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 Ontario College of Trades was selected as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2016):
- Ontario College of Trades is fully compliant with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and maintains an accessibility policy for customer service as well as a multi-year accessibility plan and an accessibility website
- Ontario College of Trades recently launched dedicated web pages to promote skilled trades to Aboriginal peoples, women and new Canadians -- the pages provide resources and information to assist individuals in making decisions to pursue a career in skilled trades -- the organization also launched an online mentoring program for women in trades to help them connect
- Ontario College of Trades is on the advisory committee for a 3-year Status of Women Canada funded research project that explores barriers for women in construction as well as develops an action plan to increase representation -- in addition, the college works with the office of the Fairness Commissioner to ensure they are recognizing foreign trained credentials and removing any potential barriers for recognizing those credential in their assessment process
Ontario College of Trades: walking the walk
A professional regulatory body that promotes careers in the skilled trades to under-represented people has to make sure that its own internal policies reflect its mandate. Fortunately, the Ontario College of Trades practises what it preaches. "We have to walk the walk," says College Registrar & CEO David Tsubouchi.
The College was established in 2009 by the Ontario government to regulate all approved trades in the province, from electricians and plumbers to small engine technicians and blacksmiths. Specifically, the College ensures that individuals have the training required to practise their trade.
In 22 skilled trades, certification is mandatory. In more than 130 other trades, ranging from arborists to pool installers, certification may be available,
but is not required to practise. In all cases, though, the College encourages trades to expand the scope of their hiring policies to include underrepresented groups in the workforce.
"Part of our mandate is to draw attention to these skilled trades as a viable option for women, Aboriginals, other cultures and everyone," says Tsubouchi.
At the same time as the College emphasizes diversity to the trades that it represents, it also focuses on creating a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace for its own staff. Of the College's 170 employees, for example, 51 per cent are women, 41 per cent are members of visible minorities, 5 per cent are Aboriginals and 6 per cent are people with disabilities. Staff members collectively speak 38 different languages, which helps the College to reach a variety of audiences from a range of backgrounds.
"We promote careers in the skilled trades to underrepresented groups, including youth, women, Aboriginals and new Canadians," says Yacine Dottridge, the College's Stakeholder Relations Coordinator. "So we conduct outreach sessions in different communities on the benefits of trades as a career, which is why our own employee diversity has been such a strong asset for us."
Over the last two years, the College has conducted more than 200 outreach events while developing province-wide marketing campaigns for the organization. Dottridge, bilingual in English and French, is also Vice-Chair of the College's workplace Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council, giving him a well-informed perspective on the impact of an organization's inclusiveness on its success in achieving its goals.
"I've learned a lot about how different people can see the same issue in different ways, which has really helped me do my job better," Dottridge says. "I've also seen how our staff has been able to create relationships in communities that we may not traditionally have reached."
In addition to its outreach programs, the College has built an extensive range of online services to promote the skilled trades to Aboriginal peoples, women, and new Canadians. These web resources (collegeoftrades.ca/diversity-and-skilled-trades) provide useful information to each of the underrepresented groups to assist them in making informed decisions on pursuing a promising career in the skilled trades.
The College is also the first regulatory body in Canada to employ a dedicated Chief Diversity Officer (CDO). "We ensure that we apply the diversity lens to every decision made at the leadership level," says CDO Sandeep Tatla. "The result is that we've seen this practice cascade throughout the organization with our teams continually ensuring that our policies, programs and services are inclusive and equitable."
"The College serves as a role model for the trades," says Tsubouchi. "Our success in advancing diversity and inclusion in the trades depends on our success in advancing diversity and inclusion at the College itself. We can only serve a diverse trades industry, advance a culture of inclusion and remove barriers if we ourselves live and breathe diversity, equity and inclusion."
This article appeared in the magazine announcing this year's Canada's Best Diversity Employers winners, published February 24, 2016 in The Globe and Mail. This article was prepared with the financial support of the employer, which did not write or edit its contents.