July 31, 2013 — Frequently, I encounter individuals who are concerned that their company needs to increase internal diversity efforts before they could qualify to join as a Catalyst member organization. Many perceive Catalyst as a final destination or a “stamp of approval” signifying that their organization has achieved success in the area of diversity and inclusion, rather than a strategic partner helping companies to navigate complex talent-management challenges.
Perhaps this is because here in western Canada, our economy is driven by the oil and gas, mining, construction, and forestry industries, in which men continue to make up the vast majority of the workforce. So it’s not uncommon to encounter even very large companies at which only 10-15 percent of employees across the entire organization, including those in administrative roles, are women.
In a province where female leaders recall being excluded from high-profile professional associations (or, best-case scenario, “snuck in through the back door”), and where local strip joints are a common scene for important business lunches in downtown Calgary, it’s safe to assume that many organizations are in the early stages of their diversity and inclusion journeys. Aspiring to join the ranks of our Catalyst Award-winning initiatives or Catalyst Canada Honourees may seem like an insurmountable peak here in the Rockies of the (Canadian) Wild West. But everyone has to start somewhere!
While it’s true that many of our member organizations have made great strides, I frequently meet women and men from existing Catalyst member organizations who value Catalyst resources and appreciate our support to help guide them through the next step of their diversity journeys.
In western Canada, many are concerned that their company hasn’t even left the gate. And that’s okay. What’s important is a willingness to take a long, hard look at the corporate landscape and chart your company’s next move. Smart leaders won’t leave any talent pools untapped.