People with disabilities were the most underrepresented employment equity group

Mario ToneguzziWith all the emphasis in recent years on inclusion and diversity, you would think that Canadian organizations would have made a positive impact in that direction.

But a new report released by the Conference Board of Canada on Thursday suggests inclusion strategies, investments and actions by Canadian organizations are not always aligned.

The report, Measuring Up: Benchmarking Diversity and Inclusion in Canadian Organizations, said that while Canadian organizations indicated an intent to focus on inclusion efforts, the behaviours that go along with these intentions, such as providing development opportunities for members of diverse groups, were viewed as low priorities.

“Many Canadian organizations have woken up to the reality that a diverse and inclusive workforce is a competitive advantage. However, they are struggling with putting those intentions into practice in a systematic and disciplined way,” said Jane Cooper, senior sesearch associate at the Conference Board of Canada, in a news release.

Here are the highlights of the board’s report:

  • 31 per cent of respondents were neutral on whether their organization is diverse and 39 per cent on whether it was inclusive;
  • 45 per cent said that their organization has a diversity team or office;
  • One-third of responding organizations have no special strategies to recruit a more diverse workforce;
  • One-third of respondents said they do not measure the results of their diversity and inclusion efforts;
  • In only a third of responding organizations, oversight or accountability for diversity and inclusion is where we would hope to find it – at the executive level, under either the president/CEO/deputy minister (17 per cent) or a senior vice-president or assistant deputy minister (13 per cent); and
  • People with disabilities were the most under-represented employment equity group in the respondents’ labour forces (69 per cent labour market attainment), followed by Indigenous peoples (83 per cent labour market attainment).

“The take-home message is that there is still a lot of confusion about what diversity and inclusion mean practically and how you get there. Many organizations are not sure if they can even describe their workplaces as diverse or inclusive. If you can’t define or evaluate what good means in your context there is no way you can tell if the initiatives you invest in are working as intended—or not. These are empirical questions that demand an empirical approach. Good intentions are simply not enough,”  said Sarah Reid, director of inclusion at the Conference Board of Canada.


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