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Employer Support Resources: Focusing on Diversity and Inclusion

There is no question that inclusion and diversity are important topics across a range of industries and organizations from banking and government to policing and energy – they are all being scrutinized and either celebrated or criticized for their efforts and successes (or lack thereof) in pursuing a more diverse and inclusive work environment.

“As a human resources professional, I am still surprised at how hard we have to work as an organization to be a diverse and inclusive workplace,” says the Vice President of People at a major Canadian energy supplier. “We operate in a number of communities across Canada and we know that Canada is a very diverse country culturally, ethnically, socially, and financially.” “Yet, despite our corporate efforts to recruit and retain a diverse workforce, we don’t come close to having one that proportionately reflects the society where we operate and that is noticed by our stakeholders, including our investors.”

The fact of the matter is employment statistics for the energy sector in Canada don’t come anywhere close to being reflective of the broader population, especially when you consider women and youth.

Did you know?

Women make up approximately 47% of the labour force across all industries, yet only make up 21% of the labour force in the energy sector. Youth, aged 15-24 make up just under 14% of the labour force nationally but only represent 6% of workers in the energy sector. On the other hand, Canada’s energy sector labour force of Indigenous people (7.5%) is more than double that of the national number (3.2%).

PetroLMI (based on 2019 and 2020 Statistics Canada data)

A recent report by the Pembina Institute, considered gender gaps in the energy sector and how those might be impacted as the industry transitions towards a new energy economy. Researchers looked specifically at barriers to women’s participation and leadership in the energy industry and found that women made an average of 41% less than men and that that contributed 6.7% of the wage gap between women and men nationally.  The report analysis “outlines the barriers to gender equity — including limited access to science, technology, engineering and math education, fewer role models and mentors, and industry culture — and opportunities to prevent inequities from being duplicated in the emerging renewable energy sector.”

Equalby30.org, an initiative led by Natural Resources Canada has found that globally, women make up 39% of workers in the energy industry but that number falls to only 26% at the executive and C-suite levels.  Additionally, the global energy sector is overwhelmingly populated by white employees at 78% with Asians at 13%, Latinx at 8% and Black at only 1%.

According to Uptapped Reserves 2.0, a collaboration between World Petroleum Council and Boston Consulting Group, the percentage of women working in the global oil and gas industry remained unchanged at 22% in 2020, the same level reported in 2017. In addition, the study found the proportion of women in senior-level decision-making positions (13%) was half that of women in mid-level positions (26%), particularly in business and administration roles. Equalby30.org, an initiative led by Natural Resources Canada has also found that the global energy sector is overwhelmingly populated by white employees at 78% with Asians at 13%, Latinx at 8% and Black at only 1%.

What It Is

According to the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion (CCDI), “diversity and inclusion are about capturing the uniqueness of the individual; creating an environment that values and respects individuals for their talents, skills and abilities to the benefit of the collective.”

In other words, they are about recognizing, accepting and engaging people from across a broad spectrum of society with different, looks, abilities, challenges, cultures, socio-economic backgrounds and incorporating that variety of people into your workforce for the benefit of your organization and of society.

Diversity is represented by people and allows for greater variety of perspectives, skills, experiences and expertise to contribute to your organization’s work. Inclusion is the process and practice of actually including that diversity in your organization.

“So often, we default to diversity and inclusion as numeric targets,” says a recruitment advisor for a major Alberta municipality.  “We say to ourselves that we should hire and promote more women to leadership roles or we should have a certain percentage of staff who are from a visible minority or that we should prioritize hiring some workers with disabilities.” “All that does is further pigeon-hole wide swathes of staff or candidates and de-couples them from the skills, experience and expertise that they bring to our organization.”

Why It’s Important

In an article published by Alliant International University, a diverse workplace positively affects: 

  • Work environment
  • Financial returns
  • Overall business strategy
  • The opinions of people outside of your organization 

And the article goes on to provide some powerful statistics to demonstrate what inclusion can bring to a workplace:

  • Varied perspectives – Different personal experiences and backgrounds that bring a wider variety of perspectives.
  • Better problem-solving – Varied points of view which result in a more well-rounded workforce—it makes people work harder, more creatively, and deliver a higher quality of work, according to Scientific American.
  • Larger audience – Your diverse workforce shows your commitment to equal opportunities, giving your company a positive reputation and capturing a larger share of the market.
  • More job applicants – Job seekers will be more likely to want to work with your company, which in turn, gives you a larger pool of applicants to choose from.
  • Higher profits – With high levels of racial and ethnic diversity, companies are 33-35% more likely to outperform their industry averages financially, and with high levels of gender diversity, companies are 15-21% more likely to outperform, according to ongoing studies by McKinsey & Company.

In a case study by the Canadian Construction Association, inclusion and diversity are a business strategy to recruit and retain the necessary talent that will be needed to meet industry’s need to grow and offset the increasing rate of retirement of baby boomers.  These trends are not unique to Canada’s construction sector.  The case study cites similar benefits as those mentioned but also notes that younger generations of workers are actively seeking to work with more inclusive companies that value promote diversity in the workplace and that has an immediate, positive impact on your corporate reputation.

What Can You Do?

Inclusion and diversity should not be a numbers target for your organization to meet. They should be part of your organization’s decision-making processes on everything from recruitment, operations, safety and finance to marketing. Eventually, your objective should be to get to a point where your workforce isn’t just diverse but your employees, all employees, should feel included, valued, respected and wanting to make a positive contribution to your business. It needs tobecome part of your corporate culture.

According to Glassdoor, take an honest look at your organization from your leadership down to the individual contributor.  Be open with your employees and demonstrate your commitment to diversity internally first. See where there may be room to be more inclusive and diverse and then let your employees know what you have discovered.

Successful companies create internal programs, resources, and networking groups to support their employees. Listen and respond to the employees you already have and they can help you retain and recruit new and diverse talent.

Glassdoor

Once your internal processes are established (and that, as an organization, you’re actually walking the talk), make diversity and inclusion part of your external communications.  Let your stakeholders, potential recruits, suppliers and customers see that you really are looking to move in that direction and that you’re committed to it.

Cast your recruitment net wider to generate interest in your organization amongst groups where your organization might not be well-known or even well respected.  Try targeting your recruitment to events and channels you haven’t yet considered like specialized industry associations, clubs and professional conferences and trade shows. There are MANY, such as a women’s’ engineer association, Indigenous chambers of commerce, new Canadian professionals, LGBTQ+ business associations, and the list goes on.

And finally, one of the most powerful things your company can do is to recognize and celebrate workers, and the diversity amongst them. Recognize them for the roles they play in the success of your organization.  When staff are valued (and feel it), they are more secure in their role, are more productive, and can be some of your most effective ambassadors within their own communities as being at a great place to work.

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