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Big Ideas in IDEA

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

August 2023

Hello, and welcome to the August edition of Big Ideas in IDEA! We're thrilled to have you here for another monthly newsletter dedicated to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). In this edition, we have insightful content covering various aspects of DEI, including several days of awareness you may not know about.

Our educational webinar series continues with a focus on the 'Indigenous Inclusion: Truth and Reconciliation — The Time to Act is Now!'. Our content lineup features thought-provoking articles that explore how continuous DEI learning creates more inclusive workplaces. Additionally, have your questions about Measuring What Matters in the Workplace answered in the follow-up article to our hugely popular May webinar on 'Unlocking the Power of Inclusion.'

Don't forget to participate in our IDEA Research for August. We're curious to know what diversity, equity, and inclusion areas interest you most. The survey expires on August 31st. Additionally, discover insights into demographic data collection in the results of our previous poll.

Lastly, make sure to check out our 'In Case You Missed It' section, which features links to must-read articles and resources.

Thank you for your continued support and dedication to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion. We hope this edition inspires and enlightens you as we work together towards a more inclusive world.

Zakeana Reid
Interim CEO & Chief Operating Officer

“The Journey Continues” – Let’s Continue to Learn and Grow. What to Expect from Indigenous Inclusion 2.0 & 3.0

In December 2015, Indigenous Canadians anxiously awaited the release of the final report from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada. The focus in my first sentence on Indigenous Canadians is intentional, as it creates a reflection on the wide need for education regarding the impacts, effects, and harmful legacy of the residential school system in Canada. From 2010-2014, Canadians had the opportunity to attend the TRC hearings and listen to survivors bravely share their lived experiences and testimony about their time in the “schools.” The TRC collected over 6500 statements from survivors documenting abuse, adding to the growing awareness around intergenerational impacts on Indigenous families. The TRC visited over 300 unique communities and collected testimony ranging anywhere from minutes to many hours in length. 

As an instructor of Indigenous studies over the past decade, I have often wondered how much my students knew about the residential school system in Canada. I am also reluctant to use the word “schools” without recognizing its euphemistic connotation, as many would argue that these institutions were not genuinely educational but rather spaces of aggressive assimilation targeting Indigenous peoples and communities. Exposed to ongoing propaganda and euphemistic language, it is understandable why many Canadians are frustrated with how little they have been educated about the truthful Indigenous experience in Canada. Returning to my students, I often inquire about their knowledge of residential schools or inter-generational trauma. Quite naturally, there is a hesitancy to openly discuss this uncomfortable chapter of Canada’s history and its enduring effects and impacts on Indigenous Canadians. 

Recognizing that there is a lot of work to do in the way of education, I also must acknowledge that I am impressed with the desire of employers, academic institutions, governments, faith-based institutions, non-profit organizations, and service clubs to begin the process of unlearning the often-propagated Eurocentric past and start to actively listen and re-learn about what has occurred through government policies in our country.  

In 2019, I began my tenure with the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion as I traveled Western Canada, facilitating the “Circle of Reconciliation” Community of Practice Events (COPE). The conversation was engaging, in-depth and focused on action. I openly discussed my lived experience as a Métis/Cree person from Saskatchewan and talked transparently about my role as co-chair and author of the City of Lethbridge TRC Implementation Plan (unanimously approved by city council in 2017). Following these COPE events, I was hired to create and deliver Indigenous Inclusion training through CCDI Consulting. I must add that over the past 3 years, facilitating an overwhelming amount of Indigenous inclusion sessions for employers has been incredible. The conversations were excellent. The engagement, participation and sharing have left an impact and got me thinking!

Indigenous Inclusion, through CCDI Consulting, is about identity, myth-busting, TRC, transforming change and providing practical steps to move forward. It is educational and provides a foundation to “carry on the conversation” or inspire a shared vision forward for employers. As participants concluded these sessions, I was often asked, “What is next?”, “Where do we go from here?”, or “How can we keep the momentum going?” - all valid questions. The “What’s Next?” question inspired thought into “Moving Forward”, or creating what was needed to invoke conscious actionable change within employment settings. This line of questions got me thinking, how can I provide the next steps? 

I am excited to inform employers that through CCDI Consulting, I will be offering an Indigenous Inclusion 2.0 and a 3.0. Taking my experience over the many years in the field of Indigenous studies, Indigenous Inclusion 2.0, will be available this September 2023 and will focus on understanding Indigenous Knowledge and how employers can incorporate it, how to feel confident in acknowledging the land and how we advance engaging with Indigenous communities through active allyship. Understanding and incorporating Indigenous knowledge into our workplaces becomes of critical importance. Historically, Indigenous knowledge has been viewed as unreliable and unscientific and has been less privileged than Western scientific knowledge. Oral knowledge/story telling are intricate ways of passing knowledge from one generation to the next. Therefore, it is important that, as Canadians, we begin to understand how Indigenous ways of knowing can add value, create opportunities, and inform how relationships are built with Indigenous communities. Workplaces should work to understand that incorporating Indigenous ways of knowing with how we currently conduct business will assist to create a more well-rounded workplace that is highly grounded in anti-racism work.  

Acknowledging the land and learning about the connection of Indigenous knowledge to the land, the cultural connection of the Nation to the land and the storied history of the land is paramount to beginning the journey towards relationship building. It is important that an organization learns the history of neighbouring nations that they want to engage and begin the process of reaching out and connecting. It is important to know how to situate, reflect and personalize our own connection to the land. This allows us to understand the ways of the land, the reciprocal relationship to the land and how knowledge is derived from this intimate connection. In that case, Indigenous Inclusion 2.0 will walk participants through building an acknowledgement statement, connecting it to understanding what Indigenous knowledge is and the importance of relationships in engaging with Indigenous communities. 

Indigenous Inclusion 3.0, which will also be available in the Fall of 2023, will take this one step further by walking participants through the process of building an Indigenous Engagement Strategy or a TRC Implementation Plan for your organization. As organizations begin to build their Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) strategies and realize that TRC is an integral component to engaging and working with Indigenous communities, we can develop these skills internally for an organization to lead this work. This facilitation creates a highly engaged and immersive experience that will focus on how to lead an engagement process, how to model the way forward and provide tools to manage consultations and information gathering.  As well, many IDEA audits/surveys have produced data on the small percentage of Indigenous employees in organizations, so questions arise around engaging, recruiting, and retaining Indigenous employees. These three engaging Indigenous inclusion sessions will offer opportunities to learn hands-on about how to create Reconcili-actionable change.  

I am excited to leverage my years of experience to journey with your organization in creating sustainable, impactful and actionable change.

Roy Pogorzelski is Métis/Cree from Saskatchewan and an Associate Facilitator with CCDI Consulting. Currently, he is working towards his PHD in Philosophy at the University of Lethbridge, where he is also an Instructor of Indigenous studies. Roy owns and operates his own consultancy (RWP Consulting), is a Métis Red River Jigger and is a Board Member with the Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF). 

Go to the Glossary of Terms for this article.

Beyond IDEA Awareness: Unlocking the Power of Continuous DEI Learning for a Better Canada and Inclusive Workplaces

Have you been hearing about Unconscious Bias for so long that you are sick of it? Are you already noticing microaggressions? Did you already commit to building a better Canada, where everyone feels valued and included? Now that you have the basics down, it's time to take your DEI learning to the next level. In this article, we're going to explore why continuous DEI learning is crucial for all of us. So, grab a cup of coffee, settle in, and let's dive into this exciting journey towards a more inclusive Canada. 

  • Self-Awareness:  
    Let’s start by turning the spotlight inward. Deepening our self-awareness is like unlocking a hidden superpower. By examining our own privileges and identities, we gain a better understanding of how they shape our perspectives and actions. It's all about recognizing the advantages we have and using that knowledge to challenge biases and empathize with those facing marginalization. Self-awareness makes us active participants in creating inclusive environments where everyone's voice is heard. 
  • Navigating difficult conversations:  
    Some conversations can be difficult. But here's the thing: we need to have them. Learning how to navigate sensitive topics, like responding to microaggressions, is like leveling up in our DEI journey. It's about fostering open dialogue, challenging misconceptions, and creating safer spaces for equity deserving voices to be heard. Once we master the art of these conversations, we'll be well on our way to creating positive change. 
  • Reflection:  
    Now, let's take a moment to reflect on privilege, marginalization, and those sneaky microaggressions that can creep into our workplaces. By understanding the systemic barriers faced by equity deserving groups and the impact of microaggressions, we can spot and address discriminatory behaviors and practices. It's time to put on our detective hats and root out bias, so we can build workplaces that truly value diversity and equity. 
  • Accountability:  
    DEI learning isn't just about acquiring knowledge—it's about being accountable and taking action. It's time to ask ourselves, "What can I do to make a difference?" Let's think critically about our actions, challenge biases, and actively support DEI initiatives. We've got the power to be agents of positive change in our workplaces and communities. Together, we can create an environment where everyone feels valued and included. 
  • Impact:  
    Our commitment to continuous DEI learning has some amazing ripple effects. By embracing diversity and inclusion, we unleash the power of Canada's multicultural tapestry. Inclusive workplaces are the most desirable—they boost employee well-being, foster innovation, and improve productivity. Plus, they attract diverse talent and create a positive corporate culture. Can you imagine the incredible things we can achieve when we prioritize DEI learning? The sky's the limit! 

Let's take our DEI learning beyond the basics and embrace this exciting journey towards a better Canada and more inclusive workplaces. Our Beyond IDEA Awareness program is designed to deepen self-awareness, encourage open and honest conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion, and promote reflection on privilege and microaggressions. We believe that each of us has the potential to be a change agent, and together, we can shape a brighter and more inclusive future for everyone. So, let's roll up our sleeves and continue learning, growing, and making our great nation an even greater place for all.

If you're ready to be a part of this exciting initiative, click on the banner below to learn more about our Beyond IDEA Awareness program. Together, let's make a positive impact and create a workplace culture that celebrates diversity and empowers every individual to thrive.

Data-Driven Inclusion: Webinar Insights for Transformative Change

I want to express my immense gratitude to each and every one of you who participated in the May webinar, "Unlocking the Power of Inclusion: Measuring What Matters in the Workplace," expertly led by Sheena Prasad. Your engagement and thoughtful questions have made this event genuinely insightful and captivating.

In a thriving workplace, diversity and inclusion are not just buzzwords but powerful forces that drive growth, productivity, and employee satisfaction. As we aspire towards holistic inclusion, it becomes essential to quantify and assess our progress towards these goals.

In the webinar, we discussed how measuring inclusivity is crucial to making workplaces more inclusive. Your questions were insightful and showed just how important it is to measure the impact of inclusivity and make meaningful changes. If you're interested in learning more about creating an inclusive workplace, keep reading for some great tips and advice.

1. How can I gain support for Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)?

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are a crucial component of fostering inclusivity in the workplace, but obtaining buy-in from senior administration can be a challenge. To gain support from senior administration: 

  • Connect ERG initiatives to the organization's overall business goals.
  • Demonstrate how these initiatives align with the company's mission and values to showcase their strategic importance.
  • Consider seeking an Executive sponsor who can champion the work of the ERG and advocate for its initiatives to secure stronger backing.

2. What is the value of stay interviews?

Stay interviews are a valuable tool for understanding what keeps employees engaged and motivated to remain with the organization. By conducting these interviews, employers can identify areas where improvements can be made to enhance employee inclusion experiences. Stay interviews can also help retain high-performing employees, address gaps in recognition and development, and explore opportunities for career growth within the company. 

3. When and how often should we perform stay interviews?

Stay interviews are especially useful during times of change or when the organization is experiencing turnover. Conducting more than one stay interview per year, and involving employees from different identity groups and roles, allows for a more comprehensive understanding of the workforce's needs. Successful stay interviews tend to be informal yet structured conversations about employees' workplace experiences and perceptions. Try supporting interviewees to feel more comfortable by scheduling interviews in advance, providing questions to help them prepare, and conducting the interviews in a private environment. 

4. How can we use exit interview data?

Exit interviews are a valuable source of feedback that can highlight patterns and issues leading to employee departures. Organizations should use this data to enact positive changes in workplace policies and practices. Sharing this data should be done in aggregate form, with privacy and psychological safety in mind. 

5. What are some factors of data collection that impact smaller organizations differently than larger organizations?

For smaller organizations, data collection must be transparent and follow regional legislation for data safety. Data safety plays a dual role, safeguarding research participants to maintain the integrity of research data and protecting the data from corruption, theft, or unauthorized access and storage. Opt-in and consented data collection ensure the privacy of employees is respected, while clear communication about the reasons for data collection fosters trust. 

At CCDI Consulting, we understand smaller organizations' unique challenges in managing data collection effectively. Our DEI Assessment services can help you navigate these complexities while ensuring compliance and promoting inclusivity every step of the way. 

6. Are there any tools to help build an effective measurement or evaluation plan?

For companies looking to build a robust measurement plan for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA) initiatives, the Global Diversity Equity and Inclusion benchmarks can be a valuable resource. Although benchmarks are not always indicative of performance, they can often be informative or inspiring in terms of best practices.  

Aligning and infusing IDEA goals with overall business strategy can increase the effectiveness of an organization's measurement or evaluation plan. There are likely already methods of capturing different types of data for specific purposes in your organization. Adapting these for IDEA purposes can be both economical and helpful. 

7. How do we overcome the "Checkbox Mentality"?

To avoid IDEA work feeling like a checkbox exercise, hold leaders accountable for their commitments by linking IDEA goals to performance scorecards. By making measurable progress in inclusion efforts, leaders will be more invested in driving positive change. 

8. How should companies approach data collection for inclusion surveys considering the preference not to self-identify with personal identifiers (gender, race, etc.)?

Data collection in the context of inclusion is a change management exercise. Companies should provide options and tools for employees to participate and create an environment where employees feel psychologically safe to share their information. Offering non-mandatory, opt-in responses and the option to "Prefer not to answer" ensures employees' privacy and comfort. 

9. We already collect engagement data - why should we also ask inclusion questions?

Inclusion surveys and engagement surveys serve different purposes, but they can complement each other when delivered in tandem. Inclusion surveys gather data specific to topics related to inclusion: well-being, belonging, respect etc. Inclusion surveys may ask questions about organizational culture, including things like leadership behaviours.
Comparatively, engagement surveys tend to gather data within a different scope. Engagement surveys tend to measure factors that impact individual motivations, involvement, and commitment to the workplace.
Pulse surveys can be utilized to gauge specific changes related to organizational events or changes. However, if separate surveys are used, be cautious about survey fatigue and timing. 

In conclusion, measuring inclusion's impact in the workplace is a powerful tool for fostering meaningful change. By engaging leadership, conducting stay and exit interviews, and using ethical data collection practices, organizations can create a truly inclusive workplace, leading to a more diverse and satisfied workforce. Additionally, incorporating ongoing assessments and nurturing an inclusive environment ensures continuous progress in achieving a thriving and harmonious workplace for everyone. 

At CCDI Consulting, we believe in the power of personal interaction. I encourage you to keep the conversation coming, share your thoughts, and seek guidance whenever needed. Our team is here to answer your questions and support your organization's journey toward greater inclusion. Thank you again for participating in the webinar and being part of our inclusive community. Let's continue working hand in hand to create a better and more inclusive future for all.

Embrace data as a powerful ally in your inclusion efforts. Our DEI Assessment services provide data-driven insights that fuel informed decisions for a more inclusive and high-performing organization. Learn More. 

Missed the webinar? Access the recording here for valuable insights on harnessing inclusion for success.

Big Ideas in IDEA Monthly Poll

What aspect of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) interests you the most?

You can vote and access the August DEI Poll by scanning the QR code below or by visiting this link:

QRCode for IDEA Monthly Poll_ August Edition (1)

DEI Poll Results for July Edition

The recent DEI poll revealed that organizations are divided in their approach to collecting demographic information on employees.

The results showed that 50% of respondents collect demographic data, with 100% of them gathering information on race or ethnicity, followed closely by languages spoken, while only around 50% collect data on disability status or gender identity. Age and education are also commonly asked, with the former often collected during HR onboarding in HRIS and the latter being shared by applicants on resumes during the hiring process.  

On the other hand, the remaining 50% of respondents who did not collect data expressed concerns about potential discrimination or bias resulting from such practices, and about half of them attributed their decision to a lack of awareness or understanding regarding the importance of demographic data collection.


Fostering an inclusive and supportive workplace environment requires understanding employees' diverse backgrounds and experiences. Collecting demographic information is a crucial step in identifying areas for improvement and implementing targeted initiatives to address the needs and challenges faced by different groups within the organization. By embracing this practice, organizations can create a more inclusive culture, enhance employee well-being, and cultivate a stronger sense of belonging among all team members. Moreover, this data-driven approach can lead to more equitable policies and practices, fostering a workplace that celebrates diversity and allows everyone to thrive and contribute to the organization's success. As organizations continue to evolve and prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion, it is essential to recognize that collecting demographic data is not just an act of compliance but a strategic tool for building a stronger, more united, and inclusive workforce for a brighter future. 

In Case You Missed It

Days of Awareness

Glossary of Terms

  • Active Allyship: refers to the active and ongoing effort of individuals, particularly those in positions of privilege, to support and advocate for marginalized or disadvantaged groups. It goes beyond simply expressing sympathy or solidarity and involves taking concrete actions to challenge and address systemic inequalities and injustices. 
  • Circle of Reconciliation: These were events that took place in the Summer/Fall of 2019. CCDI co-hosted a community conversation with an employee partner in communities across Canada. These conversations were focused on Truth and Reconciliation in the workplace and how to ensure organizations are focusing on Indigenous Inclusion. These Circles were part of the Community of Practice Events (COPE). 
  • Indigenous Knowledge: There is no single definition of Indigenous Knowledge. For our purposes, we understand "Indigenous Knowledge" as a term that refers to a set of complex knowledge systems based on the worldviews of Indigenous Peoples. 
    Indigenous Knowledge reflects the unique cultures, languages, values, histories, governance and legal systems of Indigenous Peoples. It is place-based, cumulative and dynamic. Indigenous Knowledge systems involve living well with and being in a relationship with the natural world. Indigenous Knowledge systems build upon the experiences of earlier generations, inform the practice of current generations, and evolve in the context of contemporary society. 
    Different First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities each have distinct ways of describing their knowledge. Knowledge Holders are the only people who can truly define Indigenous Knowledge for their communities. It is important to note that some Indigenous communities are struggling to maintain their Indigenous Knowledge due to the ongoing impacts of colonialism (Indigenous Knowledge -
  • Inter-generational Trauma: refers to the transmission of trauma, stress, or other adverse experiences from one generation to the next. It suggests that the effects of trauma can be passed down through families and impact individuals who did not directly experience the traumatic events themselves.
  • Oral Knowledge & Story-Telling: This pertains to knowledge that is passed down through conversation and story. The stories shared with others hold meanings and create a knowledge transfer between recipients. 
  • Reconcili-actionable: refers to moving from intention to action when it comes to Truth and Reconciliation and creating meaningful change by committing to learning, understanding and working with the 94 Calls to Action. This is a term used by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to inspire us to be actionable across the country.
  • Residential School System: Residential schools were boarding schools for Indigenous (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) children and youth, financed by the federal government but staffed and run by several Christian religious institutions— the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, United and Methodist Churches. Children were separated from their families and communities, sometimes by force, and lived in and attended classes at the schools for most of the year. Often the residential schools were located far from the students’ home communities (It’s Our Time Educational Toolkit, Assembly of First Nations).

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