The Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan is increasing its focus on diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in areas ranging from organizational culture to recruiting.

The organization launched a five-year strategy last year, focusing on embedding DEI into its culture, work environment and business processes, while addressing systemic barriers faced by equity-seeking groups. Michael Regis, the pension fund’s director of equity, diversity and inclusion, says the consolidation of a pipeline for diverse talent is among the strategy’s top goals. “This includes broadening our resources to identify diverse talent while recognizing potential biases and implementing practices to mitigate them.”

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The plan’s first steps with the new strategy were a series of listening sessions, including one on the experience of Black employees in the workplace. “Our chief executive officer and executive team attended all five sessions,” says Regis. “These sessions helped us better understand some of the challenges that historically underrepresented groups experience in and outside the workplace and the learnings from these sessions are informing our [DEI strategy].”

The HOOPP is also launching a self-identification campaign to create a baseline of diversity demographics to identify gaps, set targets and measure progress on its DEI strategy, while strengthening its five employee resources groups by establishing defined roles and responsibilities. The plan is also providing managers with more anti-bias and cultural awareness training and creating a council where employees and senior leaders can develop action plans to drive DEI initiatives throughout the organization.

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The pension fund is also among the many signatories of the BlackNorth Initiative Pledge to acknowledge and combat anti-Black systemic racism in Canada. Regis says the HOOPP’s ongoing commitment to the pledge includes increasing its external partnerships to attract more Black talent to the organization by hosting sessions with the Black Business Professionals Association and participating in events such as the Black Professional Technology Network summit and Wilfrid Laurier University’s Black professionals career fair. The HOOPP is also among the Canadian pension funds participating in a joint Black History Month virtual session discussing race in the Canadian public pension fund industry.

“Participating in these events helps us to connect to Black job seekers to share insight into our organization’s culture, values and hiring practices,” says Regis. “We also provide advice and support on what Black professionals can expect when seeking career opportunities and navigating the corporate world.”

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