Employers must do more to build diverse, inclusive workforces: report

While the majority of Canadian employers agree on the benefits of having a diverse workforce and an inclusive workplace, only half measure the impact of their diversity and inclusion programs, according to a new report by the Royal Bank of Canada and the Institute for Canadian Citizenship.

The report, which surveyed 64 organizations employing 1.2 million Canadians, found 65 per cent of respondents believe diversity and inclusion programs help to attract and retain talent. Indeed, 81 per cent of respondents provide internal networks such as affinity groups to foster a diverse workforce, while 75 per cent have programs in place to develop high-potential diverse talent.

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However, only 55 per cent attempt to measure the impact of their diversity programs and 47 per cent don’t have metrics to measure the impact of inclusion programs.

Leveraging diversity is fundamental to an organization’s performance, according to 66 per cent of respondents. But only 11 per cent say they’re taking full advantage of a diverse workforce. Nearly half of respondents strongly agreed (46 per cent) and agreed (48 per cent) that organizations should be doing more to build diverse workforces.

Looking specifically at inclusion, the survey found 76 per cent of respondents believe gender is the area of inclusion where the most improvement has been made, and 65 per cent say they fall short when it comes to Indigenous people and people with disabilities.

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According to the report, the ways to move forward on diversity and inclusion in the workplace include: making it a priority; promoting a questioning culture; ensuring diversity doesn’t stop at the C-suite door; and making inclusion a central part of every leadership discussion.

“Engaging in this exercise starts a necessary conversation about inclusion off on the right foot, by acknowledging our shortcomings and understanding our successes,” said Charlie Foran, chief executive officer of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, in a news release.

“Truly inclusive and welcoming societies are better positioned to remain competitive. Newcomers who feel engaged are more willing to take chances, think differently and spur the progress that we call innovation.”

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