It’s Not Enough to Want a Diverse Workforce; You Have to Create One

Canadian companies are realizing the strategic importance of a diverse workforce.

By Caityln Coverly, Financial Post

A few weeks ago, senior vice-president Laszlo Bock took to Google’s official blog to publicly share the company’s employee demographics, revealing a predominately white male workforce and admitting a reluctance to come forward with the data earlier.

The announcement was deemed a groundbreaking disclosure, because U.S. companies are not obligated to make their workforce demographics public. However, citing that transparency is key to finding a solution, Mr. Bock wrote, “Simply put, Google is not where we want to be when it comes to diversity … our efforts, including going public with these numbers, are designed to help us recruit and develop the world’s most talented and diverse people.”

In Canada, many companies have come to realize the strategic importance of a diverse workforce and, much like Google, have initiated comprehensive diversity strategies. But developing and executing those strategies is no easy feat.

Financial institutions were among the first organizations to act on the long-term demographic and labour-market significance of Canada’s Employment Equity Act, which requires special measures and the accommodation of differences for four designated groups in Canada: women, aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities.

“As a regulated organization, we looked at diversity from a compliance perspective at first,” said Norma Tombari, director of Global Diversity at the Royal Bank of Canada. “However, with the appointment of Gordon Nixon as CEO in 2001, came the revitalization of a very robust diversity strategy; what we refer to as our Diversity Blueprint.”

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