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  • Jordan Strate

Seeing the “I” in EDI

Updated: May 17

In today's dynamic and interconnected world, fostering Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (E.D.I.) is a strategic necessity for organizations aiming to thrive. E.D.I. initiatives go beyond mere representation; they aim to create environments where every individual feels valued, respected, and empowered to contribute their unique perspectives. In this blog, we delve into the significance of E.D.I., but we’re going to focus particularly on the “I”.

Inclusion in the workplace is the cornerstone of a thriving and dynamic organizational culture. Inclusive workplaces foster a sense of belonging, where employees from diverse backgrounds and opinions feel welcomed and appreciated for who they are. To put it simply, your workplace should be a neutral and welcoming space for all. 

Inclusive workplaces not only attract top talent but also cultivate high levels of employee engagement, satisfaction, and retention. All employees should be inspired to bring their best selves to work. 

A Few Best Practices

1. Leadership Commitments:

Leadership not only has to champion E.D.I. initiatives but has to set the tone from the top. When leaders become models of inclusive behavior, show they are attentive and integrate diverse perspectives, it sends a message that shines down onto the organization.

2. Education and Training:

Training resources encompass a wide variety of topics including unconscious bias training, and cultural competencies. Equipping employees with the knowledge and skills needed to proactively foster inclusivity solidifies your bottom line.

ERGs provide platforms for employees to connect, share experiences, and advocate for inclusivity. Encouraging the formation of ERGs demonstrates a commitment to valuing diverse perspectives. Check out our blog about ERGs here.

4. Review Inclusive Policies and Practices:

Organizations should be open to revising their policies and practices to eliminate bias and barriers. It’s important to think broadly and consult employee feedback during the process. Employee satisfaction surveys are a vital tool in this process.

5. Commit to Continuous Improvement:

Commit yourself to regularly assessing how E.D.I. initiatives affect your work. Whether you are in management or  employee surveys, focus groups, and performance metrics allow you to identify areas for improvement in your work. Knowing the scope of the challenge is the first step in making necessary adjustments.

Feeling the Impact 

Investing in E.D.I. initiatives aren't just the right thing to do; it's also good for business. Research consistently shows that organizations with diverse and inclusive cultures experience higher levels of employee engagement, satisfaction, and retention.

According to a study conducted by McKinsey & Company, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile. Similarly, organizations with inclusive cultures reported lower turnover rates and higher levels of employee loyalty and commitment.

The 2023 Diversity Disclosure Practices Report on Diversity and Leadership showed that public companies in Canada show promising results. Women are being appointed or filling vacant director positions at a rate of 45.3% and they hold almost 30% of board seats among TSX-listed companies. Furthermore 10% of company directors are from a visible minority.

It’s clear women are becoming increasingly represented in the C-suite, although at a progressive rate. On average, 21% of executive officers in 2023 were women, compared to 20% in 2022 and 18% in 2021. Among S&P/TSX 60 companies, one out of every four executive officers is a woman. 

The average number of executive officers who are members of visible minorities, however, increased significantly from mid-year 2022 and there are now on average 0.88 visible minority executive officers per CBCA company. However, the average number of executive officers who are Indigenous peoples or persons with a disability was virtually unchanged year to year.

Although the number of women on boards in Canada continues to rise, gender diversity is on par levels in the U.S. and Australia, progress lags in other areas. Even among Canada’s largest companies, gender diversity has not reached the 40% level reached by the 350 largest companies in the U.K., nor the levels reached in organizations that have put quotas in place (most commonly 30%). 

The report shows what to expect going forward: an increase in the proportion of women directors, executive officers at a steady rate and increasing investment in increasing visible minority representation on public company boards. The Canadian Securities Administration (CSA) may mandate disclosure of visible minority representation which would potentially increase the rate at which it progresses. It’s clear the journey is not over and the landscape is shifting, although we all hope for progress and prosperity.

In conclusion, embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion isn't a one-time endeavor; it's an ongoing commitment that requires dedication, perseverance, and continuous and conscious improvement. But it shows clear results when done right and allows businesses to unleash their full potential.

Further Reading:

Report: 2023 Diversity Disclosure Practices – Diversity and leadership at Canadian public companies

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