All Posts By

Elisabeth Cooke

How Companies Can Be Serious About Anti-Racism

Board walk rising out of fog

Everyone is talking about racism, or more importantly, the need for anti-racism. The talk has moved beyond person to person conversations, and we are now seeing companies and politicians join the chorus, calling for significant change. It’s a monumentally positive development, but the answer to that call – the change that is needed to combat racism – is complex: Changing attitudes is one thing, breaking down systems that have discriminated against some groups of people for generations while providing significant advantage to others, is quite another.

Companies are in a unique position to advance anti-racism and have a positive impact on the lives of their employees and customers, by focusing on diversity and inclusion within their workplaces. Not only is this the moral thing to do, it also has a strong business case: There is approximately 15 years’ worth of research clearly proving that diverse and inclusive companies do better. They are more innovative, and more agile – two attributes in very high demand right now. It involves work, but there are no business cases that say the status quo is a better option.

So, if your company is serious about advancing diversity and inclusion here are three areas for action:

  1. Education and Training
    Provide education and training – and value it. Make sure everyone in the company from C suite to intern takes part. But don’t stop there, look for D&I knowledge and awareness on resumes and applications. Build out your internal resources and develop a culture of learning. Set yourself up to have lasting impacts from education and training.
  2. Measure your Diversity
    Use data to see your strengths and weaknesses. Set goals and measure your successes and assess your progress frequently. Get access to the data that not only shows you what groups are employed at your company, but what groups are missing.
  3. Recruiting
    Target your recruiting to reach diverse candidates. Strengthen your management paths internally.

Collectively, we at Dignii have been advancing diversity and inclusion for decades. We are a mission driven company – we elevate dignity in the workplace. Our software solutions and professional services help companies to increase team performance and increase team innovation.

To start a conversation with Elisabeth about getting serious about anti-racism in your workplace, she can be reached at

Update: Diversity Reporting For Publicly Listed Companies In Canada – How To Do It

Laptop with Candle Stick Chart

Diversity has been building momentum in business for nearly 20 years. We have had significant changes in law that identify the importance of diversity and inclusion, for instance, the express inclusion of ‘gender identity and gender expression’ and Community Benefits Agreements in BC. Helping to fuel the enactment and compliance of that legislation has been 15 years’ worth of powerful business cases articulating the financial and cultural value of a diverse and inclusive workplace. Publicly listed companies in Canada are facing an increase in the legal requirements regarding reporting on diversity on boards and senior management. 

In late 2014, the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) published “comply or explain” rules regarding women in director and executive officer positions in publicly listed companies on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX). These requirements were codified in the National Instrument 58-101 (the Disclosure Requirements), thereby creating an annual positive duty for issuers in participating jurisdictions (all but BC and PEI) to disclose female representation. The requirements go a step further, requiring issuers to disclose if they have issued policies relating to female representation, term limits, and targets and mechanisms to address female representation in director and executive officer roles. If issuers do not adopt any such mechanisms or consider female representation more broadly, they must explain their reasons for doing so, thus creating a “comply or explain” rule. 

More recently, the British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC) published a notice and request for comments asking for comment on the gender diversity Disclosure Requirement in NI 58-101. Notably, BC based TSX-listed and other non-venture issuers must comply with the Disclosure Requirements as they do report in at least one of the Participating Jurisdictions (i.e. all but PEI).

The BCSC’s request for comment on gender diversity tells us one thing – the Commission is focusing on how the disclosure process can be improved and what mechanisms and governance policies are satisfactory to demonstrate gender diversity on publicly listed companies on the TSX.

New Reporting Changes as of January 2020

As of 1 January 2020, Canada became the first jurisdiction in the world to require the disclosure of diversity beyond gender. Currently, all federally incorporated public companies in Canada must report on their policies and practices relating to board of directors and senior management, and, going a step further, they must include the percentage of people in those roles who are women, Aboriginal persons, members of visible minorities, and persons with disabilities. 

How to Measure and Report on Diversity

This is where we can help. Our products help you to measure diversity and improve inclusion.  We safely and securely measure data using evidence-based research to get a real picture of diversity and employee engagement. Essentially, act as the ‘go between’ – a trusted third party for employers and employees. Companies face significant challenges trying to gather this data on their own, including: compliance issues, data security, and expertise in diversity and inclusion. Not to mention the fact that employees can be reluctant to share that information with their employers! We go a step further than other companies and help you identify problems and create real solutions that help your company reach your diversity goals. We also use Canadian servers and comply with all Canadian privacy legislation and global best practices. 

When it comes to reporting on diversity we can provide you with the most robust data points you need for reporting and help you build the map to achieve your goals for the future. 

Elisabeth can be reached at

Dignity in the Workplace


Half way through 2019 and the conversation about “diversity” and “inclusion” continues to build momentum. These terms have been drawing attention for over a hundred years. Different groups throughout history have worked to define these terms and give them a life of their own in the hopes of fostering change. Important work has been done to encourage people shift perspectives and recognize marginalized groups: the civil rights movement, women’s suffrage, marriage equality, and Truth and Reconciliation. Thanks primarily to changes in law, the work needed to create diverse environments has become a priority for companies and organizations.


It has been established in research that diverse workplaces that are often, by their nature inclusive – when employees feel valued and respected, they demonstrate higher levels of employee engagement and have better outcomes for the organization (Swiegers & Toohey, 2012).


But we’ve been talking about it for so long – why haven’t we achieved ‘diversity and inclusion’? Why is it still necessary to advocate for equal pay and equal representation on boards? Why are people afraid to ‘come out’? And why do we still see bias and discrimination in the workplace?


We need to remember that ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ are not synonymous. The term ‘diversity’ refers to the fact that people are inherently different from one another, and that each of us is unique in our own way despite some shared experiences. Whereas the term ‘inclusion’ means that within a group of people everyone feels valued and respected, and that the “mix” of differences is working well together.


There is a piece of the ‘diversity and inclusion’ conversation that is missing. Recognizing that we are all individually different, and having different groups of people feel acknowledged and working well together is great, but currently the conversation around inclusion exists as a repetitive cycle of introductions where we are constantly recognizing “new” underrepresented groups or minorities.


We currently approach inclusion as a concept that applies only to minority groups, but that still leaves some people missing. If the premise is that everyone is diverse by the mere nature of their origins, experiences, and expressions, then the solution must include everyone.


The concept that is missing here is dignity. If we focus on human dignity: the right of every person to be valued and respected, being truly inclusive follows. The origin of human rights is the recognition of a person’s dignity, and every human rights “movement” is a move toward having this dignity reflected in our laws and shared notions of equity, diversity and inclusion. “Dignity” is what people are trying to achieve when they talk about fostering inclusion, and if we shift our thinking toward acknowledging the dignity of every human being, we bring ourselves closer to creating an inclusive world.


Using the lens of ‘diversity and inclusion’ is not enough. If we begin with recognizing the right of each person to be valued and respected, we are essentially elevating dignity in the workplace.  Elevating dignity creates inclusive workplaces and increases employee engagement in the way we’ve been aiming for over the past century.



Swiegers, G., & Toohey, K. (2012), “Waiter, is that inclusion in my soup? A new recipe to improve business performance.” Research Report. Deloitte Australia and the Victoria Opportunity & Human Rights Commission.