Amid an ongoing labour shortage, employers of all sizes and sectors are increasingly embracing diversity, equity and inclusion.

A recent Statistics Canada report found, as baby boomers retire, immigration has been a driving force behind workforce growth. Meanwhile, younger workers are voting with their feet — no longer satisfied with performative DEI statements, they’re looking for employers that provide real evidence of inclusion.

As well, as innovation and employee resilience become increasingly important, many companies are taking an asset-based approach to diversity — for example, recognizing that cognitive differences and diverse lived experiences can be viewed as assets instead of impediments.

Read: IKEA Canada signing BlackNorth pledge, expanding DEI efforts

Tone from the top is important. For example, the BlackNorth Initiative has resulted in many major companies pledging to stop anti-Black racism. In addition, more than 1,600 organizations have signed up for the Canadian government’s 50–30 Challenge to advance gender parity and increase diversity on boards and within senior leadership.

While setting goals is important, implementation is key. Yet many organizations have trouble moving forward. Here are three proven strategies to move DEI forward in 2023.

  • Provide proof of results and accountability when making claims of being an organization committed to DEI

Good intentions aren’t enough — consumers, investors and prospective employees are looking beyond words for evidence of concrete action and DEI strategies.

They want measurable goals and evidence of impact and, more importantly, transparency. While representation of different populations remains critical, there are increasing demands for evidence of real inclusion.

  • Leveraging opportunities for diverse talent

A tsunami of retiring baby boomers is hitting organizations right now. In spite of talk about the ‘Great Resignation,’ much of this was predicted, given demographic trends.

With one million unfilled jobs in Canada, organizations are doubling down on opportunities to leverage diverse talent pools. However, they should also consider the expectations of younger workers. Many younger employees value corporate culture — and its alignment with their own values — as important as salary, since they’ve grown up in a Canada that’s much more diverse than past generations.

Read: How can employers turn the ‘Great Resignation’ tide?

Seasoned managers are currently struggling to accommodate the expectations of these employees and need to do better, not just to attract new talent, but to retain these workers.

  • DEI in human resources is necessary but insufficient

DEI is no longer exclusively an HR issue and it can’t be simply bolted on to an organization’s HR strategy as a standalone set of training programs and boxes to be checked. Most advanced organizations are working to embed a DEI lens through their entire value chain, carrying through to partnerships and their advocacy efforts.

These companies recognize they must not only attract and retain diverse employees, but they must also serve increasingly diverse customers. The Canadian government is supporting this comprehensive approach to DEI by providing organizations with its 50-30 ecosystem of tools and training.

Read: 70% of HR professionals say employer lacks DEI framework: survey