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July 1, 2019

Carol McGloganBy Carol McGlogan

No one likes to hear that they are behind. And that is exactly what the results are when it comes to diversity within Electro-Federation Canada’s membership. Most within our industry already know this, but does everyone understand what the impact could be on our businesses? There are many studies and reports that show that diversity improves competitiveness. A study by McKinsey shows that top quartile performance in diversity yields between 15% and 35% improvements in profit. The Boston Consulting group shows a 73% improvement in innovation revenue among above average diversity employers vs. below average diversity employers. Innovation and profitability are ranked very high within our membership and if we want to succeed, we need to take a serious look at incorporating diversity into our workforce.

How did we compare? Women represent 24% of the EFC member workforce compared to 44% for the Canadian workforce; that’s an 83% difference! Women represent 26% of management positions within EFC member companies vs. 34% for the Canadian workforce — another gap of 31%. Visible minorities represent 11.7% of EFC membership vs. 22% for the Canadian workforce; we are just over half the national average.

We now have a benchmark, and we have further clarity on the benefits of evolving our employee base. Some of our members are well on their way in their diversity and inclusion initiatives and others require guidance. EFC’s role will be to continue with our benchmarking activities while also sharing best practices with members to help them along the journey. The EFC HR committee will be where the best practices and education reside. A separate executive communication initiative will be deployed to educate senior leaders on the importance of diversity and how EFC can help.

While we address diversity from a global perspective, our board also recognizes that we need to empower women within our membership to assist in their development and success in business. At the recent EFC conference in Quebec City, we held a women’s breakfast to better understand the barriers and successes women in our industry experience, so we can develop the appropriate support mechanisms.

Identified barriers included:

• family and workplace support
• female behaviours
• male behaviours
• gender bias
• industry bias
• industry and career exposure to women
• lack of mentors and sponsors
• organizational policies and issues within corporations
Positive experiences included:
• industry volunteer opportunities and exposure
• mentor programs
• networking events
• evolving organization design and corporate program
• availability and visibility of female role models
• training and development programs including conferences

The next steps for EFC will be to determine how we can compliment the many women’s initiatives that are already in existence with a focus on skills development and understanding the “game” of business and how to effectively succeed.

As with any initiative EFC takes on, the ultimate responsibility for implementation and execution remains with the membership. Our role is to provide information and support to help our members succeed and those who grab the baton to the finish line will win.

My call to action is to pay attention to the research and programming we will provide, evolve your diversity initiatives, and walk the talk. Results matter, talent is precious, we must move the industry forward.

Carol McGlogan is President & CEO, Electro-Federation Canada.