A strategy to improve diversity and inclusion

A diverse and inclusive workforce leads to a stronger, more thoughtful and representative workplace that ensures decision-making and actions are positioned to support the needs of all employees, clients, members and communities. Acknowledging systemic racism and other barriers to inclusion and identifying how they are present in our own organization is critical to this work. In 2020, we focused on collecting insights to identify these barriers and inform the development of a holistic diversity and inclusion strategy.

Acknowledging systemic racism and supporting the Black Lives Matter movement

In June 2020, our president & CEO issued a statement to all employees and Financial Advisors, entitled “Black Lives Matter: Our commitment to do better.” This statement highlighted our work with the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion (CCDI), encouraged participation in our diversity survey and focus groups, and increased dialogue across the organization. We also paused all activity on social media channels in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter protests in Canada and the US, and used our channels to amplify voices of partner organizations and collaborators who are taking action to support Black and other marginalized communities.

Addressing barriers to diversity and inclusion

Working in partnership with the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion (CCDI), we engaged employees across the group of companies in an anonymous diversity survey to launch our comprehensive journey toward a more diverse and inclusive workforce. CCDI facilitated focus groups with employees who identify with a variety of diversity dimensions.

  • Black persons
  • Francophones
  • Heterosexual white men without a disability
  • Indigenous persons and persons of colour
  • LGB2Q+ and/or transgender persons
  • Persons with mental and/or physical disabilities
  • Racialized persons (visible minority or persons of colour)
  • Women (persons who identify as women)

These focus groups helped to deepen our understanding of the barriers that exist. As elements of our discovery phase, the output from the survey and focus groups were analyzed by CCDI and consolidated into an Inclusivity Assessment report. The report illustrated our current state, and along with the Global Diversity and Inclusion Benchmarks Survey, will be used as a guidepost to develop our strategy.

OUR STORIES

To focus on diversity and inclusion is to focus on people, respect, fairness and helping people realize their potential without artificial barriers. In the workplace, we can help dismantle these barriers through more representation and accessibility. We must challenge the ways we think and make space for different voices that aren’t always heard.

Kristi Chatterton Diversity & Inclusion Influencer, The Co-operators