Deloitte says Canada’s future prosperity demands we get inclusion right and we can’t afford to wait

New report concludes inclusion linked to stronger business performance and key to unlocking Canada’s competitive advantage

Toronto, November 22, 2017 — Canadian business leaders have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to boost business performance and drive the nation’s prosperity if their organizations become more inclusive, according to a new report by Deloitte Canada. The professional services firm says businesses that do not change their culture and attitudes now are gambling on their very survival—and the future of all people who call Canada home.

In the report, Outcomes over optics: Building inclusive organizations, Deloitte confirms that inclusive firms succeed.

Nearly half of inclusive organizations plan to increase their R&D spending, compared to less inclusive firms (49 percent vs 22 percent). Highly inclusive firms are more likely to report revenue growth and create jobs. Nearly all highly inclusive companies have confidence that their organization has what it takes to overcome significant challenges, but less than half of less inclusive firms believe the same (91 percent vs 40 percent).

Managing Partner and Chief Executive Frank Vettese stressed the “inclusion imperative” in Canada; that the country is challenged by a perfect storm of forces—global competition, disruptive technology and powerful demographic changes—that are pushing companies to do more to maximize the impact of their people in the workplace.

“As a country we have made significant strides in diversity and inclusion, but this progress is not reflected in our businesses,” said Vettese. “We have reached a critical point. There is consensus among the 25 industry leaders we interviewed that more needs to be done and we can’t afford to wait.”

Outcomes over optics comes at time when the federal government has committed to bring more immigrants into the country than in previous years, but the report reveals that while progress has been made to increase diversity within corporate Canada, true inclusion remains elusive; too many Canadian businesses rely on outdated approaches to diversity and inclusion.

“As other countries turn inward, Canada’s doors remain open to the world’s talents and skills,” said Vettese. “I believe this is a watershed moment in our history and an opportunity to raise the bar higher on inclusion.

Businesses large and small need to shift mindsets away from having differences toward embracing and uniting through differences. Inclusive firms are successful firms. When they win, we all benefit.”

Vettese said that his own firm has struggled in the past to make the most of the diversity within Deloitte.

“We have had our fair share of challenges and disappointments, but we are committed; we’re all in because we believe that inclusion is vitally important to our people, the success of our firm and to Canada’s future.”

To help Canadian businesses improve, the report includes five concrete actions that business leaders can take:

  1. Set expectations for specific, inclusive leadership behaviours
    Eg: Leadership development that focuses on the individual and sponsorship
  2. Protect against a diversity backlash
    Eg: Focus on all of your people 
  3. Leverage the “inclusion generation” to prepare for the future of work
    Eg: Millennials approach work differently and bring new ideas and solutions to the table 
  4. Don’t leave diversity and inclusion issues for future generations to solve
    Eg: Be critical of current systems to manage and develop talent; make sure they are not unwittingly perpetuating bias
  5. Own inclusion inside and outside the office
    Eg: Walk the talk at work and in the community

Outcomes over optics also includes examples of Deloitte’s own progress.

“I am particularly proud that this year, the new partners we admitted to our firm are representative of our society and our clients. It took us some time to get to this point, but we were relentless in our efforts and there is no turning back.”

Outcomes over Optics: Building Inclusive Organizations is part of a series of reports under the banner of Canada at 175, which present Deloitte’s perspective on the future of the country. This study builds on The Future Belongs to the Bold report released in September 2016 that showed that courage is directly linked to business success.

The full report and the rest of the reports in the Canada at 175 series are available here:

About Canada at 175
With the 150th anniversary of confederation on the horizon, now is the time for Canada to redefine what it means to be a global leader. Our ambition as a nation must be bolder – we must aim to not only achieve economic prosperity, but to elevate our quality of life for our vast and diverse population. Deloitte’s vision is that in the coming 25 years, Canada should rank within the top 3 of the Human Development Index. To do so, we must adopt an unrelenting commitment to developing courageous leaders who embody an inclusive way of being.

About Deloitte
Deloitte, one of Canada's leading professional services firms, provides audit, tax, consulting, and financial advisory services. Deloitte LLP, an Ontario limited liability partnership, is the Canadian member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited.

Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, a UK private company limited by guarantee, and its network of member firms, each of which is a legally separate and independent entity. Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited and its member firms.

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