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Diversity and inclusion at CPCS isn’t just an HR thing

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Clara Kayser-Bril has made diversity and inclusion a priority at CPCS. Her actions to foster a global culture of belonging have led CPCS to implement measures such as an employment equity program and inclusive talent management.

“Preaching inclusion is easy with progressive workplace policies, but they tend to be as thin as the paper they are printed on,” says Clara, Associate Director at CPCS and leader of the Committee on gender equity, diversity and inclusion.

“Practising inclusion is hard, because it’s more than compliance and meeting quotas.” It’s about correcting unconscious biases and being mindful with gendered words and understanding how they have an impact, to name a few.

It’s not enough that CPCS is multicultural. Clara and the Committee are committed to improving the gender ratio and ensuring fair treatment in the workplace.

There is no such thing as “being too inclusive,” she says.

Her dedication to diversity and inclusion at CPCS has mobilized universal support across the company. She saw this as a natural thing to do when CPCS already emphasizes gender equality in many of its infrastructure projects.

“Leaning into this principle simply felt right,” she adds. “I felt comfortable shaking things up.”

Survey findings that sparked change 

As a consultant, Clara took great care in not perpetrating stereotypes as she worked with clients around the world. Traveling the world taught her to be mindful of cultural sensitivities at all times. 

Her lived experience eventually led her to test the waters at CPCS. At the time, Marc-André Roy and Jean-François Arsenault had just become managing partners, and Clara felt that they would be open to take inclusion to a deeper level.

Clara and the Committee conducted an independent company-wide survey. They found that inclusion wasn’t systematically applied across the company.

“Improving inclusion in a company requires a concerted effort from everyone. It’s more than an HR thing,” concluded Clara. 

Action and reflection 

The survey highlighted some gender biases in the workplace.

For instance, women reported fewer opportunities to do high-profile tasks and to showcase their work. Women also reported being targets of microaggressions more often.

The same findings applied to ethnic minorities to a lesser extent.

The survey showed that what hinders professional growth are not personal obligations, but organizational barriers.

Though these problems are common in most companies, it’s not an excuse to do nothing about it.

The results motivated CPCS to implement measures to reduce or eliminate the barriers that women and minorities face.

Employment equity program and inclusive talent management

The employment equity program is more than making sure the company hires individuals from all ethnicities and orientations. It’s also building diversity at all levels of the company.

“This made our hiring process extremely transparent,” shares Clara.

Being equitable in our hiring process didn’t necessarily make it more challenging. We quickly realized that there are plenty of experts from all walks of life. In fact, we’ve brought on board some of the most accomplished women as principal consultants in the past two years.

Inclusive talent management means assigning high profile projects to all team members regardless of their gender and skin colour. This led us to formalize our onboarding program so that everybody receives the same training and mentoring. Doing so ensures that we have an inclusive and diverse pool of candidates to lead us in the future. 

Adopting an inclusive language matters too

To sensitize people about microaggressions, Clara partnered with her Communications and Marketing teammates to adopt language that reflects diversity and inclusion.

“Our popular employee newsletter has since adopted gender neutral language and constantly encourages others to do the same.”

Internal communications at CPCS now promote curiosity about the interesting stories and fun adventures in the daily life of our teammates.

People are more than titles and prestigious degrees.

There is no finish line to achieve inclusion

Diversity and inclusion are the foundations for respect and equality across the board.

But the challenge with inclusion is that concrete changes do not necessarily equate to changes in one’s way of thinking.

That’s why work towards genuine inclusion will never stop. It’s not enough to simply force employees and management to adopt new rules.

True inclusion is when we trust our teammates to do a stellar job and to learn from their unique perspectives.

This is where we want to go. Speaking candidly about this is just one step to get us there.

But with Clara at the helm of the Committee, we’re in good hands.

CPCS is always hiring. See our career opportunities or contact us at careers@cpcs.ca.

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