Diversity within an organization doesn’t just happen on its own. Canada’s Best Diversity Employers for 2019 understand that it takes more than good intentions to achieve a truly diversified work force. It starts from the top down with formulating a strategic plan for diversity that puts lofty words into meaningful action.
Through a variety of innovative and progressive initiatives, these winning employers have each made huge strides toward creating a more inclusive and respectful workplace. That means providing the kind of environment where employees feel welcome and free to be themselves at work, regardless of race, gender, country of origin or sexual orientation. It means accommodating those with disabilities, including invisible ones such as mental-health issues, so that people get the support they need to succeed at their jobs.
Some outstanding examples this year include Manulife, which recently embedded diversity and inclusion accountability into performance goals for its leadership personnel, or Amex Canada, which launched a strategy to support the development and advancement of female employees. Currently, women represent 57 per cent of its senior leadership and 52 per cent of its board of directors.
Many organizations have also formalized leadership or advisory groups to promote inclusivity, such as the City of Ottawa, which maintains a dedicated diversity and inclusion unit to help employees resolve discrimination issues and to raise awareness in the workplace and broader community, or the University of Victoria, which established a chair in transgender studies, the first of its kind, to further research the lives of trans and gender non-conforming people.
The advantages of bringing in a broad variety of fresh voices to spark innovation and energize a company are already well established. Planning a more inclusive approach to hiring allows organizations to tap into the best talent Canada has to offer. For a road map on how to do it, take a look at this year’s winners.
The methodology and selection criteria for Canada’s Best Diversity Employers competition remains the same as in previous years. The Mediacorp Canada Inc. 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; aboriginal people; and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender/transsexual (LGBT) people.
To determine the 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 to 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 (2019)
Accenture Inc., Toronto. Management consulting; 4,864 employees. Continues to work toward advancing women in the workplace and achieving a gender-balanced work force by 2025.
Access Communications Co-operative Ltd., Regina. Cable and telecommunications; 211 employees. Works with community organizations to provide employment opportunities to candidates from all walks of life, including SaskAbilities and Partners in Employment.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Ottawa. Federal government; 4,609 employees. Created an Indigenous student recruitment initiative to provide opportunities for students to transition to the workplace after completing their education.
Air Canada, Saint-Laurent, Que. Air transportation; 26,714 employees. Collaborated with Jazz Aviation to partner with First Nations Technical Institute to help young aboriginal students pursue their ambition of becoming a pilot.
Alberta Health Services / AHS, Edmonton. Health care; 46,765 employees. Maintains a diversity and inclusion community of practice and a diversity and inclusion employee network.
Amex Bank of Canada, Toronto. Credit card issuing; 1,555 employees. Maintains 10 active employee network chapters to provide networking and development opportunities.
BC Public Service, Victoria. Provincial government; 28,452 employees. Manages the Work-Able Graduate Internship program to provide opportunities to postsecondary graduates with disabilities to gain work experience within the public sector.
BDC / Business Development Bank of Canada, Montreal. Secondary market financing; 2,260 employees. Aims to better serve female entrepreneurs through the Women Entrepreneur National Initiative, allocating funds for sponsorship of programs and initiatives for female entrepreneurs.
Bell Canada, Montreal. Communications; 38,613 employees. Maintains an internal mental-health policy and offers enhanced benefits coverage for mental-health care.
Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP, Toronto. Law firm; 1,348 employees. Partnered with CIBC to create ReLaunch, a program focused on re-integrating talented female lawyers who have left the work force for two or more years.
Boeing Canada Operations Ltd., Winnipeg. Aircraft equipment manufacturing; 1,808 employees. Works with Connecting Aboriginals to Manufacturing and the Centre for Aboriginal Human Resource Development to provide aboriginal youth employment opportunities.
Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, Toronto. Law firm; 1,356 employees. Created the Driven by Women initiative to support the needs of female-led and female-founded partners.
CAMH / Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto. Specialty hospital; 2,432 employees. Provides bias-free interview training for recruiters and managers and ensures prospective candidates receive the appropriate accommodation if needed.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. / CMHC, Ottawa. Federal government; 1,861 employees. Established a unique special needs program for individuals with Down syndrome in 1993, providing mentoring, skills development and work experience.
Canadian National Railway Co. / CN, Montreal. Railroad transportation; 16,597 employees. Created the Aspire program in 2012 to help educate young women about opportunities in the railway industry.
Capgemini Canada Inc., Toronto. Information technology; 341 employees. Employs a supplier diversity director responsible for liaising with related associations to increase the diversity of the company’s supply chain.
Capital One Bank (Canada Branch), Toronto. Credit card issuing; 1,242 employees. Established an associate consultation forum to help measure progress toward its three-year employment equity plan.
Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, The, Toronto. Child and youth services; 792 employees. Provides hidden bias training for employees and uses World Education Services to assess immigrants' qualifications.
CIBC, Toronto. Banking; 36,203 employees. Created action plans to improve the gender balance of women in leadership roles and manages a dedicated women’s network.
Corus Entertainment Inc., Toronto. Media production and broadcasting; 2,973 employees. Works with a number of local community organizations to support the employment of diverse individuals.
Dentons Canada LLP, Vancouver. Law firm; 1,138 employees. Implemented a national sexual orientation and gender identity policy and procedures to provide specific reference to how the LGBT community can expect to experience the workplace.
Edmonton, City of, Edmonton. Municipal government; 9,817 employees. Works with local community organizations to support new Canadian job-seekers.
Employment and Social Development Canada, Gatineau, Que. Federal government; 25,018 employees. Conducts gender-based analysis in order to assess the potential impact of new programs and policies on diverse groups of women and men.
Export Development Canada, Ottawa. International trade financing and support; 1,560 employees. Maintains a number of employee resource groups to support its diverse work force, including Women@EDC, Latinos Y Amigos, and LGBT+.
Health Canada / Santé Canada, Ottawa. Federal government; 7,497 employees. Created a multi-year mental-health and wellness strategy to promote the psychological well-being of its work force.
Home Depot of Canada Inc., Toronto. Retail; 13,175 employees. Participates in the federally-funded Ready, Willing and Able project.
HP Canada Co., Mississauga. Computer technology and services; 485 employees. Participates in the regional Americas Diversity Council.
HSBC Bank Canada, Vancouver. Banking; 5,327 employees. Created a three-year diversity internship program that welcomed 30 employees, including individuals from Indigenous communities and persons with disabilities.
Hydro Ottawa, Ottawa. Electric power distribution; 680 employees. Expanded its involvement in mental-health awareness by participating in Mental Health Week activities and offering Not Myself Today resources for employees.
IBM Canada Ltd., Markham, Ont. Software development. Played host to multicultural women leadership forums across various locations in order to foster leadership development and networking opportunities
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, Ottawa. Federal government; 5,184 employees. Maintains a dedicated mental-health strategy as well as a mental-health network and champions.
Jazz Aviation LP, Dartmouth, N.S. Air transportation; 4,660 employees. Provides mental-health awareness training to all managers from in-flight services teams.
KPMG LLP, Toronto. Accounting; 7,081 employees. Appointed its first chief mental-health officer in 2017 and added new mental-health and well-being questions to its global people survey.
Lafarge Canada Inc., Calgary. Concrete manufacturing; 6,844 employees. Committed to a 2030 action plan, which includes a goal of having 30 per cent of management roles held by women by the year 2030.
Loblaw Companies Ltd., Brampton, Ont. Supermarkets; 32,448 employees. Created a formal process to help employees form “Loblaw Colleague Alliances,” groups of employees who come together with a common interest.
Manitoba Hydro, Winnipeg. Hydroelectric power generation; 5,124 employees. Participates in a transitional employment program called Project Search to provide work placements to high-school students with intellectual disabilities.
Manitoba, Government of, Winnipeg. Provincial government; 12,536 employees. Manages a 12-month development program for high-potential employees who self-identify as aboriginal, visible minority, or a person with a disability.
Manulife, Toronto. Insurance; 12,790 employees. Continues to engage employees in ongoing dialogue on inclusion through unconscious bias training.
McCarthy Tétrault LLP, Toronto. Law firm; 1,400 employees. Maintains an internal pipeline scorecard to capture gender demographics of partners, associates and students, including statistics on advancement to partnership, lateral hires and departures.
McMaster University, Hamilton. University; 4,614 employees. Played host to disability discussions to provide space for students with disabilities to connect and present recommendations to address barriers.
National Bank of Canada, Montreal. Banking; 16,047 employees. Established an employee resource group for LGBT employees.
Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP, Vancouver. Law firm; 1,620 employees. Manages a career strategies development program for high-potential women who aspire to partnership.
Nova Scotia Government, Halifax. Provincial government; 9,481 employees. Established a new Office of Workplace Mental Health to promote and support mental health and wellness internally.
Ontario Public Service/ OPS, Toronto. Provincial government; 65,136 employees. Manages a diversity career champions program to provide mentorship for employees from underrepresented groups.
Ottawa, City of, Ottawa. Municipal government; 12,069 employees. Organizes diversity cafés to provide individuals with opportunities to talk about diversity related experiences and issues.
PepsiCo Canada, Mississauga. Soft drink and food manufacturing; 10,699 employees. Piloted mentoring circles to support the engagement, progression and retention of female employees.
Procter & Gamble Inc., Toronto. Consumer product manufacturing; 1,657 employees. Launched a Power of the Minds Champions program to engage employees who have experience with mental-health issues as role models and resources for others.
Public Services and Procurement Canada, Gatineau, Que. Federal government; 13,399 employees. Piloted a Positive Measure program to hire persons with developmental disabilities.
Red River College, Winnipeg. College; 1,406 employees. Offers “Girls Exploring Trades and Technologies Camps,” with female instructors as role models to encourage young girls to consider careers in trades and technology.
Rogers Communications Inc., Toronto. Communications, cable, publishing and subscription programming; 21,631 employees. Manages a sponsorship program to help female employees advance in their careers.
Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto. Banking; 52,575 employees. Partners with the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council to provide mentoring relationships to new Canadian job-seekers.
Ryerson University, Toronto. University; 3,216 employees. Identifies, removes and prevents barriers to inclusion for persons with disabilities through its campus-wide “Access Ryerson” accessibility initiative.
Saskatoon, City of, Saskatoon. Municipal government; 3,281 employees. Is developing new partnerships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.
SaskPower, Regina. Electric power generation; 3,342 employees. Created a diversity department responsible for the development and implementation of the organization’s corporate diversity strategy.
SaskTel, Regina. Telecommunications; 3,000 employees. Maintains a hiring strategy for persons with disabilities and conducts information sessions and pre-employment workshops with community partners.
Sinai Health System, Toronto. Hospitals; 3,496 employees. Maintains a gender identity and gender expression policy, which outlines fair treatment of all gender-diverse patients and employees.
Sodexo Canada Ltd., Burlington, Ont. Food service contractors; 6,089 employees. Created an Indigenous steering committee to further strengthen its relationships with Indigenous employees and communities.
Surrey, City of, Surrey, B.C. Municipal government; 2,049 employees. Created an Inclusive Employer Awards program to recognize local businesses that create a welcoming environment for persons with disabilities.
TD Bank Group, Toronto. Banking; 46,871 employees. Maintains an enterprise-wide LGBTA Pride Network with nearly 3,000 members.
Toronto Transit Commission / TTC, Toronto. Public transit; 14,279 employees. Launched its first diversity and human rights executive steering committee, composed of senior leadership, staff and unionized employees.
Toronto, City of, Toronto. Municipal government; 22,009 employees. Manages the Toronto Regional Champion Campaign Protégé program to help boost female participation in local government.
Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada Inc. / TMMC, Cambridge, Ont. Automobile manufacturing; 8,767 employees. Created a mentorship program to increase engagement and improve advancement opportunities for women.
UBC / University of British Columbia, Vancouver. University; 11,097 employees. Manages the Beyond the Binary project to address gaps in awareness and inclusion of trans and gender diverse individuals through staff and faculty training.
Unilever Canada Inc., Toronto. Consumer product manufacturing; 1,080 employees. Achieved gender balance in 2014 and currently has women representing 53 per cent of management-level roles.
University of Calgary, Calgary. University; 6,063 employees. Established a Newcomer Research Network to advocate and advance research in support of immigrants, refugees and international students.
University of Manitoba, Winnipeg. University; 4,879 employees. Awards Success Through Wellness grants to staff and students who propose projects that engage the campus community to foster positive mental health and well-being.
University of Toronto, Toronto. University; 9,809 employees. Maintains the Ludwick and Estelle Jus Memorial Human Rights Prize to recognize positive, long-term contributions to education and action against discrimination.
University of Victoria, Victoria. University; 2,919 employees. Features improved accessibility, including family change rooms with space for transgender individuals, at its Centre for Athletics, Recreation and Special Abilities.
University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ont. University; 5,355 employees. Funds initiatives that advance and promote wage equality between women and men.
Vancouver Airport Authority, Richmond, BC. Airport operations; 457 employees. Partnered with the Canucks Autism Network to create a resource kit and video series to assist families and individuals living with autism when they travel.
Vancouver City Savings Credit Union, Vancouver. Credit unions; 2,147 employees. Works with Focus Professional Services to employ eight individuals with autism in functional testing and data quality roles.
Vancouver, City of, Vancouver. Municipal government; 7,153 employees. Adopted a long-term strategy to address systemic issues that impact women’s full inclusion.
William Osler Health System, Brampton, Ont. Hospitals; 3,306 employees. Aims to foster an inclusive and respectful environment for LGBTQ employees and patients through its multi-disciplinary LGBTQ2IA Allies Advisory Group.
YMCA of Greater Toronto, Toronto. Individual and family services; 1,833 employees. Manages a PRIDE Initiative, which focuses on consciousness-raising activities throughout the GTA, including speaker series and workshops.
York, Regional Municipality of, Newmarket, Ont. Municipal government; 3,580 employees. Updated its most recent multiyear accessibility plan to meet the requirements of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.