All of Us: What We Mean When We Talk About Inclusion

In 2017 the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) and the Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC) surveyed 64 major Canadian corporations about diversity and inclusion: how they define it, how they go about promoting it, and how they measure it.  

Respondents to the RBC-ICC survey were asked to take stock of their diversity and inclusion efforts in two ways. Gender was by far the most commonly identified area where diversity and inclusion has improved in the workplace, with 81 percent of respondents selecting it as one of their top three choices for diversity and 76 percent for inclusion.

On the other hand, respondents were most likely to say they lagged behind in diversity and inclusion with respect to Indigenous peoples and persons with disabilities. Over 80 percent of respondents chose Indigenous peoples and nearly two-thirds chose persons with disabilities as to where they need to improve their diversity. The two categories were tied at 65 percent each for where respondents need to improve their inclusion.

Canadian employers overwhelmingly agree on the benefits of having a diverse workforce and an inclusive workplace. Every respondent either strongly agreed (87%) or agreed (13%) that inclusive teams make better decisions than teams that are not inclusive.  A majority either strongly disagreed (34%) or disagreed (34%) that diversity and inclusion can have drawbacks, and 82% of respondents strongly agree that inclusion is required to translate diversity into performance results such as innovation.

But, says Ms. Sarmishta Subramanian in her introduction to the study, “Diversity infrastructure gives management a sense that it is taking steps toward change. But it doesn’t always denote actual progress. There is a consensus overall from nearly every employer that their respective organizations should do more to build a diverse workforce and to foster a more inclusive workplace. Similarly, when asked if their “organization takes full advantage of the benefits offered by the diversity of its workforce,” 13 percent disagreed, 20 percent neither agreed nor disagreed, and 56 percent agreed—indicating that a small minority do not take advantage of diversity’s benefits, while the majority of companies can further leverage its advantages.”

Sarmishta Subramanian was Editor-in-Chief of the Literary Review of Canada at the time of the report. Her introduction and the report are an interesting read and worth a look. Download a PDF of the report here: