Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2022)

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Employees can see where change needed



Canada’s Best Diversity Employers (2022)



Learning from Indigenous traditions


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Editorial Team:



Kristina Leung, SENIOR EDITOR


Juliane Fung,


Chantel Watkins, JUNIOR EDITOR

Jing Wang,


Advertising Team:

Kristen Chow,


Ye Jin Suhe,


Vishnusha Kirupananthan, JUNIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER

Sponsored Profile Writers:

Berton Woodward, SENIOR EDITOR

Brian Bergman Abigail Cukier Mary Dickie Jane Doucet Steve Frank Don Hauka Patricia Hluchy D’Arcy Jenish Bruce McDougall Kelsey Rolfe Nora Underwood Barbara Wickens

© 2022 Mediacorp Canada Inc. and Postmedia Inc. All rights reserved. CANADA’S BEST DIVERSITY EMPLOYERS is a registered trade mark of Mediacorp Canada Inc. Editorial inquiries:

 Associate lawyers starting their careers at the Toronto office of Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, one of this


year’s winners.

n this eventful year, news of how the nation’s best employers are improving diversity and inclusion will come as a welcome respite. After two years of a grim pandemic, a convoy protest that ended up shaking the foundations of Canada’s government, and now a war in Europe that has the world on edge, you might be excused for asking: Is there any news that shows the human condition is moving forward? In our own small way, today’s announcement of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers for 2022 provides a hopeful answer. Read through the pages of this year’s announcement magazine and you’ll be struck by the ways in which the country’s leading employers are creating more diverse and inclusive workplaces. Some are large initiatives that address complex problems, such as how employers can promote reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous peoples or tackle the problem of anti-Black racism. Others are smaller projects that employers can implement easily, but that deliver outsized improvements for communities that historically have found themselves at a disadvantage in the nation’s workplaces. In both cases, the good news is that Canadian employers are steadily improving and creating a place at the table for our fellow citizens from diverse backgrounds. It’s easy to get frustrated by the pace of change or when news of

injustice reaches us instantly and vividly through social media, but it’s better to remember how Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. saw things in 1968: “the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.” This morning, our editors released detailed reasons for selection, explaining why each of this year’s winners has been chosen. Together, these reasons provide a ‘catalogue of best practices’ that I think is unmatched in Canada when it comes to creating workplaces that promote diversity and inclusion. Readers can find these via the competition homepage at:

This year marks the 15th edition of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers, which recognizes employers across Canada that have exceptional workplace diversity and inclusiveness programs. The competition recognizes diversity initiatives in a variety of areas, including programs for employees from five groups: (a) women; (b) members of visible minorities; (c) persons with disabilities; (d) Indigenous peoples; and (e) lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender/transsexual (LGBT) peoples. If you would like to have your organization considered for next year’s competition, I encourage you to contact our editorial team at – Tony Meehan




 As part of its diversity and inclusion efforts, TD Bank Group introduced new training programs for employees, including understanding Black experiences, anti-Black racism and anti-racism, and gender identity evolution.


Listening and learning from employees a top priority for Canada’s Best Diversity Employers 2022 by Mediacorp


anada’s Best Diversity Employers 2022 by Mediacorp are putting in the work to make diversity, equity and inclusion a high priority in their organizations. Ignited by an increased awareness of injustices, these organizations are driving change with formalized policies, action plans and a multitude of innovative initiatives that are pushing best practices to new levels. These outstanding employers understand that real change begins with more inclusive leadership, with accountability

and transparency built in across their organizations. As just one example, Accenture announced 2025 internal workforce representation goals across nine dimensions of diversity to achieve its long-term goal of full workforce and leadership representation. The firm also publishes annual demographics of its Canadian workforce by gender, visible minorities, Indigenous Peoples, persons with disabilities, military and LGBTQ2S. Companies also demonstrated a new willingness to listen and learn from employees who have encountered racism

or prejudice – from the career challenges they’ve faced to the supports, such as employee affinity groups, that can help. For instance, CIBC’s inclusion and diversity leadership council hosts listening exercises to understand barriers faced by segments of its employee population and conducts confidential diversity questionnaires. Over the past year, that included consulting employees during the rise of conversations around anti-Black and Indigenous systemic racism, as well as during the rise of anti-Asian sentiment.

That kind of information is sparking a direct response. In another example, after Enbridge embarked on an employee listening journey to hear about obstacles and potential solutions, the company used employee feedback to create two targeted action plans for Black equity and Indigenous employment. It’s important to recognize that the effort these employers are making is an ongoing process. But in striving to be better, they are an example to us all. – Diane Jermyn



2022 WINNERS  In the McPherson Library at the University of Victoria, a student consults with a staff librarian.


CCENTURE INC., Toronto. Professional services; 5,471 employees. Rolled out mandatory anti-racism and unconscious bias training to their workforce to help people identify, speak up and report racism.

Established an anti-racism advisory group in September 2020, a subcommittee of the D&I Council.

ACCESSIBLE MEDIA INC. / AMI, Toronto. Television and radio broadcasting; 103 employees. Includes a dedicated strategy to integrate persons with disabilities within its content, workplace and vendor relations.


AGRICULTURE AND AGRI-FOOD CANADA, Ottawa. Federal government; 5,293 employees. Maintains a workplace wellness programs team in support of a psychologically healthy, safe and supportive work environment. ALBERTA HEALTH SERVICES / AHS, Edmonton. Healthcare; 49,311 employees.

AMEX BANK OF CANADA, Toronto. Credit card issuing; 1,648 employees. Created the Diversify Your Network event to help employees develop a diverse suite of mentors and sponsors from across the organization. ANK OF CANADA, Ottawa. Central bank; 1,940 employees. Launched a new diversity and inclusion strategy in 2020, along with new goals to increase the representation of diversity groups at the senior officer level. BC HYDRO, Vancouver. Hydroelectric power generation; 5,850 employees. Embeds diversity in its performance process by including an action related to diversity and inclusion on executive performance plans.

BC PUBLIC SERVICE, Victoria. Provincial government; 32,368 employees. Employs an Indigenous applicant advisor who supports internal and external Indigenous applicants through the hiring process. BELL CANADA, Verdun, Que. Communications; 36,412 employees. Launched an accessibility advisory group in 2019 to focus on improving employment opportunities for persons with disabilities. BLAKE, CASSELS & GRAYDON LLP, Toronto. Law firm; 1,333 employees. Maintains a strong focus on creating diverse pipelines for recruitment, recently establishing a series of virtual networking sessions targeting underrepresented students. BORDEN LADNER GERVAIS LLP, Toronto. Law firm; 1,444 employees. Created the Driven by Women initiative to

provide opportunities for women in business and law to connect, share ideas and support each other. BOSTON CONSULTING GROUP CANADA ULC, Toronto. Management consulting; 425 employees. Announced six commitments to advancing racial equality, including investing $100-million in talent resources over the next five years. BRUCE POWER LP, Tiverton, Ont. Nuclear power generation; 4,040 employees. Aims to increase Indigenous employee presence at the organization and within supplier, contractor and union workforces through a dedicated Indigenous employment program. BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT BANK OF CANADA, Montreal. Secondary market financing; 2,498 employees. Ran a mentoring program to grow talent at the






organization and support women in identifying career development opportunities, particularly in leadership.


AMH / CENTRE FOR ADDICTION AND MENTAL HEALTH, Toronto. Specialty hospital; 2,638 employees. Created its first Dismantling Anti-Black Racism strategy, identifying 22 actions that aim to decrease anti-Black racism at the organization by 2022. CANADA REVENUE AGENCY / CRA, Ottawa. Federal government; 47,016 employees. Launched a generic executive staffing process targeting Indigenous peoples and members of visible minorities to build representation at all levels of the executive cadre. CAPITAL ONE CANADA, Toronto. Credit card issuing; 1,225 employees. Maintains a number of business resource groups, including VOICES, for Black Canadian employees. CGI INC., Toronto. Information technology; 9,074 employees. Maintains a diversity dashboard that shares a transparency report on demographics. CHILDREN’S AID SOCIETY OF TORONTO, Toronto. Child and youth services; 707 employees. Launched a racialized and Indigenous staff mentorship program to support the growth and professional development of racialized and Indigenous employees. CIBC, Toronto. Banking; 36,744 employees. Developed a five-year accessibility roadmap to integrate inclusive design and improve accessibility for clients and its team members.


ENTONS CANADA LLP, Edmonton. Law firm; 1,286 employees. Announced a 10-year commitment to fund the Black Future Lawyers program, along with 13 other law firms in Canada. DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE CANADA, Ottawa. Federal government; 780 employees. Established an Anti-Racism Champion, responsible for leading an anti-racism committee. DESJARDINS GROUP / MOUVEMENT DESJARDINS, Lévis, Que. Financial institution; 43,105 employees. Launched a Canada-wide network called Empowering Women, to facilitate networking and professional development.

 Desjardins Group / Mouvement Desjardins launched a Canada-wide network called ‘Empowering Women’ that facilitates


networking and professional development.

COLAB CO., Mississauga, Ont. Cleaning and sanitation products and services; 895 employees. Maintains a number of employee resource groups to help foster personal and professional connection. EDMONTON, CITY OF, Edmonton. Municipal government; 9,841 employees. Is piloting a newcomers internship program to help new Canadians gain meaningful work experience that aligns with their qualifications. EMPLOYMENT AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT CANADA, Gatineau, Que. Federal government; 32,928 employees. Maintains a dedicated Indigenous recruitment, retention and advancement team, and participates in a

number of programs to advance Indigenous recruitment.

youth and mentoring for students interested in engineering.

ENBRIDGE INC., Calgary. Energy infrastructure; 7,176 employees. Embarked on an employee listening journey to hear about their challenges, obstacles faced and potential solutions.

HEALTH CANADA / SANTÉ CANADA, Ottawa. Federal government; 9,119 employees. Offered sessions on diversity, inclusiveness and advancement in the workplace as part of its 15th annual Diversity and Inclusion Week.


IBSON ENERGY INC., Calgary. Oil and gas distribution; 451 employees. Set targets to increase the representation of women, racial and ethnic, and Indigenous persons in the workforce, senior leadership and board of directors. ATCH LTD., Mississauga, Ont. Engineering; 3,534 employees. Offers scholarships and internships for Indigenous

HOLLAND BLOORVIEW KIDS REHABILITATION HOSPITAL, Toronto. Hospitals; 514 employees. Offers summer research opportunities to undergraduate students with disabilities through its Bloorview Research Institute. HOME DEPOT CANADA, Toronto. Retail; 14,485 employees. Participates in the federally funded Ready, Willing and Able




project to hire persons with intellectual disabilities and autism spectrum disorder.



BM CANADA LTD., Markham, Ont. Software development. Created a safe space for Black employees to share their stories and perspectives through a series of Emb(race) conversations led by senior leadership. INNOVATION, SCIENCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CANADA, Ottawa. Federal government; 5,631 employees. Partners with LiveWorkPlay to provide employment opportunities for persons with intellectual disabilities.


AZZ AVIATION LP, Dartmouth, N.S. Air transportation; 4,298 employees. Embeds diversity and inclusion into its supplier policy and requests that supplier bids share examples of how their company supports diversity and inclusion.

PMG LLP, Toronto. Accounting; 8,467 employees. Initiated its Gender Affirmation at Work initiative to cultivate greater inclusion of gender non-binary, non-conforming, and transgender people at the company. AFARGE CANADA INC., Calgary. Concrete manufacturing; 6,504 employees. Launched the Women in Leadership Lafarge group to provide space for female employees to connect, network, learn and grow. LEDCOR GROUP OF COMPANIES, Vancouver. Construction; 4,965 employees. Supported the launch of a number of diversityfocused employee resource groups, each with charters and executive sponsorship. LOBLAW COMPANIES LTD., Brampton, Ont. Supermarkets and grocery stores; 28,962 employees. Set measurable goals to improve gender, racial and ethnic diversity of leadership teams.


ANULIFE, Toronto. Insurance; 12,404 employees. Committed to investing more than $3.5-million over the next two years to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace and the communities it serves. MCCARTHY TÉTRAULT LLP, Toronto. Law firm; 1,510 employees. Added an inclusive leadership scorecard to annual performance reviews for all senior leaders in 2021. MCMASTER UNIVERSITY, Hamilton. Universities; 6,193 employees. Established

 Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada includes diversity and inclusion objectives in management’s

formal performance management agreements, such as requiring executives to identify recruitment and development activities to increase the social and cultural diversity of the department’s workforce.

a dedicated employee resource group for Black, Indigenous and racialized staff.


ORTON ROSE FULBRIGHT CANADA LLP, Calgary. Law firm; 1,590 employees. Established a race equity council to provide feedback on the firm’s evolving race and cultural equity strategy. NUNAVUT, GOVERNMENT OF, Iqaluit. Territorial government; 3,633 employees. Organizes Cultural Immersion Days to provide opportunities for all departments and public bodies to develop greater understanding of Inuit societal values and languages.

NUTRIEN INC., Saskatoon, Sask. Fertilizer manufacturing; 5,459 employees. Develops diverse pipelines for future talent through scholarships and internships for Indigenous and female students.


TTAWA, CITY OF, Ottawa. Municipal government; 12,408 employees. Hosted a series of virtual action planning and engagement sessions with diverse communities of racialized residents, community partners, and stakeholders, as well as staff, to inform the city’s first anti-racism strategy.


FIZER CANADA ULC, Kirkland, Que. Pharmaceutical manufacturing; 894 employees. Rolled out a Courageous Conversations program to encourage dialogue on challenging subjects, such as equity, race, and bias. PROCTER & GAMBLE INC., Toronto. Consumer product manufacturing; 1,434 employees. Manages a mental health action plan, focused on creating awareness, fostering well-being and reducing stigma. PROVIDENCE HEALTH CARE, Vancouver. Hospitals; 4,466 employees. Welcomed a director of Indigenous wellness,



reconciliation and partnerships, who is currently working to establish and implement a new Indigenous cultural safety training program. PUBLIC SERVICES AND PROCUREMENT CANADA, Gatineau, Que. Federal government; 16,453 employees. Created a mental health ombudsman to provide informal and confidential discussions, neutral and objective advice, and a discrete and welcoming office.


ED RIVER COLLEGE, Winnipeg. Colleges; 1,444 employees. Appointed its first manager of truth and reconciliation and community engagement to help implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action. ROGERS COMMUNICATIONS INC., Toronto. Telecommunications, cable, publishing and subscription programming; 21,066 employees. Introduced resources on anti-black racism and allyship, including a toolkit for leaders on how to talk about race at work, an employee guide and company-wide webinars. ROYAL BANK OF CANADA, Toronto. Banking; 59,098 employees. Maintains an intranet resource called Destination Diversity, featuring extensive self-study materials, links to new social business diversity communities and diversity-related information.


AP CANADA INC., Vancouver. Custom computer programming services; 3,316 employees. Manages over 25 employee network groups to encourage people to connect, including Women@SAP, Black Employee Network and Pride@SAP Canada. SASKPOWER, Regina. Electric power generation; 3,392 employees. Maintains an Aboriginal procurement policy and hosts annual Aboriginal procurement information sessions to share details on upcoming capital projects. SASKTEL, Regina. Telecommunications; 2,699 employees. Is committed to helping new Canadians succeed in the provincial labour market and actively works with organizations such as Regina Open Door Society. SCOTIABANK, Toronto. Banking; 33,397 employees. Conducted a comprehensive employee diversity survey in 2020 and used the results to set goals to increase representation over the next five years.

SINAI HEALTH, Toronto. Hospitals; 3,846 employees. Maintains a Black History Awareness committee, which aims to educate, promote and celebrate the contributions, achievements, and activities of the organization’s Black community. STANLEY BLACK & DECKER CANADA CORP., Mississauga, Ont. Tool and hardware manufacturing; 1,369 employees. Partnered with Canada Company to assist transitioning military members through the Military Employment Transition program, providing a variety of employment opportunities. SUNCOR ENERGY INC., Calgary. Crude petroleum and natural gas extraction; 12,061 employees. Hosted 10 inclusion listening labs providing a psychologically safe space for small groups of employees to share their views with senior leaders. SURREY, CITY OF, Surrey, B.C. Municipal government; 2,051 employees. Adapted its recreational sports programming to support individuals with disabilities, such as boccia, power soccer, wheelchair basketball, and para ice hockey.


D BANK GROUP, Toronto. Banking; 55,292 employees. Rolled out numerous new training programs for employees, including understanding Black experiences, anti-Black racism and anti-racism, and gender identity evolution.



 The Canadian chair of Norton Rose Fulbright, Walied Soliman, at an in-office event organized with Plan International’s global #GirlsTakeover campaign.



TELUS COMMUNICATIONS INC., Vancouver. Telecommunications; 25,014 employees. Conducted more than 30 roundtables and focus groups in 2020 with more than 1,200 employees representing the diversity of the company’s workforce. TORONTO, CITY OF, Toronto. Municipal government; 21,478 employees. Manages the Toronto Regional Champion Campaign Protégée Program to help boost female participation in local government. TORONTO TRANSIT COMMISSION / TTC, Toronto. Public transit; 14,830 employees. Offers resources to help employees see things from different perspectives, including a diversity and inclusion lens and an inclusive language guide. TREASURY BOARD OF CANADA SECRETARIAT, Ottawa. Federal government; 2,194 employees. Uses journey-mapping with employee networks to better understand pain points of employees throughout their career cycle and co-create solutions.


BC / UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA, Vancouver. Universities; 14,477 employees. Has hosted IBPOC

 Royal Bank of Canada offers a 10-month leadership development program (‘Ignite’) for high-performing, culturally diverse employees, aimed at accelerating their promotion to senior management.





(Indigenous, Black and/or People of Colour) Connections since 2019 to provide a space for self-identifying staff to have candid conversations, collaborate and coordinate when appropriate. UNIVERSITÉ DE MONTRÉAL, Montreal. Universities; 5,568 employees. Created two action plans for Indigenous peoples and equity and inclusion, with more than 100 initiatives in each to be implemented over three years. UNIVERSITY OF CALGARY, Calgary. Universities; 5,822 employees. Launched a public-facing equity, diversity and inclusion dashboard to share the demographics of its student body, faculty, staff, and university leadership. UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA, Winnipeg. Universities; 5,078 employees. Awards Success Through Wellness grants to staff and students who propose projects that engage the campus community in fostering positive mental health and well-being. UNIVERSITY OF OTTAWA, Ottawa. Universities; 5,013 employees. Created an action committee on anti-racism and inclusion with four working groups: student experience, pedagogy, employment equity, and equity, diversity, and inclusion in research.

 Sinai Health launched a campaign (‘Are You an Ally’) to foster understanding of the experiences of people who experience discrimination, identify instances of discrimination, and provide strategies on how to stop discrimination or harassment when it occurs.

UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO, Toronto. Universities; 10,429 employees. Created an institutional anti-Black racism task force to advise on new, action-oriented measures and solutions to address anti-Black racism and to promote Black inclusion and excellence on campus. UNIVERSITY OF VICTORIA, Victoria. Universities; 3,224 employees. Created the world’s first Indigenous law program, holding its first intake of students in 2018.



ALMART CANADA CORP., Mississauga, Ont. Retail; 41,853 employees. Is committed to gender representation and aims to achieve gender parity across all levels by 2023. – Diane Jermyn


ANCOUVER, CITY OF, Vancouver. Municipal government; 7,648 employees. Hired a Chief Equity Officer to lead the development of an organizational plan and integrate and strengthen an equity and justice lens in service delivery to the public.

 To improve diversity and inclusion, Université de Montréal mantains partnerships with approximately 30 community organizations that work to employ individuals from a variety of diverse backgrounds.



METHODOLOGY 2022: The Canada’s Best Diversity Employers 2022 by Mediacorp competition recognizes employers across Canada that have exceptional workplace diversity and inclusiveness programs. Any employer with its head office or principal place of business in Canada may apply to enter the contest. While the selection process to choose the winners of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers by Mediacorp continually evolves to include new questions that reflect changes in the workplace, the methodology and selection criteria for the competition are essentially the same as in previous years. Those criteria include successful diversity initiatives for employees from five groups: women; members of visible minorities; persons with disabilities; Indigenous peoples; and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered/transsexual (LGBTQ) peoples.


To determine the winners, the editors of Canada’s Top 100 Employers by Mediacorp review the diversity and inclusiveness initiatives of the large number of employers that applied for this year’s national competition of Canada’s Top 100 Employers. Employers are compared to other organizations in the same field to determine which ones offer the most noteworthy and unique diversity initiatives. The finalists chosen represent the diversity leaders in their industry and region of Canada. Canada’s Best Diversity Employers 2022 by Mediacorp is an annual national competition and all applicants must pay a fee to enter. The Globe and Mail is not involved in the judging process. – Diane Jermyn



 The official opening of Manitou a bi Bii daziigae Innovation Centre at Red River College last fall — the Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe) name translates to ‘where the Creator sits’ and ‘brings light’.

Diverse Ways of Knowing

Canada’s Best Diversity Employers could learn a lot from Indigenous traditions


s an Indigenous manager, Meghan Shannon Kwaskochathikis likes to talk about what the Seven Grandfather Teachings could bring to the Canadian workplace. And it’s something that Canada’s Best Diversity Employers might find inspiring as well, because more and more of them are focusing very closely on Indigenous inclusion. Kwaskochathikis, a Cree who works as senior relationship manager on the Indigenous Markets team at CIBC in Vancouver, notes that the teachings, widely shared in various adaptations among First Nations across North America and sometimes known as the Seven Sacred

Teachings, are very applicable to modern organizations and the people they hire. “The Seven Grandfather Teachings are humility, bravery, wisdom, truth, honesty, love and respect, with respect being the key one,” she notes. “It is a simple yet powerful tool to remind us to always do better and be better, and a lot of Indigenous people bring those Seven Grandfather Teachings with them intrinsically. “So they bring respect and humility and kindness, and a lot of Indigenous people show extreme bravery – if you look at the history, we have had to fight to create space for ourselves, to create seats at the table. But they also bring with them this strong underlying power to consistently

do what’s right, and create representative spaces for all people.” In other words, Indigenous ways of knowing might have a lot to offer to the mission, vision and values statements of Canadian organizations. “If we saw employers across this country, as part of their leadership mandate, say ‘we are going to stick to the Seven Grandfather Teachings,’ how impressive would that be?” says Kwaskochathikis. And indeed, one of the recurring themes among the winners of this year’s competition for Canada’s Best Diversity Employers is a clear intent to do more in the Indigenous realm, especially in the wake of the shocking revelations in 2021

about mass graves at residential schools, as well as the creation of the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, also known as Orange Shirt Day, as a federal statutory holiday on September 30. Many employees wore orange shirts that day, and many of their companies have embarked on awareness campaigns to help their people understand the Indigenous experience, as well as looked for ways to attract more Indigenous applicants. Kristina Leung, senior editor for Mediacorp Canada, which runs the competition, says there has also been a lot of response among employers to the Calls to Action in the final report of the Truth

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 seek in younger job-seekers. The result is a wonderful, free guide that helps new graduates find student jobs that make the most of their university degree or college diploma. Match your degree or diploma with employers that actively recruit new grads with your educational qualifications!



and Reconciliation Commission. Among them is Call 92, which asks them to “ensure that Aboriginal peoples have equitable access to jobs, training, and education opportunities in the corporate sector.” Moreover, says Leung, “some organizations have talked about incorporating Indigenous ways of knowing and learning into policy, whether it’s having an elder or a knowledge keeper as part of an Employee Assistance Program or allowing time off for Indigenous employees to attend certain cultural events.” She notes that the University of British Columbia and some other organizations have even re-spelled the U.S.-originated acronym BIPOC, meaning Black, Indigenous and People of Colour, to IBPOC, putting Indigenous up front in the Canadian context. Across the board among applicants, says Leung, there is much wider attention to diversity, equity and inclusion. “There’s a sense that everything is kind of accelerated,” she says. “There’s a lot of momentum behind these conversations and initiatives.” Not only are activities expanding within companies, but the employers involved are appearing in traditionally less diverse industries, such as construction and engineering. Many employers are also setting specific goals, such as a target percentage of the workforce or leadership being female or of diverse backgrounds. “It’s the old thing of what gets measured gets done,” says Leung. “The move to tangible action is quite different from where we were even three or four years ago.” And why now? “Many organizations will say that a lot of change has taken place over the past few years, including the pandemic and Black Lives Matter, that has ignited a lot of conversation and required organizations to create space for dialogue among employees. They’ve had to really listen and engage with those experiences and to take that feedback to heart.” Overall, Leung says, there is a greater balance today among areas of diversity, equity and inclusion. “In the early days of the competition, there was a lot of focus on gender and women in leadership,” she says. “Now, in 2022, there’s more space to talk about Indigenous recruitment and retention, increasing representation of visible minorities, Black employees and the Black experience, people with disabilities, LBGTQ+, and many other people and issues. There’s more space for all these different voices.” – Berton Woodward



 An Indigenous recruiting event at Employment and Social Development Canada, held prior to the pandemic. BANK OF CANADA


 In partnership wth Indspire, a charitable organization focused on careers for Indigenous students, the Bank of Canada welcomed about 40 Indigenous high school students from across Canada to experience working at the bank.



At Bell, diversity makes everyone better


licia Jarvis joined Bell Canada in August 2021 as senior product manager, accessibility portfolio. It was her second stint with the company, having originally been hired as an intern after earning a bachelor’s degree from York University in criminology. “I have an interest in technology and a passion for human rights,” she says. “Working for Bell gives me the opportunities to learn constantly while working to improve the customer’s experience with our products.”

By employing people who reflect the diversity of the communities we operate in, we can better serve our customers and bring in new ideas that will improve how we operate long term. — Farshad Kajouii Vice President, Pricing, Operations & Out-of-Home Advertising

Alicia explains that advances in technology and people’s understanding around accessibility have grown significantly in the past 10 years. “Not only are we working with cutting-edge technology, we’re placing a big priority on making it accessible so everyone has an

 Bell Canada’s Farshad Kajouii working from home.

opportunity to use new, unique products.” With its new Accessibility Program, Bell is committed to building a barrier-free environment for team members and customers, and Jarvis is playing a key role. As part of her job, she is working with product teams to help them understand accessibility requirements, standards and best practices and make adjustments where necessary. A Canadian communications leader since its founding in 1880, Bell’s focus on meeting the unique needs of its customers has led to an innovative, accessible and inclusive approach. “Diversity, equity and inclusion

has been at the forefront of our discussions for supporting our team members and our customers,” says Farshad Kajouii, vice president of pricing, operations and out-ofhome advertising, who joined Bell almost 25 years ago. “By employing people who reflect the diversity of the communities we operate in, we can better serve our customers and bring in new ideas that will improve how we operate long term.” Born in Iran, Kajouii came to Canada at the age of nine. He has seen the evolution of Bell’s approach to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and has personally experienced its diversity of opportunities. When he joined the

company he worked nights while completing his studies in business during the day. Since then, Kajouii has held 15 different positions, including eight as a director, in six different groups within the company, ranging from network to technology to media. Accessibility is just one aspect of Bell’s commitment to DEI. Led by its Diversity Leadership Council and employee resource groups, the company has made DEI a part of everything it does, from hiring practices and employee engagement to business strategy. Its employee resource groups, which include Black Professionals at Bell, Pride at Bell and Women at Bell, continue to see their mem-


Accessibility Program to support team members and make products and services more accessible Mandatory unconscious bias training Bell Let's Talk Diversity Fund supports the mental health and well-being of Canada's BIPOC communities Bell supports the HireBIPOC web portal, which is accelerating recruiting of Canadian media professionals

berships grow. They offer a variety of virtual events and learning opportunities to all team members. Bell has been building relationships with inclusion-focused organizations for years and recently forged partnerships with Ascend Canada, Black Professionals in Tech Network, Catalyst, Indigenous

 Alicia Jarvis, senior product manager, accessibility portfolio at Bell Canada.

Works, Lime Connect and The Women in Tech Network. “People drive ideas, expertise and perspective, which lead to momentum, opportunities and value,” says Kajouii. “Having diversity of experience leads to better results. It’s a win-win for the customer and the company.”

Bell has taken meaningful action to address the impact of systemic racism on Black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC). For example, it set targets for BIPOC representation in senior management of at least 25 per cent by 2025 and has already reached its goal to make at least 40 per cent

of its student and graduate hires from the BIPOC community. “It’s easy to talk about, but actions, not words, drive outcome and Bell is committed to taking the right steps,” says Kajouii. “That’s something I love about this company, it always recognizes that there’s more to be done.” 

Give your career a boost. Join a winning team. Apply today at



BLG talks frankly about racism in the workplace


s a first-generation Chinese immigrant, Cindy Zhang has experienced and witnessed racial and gender biases, both in her earlier career as an opera singer and within the legal profession. That is why she welcomes several recent initiatives by her employer, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG), to confront inequitable attitudes and behaviours in the workplace.

It was time to call hate by its name and to start having uncomfortable discussions that could lead to real and meaningful change. — Laleh Moshiri National Director, Diversity and Inclusion

“What I like in what I’ve seen so far is that it is not just a performative checking of boxes,” says Zhang. “It indicates that some people are thinking seriously about how biases can permeate our everyday work life and the way we treat others, and addressing that in a meaningful and productive way.” An initiative that particularly impressed Zhang was a relatively modest one – a tool aimed at helping people learn and properly pronounce foreignsounding names. “It seems like such a small thing, but it really resonated for me,” she

 Laleh Moshiri, national director of diversity and inclusion at BLG shows her support on International Day of Pink.

says. “My legal name is Yun, but when I emigrated to Toronto with my parents at the age of six, the immigration representative gave us a little blue book of shortened Anglo-Saxon names and said we needed to choose one people – and we – could pronounce. For a long time, I was embarrassed by my legal name.” Another BLG initiative Zhang welcomes is called “bystander intervention training.” This is aimed at giving employees the tools to deal with disrespectful and discriminatory behaviour when they witness or experience it.

“In a corporate culture, it’s important to have the tools to advocate and to be able to do so without alienating others,” says Zhang. “For people coming from diverse backgrounds, this can be a delicate dance.” Since joining BLG around five years ago, Zhang has served in several mentorship roles, including the First Generation Network, which works to reduce barriers for law students who are first in their family to complete post-secondary education. She is also part of Driven by Women, a BLG initiative that offers women in business

and law a platform to connect and build their careers. While BLG has offered employees unconscious bias training for many years, it has recently become much more intentional and explicit in its anti-racism efforts, says Laleh Moshiri, national director, diversity and inclusion. Over the past 18 months, BLG has introduced new anti-Black racism and anti-Asian racism training programs and, for the first time, made the sessions mandatory for all staff. The programs include presentations by racialized speakers on


Gender affirmation benefits, up to $50K for lifetime

Unconscious bias training in all regions

Mindfulness meditation for all firm members

Disability in the Workplace series with first program on visual impairments  BLG team members attend an event hosted by the Black Law Association of Canada.

their own lived experience with bias and discrimination. “Prior to these programs, we had never used the word racism,” says Moshiri. “It was time to call hate by its name and to start having uncomfortable discussions that could lead to real and meaningful change.”

BLG also recently adopted a Canadian Bar Association online series called The Path: Your Journey Through Indigenous Canada, which all staff are expected to participate in. Developed in consultation with Indigenous organizations, the series takes participants through the history

of Indigenous peoples and their relationship with European settlers, the British Crown and Canadian political and legal institutions. “With all these programs, we are trying to raise awareness, deepen people’s empathy, and then provide practical tools to turn that awareness and empathy into

Picture yourself at Canada’s law firm

action,” says Moshiri. The feedback on the programs has been gratifying, she adds. “Many people have said they feel heard and validated,” says Moshiri. “They appreciate that we are talking frankly about their experiences in the workplace and in the larger world.” 



For Bruce Power, a safe space has special meaning


ate Paul spent much of her career advocating for women in nuclear security at Bruce Power. So it’s only fitting she should end up the company’s manager of diversity, equity and inclusion, with the ability to make company-wide change – and the experience of someone who’s been on the ground.

There’s a lot of humility here – we can applaud how far we’ve come, but this gives us the opportunity to take it to the next level.

— Cathy Sprague Executive Vice-President, Human Resources

Paul got her start at the power producer 12 years ago as a nuclear response team officer, protecting Bruce’s power plants from theft or sabotage. Coming up against cultural biases and barriers – from stereotypes to uniforms designed for men to department fitness facilities without change rooms for women – she worked with human resources over the years to knock the barriers down and make women feel more welcome. She also supported the development of a return to work procedure for women in firearms-handling roles after maternity leave. “Now I’m in a position where I can really start looking into other parts of the organization with similar barriers for marginalized and under-represented groups,”

 One of Bruce Power's nuclear operators performing equipment checks in its nuclear facility.

she says. “My hope is I can impact the company with the experience I have to help more people progress and succeed.” Cathy Sprague, executive vice-president of human resources, says the company, based off of the shores of Lake Huron between Kincardine and Port Elgin, has been on a years-long journey to make sure its workforce is reflective of the communities it operates in. It made commitments to the Saugeen Ojibway and Métis Nation of Ontario, whose traditional territory the company operates on, to bring in more

Indigenous workers, and also brought more women into nontraditional roles at the company. It has also worked to hire more visible minorities and people with disabilities. The next stage, Sprague says, is ensuring the company’s staff feel truly included by building a culture of belonging. This year Bruce Power is launching an Indigenous Leadership Development Program. “Now that we’ve got far more Indigenous employees in our workplace, it’s incumbent on us to develop them so they have the same kinds of opportunities as the rest of

the workplace to be in supervisory and formal or informal leadership roles.” In its internal mental health programming, the company has also emphasized employees’ psychological safety – that they feel comfortable bringing their full selves to work and voicing their opinions and dissent, something that’s particularly important in a safety-sensitive workplace. In 2021, Bruce Power partnered with workplace diversity consultancy Diversio to determine the state of the organization’s inclusivity.


Diversity programs for women and visible minorities

Indigenous Employment Program

Mental health diversity programs

New manager and leader training includes unconscious bias

Diversio surveyed employees and evaluated the company’s polices, procedure and practices. Sprague says the company was “pleasantly surprised” with the responses, but learned there were challenges with the company’s career development processes, particularly for LGBTQ2+ employees and

 Bruce Power employees promoting awareness about residential school system and ongoing impact on Canadian Indigenous communities on Orange Shirt Day.

employees with disabilities. Addressing that challenge will be a focus for the company in 2022. “The data is clear that we need to do work in regards to career development, because it’s hitting different portions of our population differently. It’s good to know, because we were never able to look

at it that way before,” Sprague says. “There’s a lot of humility here – we can applaud how far we’ve come, but this gives us the opportunity to take it to the next level.” Paul has seen the company’s progress first-hand: when she first put on her officer uniform she was

one of four women hired, and one of just eight women on the nuclear response team. Today, she says, women make up roughly 20 per cent of nuclear security. “We really evolved, and today we’re seeing the impact,” she says. “But there’s always more work to be done.” 




At BDC, diversity has long been a wise investment


hen Paige Glabb was growing up, her best friend’s mother worked for Montréal-based Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and praised it as an employer. After earning a master’s degree in teaching and learning from McGill University in 2016, Glabb wondered what she could do to work with adult learners in the corporate world. She found her calling – and her passion – at BDC.

BDC has proven to be a place where I can show up to work as my full self. — Paige Glabb Senior Advisor, Learning

BDC is a financial institution that helps create and develop strong Canadian businesses through financing, advisory services and capital, with a focus on small and medium-sized enterprises. In 2016, Glabb joined the organization as a learning programs officer, leaving after 14 months to gain additional experience in education. In 2019, she returned to BDC in the role of senior advisor, learning, drawn back by several factors. “I love the people I worked with, and I remained good friends with them while I was away,” says Glabb. “It’s a place that grows and invests in its people. And, most important for me personally, BDC has proven to be a place where I can show up to work as my full self.”

 BDC employees work in open workspaces that inspire an agile and collaborative way of working.

Upon her return, Glabb joined one of the six diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) employee resource groups as a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community. She’s excited to support BDC’s DEI strategy, soliciting employee feedback and helping design training programs. “I’m passionate about helping BDC become a safer and more accepting environment for anyone facing barriers,” says Glabb, who identifies as a lesbian. “We’re doing many things right, but it’s a long journey. Coming out across

the organization while leading our Being an Ally training sessions called upon me to be brave, but I knew that if I was going to be a part of this learning journey, I wanted to do it authentically.” BDC’s commitment starts internally with its DEI Leadership Council, which consists of 16 senior leaders and is supported by employees across the country who represent every business unit. “Not a week goes by that I’m not impressed by our commitment to this work,” says Stéphane Bilodeau,

senior vice president and chief information officer. “Diversity, equity and inclusion is not only a statement we make, it’s embedded in our strategy and values.” Starting in 2020, all employees are required to take unconscious bias and allyship training. Other training includes gender inclusion fundamentals, inclusive leadership, and Indigenous history, identity and reconciliation in Canada. “As an organization, you have to be aligned with the environment you’re operating in and what’s


2,500 full-time staff in Canada

17 weeks maternity leave top-up pay

40,296 job applications received last year

72,000 entrepreneur clients  All BDC employees are required to take unconscious bias and allyship training.

reflected in society or you’ll be rejected – as a vendor, an employer and a corporate citizen,” says Bilodeau. “But beyond that, we know this is the right thing to do, and openness starts with education.” Bilodeau has participated in virtual listening circles – and the

stories he has heard from diverse employees about their experiences throughout their careers have moved him. “I’ve had my eyes opened, and I’ve been seriously shaken by what I’ve heard,” he says. “I’ve asked myself, how do I embed that knowledge into my leadership role?”

Join the bank that invests in people’s talent.

The answer lies in being aware of what’s happening, both globally and at BDC. That’s followed by taking specific actions, such as implementing training programs and tracking and measuring the results. “What gets measured, gets done,” says Bilodeau. Mentoring a Black leader at

BDC has also given Bilodeau valuable insight. “As a white man, I’ve never experienced the discrimination he has,” he says. “I’ve said, I hear you, now how can I help? It’s an opportunity for him to explain and for me to listen, learn and engage – and that’s a priority for everyone at BDC.” 

No other bank is doing what we do. We are devoted to Canadian entrepreneurs. We’re also dedicated to our employees. We’re hiring.



CAMH is creating safe spaces for patients and staff


n his first eight years working at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Leo D. Edwards says the hospital was making good strides towards becoming more inclusive and diverse. But his perception of the Toronto institution reached a different level in 2020 when CAMH ran an anti-racism protest following the murder of George Floyd.

Having a culturally safe workplace, having a workplace free from violence, free from racism, these are all part and parcel of having a mentally healthy workplace. — Lori Spadorcia Senior Vice President Public Affairs, Partnerships & Chief Strategy Officer

Edwards, now an assistant manager in CAMH’s Office of Health Equity, was expecting as few as 60 people to participate in the event for staff and their families. “I became incredibly emotional to see that there were almost 750 people online in a virtual protest, people who mostly did not look like me,” says Edwards, who is Black. “For me, that was the most powerful moment at CAMH.” Edwards says he’s since seen “a significant ramp up in the

 CAMH supports 'womenmind', a philanthropic program that focuses on closing the gender gap in mental health.

determination to address racism” at Canada’s largest mental-health teaching hospital. Among recent initiatives, in February 2021 CAMH launched its Dismantling Anti-Black Racism Strategy, which includes 22 actions to decrease racism at the hospital. It also set up anti-Black racism healing circles as a resource for employees, and launched an anti-Black racism foundational training program for its staff. Edwards says the creation of new programs, as well as the expansion of a Black managers resource group that meets monthly, “signals

to me that CAMH has indeed put their money where their mouth is.” The programs fall under the umbrella of the larger Fair & Just CAMH initiative. Among other things, the hospital is redesigning recruitment processes, instituting a new reporting system for incidents of racism, and revamping training for management and all staff. “What we want to do is support our staff to have a safe place to bring their whole selves to work, and offer culturally appropriate employee supports,” says Lori Spadorcia, senior vice president public affairs, partnerships & chief

strategy officer. “That in turn helps to provide the best care possible for the people who come to us for support.” Another recent development was the opening of Shkaabe Makwa, a centre dedicated to providing culturally relevant initiatives for First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. CAMH’s Reconciliation Working Group, which was recently awarded a Leading Practice by Accreditation Canada and the Health Standards Organization, was set up to tackle anti-Indigenous racism and its effects on patients and staff.


Diversity programs for women and visible minorities

Bias-free interview training for recruiters and managers

Sacred spaces for multi-faith activities

Celebrations for major religious holidays and important dates  CAMH employee making chalk drawings for Pride outside its buildings in Toronto.

Spadorcia says the pandemic has thrown up some challenges to keeping employees connected, both for those on the front lines and working remotely. On the other hand, going virtual has removed some barriers and made it easier for employees to stay connected, being “just one click

away,” she says. Among next steps, CAMH is looking at offering Indigenous cultural safety training for all staff to help provide an understanding of how colonization has impacted prospective patients. “Having a culturally safe workplace, having a workplace

free from violence, free from racism, these are all part and parcel of having a mentally healthy workplace,” Spadorcia says. The experience of racism and any kind of exclusion can have significant psychological impacts on individuals, Edwards says. “When folks are accessing our

care and support who are from those racialized and marginalized communities, including First Nations, including trans folks,” he says, “it is important for hospital staff to be aware of the history and to ensure that they’re providing the supports in a way that respects that history.” 



Capital One prioritizes a supportive culture


uring her four-plus years at Capital One Canada, Chaitra Giddegowda has seen plenty of examples of the organization’s culture of belonging. And never more so than during the COVID-19 pandemic, when support was available for an associate experiencing mental health issues and, in her case, when her parents were hospitalized with the disease thousands of kilometres away in India. “The company made health and family benefits available to that associate even though the associate was not full-time,” says Giddegowda, manager, agile delivery lead. “My peers and leaders supported me when my parents were sick. They told me to take time off – no questions asked.”

We want more visible minorities at the leadership level so we developed an action plan to grow our visible minority population. — Kevin Chan Vice President, Digital Strategy

Capital One is committed to creating a culture in which associates feel safe, valued and accepted, says Kevin Chan, vice-president digital strategy. That includes measures to support employees dealing with personal struggles as well as programs to ensure that diversity and inclusion are cornerstones of the corporate culture.

 Capital One Associates Sara Doucet and Prashakar Prabagaran.

Over the past year, all associates had the opportunity to participate in bias training programs while senior leaders participated in racial equity training. Chan says executives worked with an external consultant who delivered the racial equity training modules monthly. Smaller working groups would then meet between these sessions to discuss learnings, share experiences and reflect. “You got a really great diversity

of opinions,” says Chan. “There were two takeaways for me. First, the systems in place in our society have implicit biases in them. And where you grow up, where you live, which schools you attend have an impact on your life and career path.” Chan is also a member of Capital One Canada’s 10-member diversity council. He leads the council’s visible minority working group. “We want more visible

minorities at the leadership level so we developed an action plan to grow our visible minority population,” says Chan. “I’m proud of the commitment by our leaders to diversity and inclusion.” Business resource groups are another facet of Capital One’s efforts to create an inclusive workforce. The company has groups for associates who identify as having a disability or serve as a caregiver for someone with a dis-


Unconscious bias and managing inclusion training

Diversity and inclusion goals for people leaders

50% of employees are visible minorities

LeadHERship program for emerging female leaders in technology roles  Capital One associates.

ability, members of the LGBTQ+ community, women in technology, Black associates and their allies, Asian and Pacific Islanders and a One In Five group to promote mental health. The One In Five committee recently organized a panel to discuss mental health challenges

and to share experiences with their colleagues. “It was a really great event,” says Chan, who sat on the panel. “We got really positive feedback. It helped normalize mental health challenges. Our associates appreciated seeing senior leaders talk about the challenges they’ve had, however big or small.”

Giddegowda belongs to the Women In Tech group. She has participated in and led peer coaching sessions. One session dealt with how to set smart career goals and stick to them. Another covered what is known as the impostor syndrome, in which people doubt their abilities and question their

accomplishments, among other things. “A lot of women have selfdoubts,” says Giddegowda. “They ask themselves if they are good enough. It impacts their confidence. We learn techniques to manage those self-doubts and own our confidence.” 



CAS of Toronto works to transform child protection models


he Children’s Aid of Society of Toronto (CAS of Toronto) describes its overarching vision in a few succinct words – “to a create a city where children are safe, families are strong and communities are supported.” But in a city as diverse as Toronto, executing on that vision requires being constantly mindful that past practices are not always best practices.

For the communities we serve, it’s important to see themselves represented in our people and those we partner with. — Chena Barakat Manager of Strategic Partnerships, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

A good example is the “signs of safety” clinical framework the agency continues to use when engaging with children and families. Shifting away from some of the more paternalistic approaches of the past, the agency focuses on three key questions: What are we worried about? What’s working well? What are the next steps? According to Brenda Smith, service director for the agency’s Scarborough Branch, the grounding question is the middle one, to centre on families’ strengths. “When it comes to equitydeserving communities, in the

 Employees at Children's Aid Society of Toronto participate in the Dress Purple Day campaign, to raise awareness of the supports available for vulnerable children, youth and families.

past we’ve put far more emphasis on what the worries are versus what’s going well,” says Smith. “Rather than adopting a ‘power over’ stance, our current approach is more client-centred and less judgmental.” The primary goal of CAS of Toronto is to keep children and youth with their families and in their communities. If, in some cases, children must be taken to a place of safety, the goal is to work with their caregivers and networks towards the goal of reunification. Historically, Black and Indigenous children have been dramatically over-represented

when it comes to being placed in care, a situation CAS of Toronto is working on several fronts to address. “Diversity, equity and inclusion are all about understanding the whole person and not leaning on the assumptions and biases that result from colonialism and white supremacy,” says Smith. “We need to be looking at the strengths that exist within the family and work collaboratively on a path forward.” Part of this effort is the agency’s recently adopted anti-Black racism action plan, which places a strong focus on early intervention and encourages staff to think collectively

about the historical and continued implications of oppression experienced by marginalized groups. The action plan is also mindful of the impact of language, says Smith. For example, rather than phrases like “carrying out investigations” the focus is on “assessments and safety planning.” Similarly, terms like “apprehending children and youth” are replaced with “bringing children and youth to a place of safety when it’s needed.” CAS of Toronto also puts a strong focus on diversity, equity and inclusion when it comes to its workforce. A new equity hiring strategy is aimed at improving


Equity and anti-Black racism strategy with key action items

Diversity programs for 2SLGBTQ+ staff members

Diversity, equity and inclusion training programs for leaders and employees Access to resources from the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion

representation of visible minorities, 2SLGBTQ+ individuals, women, and people with disabilities in management positions. As well, a new mentorship program is pairing internal mentors with mentees who aspire to supervisory or management roles. “We completed our first 10

 Employees across Children's Aid Society of Toronto wore orange in honour of Orange Shirt Day and Canada's first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

one-on-one mentorship pairings in 2021 and are planning a new cohort for 2022,” says Chena Barakat, manager of strategic partnerships in the agency’s diversity, equity and inclusion department. “The feedback was fantastic, with 100 per cent of our mentees saying they had met their program goals.”

Barakat is charged with helping develop new partnerships with a variety of community-based organizations that have expertise in engaging and supporting racialized families and children. A more diverse workforce and strong community partnerships are helping CAS of Toronto realize its

Proud once again to be recognized as one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers Join us in championing diversity, equity and inclusion in child welfare:

overarching vision, says Barakat. “For the communities we serve, it’s important to see themselves represented in our people and those we partner with,” she says. “We are getting braver and bolder about honouring and respecting the strength of equity-deserving communities.” 



CIBC enriches its culture through Indigenous relations


eghan Shannon Kwaskochathikis often says, “I am the first generation in my Indigenous family not to have attended a residential school.” Kwaskochathikis comes from a family filled with educators, but she was the outlier who went into economics. That provided an ideal background to support her career aspirations, and today she works as a senior relationship manager on the Indigenous Markets team at CIBC.

It’s one thing to hire Indigenous people, but it’s another thing to hire Indigenous people in positions of influence. — Meghan Shannon Kwaskochathikis Senior Relationship Manager, Indigenous Markets

Based in Vancouver, Kwaskochathikis helps Indigenous clients navigate their Indigenous Trust needs, while also working closely with the bank’s Indigenous commercial banking team. Trusts are used by a wide variety of clients to manage wealth on behalf of a larger number of people. Trusts are also used by many First Nations communities as a way of independently managing their finances, which in the past were often controlled by governments. “My primary role is being the first point of contact for the

 Meghan Shannon Kwaskochathikis influences how CIBC works with Indigenous communities.

nation, for the beneficiaries, acting as a liaison between the community and the bank,” says Kwaskochathikis. CIBC, she notes, has greatly expanded its work in this area in recent years. “When the Indigenous Markets team was established, they really decided to commit to changing how we work with and for Indigenous communities,” she says. “Once a community has set up a legal trust,” she adds, “we help them develop strategies, policies and governance, and so we’re really there to partner with them to help transition their ambitions into tangible action within the community.”

Kwaskochathikis is Cree and born in Saskatchewan, but grew up in the Parksville area of Vancouver Island and graduated from the University of Victoria in 2012. After working in various roles involving the Indigenous community, including at a major professional services firm, she was approached by CIBC in 2019. “The bank gave me a seat at the table by hiring me at a senior-level position,” she says. “It speaks to CIBC’s commitment to reconciliation, because it’s one thing to hire Indigenous people but it’s another thing to hire Indigenous people in positions of influence. We are in those conversations, to participate

in the changing narrative of how Indigenous communities are supported by our financial institutions.” At CIBC’s headquarters in Toronto, Hugh Smylie, who is Métis, feels much the same way. Smylie is vice-president, Retail Product and Channel Support Services, and he is directly involved with his community as executive sponsor of the CIBC Indigenous Employee Circle (IEC), one of 10 employee-led people networks at the bank. “Our vision for this people network is to enrich CIBC’s culture through promoting awareness of Indigenous history,


Inclusion and Diversity Leadership Council chaired by CEO

10 people networks connect 25,000 employees globally

$2M annual commitment to end anti-Black systemic racism Paid leave for Indigenous employees to engage in traditional practices  Hugh Smylie and the CIBC Indigenous Employee Circle help educate colleagues about Indigenous history.

lived experiences and culture to all employees, guided by truth and reconciliation,” he says. The IEC has been active in educating colleagues about Indigenous history and culture through a series of initiatives, events and talking circles. In preparation for the National Day

for Truth and Reconciliation, CIBC launched the Four Seasons of Reconciliation training for all Canadian employees, developed in partnership with First Nations University of Canada and Reconciliation Education. The bank also created a Reconciliation Action Committee

last June, co-chaired by Lisa Raitt, vice-chair of Global Investment Banking, and Jaimie Lickers, vice-president of Indigenous Markets, to steward CIBC’s Reconciliation Framework. Smylie says the IEC talking circles have been beneficial for him as someone who, due to the overt

and systematic racism experienced by his mother and maternal grandmother, did not directly engage with Indigenous culture growing up. “One of the things that really helped me, just processing all of this, is that I’m not alone,” he says. “It’s amazing how many people have a similar story to mine.” 

From our perspective, we need all perspectives Come work with CIBC, where we’ve once again been recognized as one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers

Join us today at CANADA’s TOP EMPLOYERS and ELUTA are registered trade marks of Mediacorp Canada Inc. All rights reserved. The CIBC logo is a trademark of CIBC.



A warm, inclusive culture empowers Dentons employees


hen Kenda Shaheen arrives for work at the Toronto offices of Dentons Canada LLP, she feels a sense of pride knowing she’s stepping into a space where inclusion is woven into the fabric of the firm’s culture. “It’s more than friendly and it’s more than welcoming,” says Shaheen, a senior associate. “People wake up every day and come to work, whether that’s at their homes or in the office and there’s this warmth and respect for individuals. It’s truly a genuine opening of arms saying, welcome, you’re part of Team Dentons.”

Diversity is how we succeed together. — Kenda Shaheen Senior Associate

With offices in Calgary, Edmonton, Montréal, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver, Dentons Canada provides comprehensive legal services across a broad range of industries and sectors of the Canadian economy. It’s part of the world’s largest law firm with over 200 locations in more than 80 countries and has deep roots in major financial centres across Canada. Dentons’ commitment to diversity is holistic, embedded into every aspect of the firm’s operations and starts at the hiring process. Shaheen is a member of Dentons’ student recruitment committee, which uses a playbook that encourages interviewers to identify

 Dentons team members and their families showed their support for International Day of Pink, celebrating diversity and taking a stand against bullying.

and disrupt bias and remove barriers in the hiring process to make it more inclusive. “We’re not trying to cultivate a homogeneous culture. We’re trying to cultivate a culture of belonging by breaking down the barriers in our organization and creating a comfortable environment where people feel empowered,” says Canada CEO Tim Haney. “We foster an environment where we encourage diverse perspectives and that translates into an open and fluid culture where people feel they can speak up. They can have new ideas, take

risks. Listening to our people is really important to us.” Dentons has a history of developing policies and groups within the firm to help improve and enhance its principles of inclusion and diversity. Shaheen participates in the WomenLEAD network, which connects female professionals across different practice groups and roles and provides an educational platform. Other employee resource groups include Dentons GLOW for LGBT+ members and allies and its Black Professionals Network. Dentons recently made another

significant diversity commitment by formalizing its inclusion, diversity and equity (ID&E) team, reporting directly to Haney. Led by a newly created senior leadership role, the national team will action a refreshed ID&E strategy to further inclusion, partnering with groups across the firm while bringing a focus on systems and processes. Haney says the role will be a proactive one which will see new programs and initiatives launched with employee and executive participation. It’s a big step but certainly not the last.


Student Recruitment Playbook to disrupt bias

Mental health training, Mental Health First Aid

Signatory to Catalyst 2022; Mansfield 4.0+ certified

Enhanced mental health benefits

“The work on inclusion is never done to be honest. If you ever think you’re finished or getting it totally right, you’re missing the point,” says Haney. “We are on a never-ending journey of organizational and social betterment. It can be daunting at times, but mostly, it’s

 Dentons team members and their families share their support for the LGBT+ community at a prepandemic Edmonton pride parade.

inspiring.” Dentons also looks at employee benefits and support through a diversity lens. The firm recently changed its parental leave policy to be more inclusive. All employees are now eligible to receive 26 weeks of top-up coverage benefits. The policy doesn’t discriminate

on role, gender or how employees build their families, including adoption. With that kind of comprehensive approach to inclusion and diversity, it’s no wonder Shaheen is so positive about her experience with Dentons. “Inclusion and diversity is

embedded in our culture – it’s not a special program or a separate project or policy,” says Shaheen. “It’s really just a feeling that you come as you are to the firm. You’re accepted for who you are and what your values are. We operate as a team. Diversity is how we succeed together.” 



Different perspectives unite the team at Desjardins


fter nearly two years with Desjardins, first as an articling student and then as a lawyer, Katie Plante decided to take on a new challenge elsewhere. But after 18 months as legal counsel at another organization, she returned to the Desjardins fold. “I missed the community feel,” says Plante, who’s been with Desjardins Insurance in Mississauga, Ont., since November 2020. “Everybody at Desjardins supports everyone else. You’re part of a team and it’s company wide.”

I’m proud my voice is being heard. — Katie Plante Manager, Claims Commercial Partnerships

Now a manager in the Claims Commercial Partnerships team, Plante is responsible for managing the relationships with the law firms that represent Desjardins’s members and clients throughout their property, bodily injury and accident benefit claims. As her career has progressed, so too have her activities as a social justice advocate. A member of the Nipissing First Nation in northeastern Ontario, Plante grew up in Timmins, Ont., knowing little about her background until she began exploring her family’s history while at university. Plante adds that she didn’t feel safe coming out as a gay woman in her small hometown growing up. Since then, she’s become active in circles that support the

 Salwa Salek, equity, diversity and inclusion chief at Desjardins.

rights of both the Indigenous and LGBTQ+ communities with which she identifies. This includes, for instance, helping organize Desjardins’s participation in Pride parades across Canada. And now she’s sharing her views on those and other issues with the upper echelons of the organization. Since March 2021, she’s been a member of the Desjardins Youth Advisory Committee, which reports directly to the president and offers advice to the board of directors and management committee about what matters to young people.

“I’m proud my voice is being heard,” says Plante. “It’s important that our committee members come from different communities and that we share our different perspectives.” At Canada's leading co-operative financial group, equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) is a defining value. And now the organization is raising the bar as a caring employer with a new four-year plan that aims, among other things, to achieve gender parity in senior management by 2024. Desjardins has created what Salwa Salek describes as a “whole

new ecosystem.” While EDI had been among her responsibilities in the human resources department, in September 2021 she was promoted to the newly created position of chief equity, diversity and inclusion officer. She now helms an office dedicated entirely to EDI initiatives and activities. Salek says one challenge is wrangling the abundant flow of ideas from her passionate team of 16. “We're a fairly large group, but there’s so much we want to do, and we can’t be everywhere at once,” she says. But as Salek points out, the


Goal of achieving gender parity in senior management by 2024 #togetherforreal initiative to address diversity and inclusion topics Empowering Women, a nationwide network and empowerment group for women and allies Diversity programs for new Canadians and LGBTQ+  Katie Plante, business relationship specialist, commercial partners, at Desjardins Insurance.

commitment to EDI permeates Desjardins. Her office, she says, has the governance support of all eight executive vice-presidents. Thirteen ambassadors – one for each Desjardins group or unit – are also all committed to promoting EDI within and across sectors. Desjardins also works collabora-

tively with outside organizations, including ones dedicated to fighting racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and other forms of discrimination. For instance, one group shared a tool kit it had created to further the understanding of gender transition, which Desjardins translated into French

and shared back with them. “Sharing insights and expertise is a win-win situation,” says Salek. “As a business, we face the same challenges that confront society. We need different voices at the table. “We've done well, but we can always do better,” she continues.

“As a community, we strive to have authentic and diverse perspectives represented. We will ensure that voices are amplified and heard. And we will fight for equity and justice. This is who we are and what we want to be, for our employees and our members and clients.” 



Ecolab keeps equity & diversity top of mind every day


here is an inclusion moment at the beginning of each meeting at Ecolab Canada in Mississauga, Ont., when people share something meaningful. Carolyn Estabrook, distributor sales development manager, says the speaker and topic vary, depending on what’s happening in the world. Plus there’s always a safety moment as well, because safety is critically important at the company, a global leader in water, hygiene and infection prevention solutions and services.

Unconscious bias training gives you food for thought. I like that it gets you to stop and think about what you say or do before you say or do it. — Carolyn Estabrook Distributor Sales Development Manager

“We want to bring these topics of inclusion, equity and diversity to light, to make sure we’re talking about them daily and ensure people can ask questions,” says Estabrook, who works in both the corporate account world and in distribution sales. “It’s basically just a five-minute conversation that gets people thinking about something that maybe they hadn’t thought about before. When the Every Child Matters initiative came out, we talked a lot about that and

 Ecolab employees completing a new customer installation.

provided links where people could go for resources.” Estabrook, who joined Ecolab in 2006, says diversity has always been a key part of the work culture, whether learning about the different religions and holidays celebrated across Canada or participating in one of the many employee resource groups (ERGs). While she is a member of the group helping to advance female employees, she explains it’s not limited by gender. “Our focus is more on general inclusion, equity and diversity,” she says. “Everyone has a voice which is really good at a company.

If there’s something that you need to talk about, you can say it in a free, safe environment. I feel very comfortable being at work, 100 per cent every day.” Estabrook has also taken the unconscious bias training modules available to all employees through the company’s intranet. “Unconscious bias training gives you food for thought,” says Estabrook. “I like that it gets you to stop and think about what you say or do before you say or do it. The biggest thing is to just pause and consider how your actions are being perceived, either professionally or personally in your life.”

Chandan Kler, human resources director Canada, says it’s wonderful to be part of a company that truly walks the talk and supports the initiatives of diversity, equity and inclusion. She helps lead those initiatives within Canada. “I’m really proud of our ERGs, which play a critical role in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion across the organization,” says Kler. “Our ERGs are open to all associates and provide opportunities for professional and personal growth, as well as the chance to make an additional impact at Ecolab and in the community. “This is really an employee-led


Diversity programs for women

Retention and development programs

Implemented leadership/ management accountability

Tracking employees from diverse groups  Ecolab corporate accounts team wearing orange shirts on Truth and Reconciliation Day last year.

initiative that Ecolab sponsors, and we ensure people have time to get together during work hours for these groups and to have opportunities for training.” Ecolab has a variety of ERGs, including the popular group for accelerating the advancement of women leaders and a very active

Pride network focused on supporting LGBTQ+ associates and allies. The Pride group has led numerous efforts for the LGBTQ+ community, such as organizing giving campaigns in support of homeless youth. Ecolab also has a gender transition work policy in place supporting transgender

equality. “The amount of participation we get is amazing and continues to grow all the time,” says Kler. “There’s more awareness now. We recently hosted a Day of Understanding town hall across Canada focused on Indigenous children, including breakout

sessions with facilitators where our associates could talk openly about their experiences. “We did a survey afterwards and the amount of feedback was incredible. This event was well received by our associates and they want to see it happen again regularly.” 

We believe the best teams are diverse and inclusive. Through continuous focus and learning,

we embrace allyship and inspiring action and are proud to be one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers. Join us on our journey in creating a workplace where every employee can learn, grow and achieve their best. Visit



Enbridge sets serious goals for representation


hen Monika Rao and her products team from the Enbridge Technology and Innovation Lab sit down to solve a problem, they count on having a range of opinions from different points of view expressed honestly, in a safe place, to find a solution. That comfort zone is there for them because diversity is woven into Enbridge’s corporate fabric.

Diversity makes us stronger and more competitive as a company. — Melissa Harper Chief Human Resources and Inclusion Officer

“To tackle challenges, we look for creative and innovative solutions from within our team. We make it a point of understanding everyone’s ideas, perspectives and approaches,” says Rao, the lab’s products team lead. “We support one another and take chances in a way that makes the lab a hub for people to come together and drive transformational change. That’s what I like most about working at Enbridge – the people and the culture of diversity.” Enbridge is a leading North American energy delivery company, moving about 30 per cent of the crude oil the continent produces and transporting nearly 20 per cent of the natural gas consumed in the U.S. An early investor in renewable energy,

 Enbridge uses innovation and technology to build a cleaner energy future.

Enbridge is headquartered in Calgary. Its 7,000-plus Canadian employees are as culturally and personally diverse as the multiple professions and settings they work in. Enbridge’s diversity and inclusion team works on a wide range of programs and initiatives. Executives and employees work together to set goals and meet them. In 2020, Enbridge announced company-wide goals to reach significant levels of representation for women, underrepresented ethnic and racial groups, people with disabilities and Indigenous Peoples. Enbridge also held over 70 focus

groups with under-represented groups to hear their experiences, perspectives and needs to build a strategy moving forward to enhance diversity and inclusion. They were a powerful eye-opener. “Several employees shared that it was the first time they talked out loud about their personal experiences of inclusion or exclusion that they’d been internalizing for months, years or decades,” says Melissa Harper, chief human resources and inclusion officer. “It brought a strong sense of catharsis to know they were genuinely being listened to and heard. Many felt a groundswell shift in the commitment the organization

was making.” That momentum took Rao to a new level of involvement. Sponsored by the company, she took part in a women’s leadership series done in partnership with the Canadian Centre for Women in Science, Engineering, Trades and Technology. That inspired her to launch an employee resource group for women in STEM. The group FEMINEN (FEmales IN ENgineering) works to improve the attraction, engagement and retention of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) roles. “It’s been a really rewarding experience,” says Rao. “We’ve


Diversity programs for women and underrepresented ethnic and racial groups

Mental health programs

Learning programs focused on inclusive attitudes and behaviours

Indigenous awareness training for employees  Enbridge strives to create a diverse and inclusive workplace where all employees thrive.

gained about 200 members in just two years, both men and women, and that’s important because when you create a safe space to discuss how to advocate for change, it opens the door for all of us to network, create awareness, learn and understand different perspectives.”

Enbridge has many employeeled resource groups fostering a positive, inclusive and sustainable work environment. These include Prism Energy (LGBTQ2S+) and Women@Enbridge, creating an environment to connect, learn and share. Enbridge also measures progress

towards its representation goals through its Diversity Dashboard, an online tool available to all employees that can be segmented by job level, functional area and geography, and includes trending information on hiring, promotion and turnover rates. “Diversity is key to attracting

stronger together Diversity and inclusion drive innovation. They shape better decisions. And they make us stronger together. Proud to be one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers.

and retaining top talent,” says Harper. “It shows employees and potential employees that we hold true to this value and our team members are part of an inclusive and positive work environment. Diversity makes us stronger and more competitive as a company.” 



At Gibson Energy, different perspectives ensure success


incoln Sekkappan moved from India to Canada in 2014 and joined Calgary-based Gibson Energy, a liquids infrastructure company, in 2019. Even though English is not his first language, he says he has never experienced any of the stresses that his friends in other companies have, where their opinions are often not acknowledged and their pronunciations are sometimes laughed at.

Gibson’s asset is its people, and we want the very best talent. — Steve Spaulding CEO

“People know that I take some time to give my feedback and my language is a little bit different,” says Sekkappan, maintenance management co-ordinator. “But they understand, and my opinions are always heard. I feel really included here.” What initially attracted Sekkappan to Gibson Energy were the company’s values, as well as the emphasis it puts on unity, diversity and equal opportunities for every person. “Gibson’s greatest asset is its people, and we want the very best talent,” says CEO Steve Spaulding. “I’m a big proponent of being around those who contribute different perspectives and experiences, because this propels us forward in ways we wouldn’t

 Gibson Energy provides training sessions on unconscious bias as well as an online learning portal where different diversity and inclusion topics are discussed.

have identified if we all had the same views. We all have our blind spots.” In 2019, the company introduced a Diversity and Inclusion Policy, which was expanded two years later, to add different perspectives and experiences at the board and leadership team level to ensure the company’s long-term success. Gibson Energy has also made a conscious effort to give people

from different backgrounds the opportunity to interview for jobs there. Last year, Sekkappan experienced this when he was hiring a summer student. “We even try to keep the people who are getting interviewed as diverse as possible,” he says. “It can be very hard to get an interview when you have a surname like mine. At Gibson it was not a big thing.” Spaulding prefers to look be-

yond a list of qualifications when he’s hiring. “The best employee is maybe not the one who looks best on paper but the one who works well with others, who’s focused and open-minded and who brings a lot of the soft skills too,” he says. “I want the person who can grow into a job and also do many other jobs.” Diversity education is an ongoing affair at Gibson Energy. A diversity and inclusion committee


Diversity targets for women, Indigenous Persons, and racial & ethnic minorities

Expanded D&I policy to include all employees

Leadership/ management accountability

Diversity training and education

sent out surveys in 2020 and 2021 and, based on the feedback, implemented several changes. One is a calendar that highlights not just Canadian holidays but important days for people of different ethnic backgrounds and religions. There are training sessions on unconscious bias – “which is

 Gibson believes community investment can help establish mutually beneficial relationships with local communities.

pretty eye-opening,” Spaulding says – as well as microaggressions and stereotypes, plus an online learning portal where different and ever-changing diversity and inclusion topics are discussed. When company values include staying focused and open-minded, Sekkappan notes, that kind of

education is essential. “We encourage everyone to continue to learn and develop themselves,” he adds. “And, with the board, we put together targets that we want to achieve – Indigenous Persons, women, people of different ethnic backgrounds. They’re not quotas but

they’re targets.” For Spaulding and Gibson Energy, it’s the right, and only, thing to do. “We want to be one of the best places to work in Alberta,” he says. “And to do that, we want our workforce to reflect the diverse population of the province.” 



Hatch engineers a variety of diverse solutions


n 2016, when she was asked to be part of the diversity and inclusion steering committee of Hatch Ltd., a global engineering, project management and professional services firm, Laura Twigge-Molecey declined. “Back then, I felt I should try and fit in with my peers and not make a big deal about how I was different in a male-dominated industry,” recalls TwiggeMolecey, who has been with the Mississauga, Ont.-based company for 25 years and was recently promoted to managing director for transportation.

I’ve realized that as a female leader, I can influence a broad group of people and be a role model, which from my perspective is the most important part about leadership. — Laura Twigge-Molecey Managing Director for Transportation

Her thinking has changed dramatically since then. “I‘ve realized that as a female leader, I can influence a broad group of people and be a role model, which from my perspective is the most important part about leadership,” says the mother of three. “With role models, people can see a path for themselves. “Before I started this position in transportation, I was looking after

 Samantha Taylor, a Hatch employee celebrates International Women's Day.

engineering globally. And when I was approached about this job, I was nervous because the group of managing directors was almost 100-per-cent male, and some of them had younger families and most had a spouse who stayed at home. I was always uncomfortable saying, ‘Well, I can't come to a 7 a.m. meeting because I have to take my kids to school.’ ” But then, Twigge-Molecey continues, she realized, “Everyone has different life situations. It wasn’t my peers pressuring me to do something – I was putting

pressure on myself.” Plus, she felt buoyed by Hatch’s commitment to diversity. “The inclusivity part is important, especially when you’re part of a minority group. It helps you feel as if you’re part of the team.” For Brittany Chubey, a senior structural engineer with 12 years at Hatch in Saskatoon, Sask., the company has steadfastly supported her career aspirations. “I’ve always felt valued and respected,” she says, “and that Hatch has supported me in a way that isn’t just about excelling at my career

but also about balancing all aspects of my life.” Chubey notes that she’s often required to go to project sites to validate the firm’s designs or support construction. “These experiences are incredibly valuable. Hatch has always supported me in my desire to gain more site experience, but at the same time they respect that I’m a mom of three and it takes time to co-ordinate with my family, especially since these sites are often far from home. “I’ve advanced in my career because Hatch continues to present


Unconscious bias training for leaders

Diversity and inclusion design program

Mental health and well-being program

Progressive Aboriginal Relations Bronze certification  A Hatch employee shows their pride and support for LGBTQ+ colleagues, friends and family.

me with challenging opportunities, leaving me to decide my career path and never choosing it for me based on my family situation or anything else.” Hatch has also launched a diverse and inclusive design initiative, with Twigge-Molecey as its sponsor. The program

ensures diversity and inclusion are embedded in the engineering design methodology. For example, if a client has a goal of 40 per cent for women or a certain percentage for Indigenous workers as part of its current or future workforce, Hatch can influence how a facility is designed to ensure the needs of

the workforce can be met. The next phase, says TwiggeMolecey, is to start measuring female involvement in the firm’s largest projects. “And then, we’re going to expand to other kinds of diversity in the future. We can talk about, for example, how we had had 15 per cent of a project

Inclusion ignites innovation

done by people in our Chilean, South African or Indian office, and we can actually track the project performance. “Whether it’s cost, schedule or safety,” she concludes, “we can use these data to measure the positive impact of a more diverse team.” 



The Home Depot builds a safe space for employees


t Ivan Ternovoy’s former store location for The Home Depot Canada, the break room was upstairs. Because of that, the store had no associates with mobility issues. When two candidates who use wheelchairs applied for jobs, Ternovoy and his leadership team tore apart an old main-floor office, created a break room and hired both candidates.

We need to grow and learn from each other’s differences and my hope is that opening the door to some of these conversations makes it that much easier. — Ivan Ternovoy Store Human Resources Manager

 The Home Depot Canada offers associate resource groups to foster engagement through events, education and community outreach.

One of the associates started work in the department that included the store’s key-cutting station. He was unable to use the station, as it was not wheelchair accessible. One Sunday night, an assistant manager went into the store after it closed and rebuilt the key-cutting station to be accessible. “I remember the impact that had on the associate,” says Ternovoy, a store human resources manager in Edmonton. “It was like, ‘Look at how valued I am by this organization.’ He was so excited when he told his family, and his dad thought so much of Home Depot

that he applied for a job and now they both work for Home Depot.” Ternovoy continues to take steps to create an inclusive space. He writes regular feature articles spotlighting associates and their experiences and challenges. He recently wrote one article with an Indigenous employee and another with an employee who is deaf. “It opens up a conversation and associates talk about things they ordinarily wouldn’t have talked about,” Ternovoy says. “Sitting down and asking them their stories, and sharing them, raises awareness. We need to grow and learn from each other’s differences

and my hope is that opening the door to some of these conversations makes it that much easier.” Creating this inclusive culture is one of the four pillars of Home Depot’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) strategy, says Vinod Nalajala, vice-president of human resources and communications. “This includes allyship and ensuring the mental and physical safety of our associates and that they get the required support and resources,” Nalajala says. Other pillars include regularly gathering feedback from associates and using that to inform the DE&I strategy.

A learning and development pillar includes mandatory training on topics such as gender diversity and unconscious bias. Another pillar is leadership commitment and accountability. “Every leader has to be held accountable to continue to foster this environment of diversity and inclusion. So we actually have certain activities they need to do that can be measured,” Nalajala says. The Home Depot Canada also has associate resource groups to foster engagement through events, education and community outreach. The Orange Ability group


25,000 associates have completed unconscious bias training

2,400+ leaders completed inclusive leadership training

95% of associates would recommend the Breaking Bias training available Annual Diversity Awareness Week organized at each office and store

aims to foster an environment where people of all abilities are able to reach their full potential. Orange Pride has a mission to celebrate LGBTQ+ associates and allies. Orange Mosaic encourages intercultural understanding, while Orange Women’s Network promotes professional growth

 The Home Depot Canada organizes an annual diversity awareness week at each office and store in the country.

for women through networking, development activities and community outreach. “Our success as a company comes from things like having great products and online capabilities, but more importantly, we double down on our investment in our associates,” says Nalajala. “And

when we have associates who value diversity and inclusion work with others who value diversity and inclusion and they enjoy what they’re doing, that’s the driving force for our success.” For Ternovoy, it’s this focus that has kept him at Home Depot for 14 years, when his intention was

to work there for six months. “It’s the values that keep me there,” he says. “At Home Depot, our values truly guide us in everything we do and in taking care of our people. I’ve never worked for an organization that does such a great job of taking care of its people and living all of its values.” 



KPMG celebrates its community support networks


arly in the new year, Paula Presta took part in multiple virtual workshops over one week on anti-racism, mental health and gender diversity and inclusion – opportunities designed to educate and empower individuals as part of a commitment by KPMG Canada to create an equitable and inclusive workforce. “We have a plethora of training and education opportunities for employees to learn more about our diverse people, clients and communities we serve,” says Presta, a partner in KPMG’s Enterprise practice based in Kamloops, B.C. “This education helps build allyship and remove barriers so all our people can bring their whole selves to work and experience belonging.”

We’re committed to advancing an inclusive, equitable and mentally healthy culture where everyone can thrive.

 Paula Presta (left) and Patrick Ojo (right) advocate for equity in the workplace through community involvement and creating a safe environment where everyone can bring their whole selves to work at KPMG.

The firm has a 30-member national Inclusion, Diversity and Equity (IDE), council, which is co-chaired by Elio Luongo, CEO of KPMG in Canada, and Rob Davis, chair of the board and chief inclusion and diversity officer. The council, which has representation by all regions, helps design and deliver on regional and national IDE priorities. “We focus on various priority groups such as women, LGBTQ+,

Black, Indigenous, people of colour, newcomers and people with disabilities so that our people can experience belonging and have equal access to opportunities,” says Presta, who is also part of the National IDE Council. “We’re committed to advancing an inclusive, equitable and mentally healthy culture where everyone can thrive.” The company has over 30 people networks with over 2,000 members meant to support, engage and celebrate diverse communities. Mental

— Paula Presta Partner, Enterprise Practice

health is one of the three core pillars of the firm’s IDE strategy, which is led by corporate Canada’s and KPMG’s first chief mental health officer, Denis Trottier. Patrick Ojo, a Calgary-based senior manager in audit who immigrated to Canada from Nigeria in the late 2000s, is a member of the national newcomer advisory committee. “One of the things we look at is how we can get new immigrants settled so they find the support they need to integrate and bring their whole selves to work,”

says Ojo. This committee supports newcomers to Canada, ensuring their transition is as stress-free and seamless as possible. This includes providing newcomers and their performance managers with a specialized onboarding path when they join, an online hub where they can ask questions and meet other newcomers. As well, the committee holds quarterly crosscultural competence training. “I’m always amazed at the questions when I go to the hub,” Ojo says.


$2,000 mental health benefit

$10,000 gender affirmation benefit, gender affirmation guidelines and gender inclusive washrooms

Over 30 people networks

50 hours of personal care time

“People are asking about things most of us take for granted, like how do I get a driver’s licence or car insurance? Or how do I find a family doctor?” The firm provides cross-cultural competence training to newcomers and people managers to build their awareness and skills around adjust-

 KPMG's 30+ people networks are a way for both members of various communities and allies to build a future where everyone has an equal chance to succeed and thrive.

ing to Canadian culture and bridging cultural differences. KPMG has also been conducting anti-racism training designed for senior leaders and partners. “We’re trying to get 100 per cent of our partners through that training by the end of the year,” says Paula Presta.

The people networks provide a safe space for colleagues, as well as allies, to come together to discuss common issues and concerns. Presta is involved with the mental health people network, which holds monthly online sessions to discuss stressors and strategies to build resilience.

She also serves as KPMG’s region west mental health ambassador. “I am passionate about building resilient and healthy teams,” she says. “This is about reducing stigma and providing education, tools and support so people can proactively address their mental health.” 



Manulife creates a culture of inclusion and belonging


ne of the many valuable programs Sheryl E. Douglas has participated in since joining Manulife last year was the company’s first Global Afternoon of Reflection and Learning. On June 17, 2021, the entire company participated globally, tuning in to increase their understanding of important dimensions of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Employees accessed specially curated events and activities, resources and learning sessions from all over the world.

The dedication that Manulife has in providing learning resources to help our employees, employee resource groups and leaders connect to each other is outstanding. — Sheryl E. Douglas Senior Manager, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

In North America, this included fireside chats on the impact of race relations and anti-Asian hate. These were followed by employee resource group (ERG) webinars, which focused on topics related to Indigenous Peoples and their allies, employees who are working to create inclusive spaces for colleagues of all abilities, and Black experience sessions, among others. “I’m most proud of our coaching and training programs promoting

 Manulife fosters a working environment where everyone feels accepted, valued and included.

the values of diversity, equity and inclusion,” says Douglas, who is senior manager of DEI at the Toronto-based global insurance and financial services firm. “Those are impactful sessions that have helped me to not be afraid to have those difficult conversations or ask questions, so that I can connect with somebody who does not look like me or think like me, or may be in a different role other than I am. “The dedication that Manulife has in providing learning resources to help our employees, employee resource groups and leaders connect to each other is outstanding.” Douglas works closely with

ERG leaders on their milestone project events, such as Black History Month, Pride Month, International Women’s Day and International Day of People with Disabilities. “In these experiences, employees of all levels have an opportunity to educate each other, grow and understand the dimensions of diversity, equity and inclusion,” says Douglas. “We focus on things such as the Black or Indigenous experience, as well as sessions where ERG leads present what they do and what they stand for. It’s very rare that a company would dedicate this time for all

employees globally, giving every employee the opportunity to reflect and learn.” Michelle Taylor-Jones, global chief diversity, equity & inclusion officer, says that in building an inclusive culture at Manulife, ERGs are considered ambassadors into the organization. “As we bring in new talent, we’re making sure that we’re engaging them in ERG communities,” says Taylor-Jones. “ERG communities are a safe space, where employees can feel comfortable being their best self. This is how we create inclusion, a culture of belonging, so we’re making sure ERGs are part


Diversity programs for visible minorities and LGBTQ+

Mandatory ‘Inclusion Starts with You’ training

Leadership guide for fostering inclusion

Toolkits for managing unconscious bias  Manulife's head office building lit up for PRIDE week in Toronto.

of our onboarding process and that we have a buddy system or mentor for new employees so they’re supported trying to navigate this big organization.” As well as investing $3.5 million in DEI in June 2020, Manulife has committed to boost Black, Indigenous and people of colour

(BIPOC) representation in leadership roles by 30 per cent over the next five years. After exceeding its previous targets on increasing gender representation in leadership, Taylor-Jones explains, the organization saw this as an opportunity to look not just at gender but at other aspects of

Make your impact. When you grow, we grow.

diversity as well. “We are really setting clear objectives in terms of what those dollars are going to drive towards – and that is changing talent representation, building a culture of inclusion, and making sure we train and educate not just at the senior level, but at the individual

level as well,” says Taylor-Jones. “We’re also making sure that we’re intentional in terms of the community partnerships that we support. Our customers, shareholders and suppliers are all paying attention, so how we build, execute and activate this strategy is critical to our success.” 



McCarthy Tétrault raises the bar through inclusion


hen she was applying for positions in the legal profession, one interviewer told Alana Robert, who is Red River Métis, that her identity and work with Indigenous people would impede her ability to do her job. Not surprisingly, she didn’t pursue that position and instead joined McCarthy Tétrault LLP. “I have never been made to feel like who I am doesn’t belong here,” says Robert, who is an associate at the Toronto-headquartered law firm. “My voice is valued and embraced.”

I have never been made to feel like who I am doesn’t belong here. My voice is valued and embraced. — Alana Robert Associate

CEO Dave Leonard says the firm’s goal is to go beyond representation to retention. “Diversity programs used to be almost exclusively focused on representation,” he says. “Businesses wanted to bring more diverse people through the door, but few were doing the work to ensure that door was not a revolving one. Members of under-represented groups need to be set up for success within an organization.” To help reach this goal, the firm created its Inclusion Now program in 2019. This aims to attract, retain and advance members of equity-

 Alana Robert, associate at McCarthy Tétrault.

seeking groups including Black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC); members of the LGBTQ+ community; people with disabilities; and women. McCarthy Tétrault also has a focus on advancing reconciliation. This includes having a legal and strategic advisor, Indigenous initiatives – which the firm says is a first in the Canadian legal profession – and a reconciliation committee, which is developing a reconciliation action plan that will impact all parts of the business. “Our firm’s journey to advance reconciliation has just begun,” says John Brown, legal and strategic advisor, Indigenous initiatives.

“I am proud of our genuine and comprehensive approach to raising awareness of Indigenous issues and assisting all our lawyers and staff to develop and maintain mutually respectful relationships with the Indigenous people in the communities in which we work.” In 2020, McCarthy Tétrault launched a summer program for first-year Black and Indigenous law students and has an annual Indigenous student open house. These initiatives are designed to remove the barriers that can discourage Indigenous students from applying to large, full-service firms. The firm also has a partnership with Indspire, an organization

that invests in the education of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people. This partnership is funding five national scholarships for Indigenous law students over the next five years. Increasing access to justice is another priority, including the Indigenous Human Rights Program, a partnership with Pro Bono Students Canada, the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres and the Ontario and Canadian human rights commissions. “This program provides members of the Indigenous community with pro bono information, advice and legal representation relating to human


Diversity programs to support Indigenous Peoples & communities

Cultural competency training

Inclusive leadership and unconscious bias training

Internal engagement and diversity surveys  Members of McCarthy Tétrault wearing orange to acknowledge National Day for Truth & Reconciliation 2021.

rights violations,” Leonard says. The firm’s lawyers also volunteer with the Giiwedin Anang Council of Aboriginal Legal Services, which provides an alternative dispute resolution program for mediating child welfare, custody and access disputes involving Indigenous families, using tradi-

tional teachings and talking circles. Robert, who is a volunteer lawyer and advisory council member of the Indigenous Human Rights Program, says the focus on inclusion equips the firm to address a wider range of legal issues. “For example, I helped represent First Nations in a class proceeding to

address water infrastructure issues and long-term drinking water advisories on reserve,” Robert says. “In its decision approving the $8-billion settlement, the courts recognized the value of Indigenous lawyers in bringing lived experiences to this work, which allows us to uniquely understand the needs

of Indigenous clients. “McCarthy Tétrault has long made genuine efforts to build a workplace that reflects the people we serve and values a broader range of competencies. This raises the bar of services we can provide to clients and improves the work that we do.” 



McMaster University builds a culture of belonging


hen Maureen MacDonald became the first woman appointed dean of the Faculty of Science at McMaster University, she saw why equity, diversity and inclusion (ED&I) matter. “ED&I matters because I saw the personal impact that just one appointment had on individuals,” says MacDonald, a kinesiology professor who became dean in 2017. “I realized this very quickly from the individuals who were telling me what it meant to have a female in this role for the first time. It then became a responsibility for me to interrogate what we can do about ED&I more broadly in the faculty.”

If we have diversity alone, without equity and inclusion, we are not going to achieve excellence and creativity and innovation. — Maureen MacDonald Dean, Faculty of Science

MacDonald says diversity is essential to creativity and innovation. “I believe that diversity is integral to excellence. But that is diversity on its own. Where my big learnings have been is that if we have diversity alone, without equity and inclusion, we are not going to achieve excellence and creativity and innovation.” McMaster is working toward this

 Maureen MacDonald became the first woman appointed dean of the Faculty of Science at McMaster University.

goal through its Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy. The strategy is a roadmap to ensure an intentional approach to identifying and achieving institution-wide priorities and goals and includes specific actions toward those goals. The university revised its faculty recruitment and selection policy and developed a handbook to support more equitable hiring practices. It also launched a strategic Black faculty cohort hiring initiative, which has resulted in the recruitment of 12 scholars across all six faculties. “It’s not to replace comprehensive processes, where Black faculty members and other underrepresented individuals would have tremendous opportunities through the regular process, but

it recognizes that sometimes you need to accelerate things where there is an unreasonable gap,” MacDonald says. The Employment Equity Facilitator Program, launched two years ago, has trained more than 250 faculty members and hiring managers to promote employment equity and inclusive excellence on search committees. Pam Elmhirst, senior manager of faculty affairs in the Faculty of Health Sciences, was among the university’s first trained employment equity facilitators. Within her own faculty, Elmhirst supports and advances the work of its Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Indigenous Reconciliation Committee, which was formed in 2018.

“Committee members advocate, advise and make recommendations to advance inclusion and Indigenous reconciliation within the faculty. It also acts as a safe space for people to discuss sensitive topics,” Elmhirst says. The committee’s strategic recruitment and retention working group has linked up with affiliated hospitals to create a new recruitment and retention policy for clinical faculty, as this is complementary to the university-wide process. The training and professional development working group is developing a self-directed online learning program that covers foundational concepts of ED&I. The working group’s speaker series opened last fall with a focus


Diversity programs for Indigenous peoples

Employment equity website to attract diverse applicants

Employee accessibility network

Employment equity facilitator program

on positive spaces and care for LGBTQ+ individuals and gender diverse and trans care. The measurement of equity and inclusion working group is developing a diversity and climate survey to understand the diversity of faculty members and staff and learn about their experiences

 Dawn Bowdish, professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences, Madeleine Agboton Neville, custodian with facility services and George Vadakken, acting director of maintenance services (left to right) at McMaster University.

related to belonging, inclusion, engagement and opportunities for career development. They will use the findings to identify programs and opportunities that will help meet staff and faculty needs. The university has also supported creation of groups by and for marginalized employee groups.

Arig al Shaibah, associate vicepresident equity and inclusion, and Wanda McKenna, assistant vice-president and chief human resources officer, co-sponsor an employment resource group for Black, Indigenous and racialized staff. “This employee resource group

is led by and for racialized staff members to provide a venue for community building, networking and professional development, supporting staff thriving, and retention,” says McKenna. “We are keen to support the establishment of groups that can amplify the voice of marginalized staff.” 



Norton Rose Fulbright walks its diversity talk


s career moves go, it was a stretch – by almost any measure. In 2015, Carlos Richards left his position as a market analyst in the railways industry to accept a newly-created and somewhat similar role with Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP, the Canadian branch of one of the leading global law firms.

Our management committee cares about addressing racial inequities and has ensured that these considerations are incorporated in our firm’s strategic goals. — Carlos Richards Associate Director of Pricing and Legal Project Management

“I took some of the concepts from my previous work experience and tailored them to the legal field,” says Richards, associate director of pricing and legal project management. “Many of the most senior legal people in Canada were willing to listen to innovative recommendations coming from a young, Black guy from Barbados with no prior experience in legal.” Since joining the firm, Richards has become immersed in two recently launched diversity and inclusion initiatives. Members at all levels of the firm have demonstrated an openness to new

 Norton Rose Fulbright employee, Carlos Richards, stands next to his surname on the Builders of Barbados Wall in Golden Square Freedom Park, Barbados.

ideas and a willingness to embrace change, he says. In 2020, the firm formally launched a 14-member race equity council, with representation from all levels of the firm and from each of the Canadian offices of Norton Rose Fulbright. The council has been meeting virtually twice monthly. “Everyone is very passionate about this and is committed to it,” says Shreya Gupta, a technology, privacy

and cybersecurity associate and co-chair of the council. “Tangible change is occurring.” Norton Rose Fulbright also introduced a number of listening groups. Richards hosts the group for employees in business support roles, while Gupta is active in the group for associates, law clerks and legal assistants. Participation is voluntary and the number of people who take part is not fixed but varies from session to session.

“The groups allow racialized members of the firm to meet in a safe space where we can have open and frank discussions about our experiences,” says Richards. “Our management committee cares about addressing racial inequities and has ensured that these considerations are incorporated in our firm’s strategic goals.” The council gathers feedback from the listening groups as well as from across the firm in addition to


Diversity & inclusion training curriculum

Mental health programs

Disability confidence video campaign

Trans inclusion policy

drawing on their own experiences. To date, the council has developed six formal recommendations that align with the firm’s racial equity strategy and will be implemented in a phased approach. Gupta says some are strategic and will have to be put in place over a longer time frame,

 Shreya Gupta was called to the Ontario Bar in 2018 and is now a fourth-year technology, privacy and cybersecurity associate at Norton Rose Fulbright.

while others– such as the firm’s recruiting practices – could be revised more quickly. After consulting with members across the firm, as well as the listening groups, the council found that each office had its own recruiting and hiring practices. The result was that some of the offices

had more diverse workforces than others. “We recommended that a set of national best practices be implemented and audited annually to attract and retain diverse colleagues,” says Gupta. All offices also provide unconscious bias training for those in-

volved with recruiting and hiring. “These initiatives are not just one of those ‘nice to haves’,” Richards says. “This is considered a need to have. All teams in the firm are being asked to integrate diversity and inclusion components to the goals they set each year.” 



Diversity & inclusion guide Nutrien to a better future


hen Taniesha Edwards joined Nutrien in 2014 as an electrical engineering technologist, she’d already become accustomed to her minority status. Half Black, half white, she attended a predominantly Black church where she was one of the few white women, and she held part-time jobs with organizations in which she was the only Black woman. At Manitoba’s Red River College, where she studied electrical engineering technology, she was one of three women in a class of 60 students. “It’s an everyday thing for me,” she says.

It’s exciting to see the direction we’re taking. It keeps me optimistic. — Taniesha Edwards Electrical Engineering Technologist

Now she was moving from Winnipeg, a relatively diverse city of 800,000, to Rocanville, four hours west, just across the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border, to live in a town of about 900 people. Nutrien is the world’s largest provider of fertilizers and other crop inputs, services and solutions, producing and distributing 27 million tonnes of potash, nitrogen and phosphate products from its operations in 13 countries. At Rocanville, one of the largest potash reserves in the world, about

 Nutrien offers inclusive networks that support women through connection, mentorship, leadership development and collaboration.

1,000 people from surrounding communities work for the company. When Edwards arrived, fewer than 50 were women. “I was also the only Black woman, and I could count on one hand the number of Black people at the site,” she says. For her first couple of years on the job, Edwards quietly observed interactions between men and women, noticing occasional inappropriate jokes and behaviour. The inappropriate moments were also inadvertent at times. “But I didn’t know how to address it,” she says. “I wanted to be one of the gang. I didn’t want to stand out.”

At the same time, she observed the kindness and generosity with which people treated her, along with all their neighbours and co-workers. “Everyone’s so nice,” she says. After a couple of years in Rocanville, Edwards became more comfortable in her job and her new surroundings. “And I finally found the confidence to stand up for myself,” she says. As she voiced her thoughts, Edwards soon discovered that she had the support of Nutrien’s senior management. “Our equity, diversity and inclusion [EDI] initiatives give us

a competitive edge,” says Leslie Coleman, vice-president of EDI. “They’re part of a much larger matrix of environmental, social and governance criteria.” The company has committed to maintaining that edge. It formed a global council of senior leaders to oversee its EDI strategy, for example, and set up an EDI Centre of Excellence in 2021 to bring the strategy to life. Women account for 40 per cent of the members of Nutrien’s board of directors, and the company aims to have a leadership team in place by 2025 of whom 30 per cent are women.


Diversity programs for women and Indigenous peoples

Unconscious bias training

Scholarships and internships for Indigenous students and women

LGBTQ+ awareness training  Nutrien is committed to diverse and inclusive growth across our workforce, supply chain and communities.

Nutrien also offers six employee resource groups designed to serve underrepresented employee groups. They play an important role in Nutrien’s EDI strategy and their commitment to building an inclusive work environment. At Rocanville, Edwards is a chapter lead of the Women in

Non-Traditional Environments and Roles (WiNTER) employee resource group, one of several WiNTER chapters throughout the company. “We saw things that needed improvement,” she says. People need to understand each other’s attitudes toward maternity and parental leave, for example. As

more women come to work for the company, she says, “we also need to re-think personal protective equipment, which was designed for the average-sized man.” After five years, the impact of WiNTER is unmistakable. Women feel more comfortable in sharing their opinions. “And we’re

attracting friendly allies,” says Edwards, who is now involved in starting a Black employee resource group. “Support from upper management has been awesome,” she says, “and it keeps increasing. It’s exciting to see the direction we’re taking. It keeps me optimistic.” 



The City of Ottawa fosters an inclusive workplace


s director for gender and race equity, inclusion, Indigenous relations and social development for the City of Ottawa, Suzanne Obiorah leads a major undertaking to increase diversity in the workforce, help racialized employees succeed and improve access to services for people from underserved communities in the city.

It’s critical to know that senior leadership commits to ensuring our workforce is reflective of the community we serve. — Suzanne Obiorah Director for Gender and Race Equity, Inclusion, Indigenous Relations and Social Development

“We’re striving to have a workforce that reflects our community and foster a workplace where our employees feel a sense of belonging,” she says. This effort involves a long list of initiatives both in the workplace and across the community, from funding neighbourhood social service agencies to overseeing the City’s reconciliation action process and directing its corporate diversity and inclusion plan. “We’re embarking on the City of Ottawa’s first anti-racism strategy,” Obiorah says. “We’ve engaged with more than 600 residents and established an

 Michèle Jean-Baptiste is a customer service assistant at a downtown branch of the Ottawa Public Library at the City of Ottawa.

anti-racism advisory table which is community-led, and they are advising us on the ways the city can confront racism. We’ve also hosted a session on gender diversity and gender inclusion.” The City has also adopted inclusive hiring practices and is reaching out to priority neighbourhoods to foster partnerships and create pathways to employment by establishing a Community Champions Network, installing free wi-fi in 13 sites in those neighbourhoods and offering career coaching and a youth futures program. Twice a year, workforce repre-

sentation in the corporation is compared to workforce availability in Ottawa, and steady increases have been noted in the representation of women, visible minorities, people living with disabilities and Indigenous peoples. Across the City’s workplaces, which encompass everything from emergency services to roads, parks and recreation, waste disposal and construction, employees are offered a leadership development plan that includes career conversations, courses and mentorship programs. The City has also established nine affinity groups

for various racialized, cultural and social communities. “We want to foster spaces where people can share their experiences and interests,” Obiorah explains. “The City provides the infrastructure required for the affinity groups to come together to network, host activities and share their knowledge. In this way employees can both support each other and provide recommendations to the City about how to make it a more inclusive workspace.” Lei Chen, a program and project management officer for emergency and protective services, co-leads


Steps to Inclusive Hiring best practices

Indigenous awareness training

Older Adult Plan to empower and support older persons

Reconciliation Action Plan with 14 actionable initiatives  City of Ottawa's by-law officers like Jenny Wang have been responding to calls throughout the pandemic.

the City’s Asian Heritage Affinity (AHA) group. “It’s had a very positive impact,” she says. “Just knowing you’re not alone is significant, and it’s a great networking tool.” Chen also values the open communication she has with the City’s management team. “Every time I

have passed on suggestions based on the affinity group’s discussions, they have been well received,” she says. “They listened, and I know they are taking actions.” For example, a discussion about the racial bias that members of the AHA group have experienced led to the City launching a series of

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

training programs in unconscious bias. “This training provides more cultural awareness and understanding, and encourages meaningful connections,” she says. “It’s been very beneficial.” “We’re trying to create spaces where we can learn together and understand different life exper-

iences in an effort to create a sense of belonging within our community and among our staff,” says Obiorah. "It’s critical to know that senior leadership commits to ensuring that our workforce is reflective of the community we serve, integrating the voice of the community along the way.” 



Pfizer Canada is embedding inclusion in its culture


he was born and raised Canadian, but Ranjita Banerjee says she still looked for a sense of belonging as she grew up in Montréal with her Indian immigrant parents. So even after decades of high achievement, including a PhD in oncology research, she still quickly put up her hand when the call went out at Pfizer Canada for someone who’d like to lead its new diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) community of practice.

I wanted to help create a place where, regardless of your upbringing or your story, everybody felt comfortable. — Ranjita Banerjee Commercial Development and Strategic Initiatives Lead, Oncology Business Unit

“When you feel different, individuals tend to hold things back – you don't want to upset anyone or have anybody misinterpret what you're trying to say,” says Banerjee. “It’s something I grew up with myself, not trying to rock the boat. So at that moment, I felt I wanted to help create a place where, regardless of your upbringing or your story, everybody felt comfortable.” Banerjee, who joined Pfizer in 2008 as a fellow in the health economics and outcomes research

 Pfizer Canada has set a goal to have 30 percent of its senior leadership to come from underrepresented backgrounds by 2023.

group, is now commercial development and strategic initiatives lead in the oncology business unit. The DEI work, which involves leading some 18 colleagues in three workstreams, is over and above her day job, and theirs. Why is that? Pfizer Canada president Cole Pinnow explains. “We really want this to be embedded in the culture of our organization,” he says. “And there’s no better way of doing that than giving the organization a sense of ownership and accountability.” If the task were carried out only by the human resources group, he says, “it’s not

going to have nearly the impact, as opposed to having business unit leads, functional area leads and/or grassroots colleagues who are championing and highlighting those resources.” At the same time, he notes, Pfizer as a global company has vast DEI resources, including many employee resource groups, which Pfizer Canada takes full advantage of. “That’s why we’ve taken a hybrid approach, where we leverage global resources but really ask our people to own it. We want our colleagues to feel they’ve created this culture that is inclusive.”

Banerjee, who put up her hand in 2019, says the three workstreams focus on: building a culture of belonging; colleagues & leadership – developing a talented, diverse workforce while promoting inclusive leadership; and external stakeholders – advancing DEI through partnerships. The first priority for the culture group, she says, was to survey the entire workforce to set a baseline on how people felt. “In general, things are going quite positively at Pfizer Canada, so that was a good thing to hear,” she says. One outcome was establishment of a


Colleague resource groups for women and LGBTQ+

Summer student internships targeted to diverse candidates

Implemented inclusive leadership training program

External partnerships supporting DE&I initiatives in community groups  Pfizer colleagues at the launch of the Pfizer Canada Annual Giving Campaign.

local LGBTQ+ employee resource group, in addition to an existing one for women, and more will likely come, she says. The culture group has also worked to raise awareness of DEI concepts, as well as events such as Black History Month and National Truth and Reconciliation Day.

Meanwhile, the colleagues & leadership group initiated inclusive training for senior people across the organization. It also revamped the summer intern program, in cooperation with a specialized agency, so that 100 per cent of 2021 interns came from underrepresented groups.

And the external stakeholders workstream led Pfizer to fund research by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation on health care disparities that underrepresented groups may face. It also teamed up with the Legacy of Hope Foundation to help raise awareness about those disparities

It takes collaboration… Pfizer Canada strives to profoundly impact the health of Canadians through the discovery, development, and delivery of medicines and vaccines. Through collaboration, we offer the possibility of a healthier world. Pfizer Inc., used under license by Pfizer Canada.


among Indigenous Peoples. Pfizer Canada has also set 2023 as its goal to have 30 per cent of its senior leadership coming from underrepresented backgrounds. “We still have a long way to go,” says Pinnow. “I think the first step to creating a more inclusive culture is just creating awareness.” 



Rogers is out to build a truly inclusive culture


ast summer, months after becoming the first director of Indigenous collaboration at Rogers Communications Inc., Jennifer Campeau shared her remarkable personal and professional journey with thousands of her colleagues in one of the company’s Safe Talk & Listening sessions. The forum was created to give employees a safe space for sharing and to build allyship as part of Rogers’ commitment to building a truly inclusive culture.

Inclusion is part of who we are – it’s embedded in our values. We’re committed to driving meaningful change for our team members, customers and communities. — Sharon Hinds Manager, All IN, Rogers Sports & Media

Her journey began on the Yellow Quill First Nation, a two-hour drive northeast of Regina, and included 10 years as a residential school student, six years as a Saskatchewan MLA, and several years teaching at the post-secondary level before landing at Rogers. “This role was everything I wanted and more,” says Campeau, who now leads a dedicated all-Indigenous collaboration team. “The purpose of our team is to bring a mindful Indigenous

 A Rogers team member featured in its 'Make Your Possible' campaign.

approach across the Rogers organization, and to maintain trusted partnerships with Indigenous communities, businesses and their representatives.” The creation of an Indigenous collaboration business unit reflects Rogers Communications’ commitment to building a diverse and inclusive workforce, says Sharon Hinds, manager, All IN, Rogers Sports & Media. “Inclusion is part of who we are – it’s embedded in our values,” she says. “We’re committed to driving meaningful change for our team members, customers and communities.” To that end, the company has a team dedicated to inclusion and diversity. It has introduced inclusive hiring training and created diverse hiring panels to

help remove personal or racial bias and attract a range of diverse applicants. Hinds says job postings for Rogers Sports & Media no longer ask for educational background or professional experience, and Rogers is rolling this out across the organization. “We’re looking for a diverse group of people who can bring unique perspectives and experience to the team.” The company’s five employee resource groups are actively engaged in promoting inclusion and diversity, and building allyship within the organization and externally with Canadians. The multicultural Rogers Mosaic group, which has chapters across the country, sponsors employee events celebrating Black History

Month, Pride, Carnival, Ramadan, Diwali and the Lunar New Year, among many others. The Indigenous Peoples Network held events last year to recognize Indigenous History Month, Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Orange Shirt Day and the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. Campeau adds that the network launched an initiative to have land acknowledgement plaques placed in all corporate and retail locations, including Rogers Centre in Toronto, which will be rolled out across the country over the next several years. To commemorate Orange Shirt Day, the Rogers-owned Blue Jays had the first pitch of the game thrown by a residential school survivor, and the Canadian


$10 million for societal action and change through All IN

100 Safe Talk & Listening sessions

55 diversity recruitment events and career fairs

Unconscious bias and inclusive recruitment training  Spotlighting women at Rogers for International Women's Day.

national anthem was sung in three languages – English, French and Anishinaabemowin. On television, the Rogers channel TSC, Today’s Shopping Choice, sold Orange Shirts designed by two-spirited Ojibway artist Patrick Hunter. All proceeds from the 2021 shirt sales were

Make your possible Visit to learn more

divided between the Orange Shirt Society and the Residential School Survivor Society; 2021 Orange shirt sales through TSC brought the two-year campaign total to $250,000. In 2020, Rogers team members formed a Black Leadership Council to advocate for Black

team members. The company has also partnered with the Black Professionals in Tech Network and the Onyx Initiative. All of these efforts are part of Rogers’ five-year strategy to accelerate inclusion and diversity and drive change for its employees, customers, audiences and

Canadians. Campeau says she is always looking for ways to create an impact for Indigenous communities. “This role at Rogers spoke to me, along with the company’s commitment to inclusion and diversity, and I’m excited to see the impact we can continue to make.” 



RBC is deeply engaged in the reconciliation process


t a time when RBC is taking significant action to honour its commitment to reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous peoples, one measure in particular stands out for mortgage specialist Jessica Shute – the appointment of Roberta Jamieson to the bank’s board of directors. The first Indigenous woman to earn a law degree in Canada, Jamieson brings impressive achievements in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors to the role. For Shute, a member of the Couchiching First Nation, seeing a strong Indigenous woman take a seat at the table has both practical and symbolic significance.

We want our Indigenous colleagues to know their voices are being heard and their contributions are highly valued. — Gopal Bansal Vice President, Diversity & Inclusion

“Indigenous women are natural leaders,” she says. “They were the leaders of our communities until colonialism stripped them of that role.” When the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) released its report into the tragic legacy of Canada’s residential school system in 2015, RBC pledged to honour the commission’s 94 calls to action –

 Jessica Shute, mortgage specialist at RBC.

particularly Call 92, to work in partnership with Indigenous Peoples to create long-term, sustainable economic development, employment, social impact and procurement opportunities. Gopal Bansal, vice president, diversity & inclusion (D&I), says RBC’s history of partnering with Indigenous peoples dates back to 1910, when it opened the first bank branch in a remote area of northern British Columbia where it served the Gitxsan First Nation. In the decades since, he adds, RBC has instituted numerous purpose-driven policies and programs to help Indigenous clients thrive and their communities prosper. RBC is now enhancing some of

those initiatives. This includes the scholarships RBC has provided for First Nations, Inuit and Métis students to complete post-secondary education since 1992. It has doubled the value of the 20 annual scholarships to $10,000 each under its Future Launch Scholarship for Indigenous Youth program. RBC is also reaffirming its TRC commitments with innovative new undertakings. Bansal says that the “we know best” days of expecting people to simply accept what’s presented to them are long past. “You have to listen before you respond and you have to engage before you act,” he says in reference to how RBC participates

in meaningful consultation and collaboration as it works to address the challenges many Indigenous people still face. That was the case when the bank launched RBC’s Indigenous Mentoring Experience (RIME) in 2017 after Indigenous employees indicated they wanted mentoring that addresses their specific needs. RIME provides support to those who may be seeking familiarity and a safe place with other Indigenous employees, says Bansal. It also offers reciprocal mentoring among Indigenous and nonIndigenous employees, enabling cross-cultural learning and access to career advice. In all, nearly 500


Indigenous awareness e-learning program

Royal Eagles employee resource group

57% of employees are women

Workforce diversity census  Gopal Bansal, vice president, diversity & inclusion at RBC.

colleagues have participated in the program, sharing experiences, providing support and learning from one another. Indeed, Bansal says working with and learning from Indigenous employees has helped to create a safe and inclusive workplace for all employees. RBC’s first

employee resource group (ERG), for example, was the Royal Eagles, established in 1990 for Indigenous employees. It has served as the role model for all the ERGs that followed, he says. As part of all employees’ learning and development, RBC has made the online course 4 Seasons of

Reconciliation available to all employees. The nine-module course from the First Nations University of Canada presents Indigenous realities and histories in a way that is easy to understand, Bansal says. “We want our Indigenous colleagues to know their voices are being heard and their contributions

are highly valued,” he adds. Shute, who’s 12 years into her career with RBC, says she’s noticing a different atmosphere at work. “There’s a more open dialogue and a real interest in the true history of Canada,” she says. “That positivity helps me feel a real sense of pride.” 

We’re delighted to be selected as one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers for the 12th time. By definition change is limitless. At RBC 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




Diversity leads to a stronger, more inclusive TD oshua Cayer didn’t intend to find a career in banking, but after 15 years of service and various roles at TD Bank Group, his journey has fulfilled him in surprising ways. Over time, the University of Ottawa sociology and criminology graduate found himself taking on diverse roles in customer experience, fraud and anti-money laundering. “There’s no shortage of learning and growth opportunities at TD,” says Cayer.

TD’s focus on diversity and inclusion is one of the foundations of our culture. We recognize its importance and celebrate it. — Jennifer Page Vice President, Treasury Modelling

A proud member of the Kitigan Zibi Anishnabeg Algonquin First Nation near Ottawa, Cayer wasn’t always connected to his culture, but embarked on a path of discovery to find his authentic self when he became a father. “I felt a responsibility to help make the world a more welcoming place for my daughters and my community,” he says. At TD, Cayer was able to live his passion for diversity and inclusion through internal training and mentorship, which is how he landed his current role as a diversity talent recruiter for Indigenous Peoples in December 2020. With a focus on

 Jennifer Page, vice president, treasury modelling at TD Bank.

sourcing external talent, he does outreach at Indigenous student centres at colleges and universities and forges connections with other professional associations. “I try to be the point of contact for talent from Indigenous communities so they know they have a person internally who can provide support, advocate for them and highlight their gifts,” he says. Relationship building and networking are key skills. Cayer aims to showcase how a career at TD can be a great opportunity for Indigenous Peoples, one that not

only provides many ways to advance professionally but also gives back to communities in meaningful ways. “I want to continue to be able to influence the business on the importance of hiring from Indigenous communities and showcase how that strengthens TD Bank as an organization,” he says. Like Cayer, Jennifer Page connected with her authentic self during her more than two decades at TD. In May 2000, a master’s degree in economics and finance landed her a position as senior analyst, quantitative

analytics. But for the first decade, when she completed the annual voluntary, confidential employee self-identification survey to help TD better understand and embrace its employees’ diversity, she didn’t self-identify on the form as Indigenous. “I joined TD straight out of graduate school at age 28, and there weren’t many women working in quantitative finance then,” says Page. “My colleagues were predominantly older men with PhDs in physics and math, so I already felt like an oddball. It


Mental health diversity programs

Gender identity expression training

Unconscious bias and cultural awareness training programs

Digital Indigenous Resource Centre  Joshua Cayer, diversity talent recruiter for Indigenous Peoples at TD Bank.

wasn’t until years later that I felt confident enough to click on the self-identification box.” Proud of her Manitoba Métis heritage, Page also ticked a box on the survey that said, “I’m willing to be contacted.” She’s happy she did, and now encourages others to do the same.

Around that time, Page’s family had started giving back in their home community. “I asked myself, what am I doing to support my community?” she says. One way Page lends support is through the TD Indigenous Employee Circle, where she met Cayer while participating

on a panel at an event for youth from Indigenous communities. They work both internally and externally to increase Indigenous representation, raise awareness and create excitement about opportunities. Because of her finance background, she especially enjoys speaking with university students

in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programs. “TD’s focus on diversity and inclusion is one of the foundations of our culture,” says Page. “We recognize its importance and celebrate it – and you get the best outcomes when you do.” 



Amplifying associates’ voices is key for Walmart


ike many others across the country, Rebecca Owens marked Orange Shirt Day on Sept. 30 by wearing an “Every Child Matters” orange shirt to raise awareness about the continuing impact of residential schools on Indigenous peoples and their communities. Owens, who works to empower Indigenous communities, is the co-manager of a Walmart Canada Corp. store in St. John’s, N.L., and she’s proud of her employer’s initiative to sell the shirts and donate all profits to the Orange Shirt Society, led by Phyllis Webstad, who founded Orange Shirt Day – Every Child Matters based on her experience of having her new orange shirt taken away on her first day at a residential school. But when Owens saw an opportunity for the company to do more to support Indigenous peoples, she wrote to her executive vice-president, Nabeela Ixtabalan, with a suggestion.

We are addressing the different needs of our associate community, and focusing on empowering associates to increase diversity within our leadership roles. — Ingrid Wilson Senior Director of Culture, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

“I reached out to Nabeela and told her about my passion for working with the Indigenous

 Walmart associates at their St.John's-Kelsey, N.L. store.

community,” says Owens, who has been working to find a way to connect with Indigenous communities and help advance Indigenous women into leadership roles. Now, she says, “we’re looking into partnering with an Indigenous group in Newfoundland called the Newfoundland Aboriginal Women's Network, which helps promote women in leadership positions within the Indigenous community, to help us empower Indigenous women leaders through the Women in Retail program at

Walmart.” Owens was thrilled that her views were listened to, taken seriously and acted upon. “When I wrote to management, I had no idea it would go this far – it was just to have my voice heard,” she says. “But being able to present my ideas has been incredible, and I think it’s good for our associates to be able to relate to that. If I can have a voice, so can they. At the end of the day, it’s about encouraging associates to have a voice.” Ingrid Wilson, Walmart

Canada’s senior director of culture, diversity, equity and inclusion (CDEI), says that amplifying associates’ voices is a priority for the Mississauga, Ont.-based retailer. “It starts with listening sessions to give associates a platform to talk about what’s impacting them, and then identifying what we can accomplish as an organization to serve and deliver on their needs.” As part of her role, Wilson created a new CDEI strategy, expanding on the corporation’s previous program, Providing


Diversity programs for new Canadians

Mental health programs

Implemented retention and development programs

50% of employees identify as BIPOC or racialized  Rebecca Owens is the co-manager of the St. John's-Kelsey, Nfld. Walmart store.

Opportunities for All. One of its initiatives is the CDEI Advocate Award, which recognizes associates who promote and champion CDEI within Walmart Canada and its community. “We are addressing the different needs of our associate community, and focusing on empowering

associates to increase diversity within our leadership roles,” Wilson says. “We’re also building a Transgender Inclusion program for our leaders and associates with a partner organization, Pride at Work Canada.” In addition, Wilson is developing an Inclusive Leadership training

series that Walmart hopes to extend to certain partners and suppliers. And her team is organizing two Walmart Canada Signature Open Call Vendor Forums, with a focus on inclusive products and vendors with different backgrounds, identities and experiences.

“It’s been a great learning journey that’s helped us build community partnerships and moved us forward to create better opportunities for all,” she says. “We hope our strategy will impact not just the Walmart community and our associates but everyone around us.” 

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 23rd 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: Applications for our 2023 competition are now available and must be returned by April.