ADVANTAGE DAILY: Canadian Headlines from Canadian Underwriter - October 6, 2022

Where DEI training doesn’t work

Incorporating diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) successfully into the workplace has to come from a genuine desire to improve a workplace culture rather than as a way to check boxes, speakers said in a RIMS Canada Conference panel discussion.  

“Often [DEI] training will be done for compliance purposes,” said Sarah Robson, president and CEO of Marsh Canada, referring to a study she read. “And, in particular, training that has been created… for the express purpose to minimize the litigation [doesn’t] have the same sort of lasting impact as some of the other more cultural explorations have had.”  

When a company has a culture that truly embraces belonging, “it’s not a tick-the-box exercise,” agreed Alexandra Kindbom, chief client officer of risk management and corporate segments at Marsh Canada. “I think it really comes down to supporting culture that enables these discussions.” 

Too many organizations use DEI as a “scaffold,” or superficial measure, which does little to bring about change to an organization’s integral structure, find Tsedale M. Melaku and Christoph Winkler, authors of a recent Harvard Business Review article. 

The leaders at the top set the “tone” for a workplace’s DEI culture, Kindbom said. So, to determine if a company is using DEI superficially or structurally, leadership teams should ask themselves the following questions:  

  • Are we providing equitable access to career opportunities? 
  • Are we promoting a culture of allyship? 
  • Have we made a public commitment to DEI with external partners? And are we prepared for pushback? 
  • Do we know how we’ll measure our progress (or lack thereof?) 

In concert with these points — particularly the last one — leaders can kickstart their DEI efforts by asking employees to self-identify, Robson suggested. 

“What we’ve recognized is the fact that these self-ID campaigns can be a catalyst in driving a culture of belonging within our organization. As a benchmark, we need to understand what the diversity is of our workforce,” Robson said. “We’ve been asking our colleagues to go into our HR system and to choose to self-identify, so that we can actually establish what that baseline looks like. 

“That will give us a clearer picture of the under-representation, so that we can then determine what goals we should have to…to change that picture with respect to not only the hiring, but also the promotion and retention of our underrepresented talent as well.” 

“It’s important for us to reflect the society that we work as an employer, and not to mention our clients as well — we have to reflect who our clients are too,” said Nigel Rouse, senior vice president of Marsh Canada. 


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