October 8, 2014 — My hometown of Toronto is now the most multicultural city in the world. People from every part of the globe choose to make their homes here. As I watch my three young children form friendships with kids from a wide range of ethno-cultural backgrounds, I see the benefits of this extraordinary diversity every day. These friendships are opening their eyes to a social world that is so much more culturally enriching than mine was as a child.
But the benefits of diversity extend far beyond the social realm.
As a small country competing against the world, Canada’s diversity could be an incredible economic advantage—if we find a way to tap into the collective brilliance of our men and women.
To turn our national diversity into a competitive edge, we must act with foresight and intention. We must strive to create inclusive workplaces. And we must demonstrate inclusive leadership. More and more business leaders are beginning to understand how crucial these steps are.
This year’s Catalyst Canada Honours Champions know that these aren’t only smart things to do; they’re the right things to do. And they refuse to accept the status quo.
Women now make up half of Canada’s labour force and more than half of our university graduates. But when it comes to moving talented women into leadership positions, we are still falling short.
The gender gap in senior leadership is often attributed to women’s behaviour: we’re told to lean in and be assertive, but not too assertive; to be tough but not so tough that we turn people off—and, all too often, we end up being told to “give it time.”
Women don’t need excuses; we need solutions. Gender barriers in the workplace are real. They may be more subtle, these days, but they’re no less powerful. And they prevent companies and countries, including Canada, from becoming global leaders.
This year’s Champions model the best of Canadian values—and inspire us all to do the same.
Our country has a wealth of talent. It’s time we start using all of it.