Canadian firms dragging their feet on diversity

Employers admit they could be doing a lot more to make their workplaces diverse and inclusive

Canadian firms dragging their feet on diversity
Just one in 10 Canadian employers strongly agrees that they take advantage of the benefits of a diverse workforce and inclusive workplace even as there is an overwhelming consensus that D&I initiatives are good for the company.

These were among the highlights of a report released this week by the Royal Bank of Canada and the Institute for Canadian Citizenship.

The report called “Diversity and Inclusion: We’re not doing enough” is based on a survey, interviews and roundtables among 64 leading organizations that collectively employ 1.2 million Canadians. The smallest organization had 500 employees; the biggest, 160,000.

 “The purpose was not to paint a rosy picture or pat ourselves on the back for diversity well done,” said John Stackhouse, senior vice president at RBC.

While the companies believed they were successful at building diverse workplaces, inclusion remains a challenge in Canadian workplaces.

“The next step of inclusion often remains elusive,” said Stackhouse.

Other findings include:
  • Companies are aware of the good D&I can do for business. 82% of respondents strongly agree that inclusion is required to translate diversity into performance results such as innovation.
  • They say D&I efforts will have no negative effects. Respondents either strongly disagreed (34%) or disagreed (34%) that diversity and inclusion can have drawbacks.
  • They have had varying progress. 81% provide internal networks such as affinity groups to foster a diverse workforce, while 75% have initiatives in place to develop high-potential talent.
  • They are also much aware of inclusion’s benefits. Respondent either strongly agreed (87%) or agreed (13%) that inclusive teams make better decisions than teams that are not inclusive
  • So much more needs to be done. There was an overall consensus that organizations should do more to build a diverse workforce (46% strongly agreed and 48% agreed).
  • They can start by establishing empirical benchmarks. Only 55% of employers attempt to measure the impact of their diversity initiatives.
  • They know where they are falling behind. Organizations tended to say they lagged behind in diversity and inclusion with respect to indigenous peoples and persons with disabilities.
The survey accompanies a companion work, “All of us: What we mean when we talk about inclusion,” authored by Sarmishta Subramanian, editor-in-chief of the Literary Review of Canada.

These publications form a comprehensive look at inclusion -- what we mean when we talk about it, and what action Canadian employers can take to work toward an inclusive workplace.

“Engaging in this exercise starts a necessary conversation. We acknowledge our shortcomings and understand our successes,” said Charlie Foran, CEO, Institute for Canadian Citizenship.

The survey, done between July and September this year, was developed for the 6 Degrees Citizen Space conference.

Related stories:
Is ‘blind recruitment’ the key to workforce diversity?
How diversity affects a company’s bottom line

Recent articles & video

Canadians more burned out now than this time last year

Managing succession planning in a talent crisis

Ottawa publishes wage-fixing, no-poaching enforcement guidelines

Privacy commissioner releases new guidance for workplaces

Most Read Articles

Canada's Best Places to Work in 2023 revealed

Union sounds alarm as WSIB workers' strike looms

Can I fire someone for playing hide and seek?