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Creating a culture of belonging at CPCS: Inclusion policy reviewed from ground up adds momentum to ongoing efforts

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From left: Dina, Mohammed, Emile and Elisabeth

CPCS formalized its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) policy as it continues to remove barriers and become an inclusive and conscious employer.

The DEI policy is one of many actions the global management consulting firm is taking to build an inclusive-minded workplace.

“We wanted our people to empower themselves,” says Diane Lane-Hutchings, Director of Talent Management at CPCS.

A diverse, employee-led taskforce was given complete freedom to define it.

This taskforce pushed CPCS to look at the full spectrum of diversity and inclusion, including ethnicity, physical ability, gender and LGBTQ2+. The focus is to reduce workplace and hiring barriers and improving psychological safety, among others.

The turnaround was quick. The executive team approved the policy in one week.

“This policy stitches together many ongoing initiatives and creates a shared understanding of what CPCS aspires to be,” explains Clara Kayser-Bril, Associate Global Director, Power, and leader of this taskforce.

How this policy came to be 

CPCS is a global business. It has a diverse client base and works in a wide variety of contexts.  Its purpose is to develop solutions for growing economies. The DEI policy has to align with that. 

This means contributing to a better, healthier world for citizens through smart, environmentally-friendly and inclusive infrastructure. For instance, CPCS has helped cities improve public transit system and develop water treatment facilities in African communities. 

No one can be ever too inclusive

Is CPCS where it wants to be in terms of diversity, equity and inclusion? Not yet.

Choosing to openly talk about how inclusion is evolving at CPCS is one of many ways to show the company is committed to do better.

For instance, women are underrepresented in senior positions at CPCS.

Data from a gender survey conducted at CPCS.

Gender disparity at the higher rungs is not the only challenge CPCS is tackling.

Internal research also shows that CPCS employees belonging to a visible minority report having slightly more barriers to be successful at work compared to their Caucasian coworkers. They feel they have fewer opportunities to show their work and are less confident in the fairness of performance evaluations. They feel more vulnerable to microaggression.

Knowing this, ensuring gender balance and cultural equity at all levels are top of mind.

“CPCS doesn’t seek diversity for the sake of being diverse,” says Dina Adedze, Consultant at CPCS. “Having a global team opens the door to global projects.”

Becoming an inclusive employer 

Rolling out an inclusive talent management strategy is how CPCS is turning the DEI policy into practice. It’s about building a pool of genderless and colourless leaders.  

Part of this strategy is an annual diversity benchmarking. The transparent nature of this assessment allows employees to keep the executive team accountable.

The strategy also puts an emphasis on minimizing and removing constructed and unconscious biases from the recruitment process.

Other initiatives include: 

  • Training people managers on biases and microaggressions
  • Reviewing pay equity
  • Implementing a family expense policy
  • Implementing a family-friendly flexible work arrangement

“CPCS has taken definitive steps in creating an equitable work environment,” says Hilda Mugoya, Consultant at CPCS. “Equal access to opportunities and resources allows all of us to contribute to the development of the company.”

Clear, visible change leaders

Co-Managing Partners Jean-François Arsenault and Marc-André Roy are aware of their status as male, Caucasian executives. Yet, they’re the biggest diversity and inclusion advocates a business can ask for. Their approval rate on Glassdoor is a strong 92 per cent.

When both took on this role in 2018, they felt it was time to revisit the firm’s identity and purpose. All employees were involved in this exercise, and most agreed that creating a culture of belonging was a must.

Since then, Jean-François and Marc-André have been actively embedding inclusive mindsets, behaviours and processes in the firm’s DNA.

Instilling a culture of belonging is also the job of effective and deliberate communications.

“As a strategic communications management professional, I’m responsible for championing an inclusive language,” says Benoit Laplante, Director of Global Communications and Marketing and a member of the taskforce that designed the DEI policy.

In short, CPCS is committed to providing and fostering a workplace that is diverse, inclusive, free from barriers and psychologically safe.

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