Last fall, Canada received international attention as we all witnessed our new leader install the most diverse cabinet in Canada’s history. It was a moment that made so many Canadians proud. We celebrate diversity, and this was a high-profile, visible embodiment of the belief that every person matters, irrespective of their gender, race, religion, or any other demographic.

After all, someone has to be bold and lead the charge to achieve diversity.

The state of diversity

Just weeks later, the Globe and Mail reported on statistics showing that in 2015 (19.5%) there was a 2.4% increase in the number of women sitting on boards in Canada since 2014 (17.1%). The same report indicated that in 2014 that visible minorities comprised just 2% of board positions, but that had increased to 7.3% in 2015.

I look at the appointment of our diverse cabinet last fall, and it’s a huge step in the right direction. (It’s not perfect, but it’s still a big step.) The baby steps increase in the presence of women and visible minorities on shows we still have a long way to go to reach true diversity, but the trend is mostly positive.

Why is diversity important?

One of my favourite aspects of working with other people is getting to hear and experience the variety of perspectives that come from unique backgrounds, and differing approaches. Committing to and implementing plans for a diverse workforce/leadership within any organization helps establish a built-in incubator for ideas, innovation, and input.

There’s increasing evidence that gender and ethnic diversity can have a positive impact on an organization’s bottom line.

Many employees appreciate efforts to build and maintain a diverse workforce, and it shows in productivity levels.

The evolution of the workplace

More and more organizations are making diversity a priority but as business leaders, we need to take action as well. When board positions come up, I encourage you to get involved when it’s a good fit. As we start to evolve the composition of leadership and prioritize diversity, it will trickle down through the ranks.

Small businesses can experience greater diversity by setting up an advisory board, or more informally, establish a group as a mastermind for greater accountability.

There’s no quick fix

As a woman, I look forward to seeing these stats continue to rise. Study after study has shown how valuable it is for organizations to commit to a diverse leadership and workforce at all levels. It’s going to take time to see parity, but we can all take steps to encourage progress:

  • Support diverse businesses
  • Get involved on a board
  • Fill your network with a variety of people/backgrounds

Join us the rest of this month as we continue to explore the topic of diversity and the impact it has on organizations!

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It may be August, but we’re not slowing down! Join us for the WineDown on August 10th, and then come out and get revved up for the day at our Breakfast Mix and Mingle on August 31st.

Coming up next month, we have our Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the membership. Details will be posted to the website soon and I hope everyone will come out to meet our new Board and learn more about everything that’s been going on this past year.

Karen C. Wilson, WBN President, Communications & Marketing Strategist
WBN President, 2016-17
Karen C. Wilson Communications