Diversity is more than making sure everyone feels welcome in the workplace. It’s also about a seat at the table.
By Diane Jermyn* – March, 2021
Diversity is more than making sure everyone feels welcome in the workplace. It’s also about a seat at the table.
Canada’s Best Diversity Employers 2021, selected by Mediacorp Canada Inc., recognize that real change begins with real action. That means taking proactive steps to address the systemic and unconscious inequities of race and gender that exist in Canadian organizations.
In this time marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, Black Lives Matter and Truth and Reconciliation for Indigenous peoples, there is fresh impetus for companies to make a difference – and an increased awareness of past injustice.
The winners of this specialty competition have been recognized for their ongoing efforts with a wide array of progressive inclusion initiatives, from unconscious bias training to diversity targets to support for mental health. What’s key is having a formalized plan and strategy for unlocking opportunities and making true diversity and inclusion a reality. That includes a deep dive into determining where the inequalities lie, a willingness to act from the top down and a shift to meaningful representation at every level.
Take a look at the City of Vancouver which adopted an extensive, long-term strategy to address systemic issues that impact women’s full inclusion, with goals and actions that focus on increasing female representation within the city’s senior management and underrepresented occupations. Transparency matters as well, with the city recently publishing its first annual workforce pay and gender report.
Opening dialogue is key to understanding the underlying issues. For example, Rogers Communications launched “Safe Talk and Safe Talking and Listening” sessions to create space for self-identifying Black employees and allies to engage in conversation on anti-racism and on constructive ways to be an ally to the Black community.
The benefits for companies that embrace best practices around diversity and inclusion are well established. The increased innovation, productivity and revenue growth sparked by diverse perspectives speak for themselves.
While the selection process to choose the winners of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers continually evolves to include new questions that reflect changes in the workplace, the methodology and selection criteria for the competition essentially remains the same as in previous years. The Mediacorp competition recognizes employers across Canada that have exceptional workplace diversity and inclusiveness programs. These include successful diversity initiatives in a variety of areas, including programs for employees from five groups: women; members of visible minorities; persons with disabilities; aboriginal people; and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered/transsexual (LGBTQ) people.
To determine the winners of the competition, the editors at Mediacorp’s Top Employers reviewed the diversity and inclusiveness initiatives of all employers that applied for the Canada’s Top 100 Employers project. From this overall applicant pool, a smaller short list of employers with noteworthy and unique diversity initiatives was developed. The short-listed candidates’ programs were then compared to those of other employers in the same field. The finalists represent the diversity leaders in their industry and region of Canada.
The Globe and Mail is not involved in the judging process.
Mediacorp’s Canada’s Best Diversity Employers is an annual national competition, and all applicants must pay a fee to enter. Any employer with its head office or principal place of business in Canada may apply regardless of size, whether private or public sector.
Canada’s Best Diversity Employers 2021, as selected by Mediacorp
Accenture Inc., Toronto. Professional services; 5,453 employees. Continues to work towards advancing women in the workplace and achieving a gender-balanced workforce by 2025.
Accessible Media Inc. / AMI, Toronto. Television and radio broadcasting; 100 employees. Manages three work placement programs to help persons with disabilities gain meaningful work experience.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Ottawa. Federal government; 4,888 employees. Created an Indigenous student recruitment initiative to provide opportunities for students to transition to the workplace after their education is complete.
Air Canada, Saint-Laurent, Que. Air transportation; 31,215 employees. Created an Accommodation Office to assist new employees with any necessary adjustments during the hiring and onboarding process.
Alberta Health Services / AHS, Edmonton. Healthcare; 47,560 employees. Maintains a dedicated diversity and inclusion Centre of Expertise, a team of three who assist in implementing programs and policies across the organization.
Amex Bank of Canada, Toronto. Credit card issuing; 1,745 employees. Maintains 10 colleague networks across the organization, including groups for millennials, women, families and women in technology.
Bank of Canada, Ottawa. Central bank; 1,780 employees. Created a master’s scholarship program for women in economics and finance aimed at creating more gender-balanced talent pipelines for the bank in the future.
BC Hydro, Vancouver. Hydroelectric power generation; 5,863 employees. Created an Indigenous Professional in Development Program, a paid one-year internship for post-secondary school graduates.
BC Public Service, Victoria. Provincial government; 31,117 employees. Manages the Work-Able Graduate Internship program to provide post-secondary graduates with disabilities opportunities to gain work experience within the public sector.
Bell Canada, Verdun, Que. Communications; 37,528 employees. Launched the Black Professionals Network during Black History Month in 2019 to help support professional development, raise cultural awareness and engage and attract new talent.
Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP, Toronto. Law firm; 1,370 employees. Provided dedicated mental health training for leaders in light of the pandemic to help them communicate with employees who may be struggling.
Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, Toronto. Law firm; 1,537 employees. Requires diverse representation on shortlists when hiring lawyers, as well as providing unconscious bias training for lawyers conducting law student interviews.
Bruce Power LP, Tiverton, Ont. Nuclear power generation; 4,054 employees. Created an Indigenous Education and Work Experience Opportunity, which provides sponsored tuition and paid work placements.
Business Development Bank of Canada, Montreal. Secondary market financing; 2,409 employees. Offers internal resources to encourage employees to learn about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s findings.
CAMH / Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto. Specialty hospital; 2,652 employees. Supports the Out of This World Cafe at three locations, operated by Working for Change to provide employment opportunities for the psychiatric consumer/survivor community.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. / CMHC, Ottawa. Federal government; 1,988 employees. Committed to embarking on an anti-racist journey including working with partner organizations to secure stronger support for Black employees.
Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd., Calgary. Railroad transportation; 9,867 employees. Works with a variety of community partners to recruit individuals from all walks of life.
Capital One Canada, Toronto. Credit card issuing; 1,334 employees. Held its first Women in Tech Invitational in 2019 for female candidates applying for technology roles.
Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, Toronto. Child and youth services; 734 employees. Is currently rolling out an equity and anti-Black racism strategy that will be integrated into existing internal structures and departments.
CIBC, Toronto. Banking; 36,431 employees. Is committed to gender-balanced leadership with short and long-term goals to increase representation of women in executive roles.
Dentons Canada LLP, Vancouver. Law firm; 1,251 employees. Is currently developing a new affinity group to address the interests and values of Black employees.
Department of Finance Canada, Ottawa. Federal government; 757 employees. Launched FIN Builds, a new initiative designed to look into the reasons behind women’s underrepresentation in leadership positions in the department.
Desjardins Group / Mouvement Desjardins, Lévis, Que. Financial institution; 40,137 employees. Established a goal to have women represent 50 per cent of senior management positions by 2024.
Edmonton, City of, Edmonton. Municipal government; 9,981 employees. Created an educational program for all employees to learn about the history and impact of Canada’s residential school system on Indigenous peoples.
Employment and Social Development Canada, Gatineau, Que. Federal government; 28,003 employees. Formed a national Visible Minorities Network, led by an elected executive committee.
Enbridge Inc., Calgary. Energy infrastructure; 7,627 employees. Conducts annual pay equity analyses as well as additional analyses during performance reviews, leadership development and succession planning.
Hatch Ltd., Mississauga. Engineering; 3,381 employees. Established a goal to have women represent 40 per cent of its workforce by 2023.
Health Canada / Santé Canada, Ottawa. Federal government; 8,507 employees. Completed its fourth year of implementation of its mental health and wellness in the workplace strategy.
Home Depot of Canada Inc., Toronto. Retail; 14,591 employees. Launched a gender transition guide as a resource for employees who may be involved in the transition, including the individual, supervisor, manager, peers or direct reports.
HP Canada Co., Mississauga. Computer technology and services; 498 employees. Manages a sponsorship program called Catalyst@HP with the objective of increasing the representation of women in technical and leadership roles.
IBM Canada Ltd., Markham, Ont. Software development. Partnered with Specialisterne to deploy IGNITE Autism Spectrum Disorder, a program to employ spectrum talent locally.
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, Ottawa. Federal government; 5,530 employees. Is investing in Canada’s first-ever Women Entrepreneurship Strategy to provide direct investments for women-owned or women-led businesses.
Jazz Aviation LP, Dartmouth, N.S. Air transportation; 4,777 employees. Offers a scholarship program for Indigenous female aviators, in partnership with Indspire, an Indigenous-led national charity.
KPMG LLP, Toronto. Accounting; 8,399 employees. Established a new key performance indicator for the firm’s partners, linking compensation to representation of women and visible minorities.
Lafarge Canada Inc., Calgary. Concrete manufacturing; 6,908 employees. Committed to a 2030 action plan, which includes a goal of having 30 per cent of management roles held by women by the year 2030.
Loblaw Companies Ltd., Brampton, Ont. Supermarkets and grocery stores; 27,360 employees. Maintained its focus on gender balance, hosting a variety of initiatives including two networking events with management board executives.
Manitoba Hydro, Winnipeg. Hydroelectric power generation; 4,947 employees. Launched pre-placement programs for women in power line technician and power electrician trades programs, with a goal of increasing representation of women.
Manulife, Toronto. Insurance; 12,489 employees. Implemented diverse candidate slate requirements to increase hire and promotion rates of diverse candidates for Director-level roles and above.
McCarthy Tétrault LLP, Toronto. Law firm; 1,576 employees. Made significant strides to increase gender diversity internally, with women representing over 50 per cent of C-suite roles.
McMaster University, Hamilton. Universities; 6,210 employees. Launched an employment equity facilitator program to support all hiring processes, act as process consultants and ensure equitable outcomes.
Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP, Toronto. Law firm; 1,679 employees. Offers a Career Strategies development program for high-potential women who aspire to partnership, including access to personal executive coaching.
Nutrien Inc., Saskatoon, Sask. Fertilizer manufacturing; 5,835 employees. Offers training and education on a variety of diversity related topics including unconscious bias, Aboriginal awareness and LGBTQ awareness.
Ottawa, City of, Ottawa. Municipal government; 11,584 employees. Established an Anti-racism Secretariat to adopt an anti-racism approach to policy development, decision making and program development.
Procter & Gamble Inc., Toronto. Consumer product manufacturing; 1,555 employees. Conducts annual diversity reviews with senior-level employees from across all business units to assess progress and reinforce leadership accountability.
Providence Health Care, Vancouver. Hospitals; 4,195 employees. Established an All-Nations Sacred Space at St. Paul’s Hospital that can accommodate the smudging ceremonies, drumming circles, unification ceremonies, talking circles and feasts.
Public Services and Procurement Canada, Gatineau, Que. Federal government; 16,128 employees. Created a national reconciliation and Indigenous engagement unit, responsible for developing the department’s Reconciliation Framework and Strategy.
Red River College, Winnipeg. Colleges; 1,464 employees. Conducted a college-wide self-identification survey in order to develop action plans for equity, diversity and inclusion.
Rogers Communications Inc., Toronto. Communications, cable, publishing and subscription programming; 22,635 employees. Conducted an internal research study aimed to identify barriers for women and patterns of system bias through the employee lifecycle.
Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto. Banking; 57,242 employees. Offers a 10-month Ignite leadership development program for high-performing, culturally diverse talent, aimed at accelerating their trajectory to senior management.
SAP Canada Inc., Vancouver. Custom computer programming services; 3,283 employees. Participated as a pilot country for its parent company’s Autism at Work program.
SaskPower, Regina. Electric power generation; 3,398 employees. Employs a full-time diversity specialist, who is responsible for the development and implementation of a corporate diversity strategy.
SaskTel, Regina. Telecommunications; 2,737 employees. Maintains a hiring strategy for persons with disabilities and conducts information sessions and pre-employment workshops with community partners.
Sinai Health, Toronto. Hospitals; 3,744 employees. Created the “Are You an Ally” campaign to educate employees on how to act as an ally for persons who experience discrimination.
Sodexo Canada Ltd., Burlington, Ont. Food service contractors; 5,700 employees. Maintains 16 partnerships that generate training and professional development programs for Indigenous groups.
Stanley Black & Decker Canada Corp., Mississauga. Tool and hardware manufacturing; 1,398 employees. Created a diversity and inclusion advisory and action committee, comprised of cross-business and cross-functional employees.
Statistics Canada, Ottawa. Federal government; 5,469 employees. Actively tracks employment equity data by occupational category and occupational group and conducts mobility analysis of hires, separations and promotions.
Suncor Energy Inc., Calgary. Crude petroleum and natural gas extraction; 12,456 employees. Has managed an Indigenous student program since 2015, which has since become available across all Canadian operations.
Surrey, City of, Surrey. Municipal government; 2,125 employees. Created an Inclusive Employer Awards program to recognize local businesses that create welcoming environments for persons with disabilities.
TD Bank Group, Toronto. Banking; 53,694 employees. Continues to evolve its approach to diversity and inclusion with a recently refreshed strategy and initiatives directed at the intersections of different identities.
TELUS Communications Inc., Vancouver. Telecommunications; 23,488 employees. Has achieved over 7,000 memberships in its five resource groups, which offer mentoring, networking, peer support, volunteering and coaching opportunities to its members.
Toronto Transit Commission / TTC, Toronto. Public transit; 15,201 employees. Committed to developing a system-wide Anti-Racism Strategy and a review of policies, systems and practices with an anti-racism and anti-Black racism lens.
UBC / University of British Columbia, Vancouver. Universities; 12,739 employees. Maintains an Equity Enhancement Fund to support collaborative student, faculty and staff projects that advance equity and inclusion.
University of Calgary, Calgary. Universities; 6,088 employees. Offers Diversity Awards to students, staff, faculty and mixed teams who have demonstrated a commitment to inclusion and equity on campus.
University of Manitoba, Winnipeg. Universities; 4,578 employees. Created Gaa wii ji’i diyaang, a council of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples walking together and helping to create a community through relationship building, education, advocacy and action.
University of Toronto, Toronto. Universities; 10,456 employees. Includes an anti-racism and cultural diversity office, an office of Indigenous initiatives, and a sexual and gender diversity office in its network of equity offices.
University of Victoria, Victoria. Universities; 3,203 employees. Features improved accessibility, family change rooms with space for transgendered individuals, and space for CanAssist at its Centre for Athletics, Recreation and Special Abilities.
Vancouver Airport Authority, Richmond, B.C. Airport operations; 538 employees. Partnered with the Canucks Autism Network to create a resource kit and video series to assist families and individuals living with autism when they travel.
Vancouver, City of, Vancouver. Municipal government; 7,582 employees. Embarked on its ninth annual mentorship program for new Canadians, in partnership with the Immigration Employment Council of British Columbia and various service providers.
William Osler Health System, Brampton, Ont. Hospitals; 3,460 employees. Aims to foster an inclusive and respectful environment for LGBTQ employees and patients through its multi-disciplinary LGBTQ2IA Allies Advisory Group.
YMCA of Greater Toronto, Toronto. Individual and family services; 3,027 employees. Partnered with the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres to provide opportunities for Indigenous cultural competency training.
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About the Author
*Diane Jermyn is an Independent Media Production Professional. Regular contributor to The Globe & Mail, Report on Business online, Report on Business magazine and other national magazines. Former managing editor of ParentsCanada.