Canadian employers step forward on diversity, fall short on inclusion: RBC report

TORONTO, Sept. 26, 2017 /CNW/ - Canadian employers overwhelmingly agree on the benefits of having a diverse workforce and an inclusive workplace, but only one in 10 strongly agree that they take advantage of those benefits, according to a new report out today from the Royal Bank of Canada and the Institute for Canadian Citizenship.

"Diversity and Inclusion: We're not doing enough" is based upon an extensive survey of 64 leading organizations that collectively employ 1.2 million Canadians, as well as a series of follow-up interviews and roundtables. Developed for the 6 Degrees Citizen Space conference, the findings paint a mixed view of the progress being made on diversity and inclusion in the Canadian workplace.

"The purpose was not to paint a rosy picture or pat ourselves on the back for diversity well done," said John Stackhouse, senior vice president at RBC. "We found the majority of organizations surveyed see themselves as being diverse; however, while they are successful at building diverse workplaces, the next step of inclusion often remains elusive".

The results of the survey point to the need for new thinking on diversity and inclusion. In particular, businesses need to figure out ways to measure the business impact of inclusion, with only about half making an attempt to measure their diversity initiatives, and ensure that diversity and inclusion are reflected across all levels of an organization. The report also reveals that Canadian employers still fall significantly short on diversity and inclusion for Indigenous peoples and individuals with disabilities.

The survey accompanies a companion work, "All of us: What we mean when we talk about inclusion", authored by Sarmishta Subramanian, editor-in-chief of the Literary Review of Canada. Together, they form a comprehensive look at inclusion, from what we mean when we talk about it, to what action Canadian employers are taking to address inclusion in the workplace.

"Engaging in this exercise starts a necessary conversation about inclusion off on the right foot, by acknowledging our shortcomings and understanding our successes," said Charlie Foran, CEO, Institute for Canadian Citizenship. "Truly inclusive and welcoming societies are better positioned to remain competitive. Newcomers who feel engaged are more willing to take chances, think differently and spur the progress that we call innovation".

Highlights from the survey include the following:

  • Employers are paying attention: 81% provide internal networks such as affinity groups to foster a diverse workforce, while 75% have initiatives in place to develop high-potential talent
  • Every respondent either strongly agreed (87%) or agreed (13%) that inclusive teams make better decisions than teams that are not inclusive
  • A majority either strongly disagreed (34%) or disagreed (34%) that diversity and inclusion can have drawbacks
  • 82% of respondents strongly agree that inclusion is required to translate diversity into performance results such as innovation.
  • There was an overall consensus that organizations should do more to build a diverse workforce (46% strongly agreed and 48% agreed).
  • Only 55% of employers attempt to measure the impact of their diversity initiatives
  • Organizations were most likely to say they lagged behind in diversity and inclusion with respect to Indigenous peoples and persons with disabilities.

You can access the report at

Survey Methodology
The Royal Bank of Canada and the Institute for Canadian Citizenship conducted the survey from July to September 2017. In total 132 organizations were invited to participate. The final sample consists of 64 organizations. Collectively they employ over 1.2 million Canadians: the smallest organization employs 500 individuals, while the largest organization has nearly 160,000 full-time employees. In addition, RBC and ICC conducted ten in-depth interviews to gain further insight into specific industries and companies.

About the Institute for Canadian Citizenship
Powered by a passionate and committed national network, the Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC) delivers programs and special projects that inspire inclusion, create opportunities to connect, and encourage active citizenship. The ICC is a national charity co-founded in 2006 by The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson and John Ralston Saul. For more information, please visit

About RBC
Royal Bank of Canada is Canada's largest bank, and one of the largest banks in the world, based on market capitalization. We are one of North America's leading diversified financial services companies, and provide personal and commercial banking, wealth management, insurance, investor services and capital markets products and services on a global basis. We have approximately 81,000 full- and part-time employees who serve more than 16 million personal, business, public sector and institutional clients through offices in Canada, the U.S. and 35 other countries. For more information, please visit‎

RBC helps communities prosper, supporting a broad range of community initiatives through donations, community investments and employee volunteer activities. For more information please see: