3 min read

Where are you on the journey to becoming a diverse and inclusive employer?

Where are you on the journey to becoming a diverse and inclusive employer?

Most leaders want to create diverse and inclusive workplaces. In From Engagement to Retention: DEI’s Impact on the Marketing Profession, a survey by The Canadian Marketing Association (CMA), 99% of respondents agreed that a fully inclusive workplace benefits everyone. However, only 22% of respondents reported having a well-diversified senior team.

While the survey was launched to combat racism, discrimination and systemic barriers in the marketing profession, many findings are relevant to all workplaces. Nearly 40% of respondents represented non-marketing client firms, and 70% of respondents were senior leaders.

Responses are categorized based on level of diversification.





My organization’s senior leaders are diverse based on age, gender, ethnicity, race, religion, sexual orientation, physical conditions, cultural background, country of origin, etc.



Acting towards

My organization has some diverse representation and definite formal plans to address diversity




My organization is mostly not diverse, making attempts to diversify



Not diversified 

My organization is mostly not diverse with no apparent interest in change.




The business case for DEI

CMA’s respondents cited many benefits of fully inclusive work environments, including:

  • More innovation and creativity – 75%

  • Improved employee morale and loyalty – 72%

  • A better understanding of clients and customers – 71%

As the report title suggests, the employee retention and engagement numbers are particularly compelling. Half of respondents with well-diversified leadership reported preventable employee loss during the pandemic compared to 75% of firms where the leadership team is not at all diverse. 

In well-diversified organizations, only 12% of respondents said they were personally less engaged, compared to 52% in companies with no diversity at the leadership level. 

Clearly, leaders understand the value of DEI; however, the journey to becoming “well-diversified” seems challenging for many. 


Getting started

In the webinar Uncertainty, Compassion and Why We Need More Women Leaders, hosted by Harvard Business Review and The Potential Project, Jacqueline Carter, Senior Partner at the Potential Project, said leaders need to:

  1. Make the case – what business outcomes will DEI support?

  2. Make it actionable – Be specific about how you will do it, and consider what DEI looks like in practical terms.

  3. Be the change you want to see in the world.

Carter’s co-presenter, Pamela Maynard of Avanade, one of only a few black female CEOs in the tech sector, says there is a vulnerability inherent in being the “only one” but also a sense of responsibility. “It drives me to be more inclusive in terms of how I lead. I pay attention to others who may feel vulnerable and create space for those voices to be heard.”

Maynard says that, at Avanade, the senior leadership team owns the DEI agenda. Each leader is accountable for their own DEI commitment framework and is actively involved in one of the organization’s many employee networks.

In 2022, Avanade was named one of Canadian HR Reporter’s Leading Diversity and Inclusion Employers -- a distinction awarded to organizations that achieve an 80% or greater average satisfaction rating from employees.

Coast Mental Health, British Columbia Lottery Corporation and Canuck Place Children’s Hospice were also recognized. In an article written for Canadian HR Reporter, these recipients shared initiatives they’ve undertaken to ensure their workplaces are diverse and inclusive. Below are a few examples.

Coast Mental Health

Coast’s CHRO Deborah Maynard says shared ownership at all levels of the organization has been critical to their success. Some of their DEI initiatives include:

  • A DEI working committee that consults to and provides feedback to leaders

  • Specific and meaningful training on issues such as cultural competency, implicit bias awareness, inclusion, anti-black racism and microaggression.

British Columbia Lottery Corporation 

Manager, Madhavee Inamdar says, at BCLC, they place equal weight on visible and non-visible diversity and DEI is more about human connection and human rights. BCLC activities include:

  • BIPOC internship

  • Cultural and psychological safety committee

  • Pledge to include representatives from the Black community

  • Active bystander training

Canuck Place Children’s Hospice 

Catherine Gordon, Director of People and Culture at Canuck Place Children’s Hospice says creating a safe, respectful and inclusive environment is important for staff and those entering the hospice. Their program includes:

  • A respectful workplace policy and culture

  • Required training for all new employees, including unconscious bias and pronouns, and microaggression training

  • Staff encouraged to take a San’ Yas Indigenous Cultural Safety course. 

  • Leadership participation in “Uncomfortable Conversations” anti-racism employee group meetings

Many organizations have committed to and are reaping the benefits of creating diverse and inclusive cultures. Most started with a shift in mindset and acknowledgment of the value and benefit of diversity, equity and inclusion. If you aren’t already, it is time to have critical conversations about what’s working and what’s not in your workplace and commit to making DEI and belonging a priority at all levels of your organization.

Get to know the author – Fresh Communications



HomeEquity Bank is Reaping the Rewards of Investing in its People and Culture

5 min read

HomeEquity Bank is Reaping the Rewards of Investing in its People and Culture

HomeEquity Bank is the provider of the CHIP Reverse Mortgage to Canadians aged 55 and better. In the last few months, HomeEquity Bank has appeared on...

Read More
Start off the new year by showing you care: Conduct a respectful workplace audit

Start off the new year by showing you care: Conduct a respectful workplace audit

The workplace significantly influences employees’ experiences; every interaction creates positive or negative emotions. If they have more negative...

Read More
Show new & young workers that safety is part of your organization's DNA

1 min read

Show new & young workers that safety is part of your organization's DNA

CBC recently reported that the province of Ontario is facing a historic labour shortage. At the time of the report in early October, there were over...

Read More