Recognized as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2016)
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 23, 2016)
Here are some of the reasons why Deloitte LLP was selected as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2016):
- Deloitte participates in the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council's Mentoring Partnership, with employees mentoring over 370 new Canadian job-seekers since the project's inception -- the firm also works with ACCES Employment to connect with diverse candidates
- Deloitte recently launched AccessAbility Community, which aims to raise awareness and participate in conversations around opportunities and challenges for persons with disabilities -- Deloitte has also authored a white paper entitled "The Road to inclusion: Integrating people with disabilities into the workplace" and works with Progress Place, a community-based organization that focuses on mental health recovery, to help individuals with mental illness make a smooth transition to the workplace
- With chapters in Montréal, Toronto and Vancouver, Deloitte's employee-led "LEAD & Allies" group promotes inclusive work environments for LGBTQ employees and is currently working on transgender awareness, education and policy -- additionally, the firm created the "Proud to Lead" program in partnership with The Humphrey Group, a 2-day development program to help LGBT individuals build leadership communication skills
At Deloitte Canada, strong emphasis on including everyone
To Deloitte Canada's Frank Vettese, much of the heavy lifting has been done in ensuring his firm has a highly diverse workforce that reflects Canadian society. So what comes next?
For Deloitte, one of Canada's thought leaders in the field, the answer is inclusion. "We are putting a very heavy emphasis on the notion of inclusion as a natural evolution from diversity," says Vettese, Chief Executive and Managing Partner.
What does that mean for Deloitte's 9,000 employees? To start with, the Toronto-based professional services firm hasn't lost its focus on support for diversity. There is a wide range of employee resource groups in place for women, LGBTQ people, persons with disabilities, cultural communities and many other groups. But now, it doesn't end there, says Vettese.
"Where the real magic happened was when we shifted to saying no, this is something every single person in the firm has to be involved with," he says. "It's something we're trying every day to embed in our firm, in our culture and in our leadership. We really want people to feel that they can come to Deloitte and shape a career that is tailored to them, to their unique objectives and needs, and that they can bring their whole selves to work."
Every employee has a long-term career development plan in which there is a lot of give and take about where they may end up in the firm and what the measures of success should be, Vettese says. And in terms of assessing an individual's performance, "we use words like contribution and impact when we look at how people are succeeding in the firm, as opposed to a benchmark or pre-determined standard that people must fit."
Some people may even explicitly plan to stay for a shorter time and then apply their experience elsewhere. "Increasingly, we've become OK with that," says Vettese. "Historically, we would have worried about turnover, but now it's more of a two-way dialogue in terms of their development, their career aspirations and how we can be part of that."
Deloitte's approach also puts a lot of stress on teams that come together for a specific project, bringing diverse members and perspectives. "We then need to give them the ability to solve problems in a way that they determine is important," he says, "giving them the comfort to experiment and innovate."
Deloitte's Workplace of the Future plan, involving the remaking of offices across the country and two new office towers in Toronto and Montreal, supports an inclusive team approach. With no permanent offices and countless informal meeting spaces, "it's about promoting engagement and true collaboration across all demographics," says Vettese. "It breaks down barriers, it breaks down silos, it breaks down hierarchies and it propels inclusion as part of the DNA of the firm."
Ikram Al Mouaswas, a Senior Manager in the firm's audit and advisory practice, has seen the value of the firm's approach to both diversity and inclusion. A Palestinian Canadian who immigrated at 16, she has been involved with the firm's canWin support group for women and as an Ally with the LEAD and Allies Inclusion Network for LGBTQ people.
"From my perspective, one of the best indications of Deloitte's success in diversity is that I've just never thought about it as a female non-Caucasian individual," says Al Mouaswas. The 30-year-old accountant notes she was promoted early, at age 27, to her current managerial role. "I never thought my background, my culture, my gender ever made a difference."
Inclusion, she says, is a new mindset. "It's making sure that this diverse team really feels that they belong here," she says. "They don't need to hide anything." In a hard-working team environment, this can mean making sure people feel comfortable noting personal needs, such as taking care of a parent or picking up kids from school. "The truest test for an inclusive team is being able to share those last-minute things and finding a way to work around them."
Deloitte, she says, deserves the credit it has received for its approach to diversity and inclusion. "That's what I'm proud of here. No one is asking us to change who we are."