Change is long overdue, and we have so far to go. Establishing a sense of belonging is the responsibility of all of us to make our community a welcoming and inclusive community.
Since 2020 the Chamber’s DEI committee has been working hard to put into place resources, education and an action plan to address the impact of systemic racism that has oppressed Black, racialized and Indigenous people. The establishment of the DEI committee was to provide a lens of diversity and inclusion in all aspects of the workplace, including communications, processes and events.
As we begin 2022, we can look back at the hard work that the committee has set into action.
February is Black History month and the second annual workshop with many great leaders of the Black community will be part of a panel to discuss the changes that need to be set into action.
Through 2021 the committee pulled together and created a library of free resources to assist you and your place of business to support Diversity in the Workplace. The library has been created specifically for the business audience, a resource with up to date and current information.
There has been further action and commitment by municipal government to further commitment to remove barriers and to support community members.
In 2021 Regional council made the decision to create a division that oversees Diversity and Inclusion. The framework has been put into place to work with community stakeholders, staff and with community stakeholders. The staff and the taskforce are working together to implement plans that works with the lived experiences of racialized communities.
The structure of the department is focusing on strengthening diversity and inclusion through four goals and areas of improvement.
- Improve our understanding of diversity and deepen everyone’s commitment to inclusion.
- Strengthen diversity and inclusion within our organizational culture.
- Engage staff in diversity and inclusion efforts, and foster opportunities for leadership, advancement and employee development.
- Identify and address barriers to inclusion in the delivery of regional programs and services.
The Town of Whitby is also ready for its Journey to Inclusivity. Throughout 2021, initiated through the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee a thorough review and consultation was completed to better understand the needs within the corporation of the Town of Whitby and throughout the community of Whitby. Over 1000 perspectives were received that helped to create the IDEA project.
We learned that Whitby is becoming more diverse, the population is older and there are more residents with indigenous or aboriginal background. From 1996-2016 Whitby’s population grew by 54,583 people. This growth has created an increasingly diverse community.
Residents and staff shared their experiences in Whitby, and it is clear the not everyone has the same experience. It was disclosed that their experience described discrimination based on race, colour, country of origin, ethnicity, sex and age, with race being the most common grounds for discrimination reported by community members.
The IDEA project identified over 145 actions items that needed to be addressed internally within the Town of Whitby and in the community. Forty-one items have been identified by the steering committee, the initial list was shortened to identify the most impactful and most efficient/cost effective actions.
It has become very clear that the work of addressing Diversity and Inclusion is not solely the responsibility of Human Resources or Communications. The foundation of IDEA happens in the rules, policies, practices and services and in the hearts and minds of employees, in regular reporting and self-evaluation, and in public accountability. It is a whole organization project.
I have had the pleasure of learning so much over this past year through the lived experiences of my colleagues on the Chamber’s DEI committee, the Town of Whitby DIAC committee and through the work of the IDEA project and the final recommendations.
The topic of Diversity and Inclusion is a very difficult topic to discuss as it brings a lot of emotion that involves talking about identity. We need to keep the discussion happening, keep the momentum going, there is no beginning or end to the conversation of inclusion. This is a process that needs to continuously evolve.
– Regional Councilor, Elizabeth Roy, Town of Whitby representative on the WCC DEI Committee