It’s something we as Canadians are proud of: our diversity. Yet, we are not as inclusive towards talent for Corporations. Today, talent is in hot demand. With shifting market conditions, a world more connected and moving faster than ever, acquiring the right talent in the workplace is essential. Available talent is diverse – in age, gender, ethnicity, culture, orientation, background, and the list goes on. The fabric of our nation is built on this diversity, and it has become one of the qualities of our country. However, we still have work to do when it comes to corporate inclusion at all levels.

The world took notice when Canada’s Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau appointed a gender-balanced cabinet. “Because it’s 2015” made headlines worldwide, and more importantly, a very important step was taken. A leader saw a problem and committed to changing the status quo, for the better. Now, people are talking.

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You can read the full address by the Prime Minister here. The government recognized the added value of diversity and made a conscious commitment to change their workplace. As a result, more hands are going up. It’s about starting somewhere, and not stopping there – and in keeping going, inspiring a sort of domino effect for positive change. We need to leverage our diversity as a nation and sustain our competitiveness through inclusion.

According to Statistics Canada, almost 1/5 of the population is a visible minority in Canada. Just over ½ of the population is female. This is a huge buying power, and it affects corporations by the spending habits and decisions of which companies to do business with in an increasingly competitive global market. Also, it is a significant percentage that is not represented fairly in leadership positions. It is logical that leadership should represent the demographics that it serves. Canada is a diverse nation and we need to embrace this in our leadership.

Catalyst has found in a study that the increase of inclusion creates a positive shift in not only the output and innovation of the workforce, but also in the well-being of the workplace community. Truly shifting the needle in creating opportunities through diversity and inclusion will translate to the highest impact on business performance, as highlighted in this study by Bersin by Deloitte.

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For example, taking on measures to create an inclusive workplace will translate to better preparedness for the future, talent that is more likely to stay committed and engaged, and more importantly impact the bottom line positively. As embracing inclusion is one of the strongest predictors of business success, why is it not one of the greatest priorities for businesses?

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Of course, it’s not that simple – business is not that simple – yet, there are actions we are able to take: We can change the dialogue; we can raise awareness, educate, build more inclusive policies that actually address human interaction without any guilt, and partner with organizations that are leaders in diversity and inclusion.

It’s about collaboration. Inclusion in our workforce allows more innovation, and a stronger togetherness among employees and leaders.  As a nation, this translates to greater competitiveness on the global marketplace. Inclusivity in our workplace is integral.

As a professional, it’s time for you to take ownership of what you are able to contribute in your circle of influence to make change – even if small at first. Lead by example. Raise your hand. Ask questions. It’s time to make commitments for lasting, positive progress. We need to shift the conversation to a mandatory focus. It is a win-win for everyone: the people, companies, and Canada. Diversity and inclusion is the cornerstone of Canada and we need to embrace and be part of the change.