Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: A Guide for Change


Diversity has been a buzz word in business for some time and over the years many companies have tried with varying levels of success to diversify their labour force. Those companies who have been successful know that to retain a diverse team, an equitable and inclusive environment must be created for all. By focusing on equity and inclusion, employers can begin to eliminate the systemic barriers that cause a need for targeted diversity efforts in the first place.

Specific to trucking and logistics, there are real challenges in our industry’s ability to attract and retain some individuals from diverse backgrounds. This challenge has led to the depletion of viable candidates from which we can fill critical industry roles. The information in this Guide can help.

Appreciate that this is a journey, can be a significant undertaking. The information included in this guide however can help you scale up or down your efforts depending on your organization’s size and team capacity. This guide includes:

  • Information on why diversity, equity and inclusion practices are needed in our industry.
  • Details on how your company can implement robust diversity, equity and inclusion practices.
  • Caution areas for potential discrimination.
  • Key considerations for on-going success.

Trucking Labour Shortages

The trucking industry is facing a real and significant deficit in the supply of available labour for trucking positions (Trucking HR Canada’s Labour Market Information). Already our industry loses $3.1 billion per year in reduced revenue caused by labour shortages largely amongst truck drivers.

Employers who institute strong and robust diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) practices will be better situated to both attract and retain individuals that may not currently see the trucking and logistics industry as a viable career option.

In particular, our industry can benefit from focused efforts to employ Indigenous people, women, new Canadians, visible minorities and millennials for long-haul driver positions. In the Trucking HR Canada publication Millennials Have Drive 2, the following was captured:

  • 17% of Indigenous people would consider long-haul driving.
  • While most of the warm leads for long-haul drivers are male, women account for 33% of them.
  • Visible minorities don’t see people like them driving trucks: in TV, movies, books or plays. There is opportunity to change the image of the industry.
  • 12% of Millennials (almost 1.1 million Canadians) would be interested in a career in long-haul truck driving.

If industry employers can break down barriers and actively target these diverse groups for employment, the talent scarcity challenge may not feel as significant.

Beyond Labour Market Trends – The Importance of DEI

Understanding Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Organizations have to have all three factors – diversity, equity and inclusion – in order to truly realize the benefits that employing individuals from a wide array of backgrounds can afford your company.

What is Diversity?

At its core, diversity is about employing people with different characteristics in your workplace and importantly, it’s about ensuring those you employ are reflective of the communities in which we work and live. Often, people think of diversity as it applies to visible differences – race, gender, ethnicity, age. However, differences can be non-visible as well. For instance, diverse workplaces have the presence of differences in sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and ability.

First and foremost, diversity in the workplace ensures that marginalized and historically disadvantaged populations are not being systematically or specifically discriminated against at a basic level. From a business perspective, diverse workplaces allow for enhanced perspectives for innovation, collaboration, and ideation – all resulting in measurable improvements to important business success factors.

What is Equity?

Equity is about ensuring that every individual who makes up your diverse workplace, despite his/her/their differences, has equal possible outcomes. It requires a focus on programs and processes that are impartial, fair, and free of bias. In order to achieve this, companies must recognize the barriers obstructing certain individuals and the advantages that are provided to others, based solely on their differences.

Equity goes beyond merely “ticking boxes” – it ensures that the individual is not trapped within that “ticked box”. Without equity, a diverse workplace becomes somewhere for people with differences to experience further marginalization. From a business perspective, equity ensures that the advantages of a diverse work place become actualized opportunities for both the company and the individual.

What is Inclusion?

Inclusion is creating an environment in which diversity can flourish. An inclusive workplace goes beyond ensuring there are no structural barriers or advantages to different individuals, it is one where every employee can feel a sense of belonging.

Inclusion speaks to the general culture of an organization. It allows a diverse group of individuals to bring their best, most authentic selves to work. From a business perspective, it helps extract all of the potential that a diverse and equitable workplace offers but don’t always realize.


    Diversity = Who we employ

    Equity = Fair and equitable treatment for all

    Inclusion = The sense of belonging

The Four Designated Groups

Within the Employment Equity Act, an employer’s obligations are defined as:

(a) identifying and eliminating employment barriers against persons in designated groups that result from the employer’s employment systems, policies and practices that are not authorized by law; and

(b) instituting such positive policies and practices and making such reasonable accommodations as will ensure that persons in designated groups achieve a degree of representation in each occupational group in the employer’s workforce that reflects their representation in

  • (i) the Canadian workforce, or
  • (ii) those segments of the Canadian workforce that are identifiable by qualification, eligibility or geography and from which the employer may reasonably be expected to draw employees.

These obligations may require specific and focused efforts to ensure that you have specific strategies to attract, retain and promote people within the designated groups to achieve the goal outlined in (b) above. The designated groups are as follows:

Indigenous Peoples
Based on the 2016 Canadian Census, there were 1.6 million Indigenous peoples in Canada that comprise three groups of people: Inuit, Métis and First Nations. They are the fastest growing demographic in Canada.

People with Disabilities
According to Statistics Canada (2017), close to 4 million people aged 25 to 64 have a disability and 644,640 of those individuals were not working but had the potential to work. As the population ages, the number of people with disabilities is also expected to grow. Many disabilities are invisible – such as diabetes, arthritis, mental illness, sleep apnea, ADHD or dyslexia.

While women represent approximately 52% of employed Canadians, they represent only 15% of the labour force in the trucking and logistics industry and 3.5% are truck drivers. *

Visible Minorities
More than 7.5 million people identify as a visible minority in Canada. The representation of visible minorities within the trucking and logistics industry mirrors that of the overall economy (26% of the workforce)*.

*Statistics Canada, 2016 Census (A Trucking HR Canada special request from Statistics Canada)


The Business Case for DEI

At the most basic level, leaders understand that having a diverse workforce is a matter of doing the right thing. There are however many other reasons companies may want to be involved in DEI work.

Winning the War for Talent
At its most basic level winning the war for talent is a numbers game – how large is your pool of potential applicants and how many from that pool actually apply? A company can benefit from the implementation of robust DEI practices on both fronts. First, committing to employ a diverse workforce naturally increases the pool of potential applicants. Moreover, fully committing to an equitable and inclusive environment for your diverse workforce makes you a more attractive employer to those you consider viable applicants. This is particularly important within trucking where we are in significant labour shortage.

Maximizing Employee Potential
Fully committing to diversity, equity and inclusion affords greater access to talent. In addition to having more people from which to source talent, these efforts offer greater access to the full potential of the people who you employ. Diversity, equity and inclusion all pay a part in ensuring this happens. Diversity provides the realization of different thoughts and ideas. Equity creates a framework in which there are no structural impediments preventing the most talented from rising to the top; inclusion creates an environment that encourages this to happen. All of these factors lead to higher employee engagement levels that ultimately result in better service, innovation, lower absenteeism and voluntary turnover.

DEI and the bottom line
It stands to reason that an organization that actively employs a workforce that offers diversity of thought and skillsets; develops equitable policies and procedures; and fosters a culture of open-mindedness should see success. More diverse, equitable and inclusive companies have a better image amongst external stakeholders, and more loyalty from customers and employees. All of this reflects on the bottom line. According to a McKinsey study, companies with more gender and ethnic diversity on their executive teams outperformed less diverse companies in the same industry in terms of profitability. Specifically, the likelihood of a company with gender diversity in their executive team financially outperforming their competitors is +25%. The likelihood of a company with ethnic diversity in their executive team financially outperforming their competitors is +36%.

Understanding Your Company’s Current State

Many organizations don’t believe that they have an issue when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion. In reality, every company has room for growth. Clarifying the current reality for your company is a good first step to creating meaningful change.

Consider the following actions:

Asking the Tough Questions
Start by asking the tough questions, for example:

  • Do we embrace diversity in our company?
  • Who do our policies and practices benefit most and why?
  • Do all employees feel welcome and included? Do they feel like they belong?
  • Are we intentionally creating opportunities for historically marginalized groups to thrive?
  • Does our company reflect the communities in which we operate? Does our leadership team?

Using a SWOT Analysis
A commonly used framework, SWOT (stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) can be used to understand your company’s current state. Considering differing perspectives (i.e. clients, applicants, leaders, employees, vendors) when completing this exercise is advantageous. Consider the following:

  • Competitiveness – for both clients and candidates.
  • Legal frameworks and employment regulations.
  • Business regulations and authorities.
  • Operational, financial, reputation risks.
  • Systems and processes.

Creating Baseline Measures
To define where you’re going, you need to understand where you’re starting from. Creating baseline measures will allow you to determine your organization’s current state for diversity, equity and inclusion. Doing so can help you to articulate the reality of your organization’s competitive need for DEI, employee and management perceptions and possible risks that ignoring DEI can have on your company. To create baseline measures, consider using one of the following:

  • Implement an employee survey

Employee surveys are a great way to gain objective, unfiltered bottom-up feedback to help clarify employee perceptions on the company’s commitment to and practical integration of DEI practices. Questions should identify your employee’s understanding of the concepts of diversity and equity and they should inform on how inclusive the organization is currently. Other important areas to probe on are the level of trust employees have in leadership commitment to DEI, sense of belonging, and acceptance to working alongside diverse colleagues.

  • Generate employee demographics reports

Employers who are governed by the requirements under the  Employment Equity Act will have collected and analyzed information relative to the company’s employee demographics. This process provides an overview of the underrepresentation of designated groups within the company’s workforce. The process also provides information on the gaps that exist between the demographics of the communities in which the organization operates and the company itself. These demographics provide an important starting point of data for the company. Additional statistics may be required to measure progress around specific organizational goals. For example, information on the ages of new hires and managers. If your company has a Human Resources Information System (HRIS), determine what information you can extract from it. If your company doesn’t or where the information housed within the HRIS is limited, you may need to implement an employee census process to determine employee demographics and measure progress.

Need a Tool? Trucking HR Canada has you covered. Find information and templates to help you assess your company’s current DEI state and determine next steps.

Assessing your Company's Current State

Making the Commitment

Committing to DEI is about creating meaningful change through education, collaboration and vigilance. Every step in the DEI process may bring forth new lessons and observations that could result in a shift to current actions, the need for new ones or acceptance that what’s currently being done needs to end.

Companies can outline their commitments within a DEI strategy document, or they can include them directly within their over-arching business strategy. It is useful to have this information readily available for team members so that they can see the commitment and the journey that the organization is taking.

Short-Term vs. Long-Term Commitments

DEI won’t happen over-night, but setting clear goals and objectives to strive for will help you get specific on required actions, communicate those actions and your commitment, and measure your success.

Long-Term Objectives
Long-term objectives are high level goals that will take at least three years to complete. Set these aspirational goals to provide direction to where the organization wants to go. This generally looks like a statement, or group of statements, that articulate what the company wants to achieve, rather than outlining actions on how it’s going to get there. Goal planning for DEI can become integrated into larger organizational planning and goal setting initiatives.

Below are examples of long-term objectives for DEI:

  • Become an industry leader influencing DEI best practices within 5 years.
  • Become the go-to trucking company for diverse candidates within 3 years.
  • Outperform industry benchmarks for DEI by 2025.
  • DEI is integrated into our organization’s strategy & daily practices.
  • Attract and retain a workforce that represents the places we serve and communities we operate in by 2025.


Short-Term Objectives
Short-term goals help define what needs to be done in order to achieve the longer-term objectives. These can be defined as specific actions or measurable targets that can generally be achieved between one to two years. Short-term objectives should be assessed and where necessary, actions should be updated frequently if they are not garnering the desired results.

Below are some examples of short-term objectives for DEI:

  • Create a DEI committee.
  • Conduct a DEI process review.
  • Provide training to managers on DEI best practices.
  • Track and measure diversity stats for hiring, promotions and terminations.
  • Create diversity partnerships.
  • Include commitment to diversity in job ads.
  • Identify outreach opportunities to help attract diverse candidates to the organization.

    • Increase diversity in new hires by 10% for women, 15% for Indigenous people, 15% for visible minorities and 20% for millennials.
    • Achieve 40% minority representation in management positions.
    • Host quarterly diversity initiatives.

    You may need to understand your company’s baseline measures before you can set measurable targets

Other Best Practices to Ensure Organization-Wide Commitment

Gain Leadership Buy-In
Leadership buy-in is generally considered a key to success. This buy-in goes beyond surface level agreement into real acceptance and understanding of the need for change. Budgets may be required and the leadership team, and perhaps board-members, should have input into, and ultimately sign-off on the short- and long-term objectives. Some work may need to be done at the executive and management levels to achieve this commitment prior to launching company-wide initiatives.

Define Your Core Beliefs
To help create additional connection and understanding of what DEI means in your company, it is helpful to define your core beliefs. The guiding principles by which employees can conduct themselves and through which the DEI objectives will be met.
Some examples of core belief statements or guiding principles include:

  • DEI is about more than numbers, it’s about people.
  • Inclusiveness is everyone’s responsibility.
  • DEI concerns will always be addressed.
  • We don’t only accept differences; we embrace the uniqueness of everyone.

Ask for suggestions and input from employees about what’s important and meaningful to them. These can be re-assessed and re-evaluated as DEI initiatives become more ingrained in your organization’s practices.

Let Employees Know
Once commitment is made at the executive level, organizational goals and objectives established and core beliefs defined, let employees know your DEI intentions. Get creative with how the commitments are communicated. Remember, employees will have their own impressions on DEI, why it’s important or even that it’s not. With any communication, providing context can be helpful to people when describing why decisions are made.

One way to clearly communicate this commitment is by developing a formal DEI policy. Outline your companies DEI efforts and include how complaints can be made. Help ensure everyone understands what their responsibilities and rights are when it comes to DEI.

Need a Tool? Trucking HR Canada has you covered. Access the - DEI Policy Template - to kick start the creation of one or refresh an existing one.

DEI Policy Template

Establish a Committee
Include employees in the company’s DEI efforts. Giving employees the opportunity to become involved in all aspects of your DEI efforts provides multiple benefits, such as: increased buy-in, differing perspectives, and speed of execution.

To help the committee be successful, a chairperson with access to the leadership team and who has the authority to manage the budget, set and monitor progress on company-wide initiatives and can communicate initiatives and progress to all employees, should be selected.

Need a Tool? Trucking HR Canada has you covered. For more information on how to establish a Diversity Committee or for a better understanding on why you might want to consider establishing an Affinity Group click on the following link.

Starting a Diversity Committee or Affinity Groups: Key Considerations.

Review Current Practices

It’s important to consider that discrimination – either overt or systemic – may be present within deep-rooted, long-standing organizational practices. Taking the effort to review your current practices will be key to understanding whether any discrimination is present. It is important when reviewing these practices that you are aware of inherent bias that may exist. For this reason, neutrality when auditing a process must be imposed.

This can be achieved by hiring an impartial, third-party consultant who is trained in DEI sensitivities. Alternatively, you can train internal employees on potential biases and areas of caution and then conduct cross-functional process reviews using this trained team. If taking the second approach, be sure to also include members of diverse groups in the process review. Ask for their observations and feedback.

Federally regulated employers are governed by the Canadian Human Rights Act. The intention behind the Act is to ensure that all employees are protected from discrimination based on the prohibitive grounds. The prohibitive grounds include: race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, family status, genetic characteristics, disability or conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted or in respect of which a record suspension has been ordered. Provincially regulated employers are also governed by similar, though slightly modified human rights guidelines.

Human Rights is a great starting point. As a next step, employers can be intentional in their DEI efforts beyond those outlined in the code. Below, we highlight some of the areas where discrimination can exist at key decision making points with employees, along with what you can do to mitigate risk.


    Unconscious Biases are social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness. These are deep-rooted and we all have them. Below are some forms of unconscious bias to be aware of in the workplace:

    AFFINITY BIAS: the preference for people to connect and interact with people who are “just like me” – those with similar backgrounds, education, and experiences.

    CONFIRMATION BIAS: this is the inclination to draw conclusions based on your own experience or bias, rather than actual demonstrated merit.

    GENDER BIAS: this is the tendency to prefer one gender or another.

    AGEISM: this is the tendency to have negative beliefs or assumptions about someone’s capabilities due to their age.

    ANCHOR BIAS: this is when an initial singular event or impression is used to make a decision.

    AUTHORITY BIAS: refers to when an idea or opinion is given a greater sense of importance or is thought to be more accurate because it was provided by an authority figure.

Recruitment & Selection

The recruitment process is a hot zone for potential discrimination, even when it’s not intentional. Recruitment is also the best opportunity to address diversity gaps and to demonstrate the equitable and inclusive practices of your organization.

There are many unconscious biases that we hold and that may unintentionally impact the recruitment and selection process. For example, people may believe that men are better suited for certain roles or that people with certain backgrounds are better/worse at certain positions. Understanding and addressing our personal biases, and introducing checks and balances within our recruitment process, are necessary steps to overcoming overt and unintended discrimination.

Below are some of the ways that you can create a more equitable and inclusive recruitment and selection process:

  • Review the job requirements – determine if they are all necessary or if there are any inherent bias present that may unintentionally screen diverse candidates out. (e.g. English proficiency, hours of work requirements).
  • Review the demographics of the current team – do they mirror the community in which you operate?
  • Identify any focused outreach opportunities by partnering with diversity associations (for example: new immigrant employment associations, indigenous support groups) or through active engagement with diverse communities (for example, religious institutions or women leadership organizations) to ensure you are proactively engaging diverse candidates.
  • Remove any gender language from job postings and interview questions.
  • Use technology to screen candidates, and/or create neutralized resumes – removing names, locations of past work experience, employment gaps, hobbies or other non-required information that might provide insight into race, gender, age.
  • Use a candidate selection committee made up of diverse participants.
  • Mitigate up-front barriers, such as scheduling interviews in accessible rooms or providing test materials in multiple languages or formats.
  • Understand how company “fit” and “culture” questions may have inherent bias. Avoid assessing candidates on personality traits that are unrelated to the success of a candidate in the role. It is helpful to use the same culture and fit questions for all candidates and to relate them back to the organization’s pre-defined values and core competencies.
  • Stick to the script and pre-determined interview questions.
  • Use a hiring rubric. This is a scorecard that helps define in advance what a successful candidate looks like by outlining the expectations that a candidate will be evaluated against. A rubric allows for multiple people’s equal input in the assessment process.
  • Have multiple people involved in the process and decision.
  • Hire an independent person or company to review the process for potential bias or discrimination.
  • Train hiring managers and committee participants on unconscious bias [Back link to call out box on page 13].

For additional information on how to implement recruitment and retention best practices in DEI, see Trucking HR Canada’s  Recruiting and Retaining Diverse Communities: An Employer Roadmap. This resource breaks down best practices by the four designated groups: indigenous people, people with a disability, women and visible minorities. Youth, which although not a designated group is also included in this resource as the trucking and logistics industry is facing a significant shortage of young workers.


    Top Fleet Employers have a range of strategies they use to attract and recruit new graduates:

    • Offer flexible work arrangements such as “flexible shifts” and “weekends optional” to appeal to a desire for work life balance.
    • Reduce the requirement for years of experience and compensate with additional training programs.
    • Connect with high school and college students by being involved in career days, job fairs, “Bring your child to work day” and work term placements.
    • Advertise “Green Initiatives”, positioning the company as a thought leader.
    • Make continuing education available to employees by offering tuition reimbursement programs.
    • Make the transition to being a new owner operator easier by speaking with local financial institutions willing to take them on and by offering service and parts discounts.
    • Effectively use technology by advertising job postings on social media and by updating the company’s website to ensure it is easy to navigate

    Trucking HR Canada’s Top Fleet Employer Program is a national program that recognizes trucking and logistics companies who meet HR standards of excellence. Each year companies undergo a rigorous application process, but only the best are recognized as Top Fleet Employers.

    Become a Top Fleet Employer


We have all heard of the “glass ceiling” – the idea that women can see the top but they can’t quite get there. This glass ceiling exists for other diversity groups as well, and without the full understanding and realization that opportunities are not created equally, there can be no real equity or inclusion.

Finding ways to address the real barriers and obstacles that exist to those who are not normally considered for promotions may be difficult. Again, recognizing that these barriers are there is a great first step. To really appreciate what they are, you have to gain a different perspective. Ask your teams what may be in the way of their own growth and development. From the responses, identify if there are systemic barriers that prevent people from certain backgrounds from advancing within the company.

For example, when interviewing your employees, you may hear women say that they won’t consider management roles because the hours aren’t conducive to their at-home responsibilities. You may find out from other employees that there have never been discussions about their advancement or that opportunities for growth aren’t clear to them. Is that more prevalent in responses from minority groups? Understanding what the barriers are can help you to identify ways to break them down.

Below are examples of how you can make your promotion practices more inclusive and equitable for all employees.

  • Keep stats on the demographics of people who apply for internal promotions.
  • Keep stats on the demographics of people who are appointed promotions.
  • Create standardized career paths for key roles within the company. Publish them so that everyone can access and understand what’s required to move up.
  • Make career development discussions the norm – for everyone.
  • Use gender inclusive language when referencing senior positions.
  • Address systemic barriers that may prevent certain individuals from obtaining promotions – such as offering more widely accessible training and development opportunities, removing unnecessary qualifications, and implementing flexible work practices for senior roles.
  • Ensure compensation structures and practices, including promotions, are consistently applied.

    Effective January 1, 2021, federally regulated employers, with 100 or more employees, were required under the Employment Equity Act to report their salary data in a way that shows aggregated wage gap information. The intention behind these measures is to raise awareness of wage gaps experienced by women, Indigenous people, persons with disabilities and visible minorities working in federally regulated workplaces.


    1. Wage gap information will need to be included as part of the annual reporting on employment equity for June 1, 2022.
    2. The calculation for “salary” has been amended and it is no longer a requirement that employers annualize salaries (i.e., calculate all remuneration paid for work performed by an employee in the form of salary, wages, commissions, tips bonuses and piece rate payments, rounded to the nearest dollar). Previously, salary did not include overtime wages. New specific data elements, that employers can extract from their payroll and HR information systems, will include hourly rate of pay, bonus pay, overtime pay, and overtime hours, to determine hourly wage, bonus, overtime hours, and overtime pay gaps.
    3. Employers will be required to retain additional records, including: salary information (excluding overtime and bonus pay); the period over which a salary is paid; the number of hours worked that can be attributed to the salary earned; the bonus pay paid during a reporting period; overtime pay in the reporting period; the number of overtime hours worked in which the overtime pay can be attributed.


Some of the most emotionally charged and sensitive interactions with employees take place when there is a conflict, performance violation or other event that requires discipline. Ensuring equitable and fair treatment for all employees throughout the disciplinary process is important.

Similar to the bias that exists within the recruitment process, our own personal biases may be present when dealing with an employee disciplinary issue. For example, we may believe that people of certain ages or cultural backgrounds behave a certain way and therefore, they either instigated a performance issue or they “let it happen”.

Ways to help prevent bias and discrimination when dealing with a difficult employee situation are outlined below:

  • Allow the employee to provide context and information around what happened.
  • Follow all company policies and documented procedures when investigating any serious performance issue.
  • Pause and reflect on whether any bias is present.
  • Develop and then follow a progressive discipline policy.
  • Provide training to managers on how to have difficult conversations.
  • Gain perspective by involving HR or another leader in decisions on disciplinary action.
  • Ensure any discipline actions are consistent with relevant past situations.


Similar to the discipline process, termination decisions are always difficult and they can be emotional, not just for the employee being let go, but also for the person delivering the message. Even when the decision to terminate is sound and justified, it is often challenging for managers to conclude that termination is necessary. In some situations, the manager may feel personally offended or disappointed in the employee causing an emotionally charged reaction and decision.

Having strong practices on how terminations are decided and delivered will help ensure the decisions are based on business need and not other, potentially discriminatory factors. For example, if a manager is frustrated because an older worker isn’t properly using the new technology it may be a need for additional training rather than incompetence.

The practices below will help ensure consideration is taken to avoid potential discrimination, and potential legal action, when terminating someone’s employment:

  • Keep stats on employee demographics for involuntary terminations.
  • Document any progressive discussions and attempts to correct poor performance.
  • Assess whether the punishment fits the crime. Is this the same decision that would be made for all employees? Is this outcome consistent when compared to relevant previous situations?
  • Consider opportunities to provide additional training or accommodations to prevent the termination.
  • Follow company policies.
  • Pause and reflect on whether bias is present.
  • Discuss the decision with a neutral party and ask them to challenge you to confirm it is sound.
  • Develop severance guidelines to ensure consistency in what’s offered.
  • Follow a script when conducting the termination meeting.

Employee Involvement

As highlighted throughout this guide, diversity, equity and inclusion practices should involve everyone within your organization. A negative interaction or experience can destroy the confidence that an employee has in the company’s commitment, despite HR and leadership intentions and can be hard to rebuild.

Employee Training
Everyone has bias. People have different understandings around what’s acceptable and what’s not when it comes to interacting with other employees. It’s up to the company to set the standard on tolerance. Employee training is an ideal way to both communicate standards and expectations, and to challenge traditional perceptions and norms. Employers can achieve greater gains towards their DEI goals by taking a comprehensive and intentional approach to employee development. Training programs can be as simple as a 15-minute pre-recorded video, or a self-reflection exercise and discussion guide that can be used to open a team meeting. The important part is to tie the training efforts to the company goals, and to not only focus on what DEI means but to help demonstrate and encourage positive DEI practices.

Affinity Groups
Affinity groups, or diversity community groups, are groups of employees with a shared background. For example, these could be groups of employees who are all female leaders, or Islamic, or people who have non-visible disabilities. In general, organizations have been slow to introduce affinity groups into their workplace settings, perhaps for fear that they may create more silos, for limited participation in smaller organizations or because it is new and there is a fear that these groups may call out more than the employer can realistically achieve or fix when it comes to their diversity practices. These groups, however, can be a huge help in providing support and creating community within a company’s diverse communities and otherwise. They can also help to foster a sense of belonging and understanding within the larger company through the promotion of ideas for inclusivity, sharing experiences, and the respectful expression of concerns to leadership and other employees. Affinity groups can be a great resource for the DEI committee. They can also be a great resource for marketing teams looking to create a more diverse representation of the company.

Need a Tool? Trucking HR Canada has you covered. For more information on how to establish a Diversity Committee or for a better understanding on why you might want to consider establishing an Affinity Group click on the following link.

Starting a Diversity Committee or Affinity Groups: Key Considerations.

Critical Success Factors

Continued Commitment
Diversity isn’t a tick-the-box exercise. It requires continued commitment and on-going investment. Leaders must walk-the-talk. Being prepared to take action and make tough decisions is helpful if individuals within the organization are acting in contrast to what’s been articulated.

Employee Contribution
Make DEI the commitment of every employee, not just human resources and the leadership team. Identify ways to include employees in initiatives both large and small. This may require creating a committee to help organize events such as: culture fairs or pot lucks, lunch and learns, and celebrating diverse heritage months. Include teams in the needs assessment and solutioning processes. When it comes to diversity, differing perspectives and opinions will help shine a light on what’s happening and where focused attention can be given.

Communications Strategy
A comprehensive communication strategy for DEI has many components. For example, it should include the organization’s commitment to diversity, actions and progress against those actions, updates on key performance measures, and employee stories and experiences. Take a multi-channel and a multi-level approach to disseminating key messages. Celebrate and share accomplishments. Increased communication will demonstrate importance and in-turn, it will garner higher engagement levels from your teams.

Surveys and Pulse Checks
It is recommended that organization’s ask employees about the DEI practices within the company at least annually. These questions can be added to engagement surveys that are already in place, or it can be a stand-alone practice. Pulse surveys can also be implemented more frequently help provide intermittent data on key areas that the organization has identified as priority.

Measuring Progress
To ensure the effort your company is putting into its DEI practices are working, it’s important to regularly measure progress against the pre-determined baseline measures. It’s also important to provide frequent updates and reviews against the short-term commitments. A simple scale indicating progress, no-progress or unexpected change will allow you to quickly evaluate if additional action or re-focused effort is required.

On-Going Review
DEI can be present in everything a company does, every action taken and every decision made. Continuously evaluating, adapting and re-evaluating your processes and practices through a diversity lens is an on-going requirement. Include your teams, customers and other key stakeholders in this process to gain a thorough perspective. Consider hiring an external consultant to help highlight bias potential, identify areas of concerns within your processes and procedures, and to provide recommendations for solutions.


This project is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives Program (SIP)