Gap Exists Between Intentions and Actions of Canadian Organizations When It Comes to Diversity and Inclusion

by pmnationtalk on January 10, 2019311 Views

Ottawa, January 10, 2019—Many Canadian organizations have good intentions, but their diversity and inclusion strategies, investments, and actions are not always aligned, according to a Conference Board of Canada report released today.

The report, Measuring Up: Benchmarking Diversity and Inclusion in Canadian Organizations, reveals that while Canadian organizations indicated an intent to focus on inclusion efforts, the behaviours that go along with these intentions, such as providing development opportunities for members of diverse groups, were viewed as low priorities.

“Many Canadian organizations have woken up to the reality that a diverse and inclusive workforce is a competitive advantage. However, they are struggling with putting those intentions into practice in a systematic and disciplined way,” said Jane Cooper, Senior Research Associate, The Conference Board of Canada.


  • The language has moved from “diversity” to “diversity and inclusion,” but there are many differing views about what these concepts actually mean on the ground. A surprising number of respondents were neutral on whether their organization is diverse (31 per cent) or inclusive (39 per cent).
  • Nearly half of respondents (45 per cent) said that their organization has a diversity team or office.
  • One-third of responding organizations have no special strategies to recruit a more diverse workforce.
  • One-third of respondents said they do not measure the results of their diversity and inclusion efforts.
  • In only a third of responding organizations, oversight or accountability for diversity and inclusion is where we would hope to find it—at the executive level, under either the president/CEO/deputy minister (17 per cent) or a senior vice-president or assistant deputy minister (13 per cent).
  • People with disabilities were the most under-represented employment equity group in the respondents’ labour forces (69 per cent labour market attainment), followed by Indigenous peoples (83 per cent labour market attainment).

“The take-home message is that there is still a lot of confusion about what diversity and inclusion mean practically and how you get there. Many organizations are not sure if they can even describe their workplaces as diverse or inclusive. If you can’t define or evaluate what good means in your context there is no way you can tell if the initiatives you invest in are working as intended—or not. These are empirical questions that demand an empirical approach. Good intentions are simply not enough,” added Sarah Reid, Director, Inclusion, The Conference Board of Canada.

Measuring Up: Benchmarking Diversity and Inclusion in Canadian Organizations is based on a 2017 survey of 228 senior HR and diversity and inclusion professionals in Canadian public and private organizations.

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