Diversity and Inclusion Give These Firms a Competitive Advantage

Canadas Best Diversity Employers for 2018 lead the way in trying to make the workplace more inclusive through a variety of innovative and compassionate diversity initiatives. DIANE JERMYN
Special to The Globe and Mail
Updated March 7, 2018

Canada’s Best Diversity Employers competition celebrates Canada’s vibrant and increasingly diverse work force. The winners listed here for 2018 have been judged as having an inclusive and respectful work environment that benefits everyone.

But what does being inclusive in the workplace really mean to people? Some might say it’s simply about feeling respected and comfortable in your own skin at work, no matter what your race, where you originally come from or how long you’ve been here. Others might describe inclusion as being able to bring your whole self to work so you can do your best, instead of having to hide who you are.

An employer’s inclusion strategy might mean that some people will be hired, despite having a disability, because that employer is willing to provide an accommodation for them in the workplace. It can also mean that people with invisible disabilities, such as mental-health challenges or learning disabilities, will get the support they need to succeed at work. Examples include Toronto law firm McCarthy Tétrault LLP, which has created a multiyear initiative on mental-health awareness that includes education and awareness as well as training for leadership, or SaskTel in Regina that created the Supported Employment program for candidates with cognitive disabilities, in partnership with the Saskatchewan Abilities Council.

Canada’s Best Diversity Employers for 2018 lead the way in trying to make the workplace more inclusive through a variety of innovative and compassionate diversity initiatives. By their example, these winning employers are sending a message to Canada and the world that being inclusive is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do for business. Diversity energizes an organization by bringing fresh voices to the table, sparking innovation and boosting performance.

Looking at the many unique programs offered by Canada’s Best Diversity Employers 2018 is a good place for any organization to start the conversation about inclusion. Then take it further.


The methodology and selection criteria for Canada’s Best Diversity Employers competition remains the same. This year’s list reflects the growing strength and number of applicants who continue to address issues of diversity and inclusion. The competition recognizes employers across Canada that have exceptional workplace diversity and inclusiveness programs. These include successful diversity initiatives in a variety of areas, including programs for employees from five groups: women; members of visible minorities; persons with disabilities; Indigenous people; and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered/transsexual (LGBT) people.

To determine this year’s winners of the Canada’s Best Diversity Employers competition, Mediacorp editors reviewed diversity and inclusiveness initiatives at employers that applied for the Canada’s Top 100 Employers project. From this overall applicant pool, a smaller short list of employers with noteworthy and unique diversity initiatives was developed. The short-listed candidates’ programs were then compared with those of other employers in the same field. The finalists chosen represent the diversity leaders in their industry and region of Canada.

Any employer with its head office or principal place of business in Canada, whether in the private or public sector, may apply for this competition.

Canada’s Best Diversity Employers (2018)

  • Accenture Inc., Toronto. Management consulting; 3,576 employees. Created a National Accent on Enablement employee resource group, which is sponsored by a senior executive and includes two distinct chapters for mental health and persons with disabilities.
  • Access Communications Co-operative Ltd., Regina. Cable and telecommunications; 217 employees. Produced a unique television show called Exceptionalities featuring extraordinary individuals challenged by disorders, disabilities or diseases.
  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Ottawa. Federal government; 4,483 employees. Employed its first departmental elder to support Indigenous students and employees through mentoring.
  • Air Canada, Saint-Laurent, Que. Air transportation; 24,755 employees. Launched a new partnership with Ready, Willing and Able in an effort to match the unique qualifications of candidates with intellectual disabilities or autism spectrum disorder to specific roles.
  • Amex Bank of Canada, Toronto. Credit card issuing; 1,629 employees. Created a mentorship guide in partnership with the Women’s Executive Network to help women structure beneficial mentoring relationships.
  • BC Public Service, Victoria. Provincial government; 27,785 employees. Created Accessibility 2024, a 10-year action plan to help make the province more accessible and inclusive for persons with disabilities as well as increase employment opportunities.
  • BDC / Business Development Bank of Canada, Montreal. Secondary market financing; 2,244 employees. Is a founding member of the Syrian Refugees Jobs Agenda Roundtable in the Greater Toronto Area.
  • Bell Canada, Montreal. Communications; 37,137 employees. Established an LGBT network in 2009 to support the inclusion and professional development of LGBT employees.
  • Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP, Toronto. Law firm; 1,357 employees. Provides support, mentorship, networking opportunities and personal and professional resources for its female employees through the Women@Blakes network.
  • Boeing Canada Operations Ltd., Winnipeg. Aircraft equipment manufacturing; 1,449 employees. Partners with Red River College to develop Boeing-specific skills for the Stevenson Aviation program curriculum.
  • CAMH / Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto. Specialty hospital; 2,246 employees. Manages Employment Works!, a program to help individuals with mental health or addiction issues to access meaningful employment through skills development.
  • Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. / CMHC, Ottawa. Federal government; 1,808 employees. Is currently creating a Diversity Index, which will include hiring targets for employees across a broad spectrum of groups.
  • Canadian National Railway Co. / CN, Montreal. Railroad transportation; 14,885 employees. Produces quarterly diversity report cards to help track the organization’s progress in achieving diversity goals.
  • Capgemini Canada Inc., Toronto. Information technology; 392 employees. Offers a two-day Culture, Bias, and the Brain training program to help employees understand and mitigate conscious bias in everyday business decisions.
  • Capital One Bank (Canada Branch), Toronto. Credit card issuing; 1,122 employees. Launched a Women in Technology business resource group to support the company’s focus on women in technology through awareness, outreach and education.
  • Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, The, Toronto. Child and youth services; 798 employees. Maintains the Out and Proud program to ensure its services are open, inclusive, safe and positive for the LGBT community as well as its employees.
  • CIBC, Toronto. Banking; 36,482 employees. Created a Pathfinder program to offer peer support for new Indigenous employees.
  • Dentons Canada LLP, Vancouver. Law firm; 1,189 employees. Is currently working on a diversity and inclusion training resource manual and guide.
  • Edmonton, City of, Edmonton. Municipal government; 10,409 employees. Supports the employment efforts of job seekers with disabilities through the Abilities in Action work experience program.
  • Employment and Social Development Canada, Gatineau, Que. Federal government; 23,747 employees. Created a three-year diversity and employment equity plan.
  • Enbridge Inc., Calgary. Natural gas distribution; 7,650 employees. Works with a number of community organizations to provide mentoring and speed networking opportunities for new Canadians.
  • Export Development Canada, Ottawa. International trade financing and support; 1,482 employees. Created an Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Award to recognize employees who actively promote diversity and an inclusive work environment.
  • General Motors of Canada Co., Oshawa, Ont. Automobile manufacturing; 8,614 employees. Maintains a longstanding Supplier Diversity Council, which works with more than 200 certified minority and female-owned businesses in Canada and the United States.
  • Health Canada / Santé Canada, Ottawa. Federal government; 9,304 employees. Maintains a sex- and gender-based analysis policy as well as a departmental Sex and Gender-Based Analysis Action Plan.
  • Home Depot of Canada Inc., Toronto. Retail; 14,137 employees. Created the Women in Leadership initiative to improve career opportunities for female employees.
  • HP Canada Co., Mississauga. Computer technology and services; 467 employees. Introduced a sponsorship program in 2017 called Catalyst@HP to connect protégés to senior leaders for coaching and mentoring.
  • Hydro Ottawa, Ottawa. Electric power distribution; 650 employees. Works with Employment Accessibility Resource Network and the Paul Menton Centre for Students with Disabilities at Carleton University to provide summer student employment opportunities.
  • Jazz Aviation LP, Dartmouth, N.S. Air transportation; 4,340 employees. Is currently developing a corporate strategy to support mental health in the workplace.
  • KPMG LLP, Toronto. Accounting; 6,620 employees. Operates and supports a dedicated people network for the LGBT community called pride@KPMG.
  • Lafarge Canada Inc., Calgary. Concrete manufacturing; 6,726 employees. Partners with a number of local employment and career services organizations to help new Canadians find work.
  • Loblaw Companies Ltd., Brampton, Ont. Supermarkets; 28,208 employees. Piloted a dedicated LGBTQ Youth Internship at its Maple Leaf Gardens location, developed in partnership with several organizations.
  • Manitoba Hydro, Winnipeg. Hydroelectric power generation; 5,980 employees. Manages a DisAbility Access Program to help persons who have sustained severe brain injury reintegrate into the work force.
  • Manitoba Public Insurance, Winnipeg. Insurance; 1,906 employees. Offers comprehensive training on Truth and Reconciliation.
  • Manitoba, Government of, Winnipeg. Provincial government; 12,412 employees. Launched a Safe Spaces initiative to create awareness of LGBTTQ issues in the workplace.
  • Manulife, Toronto. Insurance; 12,743 employees. Works with Career Edge to offer paid internships for persons with disabilities.
  • McCarthy Tétrault LLP, Toronto. Law firm; 1,272 employees. Created a multiyear initiative on mental health awareness.
  • National Bank of Canada, Montreal. Banking; 15,798 employees. Launched an assistance program for new Canadians, providing resources on topics such as financial products, schools, health care and job search.
  • Northwest Territories, Government of the, Yellowknife. Territorial government; 5,902 employees. Manages an Advisory Committee on Employability.
  • Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP, Montreal. Law firm; 1,589 employees. Manages the Career Strategies development program for high potential women who aspire to partnership.
  • Nova Scotia Government, Halifax. Provincial government; 9,454 employees. Created formal guidelines to support trans and gender-variant employees.
  • Ontario Public Service/ OPS, Toronto. Provincial government; 62,205 employees. Introduced anti-racism legislation to provide measurable targets, public reporting and community consultation through renewable multiyear strategic plans.
  • Procter & Gamble Inc., Toronto. Consumer product manufacturing; 1,710 employees. Manages internal employee networks which offer support for professional development as well as forums for employees to network.
  • Public Services and Procurement Canada, Gatineau, Que. Federal government; 11,373 employees. Created a Mental Health Ombudsman, the first such position within the federal public service.
  • Red River College, Winnipeg. College; 1,324 employees. Appointed an executive director of Indigenous strategy.
  • Rogers Communications Inc., Toronto. Communications, cable publishing and subscription programming; 22,304 employees. Launched dedicated pricing for customers with accessibility needs.
  • Royal Bank of Canada / RBC, Toronto. Banking; 52,519 employees. Donated more than $3.5-million to various Aboriginal groups and organizations to help increase education, engagement and awareness.
  • Ryerson University, Toronto. University; 3,043 employees. Created a Teaching about Diversity Fund to help ensure that instructors infuse diversity and inclusion into their curriculum.
  • Saskatoon, City of, Saskatoon. Municipal government; 3,219 employees. Partnered with OUT Saskatoon to host educational workshops on the LGBT community, including how to be an ally.
  • SaskPower, Regina. Hydroelectric power generation; 3,431 employees. Is committed to creating an inclusive environment for persons with disabilities.
  • SaskTel, Regina. Telecommunications; 3,054 employees. Works with Open Door Societies to provide employment readiness workshops for new Canadians as well as work placement opportunities.
  • Shaw Communications Inc., Calgary. Communications, cable and subscription programming; 10,668 employees. Created a Diversity Index to measure tangible progress toward achieving the goals outlined in its diversity strategy.
  • Shell Canada Ltd., Calgary. Crude petroleum and natural gas extraction; 7,529 employees. Created a 14-week career development program to help female employees achieve personal and professional goals.
  • Sodexo Canada Ltd., Burlington, Ont. Food service contractors; 6,067 employees. Committed to hiring more than 200 individuals with disabilities in 2017 and more than 500 hires in 2018.
  • TD Bank Group, Toronto. Banking; 46,405 employees. Is piloting a hiring program with Specialisterne Canada to hire individuals on the autism spectrum.
  • Toronto Transit Commission / TTC, Toronto. Public transit; 14,122 employees. Maintains an advisory committee on accessible transit.
  • Toronto, City of, Toronto. Municipal government; 22,070 employees. Established the Profession to Profession Mentoring Immigrants program in response to employment barriers faced by skilled immigrants.
  • Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada Inc. / TMMC, Cambridge, Ont. Automobile manufacturing; 8,620 employees. Created a task force led by senior management to focus on attracting women.
  • UBC / University of British Columbia, Vancouver. University; 10,555 employees. Offers Speak-Up! workshops for employees to learn how to use inclusive language and how to interrupt discriminatory practices.
  • Unilever Canada Inc., Toronto. Consumer product manufacturing; 1,134 employees. Launched Success Circles to help female employees working at factory facilities build networks across North America.
  • University of Calgary, Calgary. University; 5,924 employees. Established an Office of Diversity, Equity and Protected Disclosure.
  • University of Manitoba, Winnipeg. University; 4,914 employees. Maintains a Women in Science and Engineering outreach group to help educate and motivate youth, particularly young girls, to pursue careers in engineering and science.
  • University of Toronto, Toronto. University; 9,574 employees. Is establishing a new bursary program for students and scholars who have obtained refugee status.
  • University of Victoria, Victoria. University; 3,037 employees. Provides mental-health training to help employees recognize early warning signs for students experiencing difficulties.
  • University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ont. University; 5,254 employees. Committed to enhancing female faculty representation to 30 per cent by 2020, and advancing women into positions that lead the university.
  • Vancouver Airport Authority, Richmond, BC. Airport operations; 462 employees. Is piloting a project to attract persons with disabilities to participate in co-op student placements.
  • Vancouver City Savings Credit Union, Vancouver. Credit unions; 2,050 employees. Partnered with the Vancouver Police Department to be recognized as a safe haven for members of the LGBTQ community in the event that they are unsafe or at risk of harm.
  • Vancouver, City of, Vancouver. Municipal government; 7,105 employees. Created a three-month Aboriginal Production Apprentice Program to train, place and employ select applicants.
  • William Osler Health System, Brampton, Ont. Hospital; 3,172 employees. Offers training on inclusive language and barriers to care.
  • YMCA of Greater Toronto, Toronto. Individual and family services; 1,733 employees. Shares vacancies with ethnic newspapers and websites to help ensure diverse groups of applicants have access to job postings.
  • York, Regional Municipality of, Newmarket, Ont. Municipal government; 3,485 employees. Is developing a Corporate Diversity and Inclusion Charter, which will be a road map to creating an organization inclusive of employees and customers alike.

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