The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan’s focus on diversity, equity and inclusion issues is an increasingly key part of its long-term strategic vision.

The pension fund is embedding DEI initiatives into its latest enterprise strategy and is guiding the plan’s global growth and expansion, says Beth Tyndall, its chief people officer. “For the first time ever in [our] corporate strategy, we’ve been able to make [DEI] very prominent. We went through a refresh of our values and the first value we landed on was inclusivity. It’s a really important topic for us. . . . Within our culture, we recognize there’s a huge area of opportunity for us to double down on the DEI space, especially when we think about how we want to grow globally and the types of talent we need to bring into the organization.”

Read: How HOOPP is increasing DEI focus in culture, recruitment strategies

The Ontario Teachers’ is looking at all areas of diversity, says Tyndall. It has a number of employee resources groups, including an LGBTQ2S+ group and a multicultural group, and it’s also looking at the BIPOC community and mental health.

“It was a great opportunity throughout the pandemic to engage many people across the organization around health and well-being. We’re continuing to look at gender diversity and we’re also looking at international diversification, including global skill sets and language capabilities.”

The pension fund’s recruiting strategy includes partnerships with community organizations to reach a diverse group of candidates. One such initiative took place in the U.K., where the Ontario Teachers’ partnered with #10000BlackInterns, a program that’s aiming to provide 10,000 internships to young Black employees over the next five years. “We were able to bring interns to our London office who we probably otherwise wouldn’t have come across had we not partnered with this third party,” says Tyndall. “We have several groups we’re partnering with to increase our talent base.”

Read: PSP joins CPPIB as signatory on DEI pledge

And with shocking events, such as the murder of George Floyd and the discovery of unmarked graves at former residential schools across Canada, the Ontario Teachers’ has responded with measures such as employee listening sessions, in addition to regular employee engagement on diversity and inclusion issues, she says.

“Whether it’s residential schools or George Floyd, we’ve tried to open up a dialogue with employees and I think it’s really helped. At the same time, we’ve brought in a focus on well-being and mental health to try and make that connection. We’re very attuned to global issues — we’re a global fund with offices around the world and we’re looking to grow globally, so it’s a huge area of focus to keep our eyes on. We’ve made a lot of progress, but we’re not satisfied. You have to look at how you’re doing year over year. We’re not complacent and it’s a continuing effort.”

Read: Canadian employers continuing DEI efforts one year after murder of George Floyd