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How diverse is your company? I mean, really?

It’s 2019. There is unlikely to be any Canadian Corporation in the top 100 where Diversity isn’t clearly on the radar. Millions are spent on diversity initiatives, companies employ D&I experts, corporations regularly market their diversity. In fact most corporations believe they have solved the issue of diversity. Most companies believe they are following the cutting edge of diversity and inclusion best practices, perhaps even creating these best practices themselves

If you truly believe your company is diverse I would like you to consider this: Only 4% of corporations around the world are diverse. The rest are diversish. A new term for companies who play the game well but fail miserably. For example, check your companies website. Does it indicate that your company is an equal opportunity employer? If so, your company is unlikely to be diverse as Canadians with disabilities typically won’t apply.

As an activist with a significant reach into Corporate Canada I see too often the glossy brochures, the fawning over “world class” diversity initiatives, the complete lack of understanding that diversity, when ingrained in a Corporations culture, pays massive dividends, creates competitive advantages while at the same time placing such companies as leaders in their sector.

96% of companies fall into the Diversish category unless they are one of the few companies who have done nothing at all and yes, it’s difficult to believe but there are a handful of Canadian Multi-nationals who have done nothing beyond the basics of legislative compliance. They know only too well who they are. They will be irrelevant soon enough.

The easy piece of the diversity platform is to ensure women are employed in senior management roles. Most corporations have done so but wage parity is still an issue, women as governors on private sector corporate boards are still a minority with about 15-18% of board seats held by women. As we move along the spectrum of diversity the numbers shrink. People of different cultures, religion and LGBT in recent years have being Included more often but still lack reasonable numbers. For many companies, inclusion of these workers is about box ticking, tokenism perhaps.

Moving further along the spectrum of diversity and the numbers fall off the chart. People with disabilities and workers from First Nations communities. StatsCan recently published updated data showing that 22-24% of Canadians have a a disability. This is astonishing.  Only a few years ago we were discussing a figure of 15-16%. We knew well that the number was growing but to go from one on seven to one in four in only ten years is indeed astonishing. The disability community is clearly Canada’s largest minority group, more than double the size of the next largest minority group.

Sadly but expectedly the Labour market participation of Canadians with disabilities remains stubbornly low. Statistics indicate 50-54% of Canadians with disabilities are not working however those stats don’t include anyone with no marketplace attachment. Therefore the more accurate figure is 70%. The exact same number I used when I first spoke publicly about inclusion in 2007.

We can no longer rely only on the benefits of inclusion to companies. The benefits are obvious to any CEO who takes the time to look at this vast untapped Labour force but they usually ignore this as a result of fear, fear of something they know little about. As well, awareness campaigns are losing favor, it’s not working. As well as continuing to discuss how Canadian corporations can and will benefit in so many ways by including skilled, educated, ready and willing workers with disabilities in real jobs for competitive salaries we have to ensure companies understand what a culture of inclusion looks like. We must continue to explain why corporate culture without inclusion is an automatic acceptance into the club known as being Divershish

Don’t be Divershish.

Please click on this short video. This is an amusing take on the Diversish world. Keep in mind though that the responses from those acting as senior business leaders are the exact responses I receive from the majority of real business leaders. Enjoy.


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