Tag Archives: systemic discrimination

Which Women Have Arrived?

16 Feb

I recently attended the Regional Diversity Roundtable’s event “It’s 2015: Which Women have Arrived?

It was an interesting and thought-provoking evening. One of the speakers was Sandeep Tatla – Chief Diversity Officer from the Ontario College of Trades. Here were a few statistics Sandeep shared:

  • Women are still overrepresented in traditional female occupations (teaching, nursing, health) – many of these are underpaid professions.
  • Women still make 12-31.5% less than their male counterparts.
  • Despite being about half the population, and being about 53% of university graduates (since the 1980s), women continue to be under-represented in higher management positions (37.4% of lower managers, 31.6% of senior managers) and in STEM (22.3%) and trades (12%).
  • In all sectors, less than 50% of leadership positions are filled by women.

None of these statistics are surprising, nor is the fact that women are under-represented in leadership positions across sectors. But what did surprise me is the extent to which some women are more under-represented than others – specifically  women who are also visible minority women, women with disabilities, Aboriginal women, and women who identify as LGBTQ.

I feel like I’m reliving the Oscars debate…

Leadership clearly still has a gender.
But it also has a white, able bodied, heterosexual, (and probably slim) body.

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Copyright 2016 Annemarie Shrouder
Speaker, Author and Facilitator on issues of Diversity & Inclusion
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Holidays & Diversity

21 Oct

Invariably when I do workshops on Diversity and Inclusion (D&I), one of the themes that comes up is holidays. With the cold weather and Halloween approaching, it makes me think of the many weeks of Christmas carols we will experience when shopping.

I love Christmas, and I love to sing – but the carols that start in November wear me down. What about those who don’t celebrate Christmas?  How does the constant barrage of Christian (and secular) holiday tunes for weeks up to the event feel for them?

Ah privilege…those of us whose holidays fall on the days work and industries shut down have it good – without realizing it!

Last week I heard that a Toronto high school scheduled its Parent-Teacher night this school year on Rosh Hashanah! Rosh Hashanah is Jewish New Year, and it started at sundown on Sept. 28th of this year’s Gregorian calendar (and ended Sept. 30th). Imagine the public outcry if Parent-Teacher night was scheduled on January 1st! There would be a few choice words…but wait, it wouldn’t even happen.

Why do things like this still occur?

I think they happen because we all have bias and don’t practice awareness of what those biases are and what blinders result. It’s hard to broaden your perspective if you don’t know its parameters. If we did understand that we all have bias and if we did practice awareness, we might (in this case) have a multifaith calendar in our office for reference, we might ask around, or we may simply do a google search to know when the big religious holidays are for the people we work with, teach, serve, or know. Because our reality isn’t everyone’s, and we don’t know everything.

Bias awareness is the foundation of the work I do as a speaker and facilitator. Without it, D&I work – to me – is just window dressing.

What important holidays are you missing? What important holidays are you celebrating in the quiet of your home or community, oblivious to your colleagues at work? 

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copyright 2011 Annemarie Shrouder
author, speaker and facilitator on issues of diversity & inclusion

Supplier Diversity

27 Sep

One aspect of diversity we are not talking much about in Canada is Supplier Diversity. Growing in popularity in the USA and UK, Supplier Diversity is another way for a company to exercise their diversity and inclusion commitments.

Supplier Diversity is simple: it requires companies to take a look at the businesses they use as suppliers, and make conscious decisions to broaden the pool by using qualified minority-owned businesses.

I can already hear the arguments about preferential treatment, quotas and “needing to hire the best company for the job” (sound familiar?).  It begs the question: how are companies picking their suppliers now? Could it be that they are choosing suppliers that they have done business with for years, companies they know, or a company they own themselves…?

I don’t know about you, but that sounds like preferential treatment to me,  and not the meritocracy often used as an argument against diversity.  

Suppliers are at the mercy of “the Old Boys Network” just as new hires and employees up for promotion – it’s not just what you know, but who you know. Supplier Diversity shines a light on this and asks companies to take a look at how they can contribute to diversifying their pool of suppliers – essentially giving companies owned by women, visible minorities, aboriginal people, people with disabilities and youth a foot in the door in a system that can be just as exclusive as hiring and promotion (both intentionally, and unintentionally).

Just like commitments to diversity and inclusion internally (hiring, mentorship, sponsorship, etc) supplier diversity brings opportunities for innovation, competitiveness and market knowledge.

Think of what you could be missing.

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Copyright 2011 Annemarie Shrouder
author, speaker and facilitator on issues of diversity and inclusion

For more information, check out: Diversity Business Network , WEConnect and the Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council.

More than Mentorship

19 Sep

Mentorship has been around for a long time, but there is a new “ship” on the block! Sponsorship. In light of my recent posts, I thought this would be a good topic for today.

Mentorship is about development. Sponsorship is about advancement. While development can lead to advancement, given the (often unconscious) bias in business (see, for example, my previous blogs on women in senior management) it is clear that development is not enough.

A sponsor must be someone at a higher level than you in the organization. They also must have power within that organization. Why? Because their role is to “go to bat” for you; to put your name in the ring, to bring you up in the critical conversations, to help get you in the door when getting in is largely about visibility. Because, at the end of the day, if no one knows you are there, it doesn’t matter how good you are.  

It struck me as I read Catalyst Canada’s recent report on sponsorship, that this is a formal system that mimics what has been going on in the “Old (white) Boys Network” informally forever – deals done over golf, people introduced over lunch, skipping over a few rungs in the ladder because someone knows someone and makes an introduction. It’s sad that we need to formalize the system so others can get in. But there it is.

Advancement, it seems, is still largely not about what you know, but who. It seems then, that (sadly), women and visible minorities still don’t seem to “know” the right people to get the big jobs. Sponsorship can help. It’s what we need to do to see some representation in leadership that comes with credibility so it can withstand the sceptics.

A great article to read about this topic is in Forbes magazine: Making Partner; Sponsorship and Gender Bias.

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copyright 2011 Annemarie Shrouder
author, speaker and facilitator on issues of diversity & inclusion

Incentives for Hiring Immigrants – friend or foe?

16 Sep

Thanks to the politicians, the debate rages – is it a hand-out or is it increasing access? (and don’t get me started on the difference between “foreign workers” a la Tim Hudak and immigrants looking for work).

Listening to Q this morning on CBC, I heard an interesting interview with 2 successful business owners, who also happen to be immigrants to Canada. Because I was driving, I couldn’t write down their names and the podcast isn’t available yet – but I’ll attach it next time. Both guests had different perspectives, but both agreed that any program must focus on helping new immigrants get their first job in their field.

Where they differed greatly was on whether business incentives were reducing barriers or giving an unfair advantage. What it came down to was stigma versus equity. One perspective suggested being seen as having been given the job because of the incentive only (which was referred to as a quota system); the other suggested the incentive was acknowledging and reducing the barriers that immigrants face in being able to work in their field.

I can see both sides of the arguement – what it comes down to, for me, is how any program is set up.

Quotas for the sake of quotas are a bad idea. Always. They breed resentment and can compromise the quality of work. But leveling the playing field? That’s different. If you put a program in place (as one of the gentlemen suggested) that provides incentives for companies to hire qualified (that’s the key word) new immigrants for a first job in their field that they may otherwise not get for reasons of bias, discrimination, or just plain ignorance – well, that’s not a quota system to me. That is an effort to cut through the systemic discrimination that continues to take care of the dominant group, and keeps qualified people from work they can do well.

It’s amazing to me how quickly we bristle at the thought that the system, as it is now, may be unfair.

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copyright 2011 Annemarie Shrouder
author, speaker and facilitator on issues of diversity and inclusion

MBA Diversity

12 Sep

I have spent the past 4 days with hundreds of Schulich MBA students. A colleague of mine was running the team building program for them, and I was in charge of the diversity session.

It was a great experience, and I couldn’t help but notice the diversity (or in some cases, lack thereof) within the over 400 students (full and part time) that came through over the four days:

– culturally, the majority of students were of South Asian origin, followed by Asian

– about 80% of the students were male

– there was no one with a physical disability (that was evident, anyway)

– racially, the majority of the students were Brown (various shades of “people of colour”), followed by White and then Black

And here is where the numbers stood out the most for me. In a sea of different skin colours, the number of Black students was so low that I think I can actually remember the faces of each one. I think the final number was 9 (5 Black women and 4 Black men). That’s about 2%.


It reminds me of town hall meetings about high secondary school drop out rates (also known as “push out” rates) for kids of colour in Toronto. But not all of the Black students were local, or even Canadian…

Things that make you go “hmm….”

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copyright 2011 Annemarie Shrouder
author, speaker & facilitator on issues of diversity & inclusion
www. beeing.ca

“Foreign Workers” – really Tim?!

8 Sep

Since the foundation of the work I do is helping people to become aware of the assumptions, stereotypes, and perceptions they carry – and how these (often unconsciously) create barriers for others and between themselves and others – I have to comment on Tim Hudak’s use of the term “foreign workers.”

Foreign worker, to me, implies someone that arrives here to work, but goes back to their country of origin. We have many foreign workers (also known as migrant workers) who (for instance) come to work the land from Spring to Fall. You may have seen some of them working at your local Farmers’ Market.

One could argue that foreign workers are doing work that Canadians won’t do (at the very least, they are doing it for less, and often in abysmal conditions).

But someone who comes here to start a new life for whatever reason is an immigrant. Many immigrants come with a rich background, ready to contribute, and very often find it difficult (if not impossible) to work in their field. They are very often Foreign Trained Professional (or Internationally Educated Professionals).

Hmmm….Foreign Trained Professional or Internationally Educated Professional has a different ring to it, doesn’t it? Hmmm…I wonder why Hudak isn’t using those terms?

Words are powerful. They can impact what we see, think and feel – and consequently also what we don’t see, think, or feel – and thereby impact the way we treat others.

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copyright 2011 Annemarie Shrouder
Author, speaker and facilitator on issues of diversity & inclusion

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