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Big Ideas in IDEA

CCDI Consulting's Monthly Newsletter for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility.

April 2024

Welcome to the April edition of our Big Ideas in IDEA newsletter! As we usher in a new month, we're excited to bring you insightful content and discussions designed to expand our horizons and inspire real change in both our workplaces and communities.
In this edition, we delve into two impactful articles that shed light on crucial topics shaping our contemporary landscape:
  1. The Hidden Labour Potential of Immigrant Women: Uncover the untapped talent and contributions of immigrant women in the workforce. Explore the challenges they face, the unique strengths they bring, and the opportunities for organizations to harness their full potential.
  2. The Impact of DEI on Innovation: Discover how DEI initiatives drive innovation and foster creativity within organizations. Explore the transformative power of diverse perspectives and inclusive environments in propelling forward-thinking ideas and solutions.
Additionally, we are thrilled to extend an invitation to our upcoming webinar, Incorporating Mental Health in IDEA Frameworks.
  • Date: April 17, 2024
  • Time: 1-2 pm EST
Join us as we explore the intersection of mental health and IDEA frameworks. Learn practical strategies for creating inclusive environments that prioritize mental well-being, foster resilience, and support the holistic needs of individuals.
We are confident that active participation in these important discussions and initiatives will empower us to instigate positive transformations collaboratively. Thank you for your continued support and dedication to advancing IDEA principles. Let's continue to think big, dream boldly, and act inclusively.
Lisa Rogers,
Director, Marketing and Sales

The Hidden Labour Potential of Immigrant Women: Practical Steps to Engage Them Better

There is an increasing shortage of digital and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) skills across the Canadian labour market. Statistics Canada reported that job vacancies in the fields of computer and information systems grew by 77% from 2020 to 2021. Employers predict that it is going to be especially challenging to fill vacancies in areas such as cognitive computing, cybersecurity, general IT, and computer science. So, how can Canada tackle this growing problem? Targeted immigration programs that select highly qualified candidates in specific occupational categories, such as STEM fields, have been identified as potential temporary solutions, and hence, they have been in effect since 2023. While the results of these particular programs will unfold over the next few years and decades, data shows us that we have so far not been making the best use of the STEM talent that we currently have in the country.  

Even though immigrant women make up less than one-third of women in Canada, they represent more than half of women in Canada with STEM degrees. Thus, immigrant women are more likely to have these in-demand skills. Yet we see that they are more likely to be unemployed, underemployed, and underpaid compared to both Canadian-born women and immigrant men. While differences in education, experience, and official language skills explain some of the gaps, we are not able to fully account for them, suggesting that cultural factors and systemic discrimination are also responsible. For example, migrant women are more likely to be university-educated thanks to the shift in immigration policies, which assigns more points to highly skilled newcomers, yet female immigrants with a bachelor's degree or higher were significantly less likely to work full-time than Canadian-born women. While 80% of Canadian-born women with a bachelor's degree or higher were employed full-time, only 62% of recent immigrants and 73% of long-term immigrants were employed full-time in 2021, and this gap has not narrowed since 2007. Female immigrants with university degrees earn, on average, half the amount of their Canadian-born counterparts in the Greater Toronto Area, a gap that has not decreased in 15 years. Furthermore, even fluent speakers of French and/or English report discrimination over accents in their search for work. 

These statistics indicate that immigrant women are being impacted by the intersection of their gender identity and their immigration status. Neither gender nor immigration status alone can explain these differential outcomes. If we go one step further and consider one’s perceived race as well, we find that racialized immigrant women have worse employment outcomes than non-racialized immigrant women. Thus, if we want to make sure that we are benefiting from the available workforce in Canada, we need to talk about intersectionality.  

Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term intersectionality in 1989 to “describe how race, class, gender, and other individual characteristics ‘intersect’ with one another and overlap” to create unique experiences and effects. The point of intersectionality is not to have groups compete against one another to see who is most disadvantaged or to create a hierarchy of inequality, but it is about making sure that we understand the distinct challenges that diverse groups face and that no one is forgotten or left behind. If you wish to learn more about intersectionality and how it can impact the experiences of employees or candidates at your organization, consider attending an instructor-led training session on this topic. As an employer, here are some steps you can take to fill job vacancies and make sure that you are accessing top talent, irrespective of whichever group they belong to:  

  1. Advertise with immigrant-serving organizations and networks: Since newcomers are essentially starting from scratch in Canada, they might not have professional networks that other groups have. Thus, it is imperative that employers reach out to immigrant networks in their location to tap into the hidden labour force.  
  2. Challenge your assumptions about candidates’ language skills: Resist making assumptions about someone’s language abilities based on their name, place of education, or even accent. An employee can be perfectly fluent and functional in their role with an accent. 
  3. Complement interviews with skill assessment: Interviews are not highly effective at identifying who will be successful in a role. So, experts suggest that, wherever possible, candidates should be given a test that simulates everyday work as closely as possible. This is one of the best indicators of future work performance.  
  4. Focus on culture add over culture fit: When we are overly focused on finding someone to fit into our culture, we may be biased against differences. Immigrants bring in novel perspectives and thus can help add to the existing culture, which can lead to greater innovation and productivity.  


The Impact of DEI on Innovation

In today's rapidly evolving business landscape, organizations are increasingly recognizing the vital role that Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) play in fostering innovation. Companies that prioritize DEI initiatives not only cultivate a more vibrant and equitable workplace culture but also drive significant advancements in innovation. Google, renowned for its commitment to diversity and innovation, provides a compelling case study illustrating the positive impact of DEI on organizational innovation. 

The Power of Diversity in Innovation 

Diversity encompasses a broad spectrum of attributes, including but not limited to race, gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and cognitive styles. Embracing diversity within teams brings together individuals with unique perspectives, experiences, and skills, which in turn bring different perceptional lenses. This rich tapestry of backgrounds and viewpoints fuels creativity and problem-solving, driving innovation forward. 

Equity: Fostering Fairness and Opportunity 

Many of our clients at CCDI Consulting prioritize equity as a fundamental pillar of their ethos, recognizing its profound link to enhanced innovation. By fostering diverse and inclusive environments, companies tap into a wealth of perspectives, experiences, and talents. This amalgamation of diverse backgrounds and viewpoints fuels creativity and problem-solving, driving innovation to new heights. Moreover, equitable practices cultivate a culture of trust and belonging, empowering individuals to contribute fully and fearlessly. As a result, teams are more agile, adaptable, and adept at navigating complexities, propelling organizations toward groundbreaking discoveries and solutions that resonate with a broader spectrum of stakeholders. 

Inclusion: Building Psychological Safety 

Inclusion goes beyond mere representation; it's about creating a sense of belonging where every individual feels respected, supported, and empowered to express their authentic selves. Psychological safety, a cornerstone of inclusive cultures, encourages risk-taking and experimentation without fear of judgment or reprisal. When employees feel safe to voice their ideas and opinions, innovation thrives. 

Google's DEI Initiatives: A Model for Innovation 

Google's commitment to DEI isn't just a fancy corporate buzzword; it's deeply ingrained in the company's DNA and fundamental to its success. One of the most notable ways Google leverages DEI to drive innovation is through the cultivation of psychological safety within its teams. 

Case Study: Google's Embrace of Psychological Safety 

Google recognized early on that psychological safety is essential for fostering innovation. In 2012, Google embarked on a quest to understand what makes teams successful through its Aristotle Project. After analyzing over 180 teams across the company, Google discovered that psychological safety was the most critical factor distinguishing innovative and high-performing teams. 

Creating a Culture of Psychological Safety 

Google prioritized creating a culture where employees feel psychologically safe to take risks, share ideas, and challenge the status quo. Leaders were trained to foster an environment of openness and trust, where constructive feedback was encouraged, and failure was viewed as a learning opportunity rather than a setback. 

Impact on Innovation 

By prioritizing psychological safety and DEI initiatives via training and coaching, Google witnessed a significant uptick in innovation across its teams. Employees felt emboldened to think creatively, experiment with new approaches, and collaborate more effectively. This led to the development of groundbreaking products and solutions that have reshaped industries and transformed the way we live and work. 


Google's emphasis on DEI, and psychological safety serves as a compelling example of how organizations can leverage DEI initiatives to drive innovation. By embracing diverse perspectives, fostering fairness and opportunity, and cultivating a culture of inclusion and psychological safety, companies can unlock the full potential of their workforce and propel innovation to new heights. As we look to the future, it's clear that organizations that prioritize DEI will not only thrive but also lead the way in shaping a more innovative and equitable world. 


International Day of Pink

On the International Day of Pink, we come together to stand against bullying and discrimination and to champion the rights and dignity of LGBTQ+ communities worldwide. This day is more than a call to wear pink; it's a movement toward inclusivity, understanding, and support for those who often find themselves on the margins. We have resources compiled here that aim to enlighten, assist, and inspire everyone to participate in this cause. From comprehensive educational tools and personal support resources to thought-provoking books, movies, and podcasts, each one offers a unique perspective on the challenges and triumphs of the LGBTQ+ community. Let's use these resources to spread knowledge, foster empathy, and create a world where no one feels alone or unsupported.

In Case You Missed It

Disclaimer: Our newsletter and blogs feature personal opinions and diverse viewpoints. We aim to create a safe space for our team to share their perspectives on diversity and inclusion. Please note that individual articles may not align with every reader's view or comprehensively cover a topic. We appreciate the diversity of opinions and respect our team's contributions.

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