Building Blocks of Workplace Inclusion

By Jill Walters

When it comes to creating a culture of inclusion, many don’t know where to begin. And although it’s a cliché to say, “begin at the beginning,” that is, in fact, is exactly where you have to go. But relax. It’s not as overwhelming as you may think. It won’t happen overnight but it will happen and more easily than you ever imagined.

In the current issue of TD at Work, you will learn:

  • ·The importance of creating a mission statement, vision statement, and value statement around inclusion
  • ·how to establish an action plan
  • ·best practices for developing an inclusive organization
  • ·steps to creating a workplace inclusion committee
  • ·how to develop an employee-friendly workplace.

Take a peek inside the publication and read more of the article, here.

Building Blocks of Workplace Inclusion which was written by Evelina Silveira, president of Diversity at Work, and me can be purchased here.

Jill Walters is the publisher of Diversity! in the Workplace.






Understanding Disability as Diversity

Eunyoung Kim, Ph.D., associate professor in the College of Education and Human Services at Seton Hall University, and Katherine C. Aquino, Ph.D., graduate of the Higher Education Leadership, Management and Policy Ph.D. program in the College, have collaborated on Disability as Diversity in Higher Education: Policies and Practices to Enhance Student Success, published by Routledge.

By framing disability not as an impairment, but rather an important dimension of diversity and identity on college campuses, Disability as Diversity proposes new perspectives, empirical research and case studies to provide the necessary foundation for understanding the role of disability within the campus climate. The book provides insight into how higher education institutions can use policies and practices to enhance inclusion and student success for students with disabilities.

“The overarching theme of this book is to include disability as part of diversity beyond race, gender, and class that have been center stage in the diversity debate to a greater extent, disability to a lesser extent,” said Kim.

Kim noted that once students with disabilities enroll in post-secondary education, they get frustrated with a lack of services, and being overlooked and marginalized. As the number of students with disabilities on college campuses increases, it is imperative to provide them with the means to thrive.

“Disability is often not automatically understood as a component of student diversity. My biggest hope for this book is to increase the conversation on student disability within the college environment. It is our aim to allow for all members of the institutional community – faculty members, administrators, students with and without disabilities, and the family members of those students -to increase their comfort level on the role, and importance, of students with disabilities in post-secondary education,” said Aquino.

Kim and Aquino developed the book concept in the spring of 2014. Equipped with a completed prospectus, they invited colleagues who research disability in higher education to share submissions to be considered for inclusion in the volume. Their idea came about through a desire to include the voices of renowned and emerging scholars who have been engaged in disability research. As editors, they also wrote a chapter in collaboration with Taghreed Alhaddab, Ph.D., graduate of the Higher Education Leadership, Management and Policy Ph.D. program, titled, “Does Disability Matter?: Students’ Satisfaction with College Experiences.”

“We were fortunate to have a deluge of chapter submissions. From the large pool of potential contributors, we were able to be conscious of the message and flow of the text. We are honored to have had such wonderful contributing authors – they are all making incredible strides to increase research and awareness of this topic in the field. It was truly a privilege to work with them,” shared Aquino.

Reviews have been positive, highlighting the significance this volume of work adds to the field of higher education.

“This book explores the experiences of students with disabilities and makes valuable suggestions for how to improve the education and success of such students. Disability as Diversity in Higher Education is an essential book for faculty, administrators, and students to help combat one of the least recognized but most prevalent forms of discrimination at institutions that pride themselves on their diversity programs,” said Lennard Davis, Distinguished Professor of English in the School of Arts and Professor of Medical Education in the College of Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago.

Kim currently serves as the program director for the Higher Education Leadership, Management and Policy graduate programs. Her research interests include college student development, minority students’ college access and success, diversity and equity in higher education, sociology of education and international education. Kim’s research focuses on the intersection of social and cultural capital in college aspirations and pursuits and identity formation among underrepresented and marginalized students.

“It has been a distinctive pleasure and rewarding experience to collaborate with graduate students and see them grow as an independent and contributing scholar. Furthermore, very few newly minted doctors have books on their vita. So, it is a notable accomplishment for Katherine and I am very proud of what she has accomplished,” said Kim.

To learn more about Disability as Diversity in Higher Education: Policies and Practices to Enhance Student Success, visit

Realogy: D&I Champs

Realogy Holdings Corp., a global leader in residential real estate franchising and brokerage, received a Diversity in PR Award for its Realogy Diversity & Inclusion Council campaign aimed at engaging employees around diversity objectives, partnering with diverse real estate associations, and positioning executives from Realogy and its real estate franchise brands as thought leaders within diverse market segments.

“It’s important for companies to keep the conversation open at all levels about the positive impact of having an inclusive environment —  one where employees are engaged through a broad communication plan that elevates the importance of diversity and inclusion in making a company better while increasing its ability to attract talent,” said Carmen Mercado, director of strategic growth markets for the Realogy Franchise Group.

Results of the Realogy’s Diversity & Inclusion Campaign included:

  • Quadrupled the number of Employee Resource Groups companywide to eight active employee-managed groups in 2016 to help provide employees with a collective voice around shared concerns that help promote an inclusive workplace.
  • Drove significant attendance gains at company-hosted EXPLORE events for all brokers and agents at industry conferences around the nation, with a focus on the benefits of partnering with diverse real estate trade associations.
  • Partnered with diverse trade associations in supporting their mission and initiatives around home ownership for multicultural and diverse markets by empowering and encouraging employees, brand affiliates and independent sales associates to become involved, take on leadership positions both locally and nationally within the associations, and deliver rich content to its members.


Sallie Mae : an example of gender diversity

According to Women on Boards 2016, a report produced annually by The Forum of Executive Women and PwC, Sallie Mae is one of only 19 companies in the Philadelphia region to qualify for the Champion of Diversity award which recognizes public companies with 25 percent or more women on their boards of directors.

“By helping to make the dream of higher education a reality we are an equalizer of opportunity and that’s a view we embrace not just at the board level but throughout our company,” said Raymond J. Quinlan, chairman and CEO, Sallie Mae. “To best serve our customers and our employees, we seek diversity not only in identity but also in thought, opinion, personality, and experience, and we have those traits in abundance at Sallie Mae.”

The gender diversity on Sallie Mae’s Board has also been recognized by 2020 Women on Boards, a national non-profit organization working to increase the percentage of women on corporate boards to 20 percent by the year 2020. In its 2020 Gender Diversity Directory, Sallie Mae is listed as a “Winning (W) Company” for having at least 20 percent female representation on its board. Of the 1,744 public companies the organization evaluated last year, only 40 percent earned “W” designations.

“It is exciting to see a company whose mission is to help young people access higher education set an example from the very top that gender is no obstacle to achievement,” said Suzanne S. Mayes, president, The Forum of Executive Women.

Sallie Mae offers a variety of tips, tools, and resources to help students and families save, plan, and pay for college. Learn more at

Mars, Incorporated

As 2016 comes to a close, many organizations find themselves reflecting on the year’s achievements, opportunities and milestones. That rings true for Mars, Incorporated, particularly in the work the company has done to further increase diversity and promote inclusion across all operations in the United States. Today, Mars has two reasons to celebrate: being named one of the 2016 Best Workplaces for Diversity, according to global research and consulting firm Great Place to Work® and Fortune, and a listing on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2017 Corporate Equality Index.

“At Mars, we embrace different perspectives and unique ways of thinking from everyone – because we believe that our differences make us even better, together,” said Michelle Thomas, Global Director of Inclusion and Diversity at Mars. “It’s an honor to be included on these lists, but our work doesn’t stop there. We believe that greater diversity within our Associates groups yield greater creativity and business success.”


A Focus on the Mars Commitment to Diversity
These rankings exemplify Mars’ passion and commitment to continued forward growth toward creating a workplace that recognizes and celebrates differences across Mars’ Food, Chocolate, Wrigley, Petcare, Drinks and Symbioscience segments in the U.S.

Organizations like the Human Rights Campaign, Fortune, and Great Place To Work® help to inform Mars’ approach to continually improve upon existing programs, and serve as best practices to be among other leading companies in this space. Learnings from these peers are paired with direction from Mars’ Five Principles of Quality, Responsibility, Mutuality, Efficiency and Freedom, which guide the company’s philosophy on everything from sustainability to philanthropy.

At Mars, instilling a spirit of diversity and inclusion starts at the top – the company provides trainings to give executives the skills to create a welcoming, open environment that values every Associate and allows them to develop their careers. Mars also champions flexibility in meeting the needs of its Associates across locations, tailoring diversity programming to the specific needs of each site. All Mars locations take their own steps to create a culturally inclusive environment, encouraging open collaboration and communication.

Achieving gender equality across the workforce is a priority, with women holding more than 40% of manager positions at Mars. To ensure that more and more women join and stay with the company  on a year over year basis, Mars provides mentoring circles, and groups like the Women of Mars Associate Network and Women in Sales Leadership, give Associates a chance to network and share advice.

Rankings Celebrate Forward Progress
The rankings announced today showcase Mars’ commitment to achieving an equal, open environment across its business segments.

Fortune’s 50 Best Workplaces for Diversity list is based on feedback from more than 448,456 employees atGreat Place to Work–Certified™ companies, covering topics including employees’ assessments of workplace fairness, opportunities for training, representation of women and minorities among the workforce and in executive roles, among other factors.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2017 Corporate Equality Index is the national benchmarking tool on corporate policies and practices pertinent to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer employees. The 2017 CEI rated a total of 1,043 businesses in the report, which evaluates LGBTQ-related policies and practices including non-discrimination workplace protections, domestic partner benefits, transgender-inclusive health care benefits, competency programs, and public engagement with the LGBTQ community.

To learn more about Mars, Incorporated and its commitment to diversity, visit

About Mars, Incorporated

Mars, Incorporated is a private, family-owned business with more than a century of history and some of the best-loved brands in the world.


Compass Canada

Much like the story of Mohammed and the mountain, Compass Canada found the best way to get the best people was not to wait for them to come to Compass but for Compass to go to them.

“It’s really understanding where you audience is,” says Brenda Brown, senior vice-president of human resources. “And working with that audience.”

The food and support services company may be headquartered in Mississauga,Ontario but it has approximately 30 joint ventures in the northern and western parts of Canada, where the majority of the population is Aboriginal.  So it was only natural that its recruitment efforts were directly towards them. The company even sets up its job fairs right on reserves.

“We encourage Aboriginals to join and stay with Compass because we’re operating in a geographical area where they’re living,” Brown explains. “It’s easier for people to be employed in the areas where they’re living.”

The strategy of partnering with organizations that operate on First Nations land such as Shell and DeBeers has paid off handsomely for both Compass and its employees.

“It makes sense. You might as well fish in the pond where you can get the best catch.” says Brown. “Here is the whole audience, this whole community of people what don’t have to move to come work for us.”

On the other hand, Compass didn’t have to move mountains to attract female employees. It simply decided to “emulate” its client base. And those clients were, by and large, women.

With this goal in mind, the company set out to not only recruit and retain women but to help them advance through the ranks, as well. A women’s leadership network, talent management and mentoring all pay a big role. The results have been impressive. Today 55% of its managers, directors and vice-presidents and one-third of its executives are women.

Describing its diversity strategy as a “roadmap,” Brown believes that, despite its 25,000 employees, 3000 national accounts and the recent hire of a diversity manager, Compass still has miles to go before it sleeps.

“We want to continue on the journey and take diversity to the next level. We want it to be seen as a strength within the organization,” Brown explains. “When you don’t have to have somebody driving diversity in your organization, you know it’s become the hearts and minds of everybody.”


The business case for diversity & inclusion: DuPont

DuPont – recently recognized as one of DiverstyInc’s “25 Noteworthy Companies for Diversity“, by the National Association of Female Executives as one of the “Top Companies for Executive Women”, and with a 100% score on the 2016 Disability Equality Index – understands the value of a diverse and inclusive workplace and works hard to incorporate it in every aspect of its business, including its talent development and recruitment, customer orientation, corporate strategy, and even its innovation processes.

“D&I drives innovation,” says Priscila Vansetti, President of DuPontBrazil, Business Director of DuPont Crop Protection Latin America and a member of the company’s Global D&I Leadership Council.  “You need different points of view in every discussion and you want people to bring their unique perspectives to the table.  There is so much diversity in our customer base that we risk falling out of alignment with their needs if we don’t actively foster a diverse and inclusive environment for our people.  That means engaged leadership, mentorship opportunities, challenging development assignments, constant communication, and commitment – especially in a rapidly changing business environment – to ensure that we are always finding new ways to open doors for our people.”

“A diverse and inclusive workplace doesn’t just happen overnight,” adds Julie Eaton, Global Business Director for DuPont’s Kevlar® segment.  “It takes understanding at the top and committed investment to the programs and development vehicles that can foster diversity and inclusion and help unlock its value.  It’s also somewhat dynamic.  Current leaders must understand that different generations and those just entering the job market may have different perspectives.  The young employees I see today want to be part of the team, part of something bigger.  They also aren’t afraid to actively seek out mentors.”

The changes global companies like DuPont are experiencing first hand are also reflected in research on the matter.  A 2015 study by DeloitteUniversity, The Radical Transformation of Diversity and Inclusion: The Millennial Influence, notes that millennials intuitively understand concepts like ‘cognitive diversity’ in a way that previous generations may not.  That global connectivity that digital natives grew up with lends itself to a recognition that more familiar concepts of diversity such as gender and ethnic diversity, as well as sexual orientation, help inform a person’ thought and problem-solving processes — that is, their cognitive diversity.  It also means that companies positioning themselves for the long-term must be willing to adapt and constantly challenge themselves to find new and innovative ways to keep D&I a priority within their organization.

“Diverse and inclusive practices fuel innovation and productivity leading to business growth,” says Benito Cachinero- Sánchez, DuPont Senior Vice President of Human Resources, “The role of my organization is to support leaders in integrating diversity and inclusion practices into existing business processes and programs rather than as an afterthought.  DuPont strives to achieve this via multiple channels.  We have a Global D&I Leadership Council made up of senior leaders (doing other important roles in the company) who can reinforce D&I at the strategic level across our organizations.  In addition, we develop education for employees and leaders, and regularly communicate our commitment to D&I through employee stories and examples. We set goals and objectives and monitor our progress.  But, just like our R&D teams, we’re always looking for new ways to innovate — better ways to understand our people and enabling them to flourish.”

To learn more about DuPont’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, go to

New app for guests with disabilities: Omni Hotels & Resorts

eSSENTIAL Accessibility and Omni Hotels & Resorts have partnered to launch the eSSENTIAL Accessibility app, an exciting accessibility initiative for guests with disabilities. The eSSENTIAL Accessibility app provides keyboard and mouse replacement tools that help individuals with physical, reading and age-related disabilities navigate the web. Through the app’s motion technology and voice activated controls, guests can make reservations, research destinations and take advantage of offers.

“Omni Hotels & Resorts provides each guest with a total departure from the everyday by pairing thoughtful details with unparalleled service,” says Simon Dermer, Managing Director of eSSENTIAL Accessibility. “Our app will allow them to do just that online. By adopting our solution, they are now a member of our coalition of purpose driven, disability-friendly organizations.”

Guests who click on the app icon are redirected to a dedicated Omni landing page where they can download the app, but also learn about everything Omni has to offer. For more information on the initiative, visit the eSSENTIAL Accessibility page here.

About Omni Hotels & Resorts
Omni Hotels & Resorts creates genuine, authentic guest experiences at 60 distinct luxury hotels and resorts in leading business gateways and leisure destinations across North America. With over 20 world-class golf courses and award-winning spa retreats, to dynamic business settings, each Omni showcases the local flavor of the destination while featuring four-diamond services, signature restaurants, Wi-Fi connectivity and unique wellness options.  Known for its distinguished, personalized service, Omni leaves a lasting impression with every customer interaction, with a heightened level of recognition and rewards delivered through its Select Guest loyalty program and the company’s “Power of One” associate empowerment program. The brand is frequently recognized by top consumer research organizations and travel publications and was ranked “Highest in Guest Satisfaction Among Upper Upscale Hotel Chains” in the J.D. Power 2015 North American Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index StudySM. As a founding member of the Global Hotel Alliance (GHA), Omni’s loyalty program is further expanded through the DISCOVERY® loyalty program offering members additional global benefits. To get additional information or book accommodations, visit or call 1-800-The-Omni.

About eSSENTIAL Accessibility
eSSENTIAL Accessibility’s assistive technology and web accessibility evaluation services enhance the digital customer experience for people with disabilities. Private and public sector organizations around the world feature a recognizable, interactive icon on their homepage, symbolizing their commitment to digital inclusivity.

Over 20 million North Americans have trouble typing, moving a mouse, gesturing or reading a screen. They need assistive technology to interact with a website even if it is built with accessibility in mind. eSSENTIAL Accessibility goes beyond minimum website compliance requirements to make digital platforms welcoming to people of all abilities and to ensure the delivery of a transformational experience with universal appeal. For more information, visit

SOURCE: eSSENTIAL Accessibility; Omni Hotels & Resorts

100abcwomen winners

100abcwomen has announced its winners for 2016. These individuals have devoted their efforts and demonstrated leadership in the advancement of black women and girls in Canada. The list of recipients are is an informative and educational publication that acknowledges and supports the social, education, political and professional accomplishments of Black Canadian women.

Harnessing diversity for global success: Thales Canada

When it comes to communication, Thales Canada knows a lot. Be it delivering urban rail signalling systems, avionics or military command and control systems to customers at home and around the world. The company also knows that when 90% of your business is outside Canada, a multilingual workforce is an obvious asset.

Thales put this knowledge into action inToronto, one of three locations inCanadafor the French multinational firm and global leader in electronic systems.Toronto, the country’s largest city and business hub, is also one of the world’s most diverse cities demographically. “Diversity: Our Strength” is the city’s official motto.

“The talent pool in Toronto is a major advantage,” says Michael Mackenzie, Vice President, Ground Transportation Systems. “It definitely facilitates our success. Multi-million dollar global projects require sensitive negotiations and strong working relationships. With overseas clients in areas such as Asia and the Middle East, it is a competitive advantage for us to have staff who understand the customers’ cultures and values, and who can communicate in the local language. Being confident about customer comprehension is critical. Having these capabilities allows us to break down barriers, and more effectively understand and provide solutions that address the unique needs of our customers.”

Being able to converse in other languages is only the beginning.

Working with multicultural teams

In itsTorontooffice, half of ThalesCanada’s high-skilled employees are immigrants, originating from over 29 countries and speaking over 30 languages among them. Seventy percent are engineers, with training and experience from all over the world.

Mackenzie believes that having a diverse workforce also helps Thales by building critical skills into the workplace culture where business solutions are often driven by collaborative problem-solving and teamwork. For example, at Thales global projects can be comprised of a consortium of suppliers where Thales develops the train control system while other companies provide the trains and infrastructure. Understanding how to work across and within multicultural teams is just as important as comprehending client needs.

Thales hires for skills first, and will often conduct interviews in a candidate’s  native language, using employees who share that language to help assess a future colleague’s skills and experience. The phrase “Canadian experience” is seldom uttered, while international experience is welcomed and discussed in detail.

English language training isn’t about fitting in as much as expanding skill sets. The company also pays for professional memberships and offers tuition reimbursement to assist  internationally experienced engineers work towards licensure.


With immigrants in senior management roles, new immigrant hires are inspired by what’s possible at Thales. And with a retention rate of over 95%, it’s clear that immigrant employees are invested in a rewarding career with the company.

“Ultimately our business is selling and implementing safe solutions,” says Mackenzie. “Having a diverse staff that includes immigrants with international education and experience means that we’re able to develop and deliver those solutions more effectively and provide a higher level of customer satisfaction.”

Thales Canada’s efforts to better integrate skilled immigrants in the Greater Toronto Region labour market hasn’t gone unnoticed. Its Transportation business unit won the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council’s (TRIEC) annual RBC Immigrant Advantage Award for 2010.

In its submission, Thales Canada strongly associated a direct link between business success and skilled immigrant employees, and a high level of immigrant satisfaction with their level of employment.

This story originally appeared in Cities of