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Big Ideas in IDEA

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

July 2023

Hello, and welcome to the July 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 that covers various aspects of DEI.

Our educational webinar series continues with a focus on the 'Reasons Why DEI Initiatives Fail - From a Leadership Perspective.' Our content lineup features thought-provoking articles that explore challenges Canadian employers face on Canada Day and discover why DEI initiatives often fall short. Additionally, learn about practical strategies for fostering diversity and inclusion in small organizations.

Don't forget to participate in our IDEA Research for July. We're curious to know if your organization collects demographic information on employees. The survey expires on July 31st. Additionally, discover the top challenges keeping Canadian organizations up at night 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 from previous editions.

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

Navigating the Nuances of Canada Day: Challenges for Canadian Employers

Canada Day celebrated on July 1st, marks the anniversary of the enactment of the Constitution Act, 1867, which united the three separate colonies of Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia into a single Dominion. This celebration, typically marked with barbeques, fireworks, and parades, is an opportunity to celebrate Canada's rich history and culture. However, as employers, it is crucial to understand that for many, Canada Day also represents a complex and sometimes painful history. Recognizing and navigating these complexities is an integral part of building an inclusive and respectful workplace.

I recognize that as a second/third generation Canadian, born and raised here, my lived experiences differ from those of my husband, who moved here with his parents from Russia when he was 6 years old and didn’t speak English! I live in Alberta, quite close to the Tsuut’ina Nation 145 reserve, and their lived experience of Canada is different still. While my husband and I may wish to celebrate our good fortune in being born or raised here, this date is not a celebration for everyone. Many Indigenous peoples see Canada Day as a reminder of colonialism, a painful history of oppression, and the ongoing injustices they face. The discovery of unmarked graves at former residential schools has added a layer of grief to these sentiments. So, while some employees may view Canada Day as a celebratory occasion, others may see it as a time of reflection, mourning, or activism. As Employers, we must navigate this landscape with sensitivity, acknowledging that not all employees may share the same sentiments toward the holiday.

The key to addressing this challenge is through open communication and education. Organizations can facilitate dialogues about the meaning and impact of Canada Day in a respectful and inclusive manner, creating safe spaces for employees to voice their thoughts and feelings. Additionally, employers could consider educational initiatives that provide a more balanced view of Canadian history, acknowledging both its achievements and its painful periods.

Another challenge is maintaining inclusivity in celebrations. Take, for example, the iconic hot dog - a Canadian barbecue staple known for its simplicity, affordability, and convenience. However, it's essential to remember that many of these products contain pork, which might not cater to the dietary restrictions of all employees. The key here is to be considerate and accommodating. Whenever food and drink are part of the celebrations, ensure that the dietary preferences and restrictions of all participants are considered. From vegan and vegetarian options to halal and kosher considerations, planning a menu that everyone can enjoy is a testament to the spirit of inclusivity that Canada Day can embody.

Incorporating a wide array of cultural elements can help reflect Canada's multicultural tapestry, whether through food, music, or activities. This inclusivity might even call for a more thoughtful, reflective approach to the day, acknowledging the diverse experiences and perspectives within the workforce.

Consider celebrating the day by organizing events that honour the diversity and multicultural spirit of the nation. Activities could range from spotlighting Indigenous artists and performers, sharing stories of immigrants, or creating platforms for employees from various backgrounds to share their cultural heritage. In the spirit of reflection, employers can also encourage initiatives that give back to the community or contribute to Indigenous support programs.

Lastly, it's crucial to be aware of the risk of performative allyship - making superficial gestures of support without engaging in deeper systemic change. Supporting Indigenous communities and employees goes beyond Canada Day. Employers should seek to create year-round initiatives to uplift Indigenous voices, educate on Indigenous issues, and contribute to reconciliation.

Navigating the challenges of celebrating Canada Day as an employer is about striking a balance. It's about honouring and celebrating the nation's achievements and diverse cultures while also recognizing and addressing its complex history. This Canada Day, let's aim for a celebration that not only acknowledges the joys of our nation but also one that takes strides in healing, learning, and growing together as a united workforce.

Interested in fostering an inclusive workplace that embraces Indigenous perspectives? Explore our 'Indigenous Inclusion Series' and take a step towards building a respectful and diverse workforce. Learn more about our Instructor-led Training here. 

Why Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Initiatives Often Fall Short

In recent years, organizations across various sectors have embraced Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives to foster a more inclusive and representative work environment. While these efforts are commendable, it is disheartening to acknowledge that many DEI initiatives ultimately fail to achieve their intended outcomes. I’m Matteo Stewart, and I am a Senior IDEA Facilitator with CCDI Consulting and have worked in a variety of industries, including the Olympics, Global Asset Management, Tech Start-ups, Healthcare, and Film Production, and have held senior leadership positions, including Executive Director and COO --- so I know the importance of any investment and ensuring there is a measurable return on your DEI initiatives. At CCDI Consulting, we work with organizations and leaders to make their DEI come to life. That said, far too many leadership folks fall into the trap, thinking they can just hire a DEI consultant to walk in and facilitate a few sessions for their leadership team, front-line staff, and then POOF! We wave a magic wand, and all the individuals in their organization become fully proficient and competent in the desired DEI-focused behavioral change. 

And we all know that doesn’t happen! Organizational Change doesn’t just happen! 

I have also seen where an executive has hired a Director of DEI and say, “You are going to have the easiest job because everyone here is so nice,” but then the initiatives that the Director of DEI attempt to bring into the organization stumbles or fails to deliver. In this blog post, we will explore some of the key reasons why DEI initiatives often fall short, highlighting the challenges faced by organizations and how CCDI Consulting can work with you on finding solutions for more effective and sustainable change.

  1. Lack of Leadership Commitment: One of the primary reasons DEI initiatives fail is the absence of genuine commitment from organizational leadership. When leadership fails to prioritize DEI and merely treats it as a buzzword or a check-the-box exercise, meaningful change becomes elusive. Without top-level support, DEI efforts lack the necessary resources, strategic direction, and accountability to succeed. Leaders must demonstrate a genuine commitment by actively participating in DEI initiatives, allocating adequate budgets, and incorporating DEI goals into broader organizational objectives. I have seen organizations spend their entire DEI budget on training but then have no communication plan to support this initiative before and, more importantly, after the training occurred. So, although the employees who attended the workshop thoroughly enjoyed the training and the facilitator when they went back to work the next day, there was no plan to incorporate the lessons learned into their daily life on the job, which meant the behaviours were not reinforced and the expected behavioural change did not happen. CCDI consulting works with leadership teams to determine where they are personally in their approach to DEI and identify their cultural competence, which can provide self-awareness which can foster a sense of personal commitment to DEI.
  2. Superficial Approaches and Tokenism: Another major stumbling block for DEI initiatives is the tendency to adopt superficial approaches or engage in tokenism. Organizations may prioritize diversity numbers without addressing the underlying systemic issues that hinder inclusion. Tokenism, such as hiring a few diverse individuals without providing a supportive environment, only serves to create an illusion of progress. I have seen this far too many times where the FFOs (First, Few, and Onlys) in an organization are paraded around to show how “inclusive” the company is but then do not address any of the daily micro-aggressions the FFOs face. As an openly gay man, I have seen this where an organization I worked for wanted me to speak at company events during Pride month but then refused to do anything in July when I was called a gay slur by another executive. True inclusion requires comprehensive cultural transformation, where all employees feel valued, supported, and empowered to contribute their unique perspectives. CCDI Consulting works with organizations to identify these types of barriers to inclusion and provide practical solutions to address them.
  3. Failure to Address Implicit Bias: Implicit bias, deeply ingrained societal stereotypes, and prejudices that influence decision-making, is a significant obstacles to achieving DEI goals. Organizations often overlook the need for comprehensive training and education programs to identify and address implicit biases among employees. Without actively challenging these biases, they continue to perpetuate discriminatory practices and hinder progress toward a more inclusive workplace. Addressing implicit bias requires ongoing training, open dialogue, and inclusive policies that actively counteract bias and promote fairness in hiring, promotion, and decision-making processes. CCDI Consulting has a stable of world-class facilitators who can provide in-person, virtual, and asynchronous learning experiences for your team.
  4. Inadequate Measurement and Accountability: To evaluate the effectiveness of DEI initiatives, organizations must establish clear metrics and accountability mechanisms. However, many initiatives lack adequate measurement frameworks, making it challenging to track progress and identify areas that require improvement. Without accountability, DEI efforts can stagnate, and organizations risk losing momentum. Establishing benchmarks, tracking key performance indicators, and conducting regular audits can help ensure that organizations stay on track and adapt their strategies as needed. CCDI Consulting’s team can work with you to understand where you currently are with DEI progress and co-create a path forward.
  5. Resistance to Change and Lack of Employee Engagement: Resistance to change and a lack of employee engagement can undermine DEI initiatives. Some employees may perceive these initiatives as threats to their existing positions or perceive them as favoritism towards specific groups. Additionally, without effective communication and employee involvement throughout the process, DEI efforts may be met with skepticism and resistance. It is crucial for organizations to foster a culture of open dialogue, address concerns, and actively engage employees at all levels to ensure that DEI initiatives are understood, embraced, and championed. This is exactly what CCDI Consulting’s Learning team can assist with training combined with our vast resources in conjunction with our consulting services to ensure your team is trained and ready to implement the DEI priorities you wish to implement strategically.

While the importance of DEI initiatives cannot be overstated, it is essential to recognize the challenges that often hinder their success. Lack of leadership commitment, superficial approaches, implicit bias, inadequate measurement, and resistance to change all contribute to the failure of DEI initiatives. Addressing these issues requires a holistic and comprehensive approach, where organizations commit to genuine change, foster inclusive cultures, and actively challenge biases. By understanding and addressing these roadblocks, organizations can take meaningful steps towards creating workplaces that truly embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion for the benefit of all.

If you enjoyed this article, please join us on July 19th for our webinar “Why DEI Initiatives Fail: from a Leadership Lens,” where we will unpack these concepts even further with more specifics on ways to overcome these failures. CCDI Consulting is here to be of service to ensure none of these pitfalls entangle your organization.

Inclusive Excellence: Empowering Small Organizations Through Diversity and Inclusion Handbooks

Throughout my career, I’ve been able to experience the richness of diverse people and work experiences in the private and public sectors, as well as non-profit organizations. One thing that has always been consistent is that organizations with strong diversity and inclusion values, ones that use those values as guideposts for employee interactions, decision-making, and value-setting, are the happier, more engaging, and more successful organizations. Like most people, I want to have a fulfilling career. What I don’t want is to spend my days working somewhere that doesn’t have consistent values or expectations. Like me, more and more employees are seeking workplaces that not only align with their values but also have them clearly stated and are putting them into practice. 

Having a diversity and inclusion handbook that serves as a comprehensive guide, clearly outlining an organization's values, policies, and procedures, is no longer optional. Instead, it is a must. I have worked for organizations that viewed having such a handbook as a luxury or a nonessential. Those organizations without a guide often lack definitive diversity and inclusion reference points and values for existing and prospective employees, customers, and stakeholders when it comes to diversity and inclusion. Transparency, expectations, and a genuine commitment to cultivating a respectful and accepting workplace are also elusive in such environments.

Organizations without clearly identified diversity and inclusion values and expectations often suffer from high turnover rates and disengaged staff. They become places that I, along with many others, choose to leave. After all, it's hard to fully invest oneself in a work environment that lacks an internal compass for guiding behaviors, upholding values, and nurturing meaningful work. 

But what does “organizations with strong diversity and inclusion values” mean? The strength is not only in having these values but also in their documentation. For diversity and inclusion, a comprehensive handbook may then be used to clearly outline an organization's policies, procedures, and commitments related to diversity and inclusion. Without a diversity and inclusion handbook, transparency, expectations, and a strong commitment to creating a respectful and accepting workplace are often hard to find. In my experience, organizations without clearly identified diversity and inclusion values and expectations often suffer from high turnover rates and disengaged staff. They become places that I, along with many others, choose to leave. After all, it's hard to fully invest oneself in a work environment that lacks an internal compass for guiding behaviors, upholding values, and nurturing meaningful work.

Small organizations face a unique challenge in today's interconnected business landscape. While they have agility, defining values and implementing practices that reflect their commitment to diversity and inclusion can be daunting. That's where a diversity and inclusion handbook becomes invaluable. The documentation of these values and practices may then serve as a blueprint and lay the foundation for an inclusive and productive work culture and provide a framework for interactions and decisions. 

One of the most significant benefits of documented values and expectations around diversity and inclusion is the attraction of diverse employees. Diverse teams bring a wealth of ideas, experiences, and perspectives, leading to groundbreaking solutions, a necessity to keep up with the pace of our rapidly changing world. A diverse workforce brings varied ideas and approaches to the table and creates a rich tapestry of creative problem-solving skills. With their unique viewpoints, employees from different backgrounds provide an expansive toolkit of knowledge and experience that fuels creativity and innovation. However, diversity alone is not enough; inclusion is the key. Ensuring an inclusive environment where each individual feels valued and respected is also needed.

The need for inclusion cannot be overstated. In an inclusive environment, every employee, irrespective of gender, race, ethnicity, age, religion, or sexual orientation, feels valued, heard, and empowered. Inclusion ensures that all voices are heard and all perspectives valued. This is a potent motivator that fosters active engagement, commitment, and productivity. The presence of an inclusive environment is a testament to the organization’s dedication to creating a positive and nurturing workplace. An organization cannot merely be a gathering of diverse individuals; it needs to be a community where everyone feels they belong. Inclusion propels employees to engage actively, contributes to their sense of belonging, and encourages them to invest emotionally and intellectually in the organization. All in all, a diversity and inclusion handbook is a powerful statement. It communicates the organization's commitment to those values and allows for career fulfillment and engagement. It also inspires loyalty, employee satisfaction, reduced turnover, and improved productivity.

For small organizations, the diversity and inclusion handbook can be a game-changer. It can be the foundation upon which an inclusive and productive work culture is built. It offers a blueprint that guides employees and leaders in their interactions, decisions, and behaviors. Small organizations have the advantage of agility, and the introduction of such a handbook can be implemented swiftly and efficiently, further strengthening organizational commitment to creating a harmonious, inclusive work environment.

An essential, often overlooked, benefit is how a diversity and inclusion handbook also enhances a company's brand and reputation. It has a profound impact on the external perception of the organization. For an increasing number of consumers and job seekers, diversity and inclusion are not just desirable but expected. It serves to enhance the reputation and brand of the organization, resonating with an increasingly diverse customer base. By clearly outlining its commitment to diversity and inclusion, the organization can attract a broader market of customers who value these principles, enhancing the organization's reputation and brand.

In today's business world, a diversity and inclusion handbook is a must-have for small organizations. It cultivates a harmonious workplace, propelling the organization toward greater success. It's not just a document; it's a blueprint for an environment that fosters innovation, employee engagement, brand enhancement, and overall business success. It declares that the organization values every individual, conveying the strength inherent in diversity and the power of an inclusive environment.

Call us at CCDI Consulting Inc. to talk about our handbook and how it could be adapted to your organization. Now is the time for small organizations to champion diversity and inclusion.

Big Ideas in IDEA Monthly Poll

Do you collect demographic information on your employees?

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

DEI Poll Results for June Edition

The recent DEI poll revealed the top challenges keeping Canadian organizations up at night.

Talent acquisition and retention, economic uncertainty, sustainability, and climate change received the highest votes. Other concerns included digital transformation, diversity and inclusion, and regulatory compliance. These results highlight the ongoing importance of addressing these issues to ensure organizational success in today's dynamic environment.

dei-poll-june results

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