Towards inclusion

New partnership with Catalyst Canada aims to advance workplace diversity.
Issue: 

Earlier this year, Smith and Catalyst Canada, a global non-profit dedicated to advancing women in business, commissioned a study. The goal was to find out the attitudes of Canadians towards workplace diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives. The results were noteworthy:

Most working Canadians (69 per cent) have positive attitudes towards diversity and inclusion programs. Yet many (40 per cent) don’t know whether their own company has such an initiative and some (33 per cent of men and 20 per cent of women) think that organizational diversity and inclusion initiatives are no longer necessary.

Source: Smith/Catalyst study

The survey, which polled 1,000 working Canadians, reveals that more work on D&I is required. For that reason, Smith and Catalyst have formed a strategic partnership. The goal: to help solve organizational diversity and inclusion challenges and to develop more inclusive leaders. “As a leading business school, we know the importance of developing leaders who can create and manage diverse and inclusive teams,” Dean David Saunders said when the partnership was announced in February.

Together, Catalyst and Smith will focus on three areas: a corporate discussion forum, a research hub and training initiatives. A membership-only corporate discussion forum will bring industry leaders, Smith faculty and Catalyst experts together to share best practices and challenges, with the aim of achieving greater inclusion in the workplace.

A new research hub, led by Smith faculty, will work with corporate Canada to create D&I research. Participating companies will get first access to the findings. “We know that an increasingly diverse workforce powers innovation and measurable success,” says Tanya van Biesen, BCom’91, the executive director of Catalyst Canada.

Through the partnership, Catalyst will help develop D&I programming for working managers. These will be delivered through Queen’s Executive Education. And Smith will integrate core content from Catalyst’s inclusive leadership training into its curriculum, including courses on building inclusive communication skills and how to manage unconscious bias.

“In order to make sustainable change, we need to activate many inclusion initiatives concurrently. There is no one silver-bullet solution to creating more diverse and inclusive workplaces,” notes van Biesen.