Big Ideas: Dialogue on Diversity: Setting the Stage for Business Growth and Innovation

December 05, 2011

Cities of Migration hosted an online conversation with Jane Allen, Partner and Chief Diversity Officer, Deloitte (Toronto) to talk about why diversity is important and what organizations can do to successfully integrate skilled, internationally-trained workers and fuel economic growth. Interview host: Justin Treagus, CEO, OMEGA (Auckland, New Zealand)

Deloitte is a global leader in accountancy and audit and the second largest professional services network in the world. Deloitte Canada was selected as one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers for 2011.

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Tips from our presenter:

1. Leadership buy-in
There needs to be a large movement to get employers to start changing. Major employers have a responsibility to that. Start with the board and senior levels of management: start with the CEO! Deloitte went through an intensive education program with top 50 leaders in the company so they could be comfortable on the issues. It is important to develop a business rationale and to get to leaders’ heads, not just their hearts. Have the facts and statistics to show how diversity is good for the business.

2. Create employee resource groups
Liked-minded employees can create formal mentorships within the company or create informal networks to pass on unwritten knowledge. Helping employees understand newcomer experiences can be cost-affective by using existing employees as cultural resources. Deloitte has piloted a buddy system to help new immigrants integrate within the company by assigning “buddies” to help them through their first year.

3. Share lessons learned
There may be resistance to change, but be persistent. Keep communicating and educating leaders and employees about the value of diversity of workforce. Deloitte hosts round tables once a quarter to share new information, research, and experiences in this field, and also works with organizations like Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) to learn about the barriers that immigrants face and what employers can do to overcome them.


Jane Allen
Partner and Chief Diversity Officer, Deloitte, Toronto

Jane has a long history of tackling diversity issues. While at Ontario’s Ministry of Energy, she was seconded to the Ontario Women’s Directorate, a group established by the premier to focus on women’s issues. In 1992, as Assistant Dean for Executive Education at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Management, she co-founded of the Canadian Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Jane joined Deloitte’s Consulting practice in 1996, became a partner in 2001 and national leader for the firm’s Power & utilities sector in 2004. She was named Deloitte’s Chief Diversity Officer, the first role of its kind in Canada, in 2008.

Justin Treagus
CEO, Opportunities for Migrant Employment In Greater Auckland (OMEGA), Auckland

Justin brings a range of experience in Leadership, Learning, Organisational Development and Change Management to OMEGA. He has led HR projects in six countries across Europe and Africa and understands the value in managing and leveraging diversity. As a member of a global Learning and Development leadership team at PriceWaterhouseCoopers, he developed and delivered induction and leadership development programmes aimed at maximising the benefits of diversity. He joined OMEGA as its Programme Director in January 2008, and has been responsible for its strategic direction, as well as developing the programme from inception to an independent organisation. In November 2009, OMEGA became an independent, not-for-profit organisation, and he was appointed CEO. He has been living in Auckland for the past 5 years and holds a BCom Honours from the University of Cape Town.

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