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Last year’s Fifth Annual Excellence in Governance Awards awarded the following companies and people: MD Financial Management Inc.; Mountain Equipment Co-op; Green Shield Canada; Vancouver Airport Authority; ATB Financial; Concentra Bank; Manulife; Bank of Montreal; Royal Bank of Canada; and Hugh Bolton of EPCOR Utilities.PHOTO COURTESY OF GOVERNANCE PROFESSIONALS OF CANADA

Diversity isn’t just a nice-to-have — it ultimately leads to better business outcomes.

“There is strong evidence that organizations with gender-diverse boards and senior leadership are more likely than their counterparts to yield stronger financial results in the long term, and to enjoy a more positive and empowering organizational culture,” said Ekta Mendhi, Co-Chair of the Canadian Gender and Good Governance Alliance.

The Alliance is a partnership of not-for-profit organizations focused on research, advocacy and education in the areas of governance and gender diversity. With a mission of greater gender balance across Canadian organizations, the Alliance worked with its members, including the Governance Professionals of Canada (GPC), to deliver a how-to guide for CEOs, called the CEO Blueprint, earlier this month.

“This is a blueprint for CEOs who understand that implementing gender balance throughout their organization is important,” said Ms. Mendhi. “It gives them a step-by-step framework on the components of building a vision, structuring and mobilizing management teams, and focusing on gender diversity initiatives that actually work.”

The GPC 2018 Excellence in Governance Awards recognize diversity in the Best Practices to Enhance Boardroom Diversity category, with two shortlisted winners: Medavie Blue Cross and Royal Bank of Canada.

Medavie Blue Cross has made a commitment to achieving better gender balance at the board and senior management levels. This includes building a foundation of leaders who not only support but seek to advance meaningful, sustainable gender balance in business leadership.

“At Medavie, we promote inclusivity as one of the most important aspects of governance while remaining committed to achieving better gender balance both at the board level and within our senior management team. Strong organizations and leaders understand the power of diverse views and backgrounds, and how this makes for more meaningful and impactful decisions and direction,” said Bernard Lord, CEO of Medavie.

More than 40 per cent of Medavie’s board members are women; 73 per cent of its total workforce is made up of women, and female participation in leadership roles is 69 per cent. Indeed, Medavie’s first president upon incorporation in 1943 was female, Ruth Cook Wilson, an inductee into the Junior Business Hall of Fame.

“Across our organization, we are growing increasingly diverse and are steadfastly committed to employment equity and diversity in our hiring practices,” said Mr. Lord.

Medavie also recognizes that diversity goes beyond gender. In its most recent engagement survey, employees commented on the growing diversity of the organization, highlighting the inclusiveness of employees who identify as LGBTQIA. Also noted in the survey, 93 per cent of employees feel Medavie has a work environment that is open and accepting of individual differences, including gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion and age.

“Ultimately, we believe gender and cultural balance not only encourage better leadership and governance,” said Mr. Lord, “but that diversity further contributes to better all-round board performance for the organization.”

RBC, the other shortlisted winner, also sees a link between diversity and driving better outcomes, growth and innovation. “We believe that in order to speak up for inclusion, we need to speak about inclusion,” said Karen McCarthy, Senior Vice-President, Associate General Counsel & Secretary with RBC.

This includes the advancement of women into leadership roles. In 2015, RBC was a founding member of the Canadian chapter of the 30% Club, an organization that aspires to boost the proportion of women on boards to 30 per cent (or more) by 2020. At RBC, women currently comprise 38 per cent of the board of directors, including the chair.

RBC’s mandate also extends to visible minorities. “We believe that for Canada to succeed in the global marketplace, attracting, employing and fully integrating immigrants in our workforce is imperative,” said Ms. McCarthy.

To further its commitment to removing barriers to the advancement of visible minorities, last year RBC introduced Ignite, an eight-month Leadership Development Program for high-performing talent, aimed at accelerating their trajectory to senior management and executive roles.

“RBC has long believed that diversity is not only the right thing to do but also the smart thing to do,” said Ms. McCarthy. “For us, having diversity is interesting; doing something with it is powerful.”

Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.