DEI initiatives continue to impress

Top employers showcase evolution of diversity and inclusion programs

DEI initiatives continue to impress

Years ago, a focus on diversity in the workplace could be pretty limited. Vying to boost the number of women on staff was often top of the list of priorities.

But in looking at the employers excelling in this area, it’s amazing to see how much work is being done, and how broad the initiatives are ― despite a recent report suggesting many employers are going through the motions when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).

Take, for example, Accessible Media (AMI), where people with disabilities represent 19 per cent of overall employees, 16 per cent of managers and 33 per cent of the board. The company also has three work placement programs for people with disabilities, including an internship for post-secondary students, an apprenticeship program in broadcasting and content creation for people in post-secondary and a job shadowing program for high school students, according to Mediacorp which runs the Best Diversity Employers competition.

AMI also runs an orientation program for new employees in disability awareness, holds disability awareness and sensitivity training on a regular basis, provides resources on creating accessible documents and reminds staff to add photo descriptions for all photos that are posted or emailed out.

Or how about Bruce Power, which hired 76 Indigenous employees in 2019. It also created an Indigenous Education and Work Experience Opportunity, which provides sponsored tuition and paid work placements. Its Indigenous Network plans company and community events to increase Indigenous awareness and serves as company advocates within local Indigenous communities.

“Bruce Power has adopted a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion and has a strategic plan in place to ensure this commitment results in meaningful action,” says Cathy Sprague, Bruce Power’s executive vice president of human resources.

Then there’s the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), which is developing a system-wide anti-racism strategy and reviewing its policies, systems and practices with an anti-racism and anti-Black racism lens (including a review of its employment policies and practices to identify and remove barriers in the recruitment, hiring and promotion of diverse racialized, Black and Indigenous groups), says Mediacorp.

And then there’s the Bank of Canada, which offers scholarships for students with disabilities as well as Indigenous students. It also has a master's scholarship program for women in economics and finance with the hope of creating more gender-balanced talent pipelines for the bank.

The organization also developed a new diversity and inclusion strategy in consultation with over 200 employees, including members of diversity groups, champions, members of internal networks and ERGs as well as leaders. There’s also an Indigenous stakeholder relations working group, and the Bank of Canada works with organizations representing the blind and partially sighted to offer a suite of accessibility features for identifying Canadian banknote denominations.

There’s even “an app for that,” as seen with Sun Life’s recent announcement it was offering employees an app-based diversity and inclusion tool to combat prejudice.

Tech tools can definitely help on the front, says one expert.

There is still a long way to go when it comes to diversity and inclusion but it’s encouraging to see employers putting so much effort and strategy into their initiatives.

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