Employer intentions, actions on diversity don’t align: report

While Canadian organizations have good intentions around their diversity and inclusion strategies, their investments and actions aren’t always aligned, according to a Conference Board of Canada report.

The report found that while Canadian organizations indicated they intend 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,” said Jane Cooper, senior research associate at the Conference Board of Canada, in a news release. “However, they are struggling with putting those intentions into practice in a systematic and disciplined way.” 

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The report found language has moved from ‘diversity’ to ‘diversity and inclusion,’ but there are divergent views about what these concepts mean. A number of respondents were neutral on whether their organization is diverse (31 per cent) or inclusive (39 per cent), while nearly half (45 per cent)of respondents said their organization has a diverse team or office.

A third of survey respondents said they have no special strategies to recruit a more diverse workforce and another third said they don’t measure the results of their diversity and inclusion efforts.

“There is still a lot of confusion about what diversity and inclusion means practically and how you get there,” said Sarah Reid, director of inclusion at the Conference Board of Canada. “Many organizations aren’t 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. . . . Good intentions are simply not enough.”

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