Important to go beyond words with diversity, inclusion efforts: manager

·3 min read

If business owners and organizations want to avoid appearing disingenuous, efforts to create an equitable, diverse and inclusive environment should be implemented in as many business operations as possible.

That was one of the key messages conveyed by Ryan Nearing at the virtual 2SLGBTQ+ roundtable hosted by Timmins Chamber of Commerce in partnership with Fierté Timmins Pride and Ontario Power Generation held June 23.

Nearing is the manager of membership and supply diversity with Canada's LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce (CGLCC).

The discussion centred around diversity, inclusion and how employers can be more LGBT+ friendly.

During Pride Month, many corporations have unique branding and talk about celebrating Pride, Nearing said.

“But we’re not just queer one month of the year. We’re queer 12 months of the year. For those 11 months, it’s important to talk about what businesses are doing to create a welcoming environment for all their employees, a supportive environment for all their consumers,” Nearing said.

To avoid seeming disingenuous when businesses develop and promote inclusion policies, Nearing advised connecting and engaging employees as well as doing a landscape study on similar organizations in the area to see what's being done and what existing concepts are out there.

He also suggested being aware of the language and pronouns, reviewing internal and external policies to ensure they’re inclusive, to have accessible parental leave policies and resources for employees' professional development.

"In order to appear genuine in your efforts to establish diversity and inclusion efforts, it's so important to go beyond the words and talking about the intentions to do so," Nearing said.

According to a 2018 study conducted by CGLCC and Deloitte Institute, one in 40 businesses in Canada is owned by a member of the LGBTQ+ community.

The study showed there were about 28,000 LGBTQ+-owned businesses in Canada that generated about $22 billion in gross corporate revenue and employed over 435,000 Canadians.

The same study also found that one in two business owners have purposely hidden the fact that their company has LGBTQ+ ownership. Three in 10 LGBTQ+ business owners have faced discrimination, according to the study.

“These barriers prevent LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs and small business owners from fully participating in the Canadian economy, which we believe is detrimental, particularly as we recover from COVID-19,” Nearing said.

One of the CGLCC's programs is Rainbow Registered, a safe space accreditation program helping businesses, organizations and communities certify their status as LGBT+-friendly. Until June 30, the first 50 small businesses to apply can join the program for free.

Under the Supplier Diversity program, if a business is at least 51 per cent LGBT+ owned, operated and controlled, and it meets certain criteria, it can become an LGBT+ certified supplier.

The LGBT+ certified suppliers are then connected with corporate and government members that are looking to diversity their supply chains by working with more underrepresented groups.

Certified businesses can gain access to corporate procurement opportunities and contracts, build a network, enhance competitiveness, take advantage of unique branding, support LGBTQ+ community economic development and more, according to Nearing.

Earlier this month, Fierté Timmins Pride launched a project to identify and fill gaps in the current community services provided for the 2SLGBTQ+ community in northeastern Ontario.

Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,

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