‘Talk is cheap’: How companies can act on diversity targets amid an economic crisis

posted on December 22, 2020

December 17, 2020

By Tara Deschamps, CTV News

TORONTO — When Jaqui Parchment was climbing Canada’s corporate ladder, she noticed office cliques formed around members of the same hockey team and frequently overheard senior consultants chattering about their next round of golf with important clients.

“It just felt so foreign to me,” said Parchment, who emigrated from Jamaica at the age of 14 and has since become the chief executive at consulting company Mercer Canada.

“I’m sure to most people it would not have felt that way, but there were 100 little things which combined to say to me, ‘Wow, you’re really different.’
“It didn’t feel great.”

For Parchment and other members of racialized communities, these kinds of incidents — small in themselves, but which add up over time — serve as a constant reminder that corporate Canada is failing to meet the bar on inclusivity.

But 2020 brought a push to improve workplace culture and attract and retain more diverse staff and customers after the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in U.S. police custody in May.

Seven in 10 corporate leaders said their focus on diversity, equality and inclusion has increased since then, Mercer found in a November study that surveyed leaders from 54 Canadian companies. Some have published specific measures outlining how they plan to do better.

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