EARN held its 7th Annual Conference, “Opening Doors to Inclusion – Diversity and Disability”, on Friday, June 7th at the Ottawa Conference and Event Centre. The event brought together 181 employers from the public, private and not-for profit sectors and a broad range of community partners; in fact tickets sold out this year for the first time!
We came together to explore intersectionality: how inclusion and diversity intersect, in recognition of the multiple social identities – gender, race and ability being a few examples – of the many identities we all inhabit.
The goal of the conference was to help employers consider what systems are present in their workplaces that provide opportunities for some and create barriers for others. We offered presenters and activities to build a greater awareness of the ways in which privilege operates. We provided employers with strategies and tools to create more equitable and inclusive workplaces so they could attract and retain the best employees.
“This year’s content was on point, relevant and inspiring. I left with tangible solutions to help employers create more inclusive workplaces. Thank you!”
“The speakers were excellent. It was great to network and meet with others in the D&I field.”
Marieke van Noppen, Senior Director of Business Financial Service Capacity & Strategic Analytics at RBC and EARN Steering Committee Chair, and Michael Allen, CEO of United Way Ottawa opened the conference. Michael Lifshitz, Founder of Illumabilities, motivational speaker, comedian, and fundraiser returned this year as the MC. He brought the lens of lived experience and intelligent humour to our conversations.
Kate Morican, Partner Consulting / Human Capital, Deloitte gave the Keynote Address on “The Imperative for Inclusive Leadership” describing the six signature traits of an inclusive leader: commitment; courage; cognizance of bias; curiosity; cultural intelligence; and collaboration. She helped us understand the tactical actions we can implement personally and in our organizations to influence change.
Access Keynote tools and resources here: https://earn-paire.ca/employers/tools-and-resources/2019-conf-resources/
“The six tips from Kate at the beginning – I felt they were easy to reflect on and easy to think about and will be easy to action.”
Kelly McGahey, Senior Manager, Stakeholder Relations, Hire Immigrants Ottawa on “Shaping a Workplace of Belonging” presented next. Ms. McGahey began by asking what each of us could do to foster a culture of belonging in our organization. She explained the concept of privilege, inviting us to understand that many of us have privileges we take for granted – like Canadian citizenship or post-secondary education.
Access Creating a Culture of Inclusion in the Workplace resources here: https://earn-paire.ca/employers/tools-and-resources/2019-conf-resources/
“We need to foster environments for people to be able to bring their whole selves to work and also take a look at the potential barriers that may exist (intentional or unintentional) that doesn’t allow for the full participation of certain groups in the workforce.”
After lunch we had a discussion (a fireside chat) about “Accommodation for Everyone” facilitated by Shannon Bruce, Manager of Business Development, EARN with Debbie Orme-Rego, Senior Human Resources Director at United Way Ottawa. The discussion was framed within the context of considering accommodation as an ‘adjustment’ that could be provided to any employee regardless of ability.
We followed this discussion with a table activity that included case studies scenarios. A synopsis of this activity is posted online as one of the tools and resources from the conference.
Access the Scenario Activity Summary here: https://earn-paire.ca/employers/tools-and-resources/2019-conf-resources/
“Illuminating abilities, it is better for all to think this way rather than ability and disability.”
The lens of lived experience brings an authentic voice to discussions on diversity and inclusion. Two people with disabilities spoke about their journeys to employment, and how practical measures served as adjustments that empowered them to bring their talents to the fore. Kim Guy and Yvan Le spoke honestly about their experiences in the “My Story” segments of the conference. In fact, Yvan’s story is the Success Story featured in this edition of the newsletter.
The last presenter, Louise Reid, Facilitator and Empowerment Coach, invited employers to think about “Making It Happen” in their workplaces by walking conference attendees through the Action Item Worksheet. The worksheet is contained in the conference program and can be accessed here: https://earn-paire.ca/employers/tools-and-resources/2019-conf-resources/
Finally Kelly Mertl, Director, Community Initiatives, United Way Ottawa ended the conference with closing remarks.
We thank all those who attended the conference and extend a special thank you to the many participants who filled out a survey post event. Your feedback, suggestions about what you liked best and what we could improve inform the EARN team as we plan the 2020 conference.
To view photos from the conference: