Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2021)

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CANADA’S BEST DIVERSITY EMPLOYERS

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DIVERSITY IN THE PANDEMIC:

About this year’s competition MEDIACORP

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THE COMPLETE LIST:

Canada’s Best Diversity Employers (2021)

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A YEAR OF CHANGE:

How BLM moved the dial on diversity

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CANADA’S BEST DIVERSITY EMPLOYERS 2021

CANADA’S BEST DIVERSITY EMPLOYERS 14 th Annual Edition

CANADA’S BEST DIVERSITY EMPLOYERS 2021 Magazine Anthony Meehan, PUBLISHER

Editorial Team:

Richard Yerema, MANAGING EDITOR

Kristina Leung,

BANK OF CANADA

SENIOR EDITOR

Stephanie Leung, ASSISTANT EDITOR

Chantel Watkins, JUNIOR EDITOR

Jing Wang,

RESEARCH ASSISTANT

Advertising Team:

Kristen Chow,

MANAGING DIRECTOR, PUBLISHING

Ye Jin Suhe,

CLIENT EXPERIENCE LEAD

Vishnusha Kirupananthan, JUNIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER

Sponsored Profile Writers:

Berton Woodward, SENIOR EDITOR

Michael Benedict Brian Bergman Jane Doucet Sheldon Gordon Patricia Hluchy D’Arcy Jenish Bruce McDougall Nora Underwood Barbara Wickens

©2021 Mediacorp Canada Inc. and The Globe and Mail. All rights reserved. CANADA’S BEST DIVERSITY EMPLOYERS is a registered trade mark of Mediacorp Canada Inc. Editorial inquiries: ct100@mediacorp.ca

 The Bank of Canada offers a master’s-level scholarship program for women in economics and finance aimed at creating a more gender-balanced talent pipeline in the future.

IN T RO D U CT IO N

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iversity is more than making sure everyone feels welcome in the workplace. It’s also about a seat at the table. Canada’s Best Diversity Employers 2021, selected by Mediacorp Canada Inc., recognize that real change begins with real action. That means taking proactive steps to address the systemic and unconscious inequities of race and gender that exist in Canadian organizations. In this time marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, Black Lives Matter and Truth and Reconciliation for Indigenous peoples, there is fresh impetus for companies to make a difference – and an increased awareness of past injustice. The winners of this specialty competition have been recognized for their ongoing efforts with a wide array of progressive inclusion initiatives, from unconscious bias training to diversity targets to support for mental health. What’s key is having a formalized plan and strategy for unlocking opportunities and making true diversity and inclusion a reality. That includes a deep dive into determining where the inequalities lie, a willingness to act from

the top down and a shift to meaningful representation at every level. Take a look at the City of Vancouver which adopted an extensive, long-term strategy to address systemic issues that impact women’s full inclusion, with goals and actions that focus on increasing female representation within the city’s senior management and underrepresented occupations. Transparency matters as well, with the city recently publishing its first annual workforce pay and gender report. Opening dialogue is key to understanding the underlying issues. For example, Rogers Communications launched “Safe Talk and Safe Talking and Listening” sessions to create space for self-identifying Black employees and allies to engage in conversation on anti-racism and on constructive ways to be an ally to the Black community. The benefits for companies that embrace best practices around diversity and inclusion are well established. The increased innovation, productivity and revenue growth sparked by diverse perspectives speak for themselves. – Diane Jermyn


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CANADA’S BEST DIVERSITY EMPLOYERS 2021

2021 WINNERS  TD Bank Group recently refreshed its diversity and inclusion strategy with new initiatives directed at the intersections of different identities.

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CCENTURE INC., Toronto. Professional services; 5,453 employees. Continues to work towards advancing women in the workplace and achieving a gender-balanced workforce by 2025. ACCESSIBLE MEDIA INC. / AMI, Toronto. Television and radio broadcasting; 100 employees. Manages three work placement programs to help persons with disabilities gain meaningful work experience. AGRICULTURE AND AGRI-FOOD CANADA, Ottawa. Federal government; 4,888 employees. Created an Indigenous student recruitment initiative to provide

opportunities for students to transition to the workplace after their education is complete.

Credit card issuing; 1,745 employees. Maintains 10 colleague networks across the organization, including groups for millennials, women, families and women in technology.

AIR CANADA, Saint-Laurent, Que. Air transportation; 31,215 employees. Created an Accommodation Office to assist new employees with any necessary adjustments during the hiring and onboarding process.

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ALBERTA HEALTH SERVICES / AHS, Edmonton. Healthcare; 47,560 employees. Maintains a dedicated diversity and inclusion Centre of Expertise, a team of three who assist in implementing programs and policies across the organization. AMEX BANK OF CANADA, Toronto.

ANK OF CANADA, Ottawa. Central bank; 1,780 employees. Created a master’s scholarship program for women in economics and finance aimed at creating more gender-balanced talent pipelines for the bank in the future. BC HYDRO, Vancouver. Hydroelectric power generation; 5,863 employees. Created an Indigenous Professional in Development Program, a paid one-year internship for post-secondary school graduates.

BC PUBLIC SERVICE, Victoria. Provincial government; 31,117 employees. Manages the Work-Able Graduate Internship program to provide post-secondary graduates with disabilities opportunities to gain work experience within the public sector. BELL CANADA, Verdun, Que. Communications; 37,528 employees. Launched the Black Professionals Network during Black History Month in 2019 to help support professional development, raise cultural awareness and engage and attract new talent. BLAKE, CASSELS & GRAYDON LLP, Toronto. Law firm; 1,370 employees. Provided dedicated mental health training


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CANADA’S BEST DIVERSITY EMPLOYERS 2021

(CONT.)

for leaders in light of the pandemic to help them communicate with employees who may be struggling. BORDEN LADNER GERVAIS LLP, Toronto. Law firm; 1,537 employees. Requires diverse representation on shortlists when hiring lawyers, as well as providing unconscious bias training for lawyers conducting law student interviews. BRUCE POWER LP, Tiverton, Ont. Nuclear power generation; 4,054 employees. Created an Indigenous Education and Work Experience Opportunity, which provides sponsored tuition and paid work placements. BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT BANK OF CANADA, Montreal. Secondary market financing; 2,409 employees. Offers internal resources to encourage employees to learn about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s findings.

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AMH / CENTRE FOR ADDICTION AND MENTAL HEALTH, Toronto. Specialty hospital; 2,652 employees. Supports the Out of This World Cafe at three locations, operated by Working for Change to provide employment opportunities for the psychiatric consumer/survivor community. CANADA MORTGAGE AND HOUSING CORP. / CMHC, Ottawa. Federal government; 1,988 employees. Committed to embarking on an anti-racist journey including working with partner organizations to secure stronger support for Black employees. CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY LTD., Calgary. Railroad transportation; 9,867 employees. Works with a variety of community partners to recruit individuals from all walks of life. CAPITAL ONE CANADA, Toronto. Credit card issuing; 1,334 employees. Held its first Women in Tech Invitational in 2019 for female candidates applying for technology roles. CHILDREN’S AID SOCIETY OF TORONTO, Toronto. Child and youth

services; 734 employees. Is currently rolling out an equity and anti-Black racism strategy that will be integrated into existing internal structures and departments. CIBC, Toronto. Banking; 36,431 employees. Is committed to gender-balanced leadership with short and long-term goals to increase representation of women in executive roles.

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ENTONS CANADA LLP, Vancouver. Law firm; 1,251 employees. Is currently developing a new affinity group to address the interests and values of Black employees. DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE CANADA, Ottawa. Federal government; 757 employees. Launched FIN Builds, a new initiative designed to look into the reasons behind women’s underrepresentation in leadership positions in the department.

DESJARDINS GROUP / MOUVEMENT DESJARDINS, Lévis, Que. Financial institution; 40,137 employees. Established a goal to have women represent 50 per cent of senior management positions by 2024.

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DMONTON, CITY OF, Edmonton. Municipal government; 9,981 employees. Created an educational program for all employees to learn about the history and impact of Canada’s residential school system on Indigenous peoples. EMPLOYMENT AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT CANADA, Gatineau, Que. Federal government; 28,003 employees. Formed a national Visible Minorities Network, led by an elected executive committee. ENBRIDGE INC., Calgary. Energy infrastructure; 7,627 employees. Conducts annual pay equity analyses as well as additional analyses during performance

reviews, leadership development and succession planning.

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ATCH LTD., Mississauga. Engineering; 3,381 employees. Established a goal to have women represent 40 per cent of its workforce by 2023. HEALTH CANADA / SANTÉ CANADA, Ottawa. Federal government; 8,507 employees. Completed its fourth year of implementation of its mental health and wellness in the workplace strategy. HOME DEPOT OF CANADA INC., Toronto. Retail; 14,591 employees. Launched a gender transition guide as a resource for employees who may be involved in the transition, including the individual, supervisor, manager, peers or direct reports. HP CANADA CO., Mississauga. Computer technology and services; 498

q Elder Ed Lavallee (left) and Spirit Helper Jeff Chalifoux from the Edmonton 2 Spirit Society provide blessing and prayer to open Pride celebrations for Alberta Health Services at Edmonton’s Royal Alexandra Hospital.

KDPHOTODYNAMICS/AHS

2021 WINNERS


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(CONT.)

B.PIETERS/BRUCE POWER

2021 WINNERS

CANADA’S BEST DIVERSITY EMPLOYERS 2021

employees. Manages a sponsorship program called Catalyst@HP with the objective of increasing the representation of women in technical and leadership roles.

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BM CANADA LTD., Markham, Ont. Software development. Partnered with Specialisterne to deploy IGNITE Autism Spectrum Disorder, a program to employ spectrum talent locally. INNOVATION, SCIENCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CANADA, Ottawa. Federal government; 5,530 employees. Is investing in Canada’s first-ever Women Entrepreneurship Strategy to provide direct investments for women-owned or women-led businesses. AZZ AVIATION LP, Dartmouth, N.S. Air transportation; 4,777 employees. Offers a scholarship program for Indigenous female aviators, in partnership with Indspire, an Indigenous-led national charity.

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PMG LLP, Toronto. Accounting; 8,399 employees. Established a new key performance indicator for the firm’s partners, linking compensation to representation of women and visible minorities. AFARGE CANADA INC., Calgary. Concrete manufacturing; 6,908 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 and grocery stores; 27,360 employees. Maintained its focus on gender balance, hosting a variety of initiatives including two networking events with management board executives.

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ANITOBA HYDRO, Winnipeg. Hydroelectric power generation; 4,947 employees. Launched pre-placement programs for women in power line technician and power electrician trades programs, with a goal of increasing representation of women.

 A team of electricians looking over the day’s work in the nuclear power plant at Bruce Power LP in Tiverton, Ont. MANULIFE, Toronto. Insurance; 12,489 employees. Implemented diverse candidate slate requirements to increase hire and promotion rates of diverse candidates for Director-level roles and above. MCCARTHY TÉTRAULT LLP, Toronto. Law firm; 1,576 employees. Made significant strides to increase gender diversity internally, with women representing over 50 per cent of C-suite roles. MCMASTER UNIVERSITY, Hamilton. Universities; 6,210 employees. Launched an employment equity facilitator program to support all hiring processes, act as process consultants and ensure equitable outcomes.

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ORTON ROSE FULBRIGHT CANADA LLP, Toronto. Law firm; 1,679 employees. Offers a Career Strategies development program for

high-potential women who aspire to partnership, including access to personal executive coaching. NUTRIEN INC., Saskatoon, Sask. Fertilizer manufacturing; 5,835 employees. Offers training and education on a variety of diversity related topics including unconscious bias, Aboriginal awareness and LGBTQ awareness.

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TTAWA, CITY OF, Ottawa. Municipal government; 11,584 employees. Established an Anti-racism Secretariat to adopt an anti-racism approach to policy development, decision making and program development.

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ROCTER & GAMBLE INC., Toronto. Consumer product manufacturing; 1,555 employees. Conducts annual diversity reviews with senior-level employees from across all

business units to assess progress and reinforce leadership accountability. PROVIDENCE HEALTH CARE, Vancouver. Hospitals; 4,195 employees. Established an All-Nations Sacred Space at St. Paul’s Hospital that can accommodate the smudging ceremonies, drumming circles, unification ceremonies, talking circles and feasts. PUBLIC SERVICES AND PROCUREMENT CANADA, Gatineau, Que. Federal government; 16,128 employees. Created a national reconciliation and Indigenous engagement unit, responsible for developing the department’s Reconciliation Framework and Strategy.

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ED RIVER COLLEGE, Winnipeg. Colleges; 1,464 employees. Conducted a college-wide self-identification survey in order to develop action plans for equity, diversity and inclusion.


2021 WINNERS

(CONT.)

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BDC

CANADA’S BEST DIVERSITY EMPLOYERS 2021

ROGERS COMMUNICATIONS INC., Toronto. Communications, cable, publishing and subscription programming; 22,635 employees. Conducted an internal research study to identify barriers for women and patterns of system bias through the employee lifecycle. ROYAL BANK OF CANADA, Toronto. Banking; 57,242 employees. Offers a 10-month Ignite leadership development program for high-performing, culturally diverse talent, aimed at accelerating their trajectory to senior management.

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AP CANADA INC., Vancouver. Custom computer programming services; 3,283 employees. Participated as a pilot country for its parent company’s Autism at Work program. SASKPOWER, Regina. Electric power generation; 3,398 employees. Employs a full-time diversity specialist, who is responsible for the development and implementation of a corporate diversity strategy.

 Business Development Bank of Canada has completed on-site physical audits at its Halifax, Montreal and Toronto business centres to identify potential physical barriers for employees.

ISEDC

SASKTEL, Regina. Telecommunications; 2,737 employees. Maintains a hiring strategy for persons with disabilities and conducts information sessions and pre-employment workshops with community partners. SINAI HEALTH, Toronto. Hospitals; 3,744 employees. Created the “Are You an Ally” campaign to educate employees on how to act as an ally for persons who experience discrimination. SODEXO CANADA LTD., Burlington, Ont. Food service contractors; 5,700 employees. Maintains 16 partnerships that generate training and professional development programs for Indigenous groups. STANLEY BLACK & DECKER CANADA CORP., Mississauga. Tool and hardware manufacturing; 1,398 employees. Created a diversity and inclusion advisory and action committee, comprised of cross-business and cross-functional employees. STATISTICS CANADA, Ottawa. Federal government; 5,469 employees. Actively tracks employment equity data by

 Ringing in the Lunar New Year with a lion dance at Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada in Ottawa.


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LOBLAWS

2021 WINNERS

CANADA’S BEST DIVERSITY EMPLOYERS 2021

(CONT.)

occupational category and occupational group and conducts mobility analysis of hires, separations and promotions. SUNCOR ENERGY INC., Calgary. Crude petroleum and natural gas extraction; 12,456 employees. Has managed an Indigenous student program since 2015, which has since become available across all Canadian operations. SURREY, CITY OF, Surrey. Municipal government; 2,125 employees. Created an Inclusive Employer Awards program to recognize local businesses that create welcoming environments for persons with disabilities.

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D BANK GROUP, Toronto. Banking; 53,694 employees. Continues to evolve its approach to diversity and inclusion with a recently refreshed strategy and initiatives directed at the intersections of different identities. TELUS COMMUNICATIONS INC., Vancouver. Telecommunications; 23,488 employees. Has achieved over 7,000 memberships in its five resource groups, which offer mentoring, networking, peer support, volunteering and coaching opportunities to its members.

 Loblaw Companies recently added awareness for unconscious bias and diversity into its key business processes, including succession planning, high potential candidate identification and development opportunities.

TORONTO TRANSIT COMMISSION / TTC, Toronto. Public transit; 15,201 employees. Committed to developing a system-wide Anti-Racism Strategy and a review of policies, systems and practices with an anti-racism and anti-Black racism lens.

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BC / UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA, Vancouver. Universities; 12,739 employees. Maintains an Equity Enhancement Fund to support collaborative student, faculty and staff projects that advance equity and inclusion.

UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA, Winnipeg. Universities; 4,578 employees.

MANULIFE

UNIVERSITY OF CALGARY, Calgary. Universities; 6,088 employees. Offers diversity awards to students, staff, faculty and mixed teams who have demonstrated a commitment to inclusion and equity on campus.

 Since 2014, Manulife has organized a worldwide employee group, the Global Women’s Alliance, to elevate the profile of women throughout the company and inspire them to reach their potential with resources and coaching.


CANADA’S BEST DIVERSITY EMPLOYERS 2021

2021 WINNERS

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(CONT.)

Created Gaa wii ji’i diyaang, a council of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples walking together and helping to create a community through relationship building, education, advocacy and action. UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO, Toronto. Universities; 10,456 employees. Includes an anti-racism and cultural diversity office, an office of Indigenous initiatives, and a sexual and gender diversity office in its network of equity offices. UNIVERSITY OF VICTORIA, Victoria. Universities; 3,203 employees. Features improved accessibility, family change rooms with space for transgendered individuals, and space for CanAssist at its Centre for Athletics, Recreation and Special Abilities.

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D.STRYLAND/TTC

R.GAL/PSPC

ANCOUVER AIRPORT AUTHORITY, Richmond, B.C. Airport operations; 538 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 OF, Vancouver. Municipal government; 7,582 employees. Embarked on its ninth annual mentorship program for new Canadians, in partnership with the Immigration Employment Council of British Columbia and various service providers.

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ILLIAM OSLER HEALTH SYSTEM, Brampton, Ont. Hospitals; 3,460 employees. Aims to foster an inclusive and respectful environment for LGBTQ employees and patients through its multi-disciplinary LGBTQ2IA Allies Advisory Group.

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MCA OF GREATER TORONTO, Toronto. Individual and family services; 3,027 employees. Partnered with the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres to provide opportunities for Indigenous cultural competency training. – Diane Jermyn

PHOTOS (FROM TOP): 1. Federal agency Public Services and Procurement Canada recently launched an interim departmentwide accessibility plan, which included establishing an accessible procurement resource centre and an HR accessibility service centre. 2. Employees at the Toronto Transit Commission / TTC receive training on a wide range of diversity topics, such as providing inclusive service to diverse customers, cultural competency and understanding unconscious bias.


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K.ROBBINS/MCMASTER

CANADA’S BEST DIVERSITY EMPLOYERS 2021

q An associate dean at McMaster University, Dr. Bernice Downey (herself of Saulteaux-Ojibway heritage) oversees and promotes Indigenous health initiatives within the Faculty of Health Sciences.

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M E T H O D OL O GY

hile the selection process to choose the winners of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers continually evolves to include new questions that reflect changes in the workplace, the methodology and selection criteria for the competition essentially remains the same as in previous years. The Mediacorp 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 (LGBTQ) people. To determine the winners of the competition, the editors at Mediacorp’s Top Employers reviewed the diversity and inclusiveness initiatives of all 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 represent the diversity leaders in their industry and region of Canada. The Globe and Mail is not involved in the judging process. Mediacorp’s Canada’s Best Diversity Employers is an annual national competition, and all applicants must pay a fee to enter. Any employer with its head office or principal place of business in Canada may apply regardless of size, whether private or public sector. – Diane Jermyn


CANADA’S BEST DIVERSITY EMPLOYERS 2021

MANULIFE

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 Manulife recently introduced a requirement that applicant slates for director-level roles and above must include candidates from diverse backgrounds.

YE AR OF CH ANGE How the Black Lives Matter protests raised the urgency of making diversity and inclusion a priority at Canadian employers

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hen the intense Black Lives Matter protests erupted around the world in 2020, even many of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers were a bit shaken by the reaction among their own employees. After all, in their workplaces, making sure employees are comfortable in their own skins, bring their whole selves to work and feel respected and heard is just second nature. These are organizations that have long been committed to the most progressive principles of diversity, equity and inclusion. And yet, in 2020, there was still more to

do. Take Air Canada, which has a shining record as a leader in diversity on several fronts, including gender equity and LGBTQ+ policies, as well as its multicultural staff. The company regularly received strong positive responses on its employee engagement surveys. “But the George Floyd incident stirred a lot of emotion,” says Marc Olivier, the airline’s senior director of talent, engagement and diversity. “Employees were writing to us saying, what are you doing, what’s our commitment, what’s our voice?” Olivier says that despite all the rafts of diversity information, tools and training

on the employee website, leaders realized they had to take focused action on anti-Black racism. The company held online town halls, ran focus groups for people to express their views, mounted a detailed diversity survey, and brought senior leaders into a new Executive Council on Diversity and Inclusion. It also ramped up support for Black youth scholarships and signed on to a pledge to fight systemic anti-Black racism. Air Canada was hardly alone. When meeting with his peers at conferences, Olivier discovered that finding ways to support Black employees was on everyone’s

mind. “That became an extreme focal point for every organization,” he says. “It was the same ripple through every company.” Indeed, that ripple flowed across Canada’s Best Diversity Employers, and, like Air Canada, they responded vigorously. Most made public statements calling out systemic racism, but many also held intensive internal listening sessions. At RBC, one of Canada’s largest employers, that led to an action plan that includes a $100 million commitment to help Black entrepreneurs over the next five years. Bell Canada accelerated efforts to hire more


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people from Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) communities, as did other employers. At many organizations, too, affinity groups specifically for Black employees sprang up. In fact, says Kristina Leung, senior editor at Mediacorp Canada which runs the competition, the events of 2020—in the middle of a pandemic—seemed to bring issues to a head. “It really made people feel impatient, ” she says. “They wanted to see less talk and more action to drive change, and I think that was reflected among the winners.” The listening was critical, she says. “It became really important for organizations to pause and take stock of where they are, and make sure they listened to what employees had to say about how they wanted their own organization to respond.” At the same time, many employers were expanding their efforts in the related area of intersectionality, in which one employee may self-identify as part of various communities. A woman, for instance, may also identify as a visible minority, or LGBTQ+, or all three. TD Bank Group recently refreshed its diversity and inclusion strategy with initiatives directed at the intersections of different identities. “If you were just to look at the experience of women, that would not be wholly inclusive of the experience of a female visible minority, so for TD to talk about the intersections of identity is, I think, very progressive,” says Leung. Many organizations are also deepening their efforts to gain detailed data on their workforce. “It’s the concept of what gets measured gets done,” Leung says. “You need to establish a baseline from which you can develop goals. The metrics help you understand what your workforce actually looks like now, where the pipelines are in terms of incoming recruitment and tracking internal movements, and where there might be barriers or challenges to having the representation that an organization is actually striving for.” In the wake of such an eventful year, Canada’s Best Diversity Employers are girding to reach the next level. “Change takes time,” says Leung. “We’re at a point where we’re ready to see more action, more movement towards commitments that have been made. Inclusion is about listening and learning, and I think we’ll see much more of that in the year ahead.” – Berton Woodward

TD

(CONT.)

 TD Bank has created a dedicated talent acquisition team focused solely on sourcing, attracting and advocating for hiring talent from diverse communities.

BELL

YEAR OF CHANGE

CANADA’S BEST DIVERSITY EMPLOYERS 2021

 This year, Bell Canada accelerated its efforts to hire more candidates from Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) communities.


CANADA’S BEST DIVERSITY EMPLOYERS 2021

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Air Canada ups its game on diversity and inclusion

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hen Rwanda-born Odile Sanabaso first arrived at Air Canada in 2008, she watched the interactions in her workplace and, thinking about herself as a visible minority, complained about….absolutely nothing. “I did not feel treated any differently,” says Sanabaso, now HR applications and analytics manager. “Our team was very diverse. I guess that’s one of the reasons I really like working at Air Canada. I can hardly see myself going somewhere else.”

I'm hoping for a better future given the awareness. A lot of effort is being put in place, including in our group at Air Canada.” — Odile Sanabaso HR Applications and Analytics Manager

Indeed, Montréal-based Air Canada has long had a strong reputation for supporting diversity, notably in promoting women, in extending benefits to same-sex partners well before a key court decision, and in its multicultural cabin crews and frontline staff. Sanabaso says that when she started as an accounting coordinator her team included Asians, Europeans and people from the Black community as well as Canadian natives. It was a place to feel safe. All the sadder, then, that Sanabaso waited years before she began confiding

to some of her co-workers that she had experienced the worst of Rwanda’s 1994 genocide at age 9. A Tutsi, she lost her parents and all her locally resident siblings in the horrific massacres by extremist Hutus, escaping by hiding out in forests until it was over. Older siblings from Montréal then arrived to bring her to Canada. She says it was only after she was interviewed on CBC Radio’s “The Current” in 2017, and again in 2019, that she began coming to terms with memories she had avoided for many years. “Now, because I can talk more about it, I feel much better inside,” she says. “I can live with it and go forward.” But she was certainly sensitized when the Black Lives Matter protests broke out in North America and around the world. “Last year’s events were an awakening on issues that Black people encounter,” she says. She reached out to her diversity manager and suggested that the company needed to do some internal messaging. Mark Olivier, senior director of talent, engagement and diversity, was hearing the same thing from other employees, already stressed by the COVID-19 pandemic that has led to severe downsizing at the airline. “We had a very good record on diversity,” he says, “but what they said to us was, elevate your game.” And they did. The company held a series of online town halls, ran focus groups and mounted a detailed survey on diversity and inclusion, all of which gained strong response. The D&I team foresee different employee initiatives based on feedback collected from a poll, which Olivier says the company will strongly support. Air Canada has also committed to the BlackNorth Initiative pledge against anti-Black systemic racism and has

 ODILE SANABASO, HR APPLICATIONS AND ANALYTICS MANAGER AT AIR CANADA

expanded scholarships for Black youth. Sanabaso says she’s pleased by the responses, both at Air Canada and in Canadian society. “I feel like there’s hope,” she says. “It’s unfortunate that FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR INDIGENOUS STUDENTS IN AVIATION-RELATED PROGRAMS

that had to happen last year, but I’m hoping for a better future given the awareness. A lot of effort is being put in place, including in our group at Air Canada.” 

UNCONSCIOUS BIAS TRAINING

OUR DIVERSITY IS OUR STRENGTH

NOTRE DIVERSITÉ EST NOTRE FORCE

We are proud to have been recognized as one of Canada’s Best Diversity employers for 2021, affirming our commitment to building an inclusive working environment.

Nous sommes fiers d’être reconnus comme l’un des employeurs les plus favorables à la diversité au Canada en 2021, un vibrant témoignage de notre engagement à créer un milieu de travail inclusif.


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CANADA’S BEST DIVERSITY EMPLOYERS 2021

Many voices build one strong culture at Amex Canada

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ive months after she joined American Express Canada in 2019, Leanne Mohammed asked her manager if the company would support a grassroots organization she had joined called FlowMates. A volunteer-led community initiative, the organization raises donor support for shelters and rescue centres in Toronto. Mohammed hoped Amex would help support a drive to collect menstrual products for women’s shelters in Scarborough and in the Regent Park neighbourhood. “I brought the opportunity forward to my leader,” says Mohammed, business analyst in the global services group, who has held a passionate commitment to social justice since she was a high-school student in Toronto, “and she encouraged me to present it to the Women’s Interest Network.

At Amex, I feel confident being vocal when needed and knowing I have the support of my leaders.” — Leanne Mohammed Business Analyst, Global Services Group

“After a couple of discussions, we hosted a drive at the Sheppard office. The support was amazing! With the help of Amex, FlowMates collected over 14,000 menstrual products in our month-long campaign.” By encouraging colleagues like Mohammed to express their passions, Amex Canada has created an inclusive

workplace where different perspectives reflect the diversity of the company’s customers. “Inclusion and diversity are at the heart of everything we do,” says Annette Kingsley, vice president, colleague experience group. “They’re how we win as a team, how we work together to create a culture where colleagues can be who they are, where they feel supported and valued for their contributions, and where we embrace and celebrate our differences.” As part of a global organization, Amex Canada shares the values of its parent company, which has pursued an inclusive culture for more than 30 years through initiatives like its Colleague Networks. Of the 16 networks in place worldwide, 10 chapters are currently active in Canada, including PRIDE+, Families at Amex and Women’s Interest. With the support of senior executive sponsors, the company’s Canada Colleague Network chapters “provide an avenue for networking and support for personal and professional development, skill building and career growth,” says Kingsley. While colleagues benefit from these initiatives, so does the company, she says. “Colleagues who feel they belong, have a voice, and can be their authentic selves are more engaged and committed to the brand and the success of the company.” After joining in 2019, Mohammed soon became engaged in Amex Canada’s culture of inclusion and diversity as a member of the Black Engagement Network (BEN). “The biggest appeal for me when I joined the company were the Colleague Networks,” she says. “I thought it was an awesome way to increase a sense of belonging amongst colleagues.” In addition to the BEN, Mohammed also participates in the company’s

 EARLY LAST YEAR, AMEX CANADA’S WOMEN’S INTEREST NETWORK HELD ITS ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY EVENT, WITH THE THEME OF AMBITION AND A FOCUS ON PUTTING THE ‘US’ IN AMBITIOUS

employment equity committee and her department’s inclusion & diversity group. Outside the company, she’s been involved with organizations like the Feminist Art Collective, Habitat for Humanity, The Ride to Conquer Cancer, Kids Help Phone and Junior Achievement, which she has supported since

RESOURCES ON GENERATIONAL AND GENDER INTELLIGENCE

graduating with a BA in geography and social sciences from York University in Toronto. “I’ve always been vocal about my passion for social justice outside of work,” she says. “Here at Amex, I feel confident being vocal when needed and knowing I have the support of my leaders.”  WOMEN AT AMEX STRATEGY SUPPORTS ADVANCEMENT OF FEMALE COLLEAGUES

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CANADA’S BEST DIVERSITY EMPLOYERS 2021

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Advancing the inclusion conversation at Bell

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hen Tracy HeronCoward helped launch an employee resource group, Black Professionals at Bell (BPB), in 2018 her passion for making a difference caught on quickly. In less than two years, the group’s impact has been felt across Bell Canada with engagement and action from team members and senior leaders across the company. “Last year, we hosted a webcast with Dr. Patricia Hewlin, a renowned expert on growing inclusivity and combatting racism,” says Heron-Coward, director, talent management and co-chair, BPB. “Thousands of team members participated and have told us they want to learn more.”

We’re working to find more ways to foster support and inclusion at all levels of the company.” — Hadeer Hassaan Vice President, Shared Services

The event explored topics including the Black experience in Canada, COVID-19’s impact on Black communities, coping with stress caused by discrimination and ways to build more inclusive workplaces. In addition to BPB, Bell has two other employee resource groups, Pride at Bell and Women at Bell, which support their members’ professional development and work to enhance diversity and inclusion in the workplace. “We’re passionate about providing

everyone at Bell with the resources they need to succeed,” says Hadeer Hassaan, vice president, shared services, and an executive sponsor of BPB. Hassaan, who grew up in Egypt and joined Bell eight years ago, explains that the company is working to increase awareness through presentations, events and discussions. “Gaining insight into the challenges and opportunities facing all of us is a key step,” said Hassaan. “We’re working to find more ways to foster support and inclusion at all levels of the company and offer the tools and resources to help team members understand unconscious bias and start important conversations.” Heron-Coward says those discussions have become more compelling over the past year. “We’re having a lot of open conversations about race, diversity and inclusion. People feel more comfortable talking about their experiences.” As part of Bell’s diversity and inclusion strategy, more than 1,500 leaders have completed the company’s Inclusive Leadership Development Program, providing a better understanding of unconscious bias and helping managers provide greater support during critical moments. Bell has set new targets for BIPOC representation in senior management (at least 25% by 2025) and intern and graduate hiring (at least 40%), and formed partnerships to refine its hiring practices. In 2020, Bell Media and BIPOC TV & Film created HireBIPOC, an initiative to accelerate the hiring of Black, Indigenous and People of Colour in Canada’s screenbased industries. Bell is also a partner in the Onyx Initiative, which is bridging the gap in the recruitment of Black college and university students for roles in corporate Canada, while a partnership with the

 TRACY HERON-COWARD, DIRECTOR, TALENT MANAGEMENT AND CO-CHAIR, BLACK PROFESSIONALS AT BELL

Black Professionals in Tech Network assists Bell in hiring, retaining and promoting Black talent in technology. As part of its leadership on mental health, Bell also announced a $5-million Bell Let’s Talk Diversity Fund last year to support the health and well-being of

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Canadians from BIPOC communities. “I’m proud Bell’s impact extends beyond our workplace and into diverse communities across the country,” says Hassaan. “We have clear targets and a strong commitment to continue to make meaningful, inclusive change.”  $5 MILLION DIVERSITY FUND TO SUPPORT MENTAL HEALTH CARE FOR CANADIANS FROM BIPOC COMMUNITIES

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CANADA’S BEST DIVERSITY EMPLOYERS 2021

At Blakes, diversity expands everyone’s potential

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lake, Cassels & Graydon LLP (Blakes) has a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion. The firm is dedicated to providing a workplace environment rich in perspectives, backgrounds, identities and cultures. Blakes commitment was evident in its decision to hire Kyle Elliott as manager, diversity, inclusion and outreach initiatives, in March 2020 in the firm’s Toronto office.

By providing our people with a workplace that enables them to be their true and authentic self, everyone is able to do their best work.” — Kyle Elliott Manager, Diversity, Inclusion and Outreach Initiatives In this role, Elliott is actively assisting in the recruitment of law school students from diverse backgrounds to the practice of business law at Blakes, as well as encouraging undergraduate students from diverse backgrounds to consider a career in business law. He also has a key role in the promotion of Blakes internal diversity and inclusion initiatives. “As a first-generation Black lawyer,” Elliott notes, “this is something that’s fundamentally important to me.” Elliott graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School in 2017 and was the first person in his family to go to university. During his time in law school, he held senior roles in the Black Law Students’ Association at Osgoode and today Elliott continues to give back by acting as the

director of communications for the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers. He originally joined Blakes as a legal professional practising in the firm’s inSource team, conducting due diligence and document review. After speaking with members of the recruitment and human resources team, he decided to make the leap to his current role and assist with helping to make the firm as inclusive as possible. Elliott notes that it was an easy decision since the management team at Blakes, which already had a longstanding commitment to diversity (it has been included in Canada’s Best Diversity Employers 11 times since 2008), was clearly enthusiastic about this new role. “Having an inclusive workplace really allows us to tap into the full potential of our people,” he says. “By providing our people with a workplace that enables them to be their true and authentic self, everyone is able to do their best work.” The firm has a myriad of internal groups and programs to support diversity and inclusion. “Blakes is always looking to roll out new diversity initiatives,” says Elliott, “and has a robust roster of professional development and educational offerings that focus on issues like unconscious bias, inclusive leadership, cultural awareness and competence, gender and cultural blind spots, anti-racism, and how to be an ally.” The firm is also open to new ideas that can help to promote inclusiveness within the firm. In 2019, Blakes partner Alyssa Shivji approached Blakes management with a proposal for a new group mentorship program for diverse junior associates. Alyssa cleverly named the initiative “Diversi-Tea.” Diversi-Tea provides a safe space for diverse associates to meet monthly as a group to discuss topics of interest and to receive advice and mentorship from senior

 BLAKES HOLDS MONTHLY 'DIVERSI-TEA' MEETINGS FOR DIVERSE JUNIOR ASSOCIATES TO RECEIVE MENTORSHIP FROM SENIOR ASSOCIATES associates and partners. The initiative was so successful that it was expanded to include summer and articling students in late 2020 and will expand in 2021 to include associates from all years of practice. According to Shivji, the program is “especially helpful for first-generation diverse lawyers who don’t have lawyers in their families, as it helps them to navigate the norms and expectations of law firm

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culture and gives them a safe place to seek advice.” Blakes is involved with numerous community-based diversity programs and organizations. The firm participates in Law in Action Within Schools, which pairs high schoolers with mentors – Blakes lawyers with whom they meet monthly – and offers several internships that focus on equity-seeking groups.” 

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BLG walks the talk on diversity and inclusion

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s national director of professional recruiting for Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG), Kimberley Ho takes issue with the popular term “fit”, especially around recruitment for the law firm. “There’s so much focus on finding the right fit, but there is a massive bias to that,” says Ho, who is responsible for student recruitment and programs. “If you’re hiring for a certain type of person or personality, or someone from the same background, you’ll never get diversity. What’s important is getting people who align with your firm’s values.”

Being a diverse firm involves not just hiring diverse talent, but retaining diverse talent.” — Tamara Tomomitsu Partner and Chair of BLG’s Diversity and Inclusion Council Ho advises that students approach fit by doing an inventory of what’s important to them in a workplace, such as mentorship or professional development, and testing the firm on values that matter to them. If their values align with the firm, then it will be the right environment. “If you’re a member of the LGBTQ+ community, you might ask what we’re doing to support students who are diverse,” says Ho. “Or ask about gender equality or what we offer in mental health counselling. Ears perk up when we say we really walk the talk around diversity and inclusion. We’ve seen a real push towards those types of questions over the last few years.”

Ho also encourages students not to be afraid to put on their applications that they’re involved in certain affinity groups, such as the Black Law Students’ Association, Indigenous Law Students Association or other groups. “We recognize that students who are involved in extracurriculars, who really are engaged with their law schools and very community minded, make for great lawyers,” says Ho. “We don’t want people to shy away from those things during recruitment.” Ho says BLG is trying to remove as much bias as possible from all its processes. For example, anyone who is on the recruitment team or will be interviewing students is required to go through mandatory unconscious bias training annually. That training is also available to all of BLG’s people, from the top down. “Bias can be as simple as you have an affinity for somebody who may have graduated from your law school,” says Ho. “It’s very eye-opening for a lot of people.” Tamara Tomomitsu, partner and chair of BLG’s Diversity and Inclusion Council, says diversity and inclusion have always been important to her, so she tries to educate herself as much as possible. “If we’re honest, we’d all recognize we have our own sets of bias,” says Tomomitsu. “Unconscious bias training helps expose your own preconceived notions about yourself and how that may affect how you view people. It can be illuminating.” She says the council’s focus this past year has been on retention and making the firm not just diverse, but more inclusive. “Being a diverse firm involves not just hiring diverse talent, but retaining diverse talent,” says Tomomitsu. “That’s important to us in every area, from business services to legal talent.” That means giving everyone a fair chance to succeed in the workplace.

 BLG RECOGNIZES THAT DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION IS ESSENTIAL TO ENSURE THERE IS A PLACE FOR EVERYONE Particularly for students and younger lawyers, it means making sure work is spread out evenly, with opportunities to engage with clients. “Our mentorship programs are strong,” says Tomomitsu. “We rotate mentors so our younger lawyers get exposure to different practice areas and different partners. That’s been a key component of being an inclusive workplace.” PROFESSIONAL COUNSELLING TWICE A MONTH PAID FOR BY THE FIRM

Rather than thinking about “fit” Tomomitsu considers both the person’s integrity and dedication to the client experience. “You look for similar value points, and those can be across race, gender and sexual orientation. “Just because I’m Japanese and female doesn’t mean that somebody down the hall who isn’t, doesn’t have the same value set.” 

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CANADA’S BEST DIVERSITY EMPLOYERS 2021

Bruce Power boosts diversity to drive success

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he growing ranks of women in leadership roles at Bruce Power LP bring with them a new way of thinking. So says Erin Kelley, section manager of operations services at the Bruce A generating station of the southern Ontario nuclear power provider. “With that more diverse group, there are more perspectives, more ideas and more innovation as we discuss how to deal with challenges,” she says. Bruce Power has adopted a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion. And it has done so for the very reasons Kelley cites – greater creativity, employee engagement and productivity – according to Cathy Sprague, executive vice-president of human resources.

I always feel included, I have a strong voice, and Bruce Power is very committed to my development.” — Erin Kelley Section Manager of Operations

To that end, Bruce Power has recently focused on nurturing talented female and Indigenous employees, and it plans to step up its already vigorous support for workers from other visible minorities. “I always feel included, I have a strong voice, and Bruce Power is very committed to my development,” Kelley says. “The diversity and inclusion program at Bruce Power really commits to treating everybody with fairness, dignity and respect.” To show the company’s commitment to diversity, says Sprague, last year 25

per cent of all hires into non-traditional roles – such as trades, maintenance and operations – were filled by women, a big increase from five years ago. “We’ll keep increasing this year by year,” she says. “It’s easy to get women into traditional positions, but we’re more interested in getting them into roles where they are under-represented. We are actively working with local school boards, colleges and other organizations to diversify our candidate pool, especially in the areas of STEM and skilled trades.” Sprague notes that Bruce Power is a signatory to the Leadership Accord on Gender Diversity through Electricity Human Resources Canada and has its own chapter of Women in Nuclear Canada. Plus, it’s involved in the Build a Dream Program, which encourages local females in Grades 7 to 12 to consider careers in STEM, skilled trades and leadership, which Kelley has been excited to be part of. Kelley, who started as a nuclear operator in training and moved up through the ranks, says the mentorship she’s had at Bruce Power has been invaluable. “I have had some very strong female mentors throughout my career at Bruce Power, from operations to human resources,” she says. “I’ve also had male mentors who served me very well in my career.” And when she had her two children, now eight and three, the company was hugely supportive, she says – not only with its “terrific” mat leave provisions (a full year off with 93 per cent of earnings for 37 weeks), but also with its culture of keeping mothers in the loop. “I did have communication with my manager, especially leading up to my return, and all the people that I worked with were very helpful and accommodating to ensure that I was set up for success upon my return,“ says Kelley. Meanwhile, Bruce Power is also focused

 BRUCE POWER SIGNED THE LEADERSHIP ACCORD ON GENDER DIVERSITY IN THE ELECTRICITY INDUSTRY

on increasing Indigenous employment, in part because the company sits on the traditional territory of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation, but more importantly because it believes it’s the right thing to do. In 2020, for the third year in a row, Bruce Power INDIGENOUS EMPLOYMENT PROGRAM FOCUSED ON TRAINING, EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT

was awarded gold certification by the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business. “By seeing how we’ve diversified our employee base at all levels,” says Sprague, “kids can aspire to careers they may not have considered in the past.”  SIGNATORY TO THE LEADERSHIP ACCORD ON GENDER DIVERSITY IN THE ELECTRICITY INDUSTRY

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CANADA’S BEST DIVERSITY EMPLOYERS 2021

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BDC leads by example for Canada’s entrepreneurs

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s the bank for Canadian entrepreneurs, the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) wants its employees to be as diverse as the clients they serve. “BDC is a great champion of diversity,” says Catherine Leteinturier Guissé, who was born in France and is now a business centre manager in Ottawa. “We have an unbelievable number of people here from different countries, and most of them were bankers in other parts of the world before they came here. “Diversity is good for the bank and good for clients,” she continues, “especially because we’re always trying to encourage them to explore new markets and export. It’s good for them to have access to our pool of knowledge.”

BDC is a great champion of diversity. We have an unbelievable number of people here from different countries.” — Catherine Leteinturier Guissé Business Centre Manager, Ottawa

A Crown corporation and national development bank owned by the Government of Canada, BDC’s mandate is to help create and develop Canadian entrepreneurs through financing, growth and transition capital, venture capital and advisory services, with a focus on small and mid-sized businesses. BDC operates

business centres across Canada on behalf of 62,000 clients. “Diversity and inclusion are built into our business strategy and top of mind for executives and leaders at BDC,” says Marie-Chantal Lamothe, chief human resources officer. As Lamothe points out, the bank recently formed a diversity and leadership council led by 12 senior leaders and supported by more than 60 engaged employees from across the country. “They focus on driving measurable progress against BDC’s objectives,” she says, “including recruiting and retaining talent from diverse communities and partnering with organizations to actively recruit in underrepresented communities.” BDC also promotes diversity among its clients. “We offer financing, advice and resources for underserved communities, including women, Indigenous, Black, visible minorities and newcomers to Canada,” says Lamothe. “We want to lead by example so the entrepreneurs we work with across Canada understand the value of diversity and inclusion and how it can enhance their success as a business.” Throughout the year, BDC offers training sessions to, for example, identify unconscious bias, share the experience of racism through listening circles, or participate in discussions with experts in the field of diversity. “It’s a great opportunity to learn more about others,” says Leteinturier Guissé, “and to be more open-minded in our work.” To ensure that its initiatives are effective, BDC’s senior leadership team has established objectives for its diversity and inclusion programs. “We have ambitious targets and a lot of work ahead of us,”

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says Lamothe. “We also have a clear action plan and the commitment and engagement of the entire bank, from our leadership team down, which is what it will take to move the needle.” For Leteinturier Guissé, diversity has been a priority since she moved to Canada from Senegal to join a dance

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company in Montréal. Her curiosity eventually led her to obtain an MBA at Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales in Montréal before she began her career in banking. “Diversity makes the bank stronger and more creative,” she says. “But it’s a journey, and it will never end.” 

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CANADA’S BEST DIVERSITY EMPLOYERS 2021

CAMH broadens its recruitment outreach

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n September 2020, the Torontobased Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) hired Jai Sahak as senior diversity and equity consultant. He knew that CAMH was serious about promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in its workplace because the entire recruitment process – from posting the opening to his offer – took only three weeks. Sahak, 36, who previously held similar positions at a community college and a municipality, was accustomed to the process taking two months or longer. “I was very pleased,” says the Afghan-born, quadrilingual adviser. “To me, it showed they were very committed to this work. They had several initiatives that they wanted to get off the ground quickly.”

We want to ensure that our staff and leadership are representative of the patients whom we serve and the communities that we live in.” — Carrie Fletcher Vice President, People & Experience

One of these initiatives, which are part of the much larger initiative Fair & Just, is a new staff survey in which respondents can self-identify as belonging to various demographic categories. CAMH has previously tracked only employees who are visible minorities (45 per cent of total staff), Indigenous (1.5 per cent), and people with disabilities (3.7 per cent). The

new survey will include such additional categories as gender and LGBTQ+. CAMH recently conducted an internal audit of its recruitment processes and how they could be improved to promote greater diversity, equity and inclusion. “The audit produced 17 recommendations which we are now putting in place,” says Carrie Fletcher, vice president, people & experience. “It’s a journey,” she says, ”and you’re never finished the work. We have to ensure that we have a standardized recruitment process that is fair and transparent to all. We need to focus more on outreach to targeted groups such as the Black, Indigenous and People of Colour [BIPOC] communities.” For example, CAMH’s Shkaabe Makwa program, which connects with First Nations, Inuit and Métis, will facilitate recruitment outreach to those communities. “We want to ensure that our staff and leadership are representative of the patients whom we serve and the communities that we live in,” says Fletcher. To foster the career advancement of diverse staff, CAMH plans to launch six employee resource groups in 2021. “The groups will help us identify what barriers to advancement exist within the organization, so that we can address those,” says Fletcher. “They will help us identify what resources staff need so that we can truly have an inclusive workplace.” One of the groups will support women in leadership development, says Sahak. “Certain departments are already taking the initiative in empowering female staff, namely, the staff in research, but we intend to do it more CAMH-wide.” Other groups will be dedicated to Indigenous, LGBTQ+, issues around race and migration, individuals with disabilities, and those with lived experience of addiction and mental health issues.

 CAMH SPIRITUAL CARE AND ABORIGINAL SERVICES PARTICIPATE IN A SPIRITUAL CEREMONY IN PREPARATION TO MOVE TO NEW CAMH BUILDINGS

“Because we’re a hospital that specializes in addictions and mental health, it will likely have its own group,” says Sahak. Also in 2021, CAMH will provide training for an estimated 100-200 of its managers on being aware of unconscious bias in relation to existing and potential employees. “In recruitment,” says Fletcher, “unconscious bias can have an impact from screening a resume to BIAS-FREE INTERVIEW TRAINING FOR RECRUITERS AND MANAGERS

conducting an interview or doing reference checks.” CAMH is continuing Employment Works!, its human resources program to hire, support and retain staff with mental health or addiction histories. In its first five years, the program led to the hiring of 150 individuals at CAMH, demonstrating to other employers the benefits of hiring and retaining such staff. 

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CANADA’S BEST DIVERSITY EMPLOYERS 2021

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CAS of Toronto confronts anti-Black racism

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or decades, the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto (CAS of Toronto) has seen a basic inequity in outcomes for many of the children and families it serves. Over that time, roughly 40 per cent of the children it has placed in care have been Black – in a city where Black people currently account for about nine per cent of the population. The agency is now working on multiple fronts to reverse this disturbing pattern. While the agency’s primary goal is to always keep children and youth with their families and in their communities, they are sometimes, for their safety, taken out of the home and placed into care as their parents work on building their capacity to provide for them.

We live in one of the most diverse cities in the world and so it’s critical we have a workplace that’s supportive and inclusive of all identities.” — Farrell Hall Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

When it comes to Black children and their families, Eurocentric biases have too often influenced those decisions, says Farrell Hall, director of diversity, equity & inclusion. “For example, there are different styles of parenting and family support within Black communities that we’ve often failed to take into account,” says Hall. “There’s an African proverb that says, ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ So the notion

of child-rearing is more than one or two parents taking care of their children; it’s about enlisting the help of neighbours, grandparents or even the teacher or baker down the street. When assessing whether a child is being neglected, we need to be very conscious of that support system.” Stereotypes that see marginalized communities in a negative light, as well as failure to recognize the strengths and resilience of Black communities, further contribute to the over-representation of Black children in care, adds Hall. There is also a disparity in the service outcomes: Black children are likely to spend a longer time in care than their white counterparts and are more frequently subject to repeat apprehensions. In response, CAS of Toronto has stepped up anti-Black racism (ABR) training and initiatives across the organization. One example: all levels of leadership, from the CEO down, participated in twoday ABR and cultural safety workshops, starting in January 2020. The program focuses awareness on the rich cultural history of Black African and Caribbean peoples, along with an analysis of the systemic oppressions and barriers they’ve faced in Canada. All service employees are expected to attend regular ABR training and learning sessions that help them integrate the lessons learned into their everyday practices. Dupe Daodu is part of an intake team that focuses on adolescents and handles both investigations and ongoing support services. “Right from the point we’re assigned a file, our multi-role team looks at the family though an anti-oppressive and equity lens,” says Daodu. “We look very critically at how racism or discrimination might have led to our involvement.” A program known as Journey to Zero focuses on keeping Black children out of

 EMPLOYEES AT CHILDREN’S AID SOCIETY OF TORONTO STAY CONNECTED WHILE SUPPORTING VULNERABLE CHILDREN, YOUTH AND FAMILIES DURING THE PANDEMIC the child welfare system by assigning to them a youth outreach worker – typically a racialized person highly connected with local Black communities – who specializes in supporting families and working with community partners. Daodu, who joined CAS of Toronto in 2016, says she has seen a significant shift in recent years. “The CAS culture is really changing. EQUITY AND ANTI-BLACK RACISM STRATEGY INVOLVING 12 EQUITY DEPARTMENT TEAM MEMBERS

We are normalizing having conversations about race and, for me, that’s a huge starting point.” Hall says the emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion very much extends to the 755-strong CAS of Toronto workforce. “We live in one of the most diverse cities in the world and so it’s critical we have a workplace that’s supportive and inclusive of all identities.”  20-YEAR-OLD 'OUT & PROUD'

PROGRAM ENSURES INCLUSIVE SERVICES FOR THE LGBTQ+ COMMUNITY


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CANADA’S BEST DIVERSITY EMPLOYERS 2021

CIBC’s commitment to change starts at the top

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hough CIBC has long been recognized for its inclusive environment, conversations prompted by the Black Lives Matter movement and incidents of antiBlack racism in 2020 led the bank and its leaders to take an even deeper look at their own workplace. The result was a commitment to accelerate progress by promoting belonging at work and addressing topics like anti-Black systemic racism head-on, tripling its representation of Black executives and announcing a new target to have four per cent of board-approved executive roles held by Black leaders by 2023.

Promoting equity and belonging is a shared accountability, as we are capable of great things, especially when we stand together.”

— Claudette Knight Vice-President of Talent Development

For Claudette Knight, vice-president of talent development and co-executive sponsor of CIBC’s Black Employee Network, that commitment is huge. “Knowing that I am among a growing number of leaders from the Black community in executive roles has substantially increased my feeling of belonging at CIBC,” she says. “I also think that it changes the feeling of Black employees when they see themselves reflected in the executive team.” CIBC has actively promoted inclusion for many years. Each business unit has senior leaders responsible for developing inclusion and diversity initiatives and achieving short- and long-term goals.

CIBC’s 10 people networks – including the Black Employee Network, Pride Network and Indigenous Employee Circle – support personal growth through peer mentoring and other activities while promoting connections with the broader community. “We know that diverse teams are better at solving problems, they’re better at growing companies,” says Knight. “As humans, sometimes it’s more comfortable when everybody thinks like you, but you get the best ideas when you have diversity in all forms.” Diverse teams in inclusive environments equal innovation and growth, she adds. And they’re essential for a bank dealing with a broad clientele. “Our company needs to reflect the clients in the communities we serve,” she adds. “That enables us to really understand and connect to all communities and then better serve them.” Among other things, the bank offers inclusive leadership training and recently ran more than 25 employee listening exercises to help inform its response to anti-Black systemic racism. “These were fantastic,” says Marlon Reid, a community general manager. “Folks were invited to discuss some of their perspectives, their lived experiences, so that we could share in each other’s challenges and become aware of what people are going through.” Reid and Knight agree that the events of 2020 – particularly the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and the Black Lives Matter movement overall – have demonstrated an urgent need to address systemic racism and oppression faced by the Black community. “You can tell there’s a very obvious and tangible shift in people’s willingness to hear and be a part of some very difficult discussions,” Reid says. “None of this is easy, but we’re encouraging people to become comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

 CIBC’S CEO, VICTOR DODIG, AND BOARD DIRECTOR, MICHELLE COLLINS, JOIN CLAUDETTE KNIGHT (SECOND FROM RIGHT), MARLON REID (THIRD FROM LEFT), AND OTHER MEMBERS OF CIBC'S BLACK EMPLOYEE NETWORK IN FEBRUARY 2020 The commitment to change truly starts from the top. CIBC president and CEO Victor Dodig chairs the bank’s inclusion and diversity leadership council. “He speaks openly and candidly about what’s happening in the community and things he’s learned from,” Reid says. “He’s stepped up in a big way.” Dodig was also the first CEO to become involved with the BlackNorth Initiative (he is now co-chair), which encourages organizations to make specific commitments GREW CIBC BLACK EMPLOYEE NETWORK MEMBERSHIP TO 1,600+

Your experiences help create a workplace where all can thrive Once again, we’ve been named as one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers for putting our heart into making sure that CIBC is a place where everyone can succeed. Join our team today at cibc.com/careers The CIBC logo is a trademark of CIBC.

to combat anti-Black systemic racism. “That really sent a message to everyone about how important this work is,” Reid adds. “It’s very energizing,” says Knight, of the commitment the bank has shown. “We all have a role to play – to think through what biases we have and what changes we need to make,” she adds. “Promoting equity and belonging is a shared accountability, as we are capable of great things, especially when we stand together.”  $1 MILLION COMMITTED TO SUPPORT BLACK COMMUNITIES IN 2021


CANADA’S BEST DIVERSITY EMPLOYERS 2021

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Dentons Canada has a long history of inclusion

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hen Winta Asefaw, a young Black woman and the daughter of Eritrean immigrants, started practising at Dentons Canada LLP, the world’s largest law firm, she was understandably a bit apprehensive. Asefaw, now an associate lawyer at the firm’s Calgary office, recalls that day nearly two years ago: “I knew Dentons was accepting of people from diverse backgrounds, but it was still intimidating at first.”

It’s critical to stand up and recognize broader social injustices.” — Winta Asefaw Associate That was then. Now, any concerns Asefaw may have had about the firm’s commitment to inclusion and diversity have gone by the wayside. “At Dentons,” she says, “I’m comfortable being a Black female lawyer and feel fully integrated as part of the team. The focus is on providing excellent client service and on teamwork.” She adds: “It goes beyond recognition and inclusion. I feel acknowledged and celebrated for who I am and for what I do.” As the Black Lives Matter movement erupted last summer, Dentons launched a Discussion to Disrupt panel series to demonstrate, both internally and externally, its commitment to combating racism and injustice. “Dentons doesn’t shy away from tough conversations,” says Asefaw. “I was really proud that the firm recognized the historic importance of Black Lives Matter. As a

leading law firm, our place in society can’t be ignored. It’s critical to stand up and recognize broader social injustices.” To further address systemic racism, the firm established a Black Professionals Network and has created a new post-secondary scholarship for Black law students. Related, when COVID-19 struck, Dentons organized information sessions on racism directed specifically at the Asian-Canadian community, falsely blamed by some for spreading the virus. It’s that sort of response and responsibility that has ensured Dentons has been one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers for 11 consecutive years. Acknowledging the realities of the world outside its law offices is critical to Dentons’ corporate identity. “No subject is too tough to handle,” says Jillian Frank, the firm’s chief talent and practice officer and executive sponsor for its inclusion and diversity initiatives. “We feel an obligation to demonstrate our commitment to the broader community while ensuring that we are taking concrete steps internally to address these challenges.” She adds: “Achieving inclusion and diversity is a life-long initiative. Our work is never done, and it’s the responsibility of all our people to ensure we make progress.” Historically, law firms have struggled with advancing women into senior roles. But at Dentons Canada, the CEO is female and the firm met its 2022 commitment early to have women occupy 30 per cent of its senior roles. It has now set a 40-percent goal by 2023. For Roxana Jangi, a senior associate in the Calgary office, that commitment attracted her to the firm. “Professional women everywhere fear that having a family can hold back their careers and they need to choose between career and family,” Jangi says. “That’s not an issue at Dentons. There are women who have

 STUDENTS FROM THE 100 STRONG FOUNDATION PARTICIPATE IN THE 'DAY ON BAY' PROGRAM WITH DENTONS been promoted to partnership while on maternity leave or immediately following their leaves. “At Dentons, they really walk the talk.” Meanwhile, Dentons has connected Asefaw with two outside mentors, both senior Black women in large companies. Their monthly discussions are ongoing,

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and Asefaw credits them with helping her navigate the corporate world as she continues to build her career. “Dentons’ support has been incredible,” Asefaw says. “I am not hindered as a member of a minority group or held back because of my gender. My future is in my hands.”  MORE THAN 15 NATIONWIDE ANTI-RACISM LEARNING SESSIONS IN 2020


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CANADA’S BEST DIVERSITY EMPLOYERS 2021

Cooperative values drive diversity at Desjardins

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hether he’s talking about the welcoming workplace culture or the headway he’s already made in his brief career, it’s clear Ismaël Koné is thrilled to be a financial adviser with Desjardins Group. Born in Ivory Coast, Koné came to Canada by way of France. He settled in Sudbury, Ont., where he earned a bachelor of business administration degree at Laurentian University. Koné says that like many recent immigrants, he puts pressure on himself to make up for lost time. In his final year of school, he worked part time as a bilingual customer service agent for Desjardins Ontario Credit Union.

Desjardins sees me and not my race. They focus on what I can do, how hard I work and how well I serve my clients.” — Ismaël Koné Financial Adviser The heavy workload paid off when Desjardins, headquartered in Lévis, Que., hired him full time after graduation. It was the first of three promotions since 2018 for Koné, who today helps clients with their investments and other financial needs. “I’m so happy that Desjardins sees me and not my race,” says Koné. “They focus on what I can do, how hard I work and how well I serve my clients.” Koné is so positive on the work culture that he persuaded his younger brother, Mohamed, who studied accounting at Laurentian, to join him at the organization,

which is now Sudbury’s leading financial institution. Koné adds that the only thing clients have ever had an issue with is his accent. He explains that although he’s bilingual, his first language is French and financial terminology in English is more challenging than everyday language. His colleagues are always eager to help him improve his pronunciation, and his managers and co-workers have been generous with positive feedback and support. Still, he found it particularly significant when Desjardins president and CEO Guy Cormier stated in a webcast that Canada’s leading cooperative financial group stands with Black Lives Matter. “I see myself having a long future with Desjardins,” Koné says. In his webcast, Cormier referenced the cooperative values of integrity, respect and inclusion. He emphasized that Black employees, members and clients can count on Desjardins to help create barrier-free opportunities and build a society that recognizes their value. Desjardins’ standing as a value-driven organization is what motivated Kim Trang Nguyen to join the organization in 2013. After a 25-year career with a global professional services company serving clients in Paris and Montréal, she was ready for a change. “I felt it was time for me to start giving back,” says the IT director, payment and retail lending solutions. “When I saw that Desjardins shared my values, I knew I could make an impact in the community.” Nguyen is also ideally positioned to make an impact for women in IT, a traditionally male-dominated field. She’s one of 13 ambassadors – one for each Desjardins sector –who are committed to promoting diversity and inclusion (D&I) by setting up initiatives and activities. Desjardins’s D&I program is focusing on

We don’t offer you a job. We offer you job satisfaction. There’s a difference.

 ISMAEL KONÉ AND COLLEAGUES AT DESJARDINS ONTARIO CREDIT UNION LASALLE BRANCH IN SUDBURY three groups to start: women, young people, and visible minorities and people from cultural communities. The ambassadors share lessons learned with one another so they can have a bigger, cross-sector impact throughout the organization, Nguyen says. In early 2021, Desjardins launched Empowering Women, a Canada-wide network of women and their allies to take female leadership to the next level. Open FEMALE LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM IN PARTNERSHIP WITH L’EFFET A

to everyone from employees to the boards of directors, the network gives women at Desjardins an opportunity to grow, connect, stay informed and share their stories. Nguyen says that rather than taking a top-down approach, this initiative helps women prioritize their needs themselves. “We want to make sure we’re walking the talk of our cooperative values.” 

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Find out for yourself. Join the Desjardins family. desjardins.com/careers


CANADA’S BEST DIVERSITY EMPLOYERS 2021

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KPMG takes a stand against racism and inaccessibility

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amika Mitchell felt so passionately about the events leading to the 2020 Black Lives Matter marches that she began actively working with the Black Professionals Network (BPN) at KPMG LLP (Canada) – despite being on maternity leave with her second child. “I said, how can I help? Let me draft emails or join calls while I’m feeding a child mashed potatoes and peas,” says Mitchell, an audit senior manager in the Greater Toronto Area. “Thankfully, they welcomed my contributions.” Throughout the rest of her maternity leave into early 2021, Mitchell continued working alongside her colleagues in the BPN. What she’s seen has made her extremely proud of the firm. “Immediately, KPMG took action – not just giving lip service by saying, ‘We support our Black employees and these are the organizations we’re going to support financially’, but also asking ‘How can we meaningfully address systemic racism?’” Mitchell, the Canadian-born daughter of Jamaican immigrants, joined KPMG in 2015. “I have found my people, and a great support system, at KPMG,” she says. In addition to increasing its internal offerings to address racism and build allyship, KPMG and the BPN partnered to create an anti-Black racism action plan. This commitment to change extends outside of the firm, with KPMG creating new scholarship, mentorship and internship opportunities for Black high school students. And to help raise a collective consciousness and ignite action, KPMG supported the Our Experiences Matter campaign, which featured KPMG Black professionals sharing their lived experiences with racism and being Black in Canada.

The firm also increased its focus on mental health in navigating these realities through sessions discussing the impacts of racism and bias on well-being. “Many people don’t realize the emotional tax that comes with being a Black person in Canada,” says Mitchell. “At work, sometimes you don’t know if you are experiencing flat-out racism, or if you’re just not making the cut. There’s an emotional cost that Black people bring to work every day associated with that.”

It is time to make accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities the norm, not the exception.” — Lisa Park Director of Total Rewards and Chair of the Accessibility Advisory Committee

Furthering inclusion for people with disabilities is another critical focus area. Lisa Park, director of total rewards and chair of KPMG’s Accessibility Advisory Committee (AAC), knows first-hand the challenges faced by this community, having been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2002 and now using a wheelchair due to mobility challenges. “The mandate of KPMG’s AAC is to be a voice for people with disabilities at the firm and change perceptions to see ability, not disability,” says Park. “It’s about removing barriers to allow them to feel more included and to be able to bring their best self to work. It is time

 LISA PARK, DIRECTOR OF TOTAL REWARDS AND CHAIR OF ACCESSIBILITY ADVISORY COMMITTEE AND RICK HANSEN, AN ACTIVIST AND ADVOCATE FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES, PARTICIPATED IN KPMG'S FIRST GLOBAL SUMMIT FOCUSED ON BUILDING AN INCLUSIVE FUTURE FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

to make accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities the norm, not the exception.” To further this goal, KPMG’s AAC recently hosted its first virtual global summit for people with disabilities – an event attended by more than 2,500 KPMG professionals from 49 countries. “To have been a part of making this inspiring summit happen was definitely one of the highlights of my amazing 23-year career here at KPMG,” says Park. The firm has also shown its commitment to actively increasing employment

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opportunities for neurodiverse people. “People with disabilities are often passed over for employment opportunities due to stigma,” says Park. “What is often overlooked is the recognition they have to be highly innovative every day, just to live their lives. They see the world differently and adapt to tackle challenges, and they bring this same innovative thinking and problem-solving to work. It makes good business sense for companies globally to see that ability and bring this creative thinking to their teams, customers and communities.”  2020 NEW PARTNER PROMOTES WERE 46% WOMEN AND 35% PEOPLE OF COLOUR


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CANADA’S BEST DIVERSITY EMPLOYERS 2021

Manulife takes diversity to the next level

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fter joining Manulife last October, Michelle TaylorJones sensed immediately that she had landed at a company whose values and priorities matched her own. “There is nothing more rewarding and heartwarming than to start at a new organization and realize, within a week, that you are part of a family where you belong,” says Taylor-Jones, vice president, global diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). “Manulife is an organization that has a soul. They care about their employees, their customers and about the rich culture and tapestry of diversity that’s being woven throughout their organization.”

We are a stronger organization when we build all our priorities on compassion and empathy.” — Schazelle York Narayan Senior Training and Development Consultant and Co-Chair of VIBE While DEI had long been a priority for Manulife, Taylor-Jones arrived at a time when the Toronto-based insurance and financial services firm had taken its commitment to another level. In June 2020, Manulife’s North American operations, which includes John Hancock in the United States, committed to spending $3.5 million over the next two years to advance three key DEI goals: increasing the representation of diverse talent at all levels; creating greater inclusion through enhanced training; and supporting organizations helping Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) communities. Manulife also pledged to hire at least 25

per cent BIPOC talent in its annual graduate hiring – a goal it has already exceeded – and to boost BIPOC representation in leadership roles by 30 per cent over the next five years across its North American operations. Taylor-Jones says that meeting those goals requires a multi-pronged approach. “We are looking at our internships and campus recruiting to really infuse diversity at the pipeline level and then growing that talent to a very senior level,” she says. “It’s about who we partner with, where we show up and how we make DEI part of Manulife’s DNA.” Schazelle York Narayan is a senior training and development consultant with Manulife in Toronto. She is also co-chair of the employee resource group VIBE (Valuing the Inclusion of Black Experiences), which she joined shortly after it was formed in 2017. “I joined VIBE because there was this sense of belonging I wanted to be part of and I wanted others to feel that way too,” she says. “I became part of the leadership because I wanted to drive change and influence the corporate culture.” With over 700 members, VIBE works  MANULIFE EMPLOYEES JOIN THE 2019 TORONTO PRIDE PARADE IN CELEBRATION on three key fronts – career development, OF DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION community and connection. “On the professional side, we work work we were already doing.” Day of Understanding to talk about the with Manulife to help meet its diversity Beyond being the right thing to do, Black experience and the impact of racial and equity goals and give people the DEI makes companies like Manulife more bias. The event drew a record attendance tools and resources to grow their careers,” innovative, financially successful and conacross North America for this kind of says Narayan. “On the community side, nected to the community, says Narayan. session. we help promote cultural awareness and “Our goal is to do it all with compas“All over the world, the George Floyd provide a safe space for members to really sion,” she adds. “We are a stronger organisituation has shone a huge spotlight on the discuss topics that matter to them. zation when we build all our priorities on Black experience,” says Narayan. “This “The connection part is about networkcompassion and empathy.”  shows it also put a spotlight on the kind of ing – providing opportunities for people to get to know their colleagues and partner with other organizations.” SUPPORTS DEI (DIVERSITY, EQUITY & INCREASING DIVERSE TALENT AT In the wake of last summer’s Black B:9.25 in INCLUSION) CULTURE CHAMPIONS ALL LEVELS IN THE ORGANIZATION Lives Matter protests following the tragic T:9.25 in death of George Floyd, VIBE hosted a S:9.25 in

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The world is changing and so are we.


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Everyone’s perspective is valued at McCarthy Tétrault

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fter George Floyd’s death in May 2020, Dave Leonard, the CEO and a partner at McCarthy Tétrault LLP, a national law firm with a Toronto head office, sent a firm-wide email expressing his sadness and reaffirming the firm’s commitment to standing with the Black community. That message had a powerful impact on legal assistant Coleen Lambert. “I contacted Dave after to tell him that I really appreciate the way he uses his platform to bring awareness to racial injustice,” says Lambert. “He’s the face of McCarthy Tétrault, and the fact that he leads by example speaks volumes about the culture of the firm. I felt empowered and comfortable enough to reach out to him personally.”

There’s always an opportunity for me to say what I need to say because I have a voice here.” — Coleen Lambert Legal Assistant

In February 2020, Lambert participated in a panel during an event that launched the firm’s race action group. She was joined by 15 colleagues, including partners, associates, counsel, students and staff, who shared their experiences navigating race in the workplace. “There’s always an opportunity for me to say what I need to say because I have a voice here,” she says. During the panel, Lambert shared an unsettling experience she had at her

previous workplace, when a colleague said her natural hair wasn’t professional. “I love my big, curly hair, and at McCarthy’s I don’t have to hide who I am,” she says. A few months later, Lambert was invited to sit on the steering committee for the firm’s race action group, along with partners and associates at the firm. Leonard has put a strong emphasis on bolstering McCarthy Tétrault’s diversity and inclusion efforts, to ensure that all firm members can bring their full selves to work. In 2019, he launched a groundbreaking initiative called Inclusion Now. It’s led by a full-time chief inclusion officer, Nikki Gershbain, and supported by an inclusion office that has the equivalent of four full-time employees – a first for a Canadian law firm. “It’s the right thing to do,” says Leonard. “Inclusion Now resonates with our people, prospective talent and our clients who share our values. We recognize that we will be a stronger firm if we do more to reflect the diversity of the legal profession and workforce.” In addition to race, the firm has launched pride, gender equality and abilities action groups, which together boast over 540 volunteers – the equivalent of one third of the firm. Even as most of the firm has been remotely working, the Inclusion Now office has offered regular inclusion educational programming, including on anti-Black racism and Indigenous cultural competency. In light of the pandemic, it has also increased support for United Way, donating millions to agencies and programs supporting equity-seeking groups across Canada. “We knew we couldn’t afford to let the pandemic slow the momentum of Inclusion Now or the positive impact it’s been having on our firm,” says Leonard. “A lot of the discussions we’re having are

 COLEEN LAMBERT, LEGAL ASSISTANT AT MCCARTHY TÉTRAULT LLP'S TORONTO OFFICE

uncomfortable but absolutely necessary – we’re providing a vehicle for change. Inclusion Now is building a more diverse and inclusive firm, while deepening our client relationships and the impact we’re having on our communities.” Leonard is inspired by the way the firm OFFERS MONTHLY EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS, INCLUDING ON UNCONSCIOUS BIAS

has adapted this past year. “Our people have really stepped up – they’re resilient and creative, and an extraordinary example of commitment, professionalism and community. It’s truly the people who make me so proud to work at McCarthy Tétrault.”  FIVE-YEAR, $350,000 GIFT TO BLACK AND INDIGENOUS-LED ORGANIZATIONS

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CANADA’S BEST DIVERSITY EMPLOYERS 2021

Diversity work continues to flourish at McMaster

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OVID-19 has prompted thoughtful planning about the future of teaching and learning at Hamilton’s McMaster University, says chief human resources officer Wanda McKenna, but the pandemic hasn’t diminished in the least McMaster’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. “We have a breadth of programs and activities that together are helping us to advance equity and diversity across the organization,” says McKenna. “This work has become a lot more thoughtful over the past three years.”

If we begin to lose representation of equity-seeking groups within the pool of applicants at any stage of a recruitment, then we take another look.” — Andrea Colbert-DeGeit Executive Officer, Faculty of Engineering

In 2019, McMaster unveiled an equity, diversity and inclusion strategy. Arig al Shaibah, associate vice-president, equity and inclusion, oversees the office dedicated to implementing the strategy. “We’re making good progress,” says al Shaibah. “We have launched a number of initiatives to raise awareness and build capacity for faculty, staff and students around issues of diversity, equity and anti-racism.” Al Shaibah’s office, in conjunction with human resources colleagues, has trained

120 employment equity facilitators drawn from staff and faculty across the university. The role of facilitators, broadly speaking, is to advance employment equity within their departments or faculties. They also serve in an advisory capacity when it comes to recruitment and hiring. Andrea Colbert-DeGeit, executive officer to the dean of the Faculty of Engineering, is one of several employment equity facilitators within the faculty. She is currently serving on three faculty search committees. One of the objectives, in a traditionally male-dominated field, is to achieve better gender balance. “As we move through the process, from all applicants to long lists to short lists, we ensure that representation has been maintained,” says Colbert-DeGeit. “If we begin to lose representation of equity-seeking groups within the pool of applicants at any stage of a recruitment, then we take another look.” The university has also initiated a biennial census of its employees under the equity, diversity and inclusion strategy. The census allows the administration to take the measure of its workforce in relation to representation of Indigenous Peoples, racialized persons and persons with disabilities, as well as gender and LGBTQ+ identity. The results are posted on the university website. The administration also holds employment equity forums to discuss the results. Al Shaibah’s office organizes workshops for staff and faculty on a variety of topical issues – human rights fundamentals, challenging Islamophobia, anti-racism, accessibility and the duty to accommodate, positive space and microaggressions. She says her office experienced a surge of interest in training on anti-Black racism after the Black Lives Matter protests last summer. “We had lots of requests from people

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

 WANDA MCKENNA, AVP, CHIEF HUMAN RESOURCES OFFICER AND DR. ARIG AL SHAIBAH, AVP, EQUITY AND INCLUSION AT MCMASTER UNIVERSITY (LEFT TO RIGHT)

wanting to know how they can make individual and systemic structural change,” she says. The pandemic put the brakes on almost all in-person activity whether it was classroom instruction or anti-racism workshops. It also prompted a shift in direction. McKenna says her department has organized 60 different webinars to keep staff and faculty apprised of developments. Last spring, McMaster donated thousands of unused masks, goggles and protective suits to frontline healthcare workers. EMPLOYMENT EQUITY FACILITATORS SUPPORT FACULTY AND STAFF HIRING MANAGERS

Meantime, more than a dozen teams of scientists have conducted research aimed at understanding the virus and developing tools to combat it. An equal number were focused on the long-terms effects and looking for ways to minimize the collateral damage to economies and societal health. For its part, the administration is focused on what happens post-pandemic. “A number of different working groups are thinking about the experience of working remotely,” says McKenna. “Now we’re shifting to what we are going to do next September. What is the future of work?”  INCLUSIVE RECRUITMENT TRAINING AND EMPLOYMENT EQUITY WORKSHOP SERIES


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Standing up for diversity at Norton Rose Fulbright

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irst-year lawyer Jenny Ng was doubly taken aback. First, by the client’s racial comment and then by the immediate reaction from the Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP partner who had invited Ng to the meeting. “She stepped in and told the client that the comment was inappropriate,” recalls Ng, now a third-year Toronto associate at the global law firm. “After the meeting,” adds Hong Kongborn Ng, “the partner took me aside and said she would speak to the client about the matter further so that something similar would never happen again. That stuck with me. I was very grateful to see someone on my side and not afraid to offend a client. It demonstrated that I was part of the team.”

When people feel able to be themselves, with no need to cover up or minimize what makes them unique, they experience the benefits of belonging and are more engaged with their work.”

— Sacha de Klerk Head of Diversity and Inclusion, Canada

Making everyone feel they are a team member is at the heart of Norton Rose Fulbright’s approach to diversity and inclusion. While driven by metrics to create a more inclusive workplace, the firm goes a step further. Explains Sacha de Klerk, Norton Rose Fulbright’s head of diversity and inclusion in Canada: “It’s not just about the

numbers. Yes, setting goals and publishing our progress toward meeting those goals shows we are accountable, but there is more to diversity and inclusion. “We also care about other things, such as different communication styles, life experiences and particular personal challenges. When people feel able to be themselves, with no need to cover up or minimize what makes them unique, they experience the benefits of belonging and are more engaged with their work. We want to create safe spaces where people feel free to let down their barriers and not feel they need to conform to a majority culture.” For her part, Ng found that Norton Rose Fulbright did not match her majority-culture fears. “As a law student,” she says, “I thought Bay Street firms were a white, big boys’ club. But I don’t feel any of that here. Management includes accomplished women with families. With those role models I can see myself building a career here where I am included.” Indeed, Norton Rose Fulbright pays special attention to women’s needs, from its award-winning Career Strategies Program for women who want to become partners to its generous maternity leave provisions. Not only does the firm have, and meet, a 90-per-cent goal of women returning after maternity leave, but it also has, and meets, an objective of retaining 90 per cent of those women after one year. And in one notable case, a single mom who works part-time to accommodate her parental responsibilities still became a partner. Overall, women now make up nearly 30 per cent of the partnership ranks, reaching a goal early that was set five years ago. Now, the target has been increased to 40 per cent by the end of the decade. Ng herself is responsible for one distinctive diversity and inclusion initiative. When she was just an articling student,

 LAWYERS AT NORTON ROSE FULBRIGHT MEETING STUDENTS, PRIOR TO THE PANDEMIC with no guarantee that she would be asked to join the firm, Ng stepped forward with a novel idea. She proposed that the Toronto office establish a book club to tackle literature dealing with diversity and inclusion themes. “I thought it would let people connect in a meaningful way,” she says. De Klerk backed the project and in the year before COVID-19, the book club

We are proud to celebrate our fourth consecutive year as one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers. Law around the world nortonrosefulbright.com

DIVERSITY DATA PUBLISHED EXTERNALLY TO DEMONSTRATE ACCOUNTABILITY

boasted some 50 members, with other firm offices across the country expressing interest in establishing their own groups. Says Ng: “We all have different lived experiences and interpret things differently. The book club is a way of bringing people together to discuss their views respectfully. It’s another way of creating an inclusive environment.” 

SIX DIVERSITY RESOURCE GROUPS OPEN TO EVERYONE


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CANADA’S BEST DIVERSITY EMPLOYERS 2021

At Nutrien, diversity is key to nurturing a business

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n the nine years since Wendy Ng joined Nutrien, the corporate conversation about diversity and inclusion has evolved from being largely gender-focused to supporting a much broader understanding of equity, diversity and inclusion concepts. Ng is co-chair of the Calgary chapter of Women in Nutrien (WIN), one of six employee-led resource groups at Saskatoon-based Nutrien, the world’s largest provider of crop inputs, services and solutions. “Our mission is to create an inclusive environment where leaders support women’s success,” explains Ng, vice-president of internal audit. “We’re focused on driving change by developing initiatives that support the talent pipeline for women, inspiring management to support workplace diversity and giving back to the community.”

The only way we’re going to have a sustainable business in every way is by attracting and retaining the top talent we need to grow.”

— Mike Webb Executive Vice-President and Chief Human Resources and Administrative Officer

One of WIN’s recent initiatives was hosting mentorship circles – virtual events where one leader and three employees discuss career development, among other things. “The conversations are meant to be intimate and aligned for honest discussion,” says Ng. In the name of inclusion, she adds, all employees are welcome, though gender and diversity topics are the

focus of the chats. And the conversation has increasingly involved men. “We’re finding many more male ambassadors that truly speak out about diversity and inclusion and support it,” Ng says. “Support from men is critical for getting us where we want to be.” Already, her group has made some strides in terms of highlighting and spotlighting women leaders. “There’s a willingness to have open conversations about it and not just focus on targets,” says Ng. “We’re talking much more openly, and we’re looking at things more from an action perspective.” But commitment to diversity and inclusion is not something that Nutrien leadership merely relegates to a few employee groups. The company believes that to be successful, it needs the varying perspectives that contributors from diverse backgrounds and perspectives can share. “We’ve got a very sophisticated board of directors that expects us to have a sustainable business,” explains Mike Webb, executive vice-president and chief human resources and administrative officer. “The only way we’re going to have a sustainable business in every way is by attracting and retaining the top talent we need to grow.” In fact, he says, the organization has made it clear that all employees need to support equity, diversity and inclusion. Among other things, 600 employees have already gone through unconscious bias training. “We keep very close tabs on our hiring statistics and to what extent our diversity candidates make their way through the long list to the short list and ultimately appointment,” Webb explains. “And frankly we know which managers get it and which managers need to do better, and that gets discussed when we have our talent reviews.” Apart from setting up a new centre

 NUTRIEN IS COMMITTED TO DIVERSE AND INCLUSIVE GROWTH ACROSS OUR WORKFORCE, SUPPLY CHAIN AND LOCAL COMMUNITIES of excellence for diversity, equity and inclusion, and putting financial resources behind its employee-led groups, Nutrien has also created an employee learning hub. There, resources provide insights into the experiences and perspectives of colleagues and community members of different backgrounds. Nutrien has also enhanced its maternity, adoption and parental leave policy to include up to 160 hours of paid leave for a primary caregiver and up to 80 hours for OVER 60 SCHOLARSHIPS FOR INDIGENOUS AND WOMEN STUDENTS

a secondary caregiver, Webb says. “That has really hit the mark.” All these changes, Webb says, make for really exciting times at Nutrien. “The board is aligned, the executive leadership team is aligned, and our employees are aligned with the fact that we need to do better,” he adds. “We’re not there yet. We’ve got a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of momentum, a lot of great things happening, and we’re really excited about what it means for us.”  36 PARTICIPANTS IN NUTRIEN ACADEMY, A DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM FOR WOMEN

We’re honoured to be recognized as one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers

nutrien.com/careers


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Ottawa champions diversity at every level

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t the City of Ottawa, the commitment to diversity and inclusion is deeply embedded in the culture of the organization. “We are championing, at the most senior level, a diversity and inclusion plan based on best practices and feedback from staff,” says Donna Gray, general manager of the Community and Social Services Department. “We have taken a people-first approach, informed by what matters to our employees with concrete actions at all levels of the organization.”

We have taken a people-first approach, informed by what matters to our employees with concrete actions at all levels of the organization.”

— Donna Gray General Manager, Community and Social Services Department

Ideas flowed from employees to senior leaders through a variety of channels, says Gray, including chat groups, diversity cafés, where employees come together to learn from the lived experiences of others, and affinity groups – employee networks based on common social identity. There are five at the City – City Employees from India, the Diverse Employee Network, Employees with Disabilities, First Nations, Inuit and Métis Affinity Group, and women.net The City has launched a range of initiatives to put the diversity and inclusion plan into action, including the creation of the Gender and Race Equity, Inclusion, Indigenous Relations and Social Development

Service. Sawsan Al-Refaei, a native of Yemen, joined the organization in July 2019 as the City’s first women and gender equity specialist after 10 years working for the United Nations in the Middle East. “My work involves raising awareness of and building capacity to advance women and gender equity for City staff,” says Al-Refaei. “In addition, I provide technical support to City staff on ways to remove systemic barriers facing immigrant and refugee women and women living in poverty. The City is committed to inclusive services for our most vulnerable populations.” During the COVID-19 pandemic, Gray’s department dispatched staff to priority neighbourhoods to ensure that the needs of vulnerable and marginalized groups were being met. In some cases, they held community meetings, in others they went door to door in community housing complexes. “We hired young people to work as ambassadors alongside outreach staff in priority neighbourhoods. This not only provides development opportunities for young people, but also allows us to hear diverse voices and support residents most affected by the pandemic,” says Gray. Al-Refaei also contributed to the department’s COVID-19 response. “I worked closely with City departments and Ottawa Public Health to make sure that everyone had access to information around equity implications of COVID-19,” she says. “One example of actual change happening to meet equity needs is the translation of COVID-19 fact sheets into six different languages.” As part of its diversity and inclusion plan, City departments participate in the Youth Futures program to engage with young people from priority neighbourhoods. “That’s a great way for us to recruit young talent and help them understand

The City of Ottawa is proud to be selected as one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers. A City for everyone. Visit ottawa.ca/careers

 A CAMP FFIT (FEMALE FIREFIGHTERS IN TRAINING) PARTICIPANT LEARNS FROM AN EXPERIENCED FIREFIGHTER AT THE CITY OF OTTAWA (PHOTO TAKEN AUGUST 2019) how the workplace is supportive of diversity and inclusion,” Al-Refaei says. The City is also trying to recruit more women into traditionally male roles such as firefighting and operating heavy equipment. Ottawa Fire Services has a well-established program called Camp FFiT (Female Firefighters in Training) for young women, ages 16-19. It exposes them to firefighting basics and the potential of a career with the service. Meanwhile, the Public Works and

DIVERSITY CAFÉS ALLOW EMPLOYEES TO SHARE EXPERIENCES OF DIVERSITY

Environmental Services Department is looking at establishing a general labour pool program to help women and racialized individuals who are less represented in the departments to fill entry level positions through which they will have an opportunity to train and obtain their heavy equipment operator’s licenses. “As a municipality, there are so many different career opportunities,” says Gray. “Every service is unique, so our recruitment strategies have to be targeted.”  SUPPORT FOR EMPLOYEE-LED AFFINITY GROUPS BASED ON SOCIAL IDENTITY (I.E. GENDER/RACE/DISABILITY)


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CANADA’S BEST DIVERSITY EMPLOYERS 2021

Providence wants all voices to be heard and valued

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atasha Simonss, an occupational health adviser at Vancouver-based Providence Health Care, is Métis and has Indigenous friends. But when she took the organization’s Indigenous culturalsafety training, she was surprised by how much she had to learn. “I thought I had understood residential schools and colonization, but I didn’t know how bad things truly were,” says Simonss. “The training was humbling and eye-opening. It’s important to have that information when we’re providing care to our Indigenous vulnerable population, and also when we’re interacting with our Indigenous co-workers.”

We strive to provide safe, quality care in a way that shows respect for culture and identity.” — Natasha Simonss Occupational Health Adviser

Providence Health Care is one of the largest faith-based healthcare providers in Canada, operating 17 sites across British Columbia and often serving groups in society that are hardly reached and underserved. Simonss joined the organization in 2008 as a human resources receptionist before being promoted several times within the department. In her current role, she supports employees who are off work due to illness or injury or struggling with mental health issues at work. Simonss, who is also of South Asian and Norwegian heritage, identifies as

a woman of colour and is married to a Black man with whom she has two children. “Providence is doing important work around diversity and inclusion that really hits home for me,” she says. “We strive to provide safe, quality care in a way that shows respect for culture and identity.” The senior leadership team is determined to do the challenging but important work of effecting change. President and CEO Fiona Dalton points to the value of a recent report called In Plain Sight, which addresses Indigenous-specific racism and discrimination in British Columbia healthcare. “It highlights how much more work we have to do in order to properly look after our most vulnerable patients,” she says. Within the next year, every employee will have been trained in Indigenous culture safety, and a mentor scheme for researchers and physicians will be developed. “The anti-racism events around the world last year really pushed us to discuss how we’re going to formalize a strategic plan that will support our Indigenous employees and patients,” says Dalton. Simonss is excited to be doing her part as the spokesperson appointed to bridge communication between the anti-racism and equity advisory committee and the Indigenous wellness and reconciliation committee. Their goal is to ensure that the voices of Providence’s Black people, Indigenous people, and people of colour are heard throughout the organization. Although she feels fortunate and privileged not to have experienced “anything egregious” personally, Simonss has supported an employee who felt discriminated against because of their cultural background. “As a result, this individual was struggling at work,” she says. Simonss is encouraged by the senior

 EMPLOYEES AT ST. PAUL'S HOSPITAL HEART CENTRE, PART OF PROVIDENCE HEALTH CARE, DEMONSTRATE FULL HEARTS

leadership team’s prompt response to 'In Plain Sight'. Her hope is that as an organization, PHC colleagues can educate and support each other. “I want to help establish safe and effective processes for racism to be reported

Proud to be one of Canada’s Top Employers for Young People and Best Diversity Employers Driven by compassion and social justice, we are at the forefront of exceptional care and innovation. Join us in our mission to serve those most in need. Visit providencehealthcare.org/careers

BROAD COMMITMENT TO RECONCILIATION AND IMPROVED WELLNESS FOR INDIGENOUS PEOPLES

and investigated here,” says Simonss. “Both intentional and unintentional racism have harmful effects. I’m motivated to carry out this important work with my colleagues to ensure a future that embraces diversity, equity and inclusion.” 

INDIGENOUS CULTURAL SAFETY TRAINING


CANADA’S BEST DIVERSITY EMPLOYERS 2021

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Building a more inclusive culture at Rogers

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ogers Communications is on a journey to build a more inclusive culture. The company has made significant progress over the years, and critical work lies ahead. In 2020, Rogers implemented a new fiveyear inclusion and diversity strategy that will accelerate progress even further and drive meaningful changes for its people, customers and communities.

We have a strong commitment from our leaders to listen, learn and act to make meaningful progress for Black employees, and all equityseeking employees.” — Kim Charles Director of Billing Last year, Rogers was quick to address the discussions about systemic anti-Black racism that were unleashed in the wake of the death of George Floyd. The company shared resources and hosted events on anti-racism and allyship, signed the BlackNorth Initiative CEO Pledge, and partnered with the Black Professionals in Tech Network. Members of the team also formed a Black Leadership Council so executives and the company’s Inclusion and Diversity Council could consult with Black employees about racism or bias they experience on the job. Kim Charles, director of billing, who identifies as a Black woman, was quick to get involved. “We’re making sure that Black employees are heard no matter their

role,” she says. “Rogers is dedicated to building a more inclusive culture, and we have a strong commitment from our leaders to listen, learn and act to make meaningful progress for Black employees, and all equity-seeking employees.” Charles has long supported inclusion and diversity initiatives at Rogers, including with Mosaic, one of the company’s five employee resource groups that aim to celebrate diversity and build a culture of allyship. Mosaic supports people of colour, while the other four groups are focused on the LGBTQ+ community, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities and women. Overall, Charles adds, her sense from talking to Black friends at other organizations is that Rogers has taken on anti-Black racism in a singularly committed way. That includes hosting 77 virtual “Safe Talk Listening Sessions” where employees and leaders can learn about the experience of their Black colleagues and those who identify with other equity-seeking groups. During those discussions, Charles shared her concerns while raising her son, now 23, about things like being stopped by police, and what it’s like to be Black in Canada. “I think some of my non-Black colleagues had eye-opening moments in these sessions. They’ve asked, ‘Can I share your story with my wife or children?’ To me, this is what it’s about – these important and challenging conversations we’re having are translating beyond Rogers. That’s impactful.” For Marcin Zerek, brand manager of sponsorships for Fido, his work has been such an exciting intersection of his personal and professional aspirations that, he says, “I have to pinch myself sometimes.” Zerek leads the Fido brand’s Pride sponsorship. “I bring together insight from the LGBTQ+ community and create our

 ROGERS TEAM MEMBERS EACH BRING SOMETHING DIFFERENT AS PART OF COMPANIES 'WHAT WE BRING' INITIATIVE campaigns for Pride,” he says. “It’s really important for us as a company to be consistent and authentic through the whole year, not just during Pride month.” Zerek, 35, came out as a gay man a decade ago, shortly after he started at Rogers. “I felt so welcome at work, and that I could be my authentic self. I’ve marched in several Pride parades in Toronto and Montréal, and in 2019, having our CEO and some of our other executives walking alongside us was such

FEELINGS OF INCLUSION AT 87%, UP 3% FROM PREVIOUS YEAR

an empowering and beautiful moment for me both personally and professionally.” In 2020, Zerek says, it was particularly moving when a Rogers employee invited her teenage lesbian daughter to join the company’s digital celebration for her first Pride experience. “She quickly became an active participant, asking questions and sharing her story. My boyfriend and I were tearing up. It was so amazing how far our efforts at Rogers have extended – into the homes of our colleagues and beyond.”  MANDATORY UNCONSCIOUS BIAS TRAINING AND LEADERSHIP TRAINING ON INCLUSION AND ALLYSHIP

Together, we make more possible. See why we’re one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers at jobs.rogers.com


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CANADA’S BEST DIVERSITY EMPLOYERS 2021

RBC takes action against systemic racism

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s vice president, social impact and innovation, with RBC, Mark Beckles is well positioned to put his previous experience in financial services, risk management and executive leadership in both the corporate and non-profit sectors to good use. For the long-time advocate for social, racial and economic justice, being part of an organization where he can continue to make a positive difference in those areas is essential.

RBC is committed to providing a safe and respectful workplace for all our employees, but we know we can always do better. D&I is a journey, not a destination.” — Helena Gottschling Chief Human Resources Officer Beckles’ responsibilities include RBC Future Launch, the bank’s largest-ever commitment to a social cause. The 10year, $500-million program is dedicated to helping Canadians aged 15 to 29 to acquire the work experience, skills and resources they’ll need to thrive in the rapidly changing workplace of tomorrow. “RBC has embedded diversity and inclusion [D&I] as a core value,” says Beckles. “It’s aligned with our Purpose – to help clients thrive and communities prosper – but we can only achieve this if everyone’s full potential is unlocked.” The two major news stories of 2020 highlight the urgent need for action, Beckles says. By disproportionately affecting the

poor and other marginalized people, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a greater understanding of the inequities in Canadian society, he says. And the murder of George Floyd led to massive protests worldwide, and heightened awareness of how widespread systemic racism and bias truly is. Still, there was a form of silver lining, says Beckles, as many Black Canadians felt they could no longer stay quiet about their own lived experience of racism. “You can’t fix what you don’t understand,” he says. “As tragic as that event was, it has allowed some unprecedented conversations to take place and reveal some uncomfortable truths.” Helena Gottschling, chief human resources officer with global responsibility for HR, says that hundreds of such conversations have taken place within RBC. While some arose organically, others were planned listening sessions in Canada and the 36 countries where the bank operates. RBC has experience encouraging difficult conversations thanks to its 'That Little Voice' video. Released in February 2020, and with more than half a million impressions, the video and discussion guides are designed to encourage people to #speakupforinclusion, says Gottschling. Still, this time was different, she says. “We knew we needed to create opportunities to just listen. RBC is committed to providing a safe and respectful workplace for all our employees, but we know we can always do better. D&I is a journey, not a destination, and I’ll never declare we’ve arrived.” As a result of what they heard, RBC has taken specific actions to help fight systemic racism with an action plan released in July 2020, Gottschling says. The first of three key target areas, enabling economic growth and wealth creation, includes committing $100 million over five years in

 MARK BECKLES, VICE PRESIDENT, SOCIAL IMPACT AND INNOVATION AT RBC small business loans to Black entrepreneurs and establishing a program to help advance growth for Black-owned businesses. Investing in the future is another key priority, with $50 million in funding from now up to 2025 to create meaningful and transformative pathways for 25,000 BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour) youth as part of Future Launch. RBC is also dedicating 40 per cent of all student opportunities to BIPOC youth, with a specific focus on recruiting from Black and Indigenous communities.

10 NATIONAL EMPLOYEE RESOURCE GROUPS WITH LOCAL AND REGIONAL CHAPTERS

The third key action area, redefining inclusive leadership, provides a range of measures to increase the bank’s staffing goal of BIPOC executives from 20 to 30 per cent. RBC is also enhancing its existing unconscious bias training and making anti-racism and anti-bias training mandatory for all employees. Crucially, it will measure and report publicly on the progress it makes on these and other D&I initiatives, says Gottschling. “We’re holding ourselves accountable.”  SUMMER INTERNSHIP AND AWARDS PROGRAMS FOR INDIGENOUS STUDENTS

We’re honoured to be recognized once again, as one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers. We remain dedicated to being active leaders of change. Accelerating full inclusion across every aspect of our organization, we continue to be fearless in our pursuit of being fearlessly human.

Learn more at speakupforinclusion.com


CANADA’S BEST DIVERSITY EMPLOYERS 2021

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Building diversity from top to bottom in Surrey

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hen you serve the citizens of one of the fastestgrowing, most diverse cities in Canada, you need a comprehensive strategy that goes from the ground floor to the top that incorporates both employees as well as buildings. That’s just what the City of Surrey in British Columbia has built. “Our commitment to diversity permeates the whole organization, from the leadership level down through every single department in the city. It’s a comprehensive, holistic approach,” says Joey Brar, director, human resources.

Our commitment to diversity permeates the whole organization, from the leadership level down through every single department in the city. It’s a comprehensive, holistic approach.”

— Joey Brar Director, Human Resources

To help meet residents’ needs, Surrey has developed broad policies to encourage and celebrate diversity. Employees receive on-going training to ensure they understand city values, human rights and respectful workplace policies. Employees speak over 30 languages and over 100 staff volunteer to provide translation services. Diversity is a key component in the city’s hiring. Surrey also encourages local businesses to follow suit with initiatives like the Get Surrey Working Hiring Fair and celebrates their successes at the

community-sponsored Inclusive Employer Awards. “We recognize businesses that hire people with disabilities and encourage others to do the same,” says Tara Cleave, manager of support services and accessibility in the Parks, Recreation and Culture department. “Those businesses have amazing successes and we share those stories with the community at large.” A major part of Cleave’s job is to ensure the city’s buildings, parks and other facilities are accessible. Surrey uses the Rick Hansen Foundation’s Accessibility Certification program to assess and rate new and existing buildings to see where improvements need to be made. As the municipality with the highest number of individuals with autism in B.C., Surrey was also the first in the province to implement permanent sensory friendly spaces within its facilities. These low light, minimal sound spaces allow people with autism to recharge and refocus themselves if they become over-stimulated. The city also provides programming for groups like the LGBTQ+ community. Pride Week is a highlight of Surrey’s inclusion calendar, which features over 30 holiday cultural events and awareness days. Orange and Pink Shirt Days are celebrated along with Ramadan, Vaisakhi, Diwali and Christmas. Celebrations often include an educational component, music, dance and cultural foods. Sport is another diversity priority. The Wickenheiser World Female Hockey Festival staged in Surrey by former women’s ice hockey star Hayley Wickenheiser promotes empowerment and leadership skills that young women can use on and off the ice. The Girls Empowerment Program, in partnership with the Surrey School District and Surrey Firefighters Charitable Society, gives female high school students

 CITY OF SURREY AND SURREY FIRE SERVICE MEMBERS AT AN ANNOUNCEMENT TO LAUNCH TWO NEW ACCESSIBILITY INITIATIVES a chance to participate in recreation and social activities. Internally, the city promotes diversity through numerous initiatives like the Female Firefighter Recruitment Plan, designed to remove potential barriers preventing women from becoming firefighters. While the COVID-19 pandemic has posed some challenges to delivering its diversity programs, Surrey has found ways to do even more despite the pandemic by moving many of them online. “The easiest thing to do would have been to just put a pause on our normal diversity initiatives, but we’ve actually doubled down on our commitment,” says Brar. TRAINING ON AUTISM AWARENESS, HUMAN RIGHTS AND RESPECTFUL WORKPLACE

Help us build a world-class city.

From the Surrey Fusion Festival Indigenous Village to supports for new Canadians and other initiatives, Surrey has embraced a diversity vision that brings all residents’ strengths to the table to build a more sustainable city. It’s a vision that Cleave – born and raised in Surrey – shares. “The City of Surrey allows me to implement strategies that I’m passionate about and make a difference here in the community,” says Cleave. “Diversity and inclusivity are core values in Surrey. They’re embedded in all facets of the work we do and it makes me proud to be a part of it.”  WORKSHOPS TO ENCOURAGE WOMEN TO EXPLORE A CAREER IN FIREFIGHTING


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CANADA’S BEST DIVERSITY EMPLOYERS 2021

TD delivers on change-making initiatives

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s the world changed with COVID-19, Alicia Rose looked at how TD Bank Group could best help underserved communities and marginalized groups that were struggling during the pandemic. Through her job as manager, strategic initiatives, global corporate citizenship, Rose helps oversee the TD United Way Employee Giving Campaign and the $10-million TD Ready Challenge grant program, advising on community investment funding and delivering on enterprise-wide initiatives.

Diversity and inclusion are a key component of how we actually measure progress and performance in the organization.” — Girish Ganesan Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion “The TD Ready Challenge was created with the acknowledgement that the world is constantly changing, but change isn’t always positive for everyone,” says Rose. “Some people get left behind, so if we want an inclusive tomorrow, we have to take proactive and innovative steps today. A big challenge right now is COVID-19.” In 2020, TD pivoted its entire $10-million TD Ready Challenge budget to address sustainable COVID-19 recovery, with available grants ranging from $350,000 to $1 million for organizations across North America working on solutions with a pandemic focus. “We’ve seen increasing evidence

showing how specific communities and populations are being impacted by the pandemic at higher rates than other communities and that the pandemic is exacerbating issues that already existed,” says Rose. “So we focused the 2020 Challenge on investing in innovative solutions focused on providing a more equitable recovery for those that have been disproportionally impacted.” The heightened conversation around anti-Black racism was another key focus in light of the Black Lives Matter movement. “There’s been a concerted effort to have a conversation around anti-racism and anti-Black racism within TD," says Rose. “We’ve developed resources for employees to engage in learning how to be a stronger ally as well as implementing processes to help us ensure representation and diversity from a leadership perspective. These conversations are happening in every team and department across the bank.” TD has also invested $12.1 million in Black-led and Black-focused community organizations and over $5 million in Indigenous communities. “TD recognizes this is a long-term journey,” says Rose. “It’s key to have people who have the lived experience at the table helping to make decisions on how the bank can best serve these communities across Canada.” Girish Ganesan, global head of diversity and inclusion, says TD aims not only for colleagues to feel the organization reflects who they are, but for customers to feel TD reflects them and for the community to recognize that TD is working to help create conditions where everyone can feel included. COVID-19 added additional challenges. “We’re focused on maintaining a sense of belonging and connectedness with our distributed workforce,” says Ganesan. “At TD, inclusion is top of mind as a guiding

 ALICIA ROSE, MANAGER OF STRATEGIC INITIATIVES, GLOBAL CORPORATE CITIZENSHIP, AT TD principle, with every decision we take. Last year, we saw the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on certain segments of society that had limited access to healthcare. This is one of the motivators for the launch of the TD Community Resilience Initiative to help support the nonprofit sector which works with these segments.” Ganesan points out how diversity and inclusion is embedded across the employee lifecycle at TD, with business resource groups dedicated to Black employees,

individuals with diverse abilities, minorities in leadership, the LGBTQ+ community, and women in leadership – each led by a senior executive sponsor. “Diversity and inclusion are a key component of how we actually measure progress and performance in the organization,” says Ganesan. “We focus a lot on internal education and training which is built on the basis that it takes everyone within the enterprise to help build an inclusive workplace and learn how to be an inclusive and respectful individual.” 

TRAINING ON UNCONSCIOUS BIAS AND ANTI-BLACK RACISM

TD is proud to be one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers. jobs.td.com

TEAM FOCUSED ON RECRUITING TALENT FROM DIVERSE COMMUNITIES


Match your degree or diploma with employers that recruit new grads with your academic background Published annually since 1992, The Career Directory is Canada’s longest-running and best-loved career guide for new graduates. Each year, our editorial team reviews thousands of employers to determine the academic qualifications they actively seek in younger job-seekers. The result is a wonderful, free resource that helps new graduates find student jobs that make the most of their university degree or college diploma.

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2021


Tell us your story If you are an exceptional employer with progressive human resources programs and initiatives, consider applying for next year’s edition of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers. Now entering its 22nd year, our national project is Canada’s longest-running and best-known editorial competition for employers. For information on next year’s application process, visit:

CanadasTop100.com/2022 Applications for our 2022 competition are now available and must be returned by May 7, 2021.