More Than Just Words – Diversity Equity and Inclusion

Town Hall Insights
Toronto CHRO Community

Donnebra McClendon

Global Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion



Mohammed Chahdi

Head of HR Operations - Americas

Dell Technologies


Rachael MacLean

SVP, Human Resources Leader



Leanne Joffre

Human Resources Director Canada, Strategy Lead EMEA, Canada LATAM



Rashid Wasti

EVP & Chief Talent Officer

Weston Group of Companies

MAY 2022

For years, Human Resources executives have been implementing diversity, equity and inclusion into their organizations, but many are struggling to crack the code on how to incorporate it in a way that provides value for both the business and employees. DEI isn’t just a box to check off by providing a program or training module, it needs to be ingrained in every part of the business for company culture to be impacted and benefits to be observed.

According to Evanta’s annual Leadership Perspective Survey, CHROs are continuing to recognize diversity, equity and inclusion as a top priority, and CHROs in the Toronto Community came together to discuss this topic more in depth. Donnebra McClendon, Global Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Ceridian kicked off the discussion with some key insights on the significance of improving culture as part of an employer’s brand. 

DEI to Improve Retention Strategies

Donnebra shared that the Great Resignation is far from over, and according to Ceridian’s Pulse of Talent Report, 61% of employees are a flight risk — 38% are open to the “right opportunity” and 23% are actively seeking employment. Employee experience is driving this with a third of respondents saying they have a lack of shared values with their employer and a third believing there is poor company culture. Additionally, over 30% of respondents said they do not know if their company has a plan for DEI. 

Employees want to feel a sense of belonging with their company, and Donnebra indicated that a way to do this is by focusing on the employee brand. She shared that 30% of new employees left their job within the first 90 days last year, which reveals that there is misalignment between the employer and candidates’ expectations. She said that no company will ever be perfect at DEI, but employers need to better understand how they are perceived to prevent this kind of misalignment in the future. 

Key Takeaways from the Discussion

Human Resources executives gathered in small groups to discuss their current challenges in this area and actionable ways to seek improvement. Here are some of the key takeaways:

  1. DEI must be in the company’s DNA.
    One CHRO discussed how executives are prioritizing DEI in their company’s agendas to ensure it is systemically ingrained across their organizations. Some are renaming DEI to better fit their needs, for example “Inclusion and Diversity” to put a focus on inclusion. Some companies have enacted “workforce equity” teams to ensure DEI is not being contradicted by systemic groups. 
  2. Accountability needs to be a part of the DEI conversation.
    Accountability is a major component to this, as well. Another HR leader shared that executives and senior leaders need to tie DEI into initiatives at their level. In addition, many of the CHROs were in agreement that they have a technology and data gap preventing them from properly tracking progress. DEI is not just an HR issue, and the rest of the organization, at all levels, needs to be held accountable.
  3. Be transparent about your DEI journey.
    Donnebra’s group highlighted the importance of transparency on the DEI journey and that the entire company should know where they are and where they aspire to be. DEI takes time to embed within an organization, and training, surveys and accountability are keys to this.
    Furthermore, one CHRO expressed that it’s important to leverage resource groups and different types of media to share information about DEI initiatives, “It shouldn’t always be an email.” She said teams need to think creatively about interesting ways to spread the word without it feeling pushy.

Continuing the Conversation

Diversity, equity and inclusion is a top priority for Evanta’s CHRO community, and it will be featured heavily on our agendas throughout the year. Find your local community to connect with likeminded C-level peers on the most critical issues impacting CHROs today.


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