve, CAST works with groups such as Equitek, NationTalk, Pride at Work, Spinal Cord Injury Ontario and the Canadian National Institute for the Blind to encourage diverse candidates to respond to job postings. Before she joined CAST three years ago, Deonarine obtained a Master of Social Work degree from Ryerson University in Toronto and then worked abroad for five years in Ethiopia, Kenya and Vietnam. “CAST goes out of its way to emphasize equity, equality and diversity,” says Deonarine. “I’m a woman of colour myself, with a West Indian background.” CAST has led its sector in supporting the diversity of the communities it serves. More than 20 years ago, the organization led the sector in permitting same-sex couples to become foster and adoptive parents. More recently, it has undertaken initiatives to improve relationships with Muslim and African/Caribbean communities and has formed partnerships with community groups to support black fathers. “CAST has been a leader in its commitment to reflect the diversity of the communities and stakeholders we serve,” says Lynn. ¡







CIBC leverages Indigenous storytelling to promote inclusion


isa Flynn, a Labrador Inuit, had never considered a career in banking. Upon graduating from university with a teaching degree, she started work with a nongovernmental organization that raised money for bursaries and scholarships for Indigenous students. She first learned of the inclusive culture at CIBC through a former colleague who spoke highly of the bank after landing a position there. It was such high praise that Flynn decided to make the move as well. Since joining CIBC almost four years ago, and now an Operations Coordinator and member of the Risk Management team, she feels like she belongs at CIBC.

Usually, you don’t see too many Indigenous people in the corporate world. It was really beautiful coming into CIBC and joining a group of people with similar backgrounds and experiences. _______ Lisa Flynn

Operations Coordinator Risk Management

“One of my team’s fundamental principles is to bring your whole self to work and be comfortable with who you are. For Indigenous people that’s not always easy,” says Flynn.

p Shared storytelling with CIBC Indigenous Employee Circle and executives

Shortly after joining the bank, Flynn became a member of the Indigenous Employees Circle, one of 10 CIBC People Networks that work to engage and connect employees with opportunities for professional development. “Usually, you don’t see too many Indigenous people in the corporate world. It was really beautiful coming into CIBC and joining a group of people with similar backgrounds and experiences,” Flynn says. The People Networks at CIBC bring together various communities and their allies. Support for these groups comes from the top of the organization in the form of the Inclusion and Diversity Leadership Council (IDLC) which is comprised of senior leaders from all areas of the bank. “Embedding inclusion and diversity

into everything we do is critical,” says Grant Rasmussen, IDLC member and Managing Director, Global Distribution, for CIBC Capital Markets. “It’s good for business and it’s good for society. It’s important for employees and clients of different backgrounds to feel that they are part of the fabric of our bank.” Alongside members of the Indigenous Employees Circle, the IDLC participated in a Blanket Exercise, an activity that uses the power of storytelling to raise awareness of the history of the land where CIBC operates in Canada. The facilitators of the exercise lay blankets on the floor and participants remove their shoes and stand on the blankets. As they do, narrators recount moments from across 400 years of Canadian

history, including the sensitive topics of colonization, disease, residential schools and the Sixties Scoop. The blankets represent the lands traditionally occupied by Indigenous peoples and participants indirectly experience the systemic effects of exclusion. “I had never heard much of what was explained during the Blanket Exercise,” says Rasmussen. “It helped me to understand why some Indigenous employees don’t feel comfortable disclosing their identity to colleagues. As a leader, it allows you to be much more empathetic and compassionate.” The Blanket Exercise made such an impact that CIBC hosted a second session with the bank’s most senior leadership team. CIBC also recognizes National Indigenous Peoples Day annually by celebrating what is important to the bank’s Indigenous employees and clients. The bank has endeavoured to increase opportunities for Indigenous people through strategic partnerships, sponsorships and investments with Indspire, Magnet and the Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund. As well, CIBC is consulting with Indigenous employees as it develops CIBC Square — its new head office complex in Toronto — in order to further promote a sense of belonging for all of CIBC's team members. ¡







The City of Edmonton strives to include everyone


dmontonians have long taken pride in the diversity of their hometown. So it’s only fitting that the administration and councillors of the City of Edmonton have been early and vocal advocates of the need to attract and retain a talented workforce that is inclusive and truly reflects the diverse nature of the city they serve. “The different cultures, perspectives and experiences that define our community is something we all very much value,” says City Manager Linda Cochrane. “This diversity enriches us and makes us stronger.” The City works to optimize participation from several target populations, including Indigenous Peoples, newcomers to Canada and people with disabilities. The City is also strongly committed to promoting gender equity and removing systematic barriers that potentially exclude individuals or whole communities from serving as part of the civic workforce — or from being properly served by the City.

We are really trying hard to leverage the rich diversity that exists in this city. _______ Linda Cochrane City Manager

Observes Jill Chesley, Senior Diversity & Inclusion Consultant: “We want our citizens to look at our employees and be able to say, ‘I am reflected there. Someone there can understand my needs. I could potentially get a job at the City.’ If we can’t achieve that, then there’s a serious disconnect.”

p The City of Edmonton celebrates their employees’ diverse cultures

The City adopted a comprehensive Diversity & Inclusion Framework and Implementation Plan more than a decade ago. Today, all seven major City departments have their own diversity & inclusion committees, which strive to ensure best practices are followed in everything from financial services to infrastructure. The City’s newest major department, Employee Services, is another innovation. The focus is on the lived experience of employees and expands on the role that Human Resources traditionally played as part of the City’s Financial & Corporate Services Department. As a result, employees now have a voice of their own at the executive leadership table. “Our approach to serving our employees is now more strategic and a bit more elevated,” says Cochrane. “This is also allowing us to focus even more clearly on issues of diversity and inclusion.”

The City is also accelerating the implementation of Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) across the organization to advance gender equality and remove other forms of inadvertent discrimination. “GBA+ can be applied in any situation where a decision is made, whether it’s about hiring or building a new recreation centre,” says Chesley. “It’s a process that reminds us to consider diverse perspectives and needs.” Making Edmonton a welcoming place for newcomers is another priority. “I think access for newcomers generally can be difficult, whether it’s dealing with a new language, customs or protocols,” says Cochrane. “Our multicultural efforts are focused on removing those barriers and helping people navigate the ways of the city.” Edmonton has the second-largest urban concentration of Indigenous people in Canada, after Winnipeg. As part of an effort to remove barriers to

meaningful employment, the City’s Indigenous Employee Resource Network — led by Indigenous people from across the organization — provides mentoring, coaching and guidance. In 2014, Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson served as an Honorary Witness when the Truth and Reconciliation Commission held its final session in the Alberta capital. Since then, the City has fulfilled commitments to educate staff about the impact residential school trauma has had on multiple generations of Indigenous families. The City has also placed a strong focus on hiring and integrating into the workforce individuals with intellectual disabilities, a group that often has a particularly difficult time securing meaningful employment. Chesley says that fostering diversity and inclusion simple makes for a more effective workforce. “If employees feel included, respected and safe, they are going to perform better. There’s going to be more creativity and innovation and that’s going to enhance the services we provide to citizens.” Cochrane echoes that view, adding that diversity and inclusion is a journey that is far from over. “We know we’re not perfect and we’ve got a long way to go. But we are trying really hard to leverage the rich diversity that exists in this city.” ¡





the city of edmonton is one of canada’s best diversity employers For more information visit



EDC reflects the diversity of both customers and country


t Export Development Canada, an Ottawa-based Crown corporation, the purpose is lofty: to help Canadian companies take on the world. To really do that well, it’s essential not only to understand Canadian companies but also different industries, different sizes of companies and different parts of the world. “For EDC, it’s in our DNA,” says Mairead Lavery, CEO and President of Export Development Canada. “We have to be diverse to be able to deliver on our mandate. We have employees who are diverse as well as customers both in Canada and abroad who are diverse.” As a former customer of EDC, she brings an interesting background to her job. “That was something EDC was looking for, which was actually to bring the customer to the true centre of their operations,” says Lavery, who is also chair of the Diversity and Inclusion committee, which has members from across the organization. “For me, that was a good starting indication of a culture that was extremely open and willing to learn and very inclusive.”

We have to be diverse to be able to deliver on our mandate. _______ Mairead Lavery CEO and President of Export Development Canada

The tone about the importance of diversity and inclusion is set from the top at EDC; at the same time, several grass-

p EDC employees bring their international talents to the EDC's brand

roots committees are flourishing. The women’s group, for example, has about 200 members who are organizing their own programming, supporting charities of their choice, bringing in guest speakers, running events and mentoring other women. “I think that speaks to an evolution of how things are going,” Lavery adds. One member of the Diversity and Inclusion committee is a founder of Latinos y Amigos for the many Spanishspeaking employees at EDC. And there is a place on the committee for an Indigenous member. In 2018, the committee chose two groups to focus on — the Indigenous community and people with disabilities. The latter “was really about stressing abilities vs disabilities,” says Jeremy Melhuish, a Director of Business Development, “and

also building the connection with the point that not all disabilities are visible.” Melhuish’s closest affiliation is with the LGBTQ2+ Employee Resource Group at EDC. “We want to make sure that employees feel safe to be their authentic selves,” he says. Also, if employees need access to resources — say, a parent who has a child who is struggling with sexual identity — EDC will help connect them. And there is the social benefit too — that people can be themselves and feel valued and included. “They’re actually a happier employee, a better employee, a more productive employee,” says Melhuish. Those benefits are ultimately passed on to EDC’s customers, because a stronger, happier, more engaged workforce is going to be at the top of

their game when it comes to serving their customers. “So at the end of the day,” Melhuish says, “what’s good for our employees is good for EDC and also good for our customer base.” While the push for diversity and inclusion to truly be part of EDC’s DNA started with metrics and targets — necessary, as Lavery notes, to help change structures and processes — it is now permeating the culture. Employees can blog about subjects that are of interest to them: one woman wrote about her experience of coming out as a lesbian; a male employee wrote of his struggle with suicidal thoughts; a vice-president blogged about what she feels like having to look after both her parents and her children. “People get this consciousness about different backgrounds, different beliefs and different challenges they and their colleagues have, and we are trying to create a culture where we, as the employer, but also the whole organization, builds on an inclusive environment,” explains Lavery. EDC services 167 countries around the world. “It doesn’t get any bigger than that,” says Lavery. “With EDC in the middle of all that, if we were anything other than a reflection of the diversity that is, in fact, all of our customers and stakeholders, I think we would be doing something very wrong.” ¡








At HSBC, the best and brightest come from a wide pool


his really happened to Sergio Zedda, long before he joined HSBC Bank Canada. Early in his career, nearly two decades ago at another major bank, Zedda felt compelled to conceal his sexual orientation. When colleagues eventually learned he was gay, “I was subjected to frequent name-calling,” he recalls. After one colleague’s particularly vicious verbal attack witnessed by others, “My immediate supervisor had only one reaction: ‘I hope you aren’t going to report this to HR.’” Zedda didn’t for fear of retribution and, today, the Senior Manager of Wealth Insights at HSBC’s Vancouver head office is confident the era in which he had to play-act in the office has been relegated to the Dark Ages. “At HSBC, I no longer have to wear a mask – I can come to the office and be my authentic self,” he says. “When people can be themselves, they can give 120 per cent to the job, rather than spending energy on hiding who they are.”

When people can be themselves, they can give 120 per cent to the job, rather than spending energy on hiding who they are. _______ Sergio Zedda

Senior Manager of Wealth Insights

Zedda is also the national lead of HSBC’s PRIDE employee resource group (ERG) – one of nine such groups at the

p HSBC employees volunteer for a day of clean up at the shore of Lake Ontario

bank. Run by volunteers, ERGs seek to understand and improve what each community needs in the workplace to thrive. “Diversity is in HSBC’s fibre,” says Zedda. “They have been at it for a long time, and the support from the top for the LGBTQ community and other minority groups is amazing. They truly understand the challenges we face.” For Kim Toews, HSBC Executive Vice President and Head of Human Resources, ensuring diversity in the organization is first and foremost “the right thing to do.” But Toews adds that it also makes business sense. “We firmly believe that a diverse workforce contributes to strong business performance,” she says. “The

more diverse our workforce, the better we can understand and serve our customers. The more diverse we are, the better the decision-making process.” The bank has an admirable track record when it comes to diversity initiatives and results, leading to two federal government Employment Equity Achievement Awards. Indeed, HSBC achieved gender parity five years ago in the boardroom, and women also make up 60 per cent of the bank’s executive team, including the Chief Executive Officer, the Head of Commercial Banking and the Head of Internal Audit. When it comes to senior management overall, females hold nearly one-third of the positions and boosting that

number is a current goal, as is attracting more people from the Indigenous and disabled communities. “We want to always be hiring the best and the brightest, and that means having the widest possible talent pool,” says Toews. To help achieve that goal, HSBC has hired a Diversity Sourcing Specialist whose mandate is to build relations with the Indigenous and disabled communities as a first step to ensuring these people can be considered for employment. “We want to build a diverse pipeline,” says Toews. HSBC is also proud of its record when it comes to visible minorities. They account for nearly 50 per cent of the nearly 6,000 staff across Canada and almost half of all annual promotions. “It doesn’t seem like a big deal to us,” Toews says. “We’ve been doing this for so long, we don’t think twice about it. It’s become part of our DNA.” Despite its impressive record, Toews stresses that diversity at HSBC is not a “numbers game.” Instead, she says, “The foundation of our success as an organization is attracting and retaining great talent that mirrors our customers.” Zedda agrees. “Diversity is about creating a broadly based and supportive environment so people can flourish. That’s what makes us special.” ¡





Combining our talents to reach new heights. Here’s to new beginnings. Together we thrive



Inclusion comes naturally to Hydro Ottawa


s a community-based company that generates and delivers electricity, Hydro Ottawa is predisposed towards a culture of diversity and inclusion. One reason is “we’re a customer-centric organization so it’s important that we’re representative of the communities we serve,” says Lyne Parent-Garvey, Chief Human Resources Officer. “We can bring more value to our customers if we’re more representative.” Another factor is the company’s focus on safety, which is paramount throughout its operations and is being adapted to foster a more inclusive workplace. “Safety has a new meaning today, much beyond what it used to mean,” notes Kristy Biddle, Manager, Talent Performance and Development. “It’s about making sure everyone feels safe when they’re here. People need to be comfortable in themselves.”

Safety has a new meaning today, much beyond what it used to mean. It’s about making sure everyone feels safe when they’re here. _______ Kristy Biddle

Manager, Talent Performance and Development

Over the past several years, Hydro Ottawa has built on its natural inclination towards diversity and inclusion by developing strategies and programs that encourage an environment where

p Hydro Ottawa’s executive management team stand up to bullying by celebrating International Day of Pink

employees feel not only safe, but also welcome and valued, and can contribute their best to the organization. “We’re currently working on 71 different initiatives,” says Biddle, who oversees all programming related to diversity and inclusion. “We focus a lot on education, to make sure we have the right training and support, and we work with the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion to help promote diversity in our organization.” These initiatives are developed with the help of internal councils and committees made up of employee volunteers. Each has an executive sponsor and is dedicated to furthering the interests of a specific group of employees: women, LGBTQ+, youth, people with disabilities, First Nations, new Canadians and visible minorities. “We need to ensure we’re listening to all

voices,” says Biddle. Lance Jefferies, Hydro Ottawa’s Chief Electricity Distribution Officer, is executive sponsor of the Accessibility Committee. “The members of our committee have real engagement and passion. We all bring value,” he says. “My personal story is that my first-born child had a severe disability, in a wheelchair all his life. It made me realize we’re not an accessible society,” Jefferies adds. “That’s why I was excited to be involved with the committee and in ensuring our facilities are fully accessible. Management has been very receptive to our recommendations.” In addition to the councils and committees, says Parent-Garvey, Hydro Ottawa has external partnerships with a variety of organizations that promote diversity, including Hire Immigrants Ottawa, the Ottawa Catholic School

Board, In-TAC, EARN, Algonquin College and Carleton University. These partnerships not only inform the community about opportunities that are available, but they also encourage employment among traditionally under-represented groups, such as women in the trades and engineering, while providing the company with access to the widest possible pool of talent. For the last two years, mental health has been a strong focus for Hydro Ottawa, says Jefferies. “We leverage momentum from the Bell Let’s Talk initiative to reduce the stigma. It’s another aspect of our focus on safety — we’ve adapted it to include mental health safety, through tools to alleviate stress and with fitness centres to promote overall health.” “We have a mental health initiative with Queen’s University to help people leaders better understand the issues and know when to step in,” says Biddle. “We also get involved with the Not Myself Today campaign to help people realize how minor changes in performance can be a sign of something serious going on.” “Diversity is good for business because it brings a wider range of experiences and perspectives,” ParentGarvey concludes. “This makes for better business decisions, and it aligns us with the community.” ¡







At IBM Canada, diversity drives innovation


s a fourth-year student at the University of Ottawa, Joyce Miryam Habbouche considered serving a four-month internship at several companies before she chose IBM Canada Ltd. Habbouche had to complete the internship in 2017 to qualify for her honours bachelor’s degree in computer science. “I was hoping to find a good fit for my interests and skills,” she says. “IBM consistently stood out.” As an intern, Habbouche hadn’t anticipated the depth of her role at the company. “I hit the ground running on my first day,” she says. Collaborating with her peers and working under the mentorship of senior leaders, she and her team set out to solve a real-world problem and deliver a solution to one of the company’s clients. Helping to achieve their goal within a tight schedule, Habbouche, a woman of Lebanese heritage, says she felt encouraged to bring all her talents to the table.

I was included and respected, and I felt I could identify with others on my team. The diversity I saw made me feel comfortable to bring my true self to work. ____ Joyce Miryam Habbouche Software Developer, IBM Cognos Analytics

“I was included and respected,” she says, “and I felt I could identify with others on my team. The diversity I saw

p IBM Canada celebrates Black History Month by hosting a cross-cultural fashion show

made me feel comfortable to bring my true self to work.” Operating in Canada for more than 100 years, IBM has led its industry in developing progressive workplace programs and policies focused on diversity and inclusion. The company initiated a policy in 1953, for example, of hiring people independent of race, colour or creed. The policy was later expanded to accommodate religion, sex, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, genetics, disability and age. “Diversity drives innovation, and innovation is key to remaining essential,” says Katherine Faichnie, Director and Human Resources Leader for IBM Canada, in Toronto. “Our company’s not just a workplace. It’s a culture of openness, collaboration and trust.” In 1995, IBM established an LGBT+

executive task force focused on making the company a safe and desirable workplace for all people. Twenty years later, the company earned an international award calling it the world’s most LGBT+ friendly employer. In Canada, IBM’s 365 Ally Engagement initiative to accelerate the involvement of new and existing IBMers as LGBT+ Allies has also been honoured. “Our willingness to take on issues of equity, fairness and equal opportunity have set us apart as a company and make us a magnet for world-class talent,” says Faichnie. “By working for IBM you’re continuously learning something new and innovative and solving problems that have the potential to change the world.” For Habbouche, who joined IBM Canada full-time in Ottawa in February 2018 as a Software Developer for IBM

Cognos Analytics, the company’s culture has inspired her to apply her skills and imagination without reservation to projects involving a range of technologies, from artificial intelligence to machine learning. “No two days are alike,” she says. “I recently worked on a patent with colleagues from two different continents as part of an initiative to encourage first-time inventors.” The same innovative spirit informs the company’s policies on diversity and inclusion. More than two years ago, for example, IBM Canada was the first technology company in the country to extend its employee health benefit plan to include coverage for sex reassignment surgery, based on standards of care established by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health. IBM attracts individuals who aspire to be part of something bigger than themselves, says Habbouche, and that passion has an impact on the community as well as the company. “Earlier this year, a tornado hit our city and displaced people from their homes,” says Habbouche. “I was incredibly proud of how quickly everyone came together to help with fundraisers and food donations. They make me proud to call myself an IBMer.” ¡







A Syrian’s story: Coming out in comfort at KPMG


nas Qartoumeh made one of the biggest decisions of his life shortly after he joined KPMG LLP in June 2018 in Kelowna, B.C. He had already been through a considerable ordeal as a Syrian refugee new to Canada. But there was another secret that not even his family back in Damascus knew, which he was about to reveal to his KPMG colleagues at a welcoming party for the latest recruits to the professional services firm. Qartoumeh, the new Senior Accountant and Consultant, Auditing, had been asked to speak, and at the podium he came out publicly for the first time — he was gay, he told them. This was huge for someone coming from a conservative culture where homosexuality is not tolerated. He had hidden it from all his previous employers in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. Even before the KPMG event, he says, “I didn’t tell anybody. But I had been reading the diversity and inclusion policies at KPMG, and I saw the respect and openness towards LGBT people. I saw that it was a good environment to come out, so at the staff meeting I surprised everybody.”

I had been reading the diversity and inclusion policies at KPMG, and I saw the respect and openness towards LGBT people. _______ Anas Qartoumeh

Senior Accountant and Consultant, Auditing

p Anas Qartoumeh (third from left) joined by KPMG colleagues and their families at the Kelowna Pride Parade

As you’d expect, his KPMG colleagues were very supportive. The story quickly spread in Kelowna, and Qartoumeh was asked to speak elsewhere in town, culminating in his invitation that summer to lead the city’s Pride parade as Grand Marshal. That in turn generated international news, and some former colleagues in the Middle East began responding on social media — not in a good way. “I got attacked in messages from a lot of people, including directly on LinkedIn,” he says. “And some of my family cut me off totally.” But KPMG people responded on social media as well. “They started to protect me, saying ‘we are so proud of you’, ‘thank you for coming to Canada,’ and ‘Canada is so proud of you,’” says Qartoumeh. Other supportive comments

rolled in from KPMG in Australia and KPMG in Germany. “At first I was going to block the guy on LinkedIn,” he says, “but I decided to leave his comment as an example of the response to homophobia.” As KPMG’s Toronto-based National Inclusion & Diversity Leader, Kristine Remedios remembers the episode well. “Within one hour of the LinkedIn post, we were on the phone together,” she says. They discussed how he might respond, but she left it up to Qartoumeh. “We just wanted him to know we supported him,” she says. The situation also led KPMG in Canada to develop a protocol for any such future cases to make sure employees have the backup they need. “Social media has changed the way people communicate,” notes Remedios.

KPMG has been expanding its diversity and inclusion structures considerably in recent years, including for LGBTQ+ people, Remedios says. In a recent overhaul of medical benefits, the firm added a $10,000 grant for gender transformation surgery beyond what provincial systems pay. Even the benefits guide was revised to bring in gender-neutral language. It has also been hiring many new immigrants like Qartoumeh. In fact, Qartoumeh praises KPMG for being willing to look past his lack of specific Canadian credentials to see that his more than a decade of experience with major professional services firms in the Middle East qualified him for a senior audit position. “We’ve always been an inclusive employer,” says Remedios. “Our visible minority population is at 31 per cent, which is quite high if you compare it to the skilled marketplace for professional services firms. That is around 27 per cent.” As for Qartoumeh, he is thriving in his new location. “I thought I would only stay in Kelowna for a while, and then move to a big city,” he says. “Now I feel very attached to Kelowna and I’m not going to move. The weather is really nice and the people are superfriendly.” ¡





Proud to be one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers for 12 years in a row.



Manulife looks to build on its diversity success


anulife, a leading global financial services company, is intent on building a culture where employees can bring their whole selves to work and grow fulfilling careers. Take Hafeez Hussain, for example. After joining Manulife as a new graduate, Hussain worked in various positions in the company’s Toronto and Boston offices, and he was supported to obtain his MBA. Currently a Project Manager at Manulife, he has grown his career at the company for almost 13 years. Now he’s encouraging other employees who are visible minorities to do the same. Hussain is an active member of Manulife’s Pan-Asian employee resource group (ERG). He is passionate about helping visible minorities achieve their potential. “We have a huge, diverse workforce already at Manulife,” says Hussain. “I’m helping to get the message to Pan-Asian employees that we can be leaders, we can promote change, and we can be at the forefront of innovation.” Through his ERG involvement, he works with the company’s Diversity & Inclusion team to help organize workshops, speakers and events to promote this message.

Regardless of who joins the company, we want everybody to feel connected, able to be productive and feel a sense of belonging. _______ Pam Kimmet

Chief Human Resources Officer

p Manulife employees celebrate 'Day of Pink'

Manulife’s ERGs host annual celebra“Building on the success we’ve had tions including Pride, International with female representation throughout Women’s Day, Black History Month, the company, we’re focused on Chinese Lunar New Year and the South increasing representation from other Asian Diwali festival. diverse communities by leveraging our “Diverse events in the workplace give past best practices and adding new people the chance to come together, to elements,” says Kimmet. share an experience, to learn more about In its recruiting, Manulife reaches other cultures, which opens pathways to out to qualified, diverse candidates honest dialogues and a sense of commuthrough organizations like Black In nity,” says Kimmet. “Regardless of who Technology, a platform for black joins the company, we want everybody to professionals in technology; Access to feel connected, able to be productive and Success, a group empowering MBA feel a sense of belonging.” students with disabilities; the Rotman Prioritizing diversity and inclusion at Forté career fair for female MBA Manulife is a commitment that comes graduates; and the Rotman Back to from the top. A global executive diversity Work Program for women returning to and inclusion council, chaired by CEO the workforce after an extended Roy Gori, meets quarterly to set the absence. diversity and inclusion strategy and put it Last year the company launched a into operation. new onboarding program with Women comprise 60 per cent of enhanced diversity and inclusion Manulife employees globally and 45 per B:9.25 inresources. “Senior leaders from diverse cent of management, and Manulife is backgrounds and members of the T:9.25 in focused on growing diverse talent. company's ERGs join employee

onboarding sessions to talk about their experiences and ways to get involved,” says Kimmet. “When you’re new to any organization, regardless of your role or level, it’s important to feel that sense of community as quickly as possible.” All new hires are also required to complete unconscious bias training within their first two months on the job, creating an understanding that inclusion is fundamental at Manulife. The company says it creates an inclusive environment for all employees, including those with physical or other disabilities. Manulife’s WorkSmart program promotes flexibility in how and when employees work, and the company provides accessible technology for employees with visual or hearing needs. Two years ago, Manulife introduced a generous health benefits plan with up to $10,000 in annual coverage for employees and their family members for mental health practitioner services. As part of its annual global engagement survey, Manulife asks employees about the inclusivity of its corporate culture. “We continue to enjoy very high inclusion scores measured against global benchmarks,” says Kimmet. “We are in the top quartile, so it’s an area of strength for us, but we know there is opportunity to do more.” ¡





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Diversity is part of McMaster University’s success


ith a full-time student population of more than 31,000 coming from Canada and 113 other countries around the world, as well as more than 7,500 local, national and global faculty and staff, McMaster University takes diversity seriously. In fact, it is that diversity of backgrounds, talents and ideas that has helped keep McMaster ranked in the top 100 universities in the world — one of only four Canadian universities to consistently earn that honour. “We want our students to inspire greatness and make it a brighter world, and that starts with understanding and respecting the individuals who make up that world,” says May-Marie Duwai-Sowa, Employment Equity Specialist. “We have a responsibility to reflect that in how we teach our students, to make sure they’re mindful of the diversity that work entails, that community entails, so that when they go out to work in the community they really embody those values.”

We can only be excellent and deliver on excellence if we are tapping into the diverse talent that’s out there. _______ Arig al Shaibah

Associate Vice-President of Equity and Inclusion

McMaster has been doing much work in the area of advancing diversity and inclusion through many different

p Joe Kim, Associate Professor, Psychology Neuroscience & Behaviour, and students at McMaster University

platforms over a number of years. Most recently, the university undertook an employment equity census to better understand the workforce composition. This was followed by outreach to areas across campus to build awareness and provide training to ensure equal consideration of candidates of diverse backgrounds, views and talents for positions at the university. “We can only be excellent and deliver on excellence if we are tapping into the diverse talent that’s out there,” says Arig al Shaibah, Associate Vice-President of Equity and Inclusion. Indeed, some individuals — women, people with disabilities, Indigenous peoples, and racialized or visible minorities — have

Diverse perspectives make us better at what we do. We're proud to be one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers.


have been under-represented historically and can at times continue to face barriers to employment. “It’s issues of implicit bias and systemic barriers that we are attending to now so we can continue to strengthen our standing as a world-class institution,” says al Shaibah. In addition to implementing policies to reach a more diverse applicant pool — including training for recruitment and selection committees — the university is encouraging conversations across the community and facilitating committees at the department level to think about diversity. The Equity and Inclusion Office works jointly for staff, students and faculty to ensure a respectful and welcoming environment is maintained,

and also deals with any complaints of harassment or discrimination. “We’re taking steps to embrace the concept of inclusive excellence,” says Wanda McKenna, Assistant Vice-President and Chief Human Resources Officer. “We’re striving for a culture that promotes the rich diversity of our community.” Duwai-Sowa acknowledges that there will always be more work to be done but the willingness to want to make the changes and have the necessary conversations is widespread throughout the McMaster community. “This is not something we’re taking lightly,” Duwai-Sowa says. “We’re being very intentional and thorough about it. It’s something that we want reflected in everything we do.” At new employees’ orientations, McKenna always takes pride in telling attendees that McMaster is consistently ranked as one of the top universities in the world because of the people who work there. And she acknowledges that for McMaster to continue to thrive, it has to embrace the diversity of its workforce. “We want to enable a culture where all people feel safe, respected, welcomed, valued, able to be innovative and excellent,” she says. “We’re bringing the brightest people in the world here and we want to help them be their best every day.” ¡







The City of Ottawa champions input from diverse staff


mong the many indications that diversity and inclusiveness are hugely important to the City of Ottawa is the fact that Christine Malone, one of the City’s two Diversity and Inclusion Specialists in HR, is part of three diversity groups. “I’m a proud woman with a disability,” she says. “I’m also Métis. I find that very valuable in terms of opening up a conversation with folks for whom diversity may be a new experience and helping them feel comfortable with someone who’s sharing their own diversity experiences. “To work for an organization for which diversity and inclusion are major priorities is really critical for me, not just in the role I play in my job, but to know that those experiences are valued.”

To work for an organization for which diversity and inclusion are major priorities is really critical for me, not just in the role I play in my job, but to know that those experiences are valued. _______ Christine Malone

Diversity and Inclusion Specialist

Liz Marland, Director of Human Resources, says one of the City’s aims in adopting a wide-ranging diversity strategy, with “diversity champions” in every department, is to reflect the broader community. “Because we’re so communitydriven and deliver frontline services to

p City of Ottawa Diversity Cafe discussing employee experiences at their career showcase

residents, it’s really important that we have a workforce that reflects the diverse community we serve.” Marland notes that the City’s 20152018 Corporate Diversity and Inclusion Plan provided guidance in the City’s efforts to ensure a diverse workforce which includes women, the Indigenous community, racialized and persons with disabilities. There were four areas of focus which included awareness and engagement, workforce analytics, recruitment and selection, and employee learning and development. A new 2019-2022 strategy will soon be drafted, and each department also has its own diversity and inclusion plan. The City has many programs and events to support its diversity goals, says Marland. One initiative the City considered a major success in 2018 was an inaugural career showcase designed to improve access to specific City jobs by

diverse community members. Attended by more than 400 people, the showcase involved consultation with “Community Champions,” whose members represent various diversity groups and meet with the City quarterly to discuss perceived barriers to employment. “We had arranged for representatives from each City department to attend the showcase, including firefighters, paramedics, engineers, people from finance and even our unions,” Marland says. “One workshop that was particularly successful involved staff from a variety of diverse backgrounds participating in a café-style discussion with people who are interested in working for the City. Staff talked about their experience working for the City of Ottawa in terms of access, promotions, development, training and support, and that really got positive reactions, both from staff and the community.”

Another inclusivity-focused success in 2018 was the summertime Youth Futures leadership/employment program for low income youth, offered in partnership with Ottawa Community Housing and local educational institutes and businesses. Donna Gray, the City’s General Manager of Service Innovation and Performance, says the intent of the program is to get young people interested in a career in public service. “Every one of the 60 youth who came in had a staff person who supported and mentored them while they were in the organization. One of the things we heard from staff, interestingly enough, is how valuable it was for them to see the skills these youth were bringing into the organization.” Diversity and Inclusion Specialist Malone points out that the City is intent on developing strong relationships with all communities in order to attract and retain talent from diverse backgrounds. “Members of diverse communities on staff and in the community have a say in the design and delivery of various programs. Their experiences are helping us learn a great deal about the unique needs of those communities. We do diversity cafés, equity and diversity training and cultural workshops for staff, always using all the connections we’ve made in the community to really strengthen those relationships.” ¡

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The City of Ottawa is proud to be selected as one of the Canada’s Best Diversity Employers. A City for everyone. visit





Doing the right thing is good business at Rogers


efore Jasmine Wong joined Rogers Communications Inc. five years ago, she knew that the company was a leader in innovation and technology. “I hoped I’d find that entrepreneurial spirit here,” she says, “and I did.” If the company’s innovative drive attracted her to join the team, she became even more enthusiastic when she saw the emphasis that Rogers places on inclusion and diversity in supporting its team members, customers and communities across the country. “When I joined, I checked out some internal videos on inclusion and diversity.” she says. “Then I looked around my building and saw diversity all around me. Plus, the people in the video actually worked here.” Not only does Rogers want its employees to reflect the diversity of all Canadians, it also wants to bring more diversity of thought to the table to maintain its leadership as one of the country’s most innovative companies.

We create opportunities for talent. It’s less about the person in the job and more about the person’s career – the next role and the one after that. _______ Bart Nickerson

Vice President & GM, Rogers Wireless

Innovation has been at the heart of Rogers since the founding of CFRB Radio in the early 1920s. In the 1960s, Ted Rogers

p Two team members in the Rogers server room at the Brampton campus

purchased CHFI Radio, then led the different backgrounds, personalities and company’s expansion into cable TV and experiences.” wireless communications and established Nickerson is also the Chair of the its brand throughout Canada. LGBTQ+ group called Spectrum, a name Since then, Rogers has expanded into that captures the essence of the company the fields of telephone and Internet operations and its employees. “It encapsuconnectivity and added telecommunilates the non-binary nature of the group,” cations and media assets, including the he says, “and reflects the rainbow-driven Toronto Blue Jays, Citytv and Sportsnet. spectrum and the communications In all these areas, the company aims to spectrum, which is an important element attract more diverse talent to maintain its of what this company does.” success. As she’s progressed through the company, “We try to create a workplace where Wong has also become more invested in people feel comfortable,” says Bart supporting diversity at Rogers, signing on as Nickerson, Vice President & GM, Rogers a Vice-Chair of the Rogers Women’s Wireless. “There’s top-down support Network, one of the company’s ERGs. here for LGBQT+, visible minorities, “We emphasize mentoring and networkpeople with disabilities and women. ing,” she says, “with a focus on how to build “We’ve also had Employee Resource talent from the bottom up.” Groups [ERGs] here for several years to Meeting biweekly, the network plans support our diverse teams. They’re grass- T:9.25”activities such as networking events and roots driven, accommodating our speaker series for employees from

Vancouver to Atlantic Canada to support women and their male allies in the workplace. “Over my five years here, I’ve worked with four different organizational teams in a number of different business units,” says Wong, now Senior Manager, Channel Marketing. “When my current role opened up, my managers said, ‘You have the skill set to be a leader. You can learn the functionality.’ It showed me how committed Rogers is to helping me grow and develop.” Nickerson seized an opportunity to become a planning executive at Rogers after three years as a leader in product development. “I went in not knowing the role,” he says. “But people said, ‘Bart, this job’s for you.’ It was created from scratch to fit my skill set and to support my growth. Taking this job was one of the best decisions in my career. “We create opportunities for talent,” he adds. “It’s less about the person in the job and more about the person’s career – the next role and the one after that.” An emphasis on inclusion and diversity not only provides opportunities for individuals at Rogers, it also contributes to the company’s leadership as an innovator. “What differentiates us is that people here are already passionate about what they do,” says Nickerson. “For us, diversity and inclusion are not just good business. They’re the right thing to do.” ¡





Make more possible in your career at Rogers. Discover why we’re one of Canada’s Top Diversity Employers.

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Harnessing the power of inclusion at RBC


nderstanding that diversity is a reality but inclusion is a choice, RBC is encouraging its employees, its clients and others to speak up about, and for, inclusion. “We need to have a dialogue to create a climate where differences are okay and also valued, so we can harness the power of diversity and inclusion, ensuring a level playing field for all talent,” says Kelly Pereira, Senior Vice President, Leadership Development. “Diversity & Inclusion is one of our core values but there’s more to it than that. We’ve seen an evolution over the last decade demonstrating that a diverse group of people who feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work, speaking up and offering ideas, will drive innovation.”

Every RBC employee I’ve met treats others as equals, wants to share, wants you to be part of the culture and help shape it. It’s very exciting. _______ Aakanksha Verma

Associate and Senior Manager, Leadership Development Program

RBC’s conversations about inclusion are more than just talk, as Aakanksha Verma found out when she joined the bank in May 2015 for a summer internship while pursuing an MBA at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. She’d come to Canada the

p RBC employee, Aakanksha Verma, with colleagues at RBC offices in Toronto

previous year from India, where she earned a Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Science. “The first thing I wanted to figure out about a new employer was, are they open to new ideas and perspectives, and will they take them seriously?” Verma says. “When I reached out to RBC, I got the vibe that people were interested in me and wanted to find out what I was interested in. I felt I was already building my own network during the interview process. After joining the company, I found all this was very genuine. Every RBC employee I’ve met treats others as equals, wants to share, wants you to be part of the culture and help shape it. It’s very exciting.” After completing her MBA in 2016, Verma began working full-time as an Associate in RBC’s Leadership Development Program, and is currently Senior

Manager in a Toronto-based team developing future strategies for Personal and Commercial banking programs. She’s also an active co-chair in NextGen, an employee resource group that aims “to make RBC even more youth-friendly, if possible,” she says. “We set up a pilot initiative where every young employee will have a mentor. This was really powerful, showing how we can drive changes to the culture.” Diversity and inclusion initiatives at RBC begin during recruiting. For instance, there’s a new program to hire people – particularly women but also men – who have taken a “pause” from work, whether to raise a family or for a personal break. “It can be a real challenge for them to get back into the workforce after a few years,” Pereira explains. “Often they need an entry point, and this program helps provide it.”

Other programs help diverse people with high potential reach leadership roles, through mentorship, leadership coaching and introductions to leaders. As examples, Pereira mentions Ignite, a new program mainly for culturally diverse talent, and Women in Leadership. “We’ve been offering programs like this for several years, but like most organizations we need to keep stepping up our efforts,” she says, “which is why we’re also proud to be a founding partner of a new LGBT+ executive program at Queen’s University’s Smith School of Business.” As an example of RBC’s diversity in action, Verma recalls, “I was part of a new team that brought together many accomplished people from different areas with varied backgrounds. Everyone was very approachable and appreciative of new ideas, regardless of seniority or backgrounds. The RBC culture was ingrained from the start. It’s in the air.” RBC’s dialogue about inclusion reaches beyond its walls. “We want to ignite a transparent conversation to speak up for inclusion and talk about what we can all do to accelerate inclusion,” says Pereira. “For example, our new Diversity & Inclusion web portal is a central hub to keep diversity alive, to encourage clients, communities and employees to get involved, to inspire our talent and lead our peers to do the same.” ¡







TD to benefit benefit diverse diverseemployees employees TD creates creates an an inclusive inclusive environment environment to


n March 2017, while Anthony n March was 2017,inwhile Anthony Spezzano his fourth year of a Spezzanoprogram was in hisinfourth year of a bachelor’s cognitive bachelor’s program in cognitive science at York University, he applied science at York University, he applied to several organizations, including to Bank, severalfor organizations, including TD a full-time job following TD Bank, for following graduation. It’s aanfull-time anxiousjob time for graduation. It’s an anxious time for anyone, but Spezzano was particularly anyone,that buthe Spezzano was to particularly worried might have settle for a worriedthat thatwouldn’t he mightallow have him to settle for a position to make position wouldn’t allow him to make full use of that his strengths and skills, full usehe of has his strengths because autism. and skills, because he has autism. “Neurodiversity can be an asset — for “Neurodiversity can be anand asset — for example, I’m very self-aware example,he I’m very“but self-aware andtypes of focused,” says, the usual focused,” he says, “but the usual types of interviews are difficult for me.” To interviews are difficult for me.” To overcome that obstacle, he worked with overcome that obstacle, he worked with Specialisterne, a recruiting agency that Specialisterne, a recruiting agency that helps people on the autism spectrum find helps people on the autism spectrum find meaningful meaningfulemployment. employment. “Through “Throughpartnerships partnershipswith withorganizaorganizations like Specialisterne, we tions like Specialisterne, weensure ensurethat that we’re we’reaccessing accessingthe thewidest widesttalent talentpool pooland and bringing bringingunique uniqueperspectives perspectivestotothe the table,” table,”says saysKelley KelleyCornish, Cornish,TD TDBank Bank Group’s Group’sGlobal GlobalHead HeadofofDiversity Diversityand and Inclusion. Inclusion.“We “Weknow knowthat thattotobuild buildour our capacity capacityfor forinnovation innovationwe weneed needtotobring bring together togetherand andengage engageall allbackgrounds, backgrounds, skillsets skillsetsand andmindsets.” mindsets.”

We Weknow knowthat that to to build buildour ourcapacity capacity for for innovation innovationwe we need need totobring bringtogether together and and engageall allbackgrounds, backgrounds, engage skillsetsand andmindsets. mindsets. skillsets _______ Kelley Cornish _______ Kelley Cornish

GlobalHead HeadofofDiversity Diversity Global andInclusion Inclusion and

pAnthony AnthonySpezzano, Spezzano,TDTD employee p employee

In went through through In June June 2017, 2017, Spezzano Spezzano went an managed by by an interviewing interviewing process process managed Specialisterne “It was was intricate intricate Specialisterne for for TD. TD. “It and my aptiaptiand focused focused on on capturing capturing my tudes,” given tasks tasks to to tudes,” he he says. says. “I “I was was given solve would fit fit into into solve to to assess assess how how II would different first time time in in different work work roles. For the first an overlooked. II an interview, interview, I didn’t feel overlooked. felt not just just felt TD TD was was interested in me, not itself.” itself.” In position as as In July, July, he he was offered a position an accounts team team an Analyst Analyst on the margin accounts in Managein the the Capital Capital Markets Risk Management Group, Group, located at TD’s head ment head office office in Toronto, Toronto, and he has been “overjoyed” in “overjoyed” by his his experience experience since then. by “TD was was incredibly adaptable “TD adaptable and and accepting,” he says. “It was a shock accepting,” shock to to me. Right Right off off the bat, I was given me. given aa mentor, who who later became my mentor, my manager. manager.

Webroke brokedown downbarriers barriersand and We establishedaaconnection connectionofoftrust, trust, established opennessand andacceptance.” acceptance.” openness Respectingand andhonouring honouringdifferences differences Respecting partofofTD’s TD’sDNA, DNA,says saysCornish, Cornish,“but “but isispart wetake takeititone onestep stepfurther. further.We Webelieve believe we it’simportant importanttotoembrace embraceour ourshared shared it’s experiencestoo. too.We’ve We’velearned learnedthat that experiences diversityand andinclusion inclusionenable enableeach each diversity individualtotoachieve achievetheir theirfull fullpotential potential individual whilehelping helpingus usachieve achieveour ourcommon common while missionofofenriching enrichingthe thelives livesofofour our mission customers,colleagues colleaguesand andcommunities. communities. customers, This Thisisisabout aboutevolving evolvingour ourculture culturetotobebe an anorganization organizationwhere whereeveryone everyonehas hasa a seat seatatatthe thetable tableand andfeels feelsvalued valuedfor for their theircontributions contributionsand andfor forwho whothey they are.” are.” TD TDfosters fostersan aninclusive inclusiveculture culture through throughvarious variousinitiatives, initiatives,such suchasas

TD is is proud proud to be one of TD Canada's Best Diversity Employers. Canada's Employers.

Inclusion and Diversity Leadership Inclusion Diversity Leadership Councilsand in every business area; a Councils every business growinginnetwork of morearea; thana50 growing network of more than focused 50 Employee Resource Groups on Employee Groups focused on employeeResource engagement, career developemployee engagement, development, mentoring and career networking ment, mentoring and and inclusive networking opportunities; leadership opportunities; and inclusive leadership training for all people managers that training managers that covers for howalltopeople identify and address covers how to identify unconscious bias. and address unconscious bias. All TD employees and leaders are All TD employees and leaders encouraged to share their own are stories encouraged to share their own stories through face-to-face gatherings, online through face-to-face discussion forums gatherings, and discussion forumsreminds and videos. “The sharing us of the “The sharing reminds us of the benefits of human experience in benefits of human experience in growing the leaders of the future — growing the leaders of the future — more resilient and determined, more more resilient and determined, more empathetic and patient,” Cornish says. empathetic and patient,” Cornish says. recent example that open culture “A“A recent example of of that open culture action when Anthony Spezzano inin action is is when Anthony Spezzano shared experiences someone with shared hishis experiences as as someone with a neurodiversity and inspired a number a neurodiversity and inspired a number colleagues disclose their own ofof colleagues to to disclose their own invisible disabilities.” invisible disabilities.” For part, Spezzano welcomes For hishis part, Spezzano welcomes thethe opportunity contribute culture opportunity to to contribute to to thethe culture and the organization. “TD given and the organization. “TD hashas given meme opportunity a young and anan opportunity at at a young ageage and thethe freedom what potential freedom toto seesee what mymy potential is,”is,” he he says. “I’m determined make most says. “I’m determined to to make thethe most I want know what I can accomofof I want to to know what I can accomplish the institution and plish forfor the institution and thethe communities around where communities around meme —— where cancan I I end I keep going like this?” end upup if if I keep going like this?” ¡ ¡



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Equity is a major focus at the University of Waterloo


ecently, Professor Corey W. Johnson, a professor of recreation and leisure studies at the University of Waterloo, was approached by a teaching assistant who wanted to address her 150-student class on diversity about having been sexually assaulted on two occasions. “I was both excited and bit reluctant,” recalls Johnson, who is also the university’s Applied Health Sciences Faculty Advocate for the UN’s HeForShe movement. “I wanted to be sure that she would feel supported, being so vulnerable, and also that it would be a productive conversation and not one where men felt guilt-shamed for being men.”

Our President, Feridun Hamdullahpur, has taken a stand on equity issues, ensuring that it’s a priority at the very senior levels of the institution. _______ Dr. Diana Parry

Associate Vice-President of Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion

Johnson and the student worked through those concerns. After she spoke, students were asked to write about their reaction to the talk. “Some of their powerful comments included, ‘I had never heard a woman talk about being sexually assaulted before,’ or ‘I had never realized that the statistics about rape were based on empirical data,’ or ‘Now I can see how my jokes or whatever have

p University of Waterloo employees attend an annual staff conference

perpetuated a culture where that is still possible,’” recalls Johnson. “So, if you were to ask me when was the last time I cried as a result of watching students transform, it would have been in that class.” Johnson is one of several people at the University of Waterloo who are advancing a comprehensive and cuttingedge diversity and inclusion agenda among staff, faculty and students. Another is Dr. Diana Parry, also a professor in Johnson’s department and the institution’s Associate Vice-President of Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion. She notes that Waterloo is the only Canadian entity — alongside governments, other leading universities and global businesses — invited to participate in the HeForShe IMPACT 10x10x10 framework, a global initiative to

enlist those who identify as boys and men in helping to remove the barriers preventing girls and women from attaining their potential. As a leading STEM-focused university well aware of the under-representation of women in science, technology, engineering and math, Waterloo set itself three HeForShe goals to be achieved by 2020, and has already met or exceeded two of them: the number of girls and women in its STEM outreach activities reached 35 per cent in 2017, ahead of the 33 per cent goal, and its proportion of women faculty grew to 30.1 per cent last year, just ahead of the targeted 30 per cent. Its third commitment is to attract and advance female leaders to senior academic and administrative positions. The university also runs a gender equity research grant program.

But gender equity is just one part of the university’s wide-ranging diversity and inclusivity initiatives. The institution offers campus-wide training for students, staff and faculty on unconscious bias against not just women, but also Indigenous people, racialized groups and people with ability issues. It also hosts workshops on masculinity and on consent. Many of these developments have come about because of the strong commitment at the top. “Our President, Feridun Hamdullahpur, has taken a stand on equity issues,” says Parry, “ensuring that it’s a priority at the very senior levels of the institution and providing the resources and staffing to ensure that these initiatives are well-supported across campus, which makes us very unique.” The university’s Organizational & Human Development department developed a Principles of Inclusivity certificate program to explore inclusive themes and to provide practical suggestions for practising and promoting inclusivity. Each of the seven half-day workshops in the award-winning series supports and encourages participants along a personal journey of self-awareness and discovery, challenging them to question their assumptions, enhance mindful awareness, and develop an action plan to reinforce and champion inclusivity. ¡





The University of Waterloo is proud to be named one of ’





The City of Vancouver has a broad diversity strategy


or a number of years the City of Vancouver has had a Respectful Workplace Policy, training programs to eliminate bullying, harassment and discrimination and several other policies and programs to ensure that every employee — regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation — feels welcome and included. “It’s really the key to driving excellence, innovation and engagement,” says Anne Nickerson, Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. “It underscores the City’s commitment to hiring a workforce that reflects the community we serve.” That said, there’s still work to be done. In 2018, the City launched a number of ambitious initiatives aimed at — among other things — addressing female under-representation in some professions, while continuing to enhance the City’s relationship with local Indigenous communities and eliminating barriers for trans, gender variant and two-spirit individuals.

We want to infuse diversity and inclusion throughout our entire organization. That’s the ultimate goal. _______ Sandra Singh

General Manager, Arts, Culture and Community Services

“We want to infuse diversity and inclusion throughout our entire organization,” says Sandra Singh,

p Engineering Services staff from the City of Vancouver

General Manager, Arts, Culture and Community Services. “That’s the ultimate goal.” Last January, City Council approved a 10-year women’s equity strategy and established actions related to five themes for phase one, covering 2018-19. The City hopes to increase the number of women in leadership roles at all levels and to address underrepresentation in the fire services, information technology, trades and operations. One of the first concrete measures was to create a new assistant chief of outreach and recruitment at the Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services with a mandate to increase workforce diversity. The council has approved a City of

Reconciliation strategy to promote better relations with Indigenous individuals and communities and to improve the delivery of services. “We offer our staff online and in-class cultural competency training as part of our City of Reconciliation strategy,” says Nickerson. “And we’re creating specific positions for Indigenous planning staff.” The City now has an Indigenous Relations Manager as well as several Indigenous social and cultural planners employed in a number of business units such as the Park Board and Social Policy. “They liaise and work with Indigenous service groups and the broader community,” says Singh. “They bring their lived experience to internal matters, they work at the project level and they make recommendations

on policy and strategy.” Under the City’s Trans*, Gender Variant and Two-Spirit Inclusion initiative, the Human Resources department has developed online resources and training materials to raise awareness among staff and managers. “We’ve done a lot of training with our staff on serving people in those communities and we’re always seeking job applications from diverse communities,” says Nickerson. The City has also adopted genderneutral signage outside washrooms and change rooms. “We have always been careful to ensure that our work sites welcome people with differences,” says Nickerson. “We want people to bring their whole, authentic selves to work and not feel they can’t be who they really are.” For the past seven years, up to 40 City employees have participated annually in a program called Mentorship for New Immigrant Professionals, which is offered in partnership with the Immigrant Employment Council of B.C. Mentors introduce the newcomers to contacts in their field, explain the work environment in Canada and help them prepare resumes. “Many mentees who have gone through the program have found employment in their fields, including some who are now employed with the City in engineering, human resources and planning,” says Nickerson. ¡







York Region’s charter sets an example for the world


haron Kennedy felt tremendous pride when The Regional Municipality of York received an award last November for an employee campaign to promote inclusion and diversity. The campaign, called “I Am Different Like You,” aims to start a conversation about what it means to be inclusive and work toward a common vision of diversity among York Region staff and community members. As Executive Director of Human Resources, Kennedy is part of the senior management team whose top-down initiatives have distinguished York Region as a global leader in its commitment to inclusiveness and diversity.

Our commitment to employee wellness and an inclusion culture enhances our ongoing work to attract and retain the best talent, promote innovation and provide an excellent customer experience. _______ Sharon Kennedy

Executive Director of Human Resources

With more than 1 million residents spread over 1,762 sq km north of Toronto, York Region encompasses nine cities and towns and is the third-largest census division in Ontario. Almost a quarter of the population is Chinese, while another 25 per cent of residents identify their heritage as Indian, Russian, German, Iranian, Polish and Sri Lankan.

p Aisha Saintiche and colleagues celebrating inclusion and diversity at York Region

Last June, the Region formally adopted an Inclusion Charter that has been recognized by the United Nations as a leading practice model that communities around the world could use to become more inclusive. The Inclusion Charter was developed by the Municipal Diversity and Inclusion Group, co-chaired by York Region and York Regional Police, which includes municipalities, police services, hospitals, school boards, conservation authorities and agencies with a common commitment to welcoming and inclusive communities. “Inclusion and diversity are corporate competencies,” says Aisha Saintiche, Strategic Project Advisor at the Region, who works on an initiative called Mental Health Matters. “They include mental health and accessibility, and they provide purpose to all the work we do.” An employee of the Region since 2008, Saintiche has worked for more than two years to incorporate awareness of mental-

health-related issues into the culture of the organization so that employees feel supported and so they can also better meet the needs of the communities they serve. “Mental health is an issue that arises in all areas, from housing to daycare to employment,” says Saintiche, who moved into her current job in 2017. York Region’s emergency medical services personnel are also incorporating mental-health awareness into their culture to deliver services with a focus on early intervention, prevention and effective responses to crisis. In addition to promoting positive mental health, York Region offers its employees a comprehensive employee wellness program that includes a mobile-friendly and interactive employee wellness website where they can track healthy behaviours like physical activity, a good night’s sleep and proper nutrition, view an online video library of modules on topics related to family, physical and

York Region has a place for everyone. #InclusiveYR #YRjobs

mental health and finances, and try out an online behaviour modification program supporting nutritional wellness. “Our commitment to employee wellness and an inclusion culture enhances our ongoing work to attract and retain the best talent, promote innovation and provide an excellent customer experience,” says Kennedy. York Region also encourages employees to advance through the organization. “With seven unique departments and more than 70 per cent of our hiring managed internally, we give our employees first chance to grow when opportunities present themselves,” says Kennedy. Aisha Saintiche joined the Region’s staff as a Senior Program Analyst, with a degree in political science from Concordia University in Montreal and six years of experience as a child advocate worker. Since then, with support and encouragement from her managers, Saintiche has added a master’s degree in public policy administration from York University and a certificate in change management to her qualifications. “York Region offers lots of programs for staff in areas like leadership, emotional intelligence, coaching fundamentals and solution-focused communication,” she says. “Compared to who I was when I started, I’m now a very different person in terms of the skills that I bring to the table.” ¡





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Profile for Canada's Top 100 Employers

Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2019)  

Official magazine announcing Canada's Best Diversity Employers for 2019. Published March 1, 2019 in The Globe and Mail.

Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2019)  

Official magazine announcing Canada's Best Diversity Employers for 2019. Published March 1, 2019 in The Globe and Mail.

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