HR Leaders Driving Change Through Unique DEI Strategies

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are crucial to creating a healthy workplace culture that fosters respect and values every individual's contribution. HR leaders within the public service are further recognizing the importance of embracing DEI and are making some notable progress within this area. We’ve had the pleasure of hearing from three individuals who are set to participate in next month’s HR and Future of Work Roadshow, and who have shared their valuable insights, expertise and experiences with their own organization’s DEI initiatives  

At the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO), Barb Keenan, Chief People Officer, emphasizes the importance of building a purpose-driven, inclusive, safe, healthy, and accountable culture at the heart of the organization. To achieve this, the LCBO has established a DEI policy and Inclusion Leadership Council to provide strategic oversight and sponsorshipThey’re engaging more than 700 Good Culture Ambassadors to act as culture champions, in addition to launching self-identification campaigns to understand workforce diversity better and identify gaps in representation. The organization is also in the process of implementing ongoing training and education programs, to further drive DEI ideals and combat bias and barriers.  

At the same time, the LCBO launched the Whole Person Health, Safety, and Wellness strategy to decrease stigma and promote awareness, enhance the availability and access to resources, and promote effective stay-at-work and return-to-work options. Together, these programs have resulted in a positive shift in engagement and increased feelings of belonging, granting the LCBO numerous awards to date for its DEI initiatives. 

Similarly, at IWK Health CentreRoshanak Sadeghi-Zadeh, Director of People and Organization Development says that equity, diversity, inclusion, belonging, reconciliation, and accessibility are integral to their approach to all aspects of work, from hiring to retirement, patient care and health promotion programs to facility redevelopment and renovations. The organization acknowledges that racism and discrimination are deeply ingrained in the social, political, healthcare, and economic structures of our society. Following the Black Lives Matter movement, IWK Health held multiple listening sessions that helped them understand how to move forward. They now have a well-represented EDIRA Steering Committee responsible for overseeing the progress of their work and have action groups focused on removing barriers for all. 

Additionally, a team is being created under the Office of Equity and Belonging with the right level of leadership overseeing two areas: people and workforce, as well as patients and family care programs. Policies are being revised, and learning modules are created for all healthcare employees to identify further and address important issues. In collaboration with the Department of Health and Wellness, Nova Scotia Health, and other system partners, the organization is working on creating an anti-racism and anti-discrimination platform for both patientand employees. 

Finally, at Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED), Marc Morin, the Director General of Human Resources, highlights that they have made diversity, equity, and inclusion a top management priority. The organization is committed to advancing DEI because it is foundational to its role as public servants and stewards of government services. To deliver public services to all in Canada, they need to be representative of the people they serve.  

The creation of their EDI Strategy, which culminated in the successful ISED EDI Summit earlier this year, was instructed under the advisement of employee networks, equity-seeking employees (particularly, Indigenous, Black and other racialized employees and persons with disabilities) and many moreThe Strategy will allow ISED to implement new approaches within their programs, services, and practices while also acting to further remove systemic bias, racism, and discrimination. As is the case with many of these strategies it will require shared ownership and accountability to move forward on their DEI journey.  

In addition to establishing policies and review processes, the LCBO, IWK Health and ISED are demonstrating a commitment to creating a culture where every employee feels respected, valued, and heard. They are also creating safe and supportive environments for their employees in efforts to remove barriers to employment equity, respect in the workplace, and accessibility, while also understanding issues such as unconscious bias, inclusive leadership, and cultural sensitivity. By committing to respectful co-creation, measurability, and accountability, they are building a more inclusive and equitable workplace that benefits not just their employees but also the communities they serve. 


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