Tom: Good afternoon and welcome, everyone. I'm Tom Timmins. I'm a partner at Gowling WLG and Chair of Gowling WLG's energy sector team. I'm absolutely delighted to welcome everyone back to our final Energy Innovator Roundtable session for 2020 and our first roundtable focused exclusively on the topic of diversity and inclusion in our sector. A topic of critical importance to our society, both in terms of the direct impact which decisions made surrounding diversity and inclusion have on individuals, and more broadly, because the choices that are made to welcome talent from broader more diverse groups actually improve the quality and the creative capacity of corporate management in the energy sector itself. Something which is vitally important in our sector as we turn to face the specter of a world wide pandemic and climate change. As most of you know our Energy Innovator's Roundtable was formally and intimate, live in-person event held at our Toronto office. Those days are gone. The current session is being recorded and will be made available at a later stage on our website.
That being said, on this topic perhaps more than any other, we welcome and invite audience questions, comments and participation. You can post questions using the icon at the bottom of your screen, to answer those questions and to respond on those comments, we've gathered a great panel of experts with experience across Canada's energy sector. Without further ado I'm pleased, and absolutely delighted in fact, my partner and friend Neena Gupta. Neena is an employment partner in our Waterloo office and national Head of Gowling WLG's diversity and inclusion working group. Neena, I'll past it over to you. Thank you.
Neena: Thank you, Tom. It's a real pleasure for me to be invited to this seminar on driving diversity and inclusion in the power sector. I was particularly interested in this session because I vividly remember a conversation that a very bright friend of my son had, where she was thinking of career options, and absolutely excluded options like engineering, science and the power sector, although I could see that she would be excellent in those areas because of her natural curiosity. So it's a very personal to me to make sure that we drive inclusion in the power sector. I am joined by four amazing women who actually are doing just that. Driving diversity and inclusion in the power sector. They are Emily Thorn Corthay, co-Founder and Chair of the board of directors of StepUp, which is a breakthrough in Canadian energy management performance by putting gender equality at the heart of Canada's transition to a low carbon economy and I look forward, welcome, Emily. Now Emily is somebody who is really into planning. At the age of 6 she was convinced that she would have a daughter by the name of Amy. She now does have a daughter named Amy who is now 6 years old. So talk about long range planning.
I'm also pleased to welcome Farah Alexis, who is Vice-President Talent Acquisition at Hydro One. She has eliminated a 2 hour commute during COVID-19, 2 hours each way, so 4 hour commute per day and shares, unfortunately, my weakness on TV for escapist legal drama and murder mysteries. So, I have connected with Farah, not just on the issue of diversity and inclusion, but our joint weakness for escapist TV. Annette Hollas, Manager International Engagement as well Equal by 30 and Manager at National Resources Canada and Chair of the International Clean Energy Education and Empowerment (C3E) initiative. Now Annette is a great storyteller. If you meet her in person you're going to have to ask her about when she was detained at the South African Namibian border and how she managed to escape detention and get on her way in an era where Smartphones and contact with Embassies were far more difficult. Also, Anya Klimbovskaia, is co-Founder and COO Diversio who is actually bringing AI, machine learning data analytics to support organizations who want to become more inclusive. You can learn more about her journey at diversio.com. Anna was born in the Soviet Union 8 months before it fell apart but she, of course, does not take responsibility for the breakup of the Soviet Union. Her family immigrated to Canada when she is just 7 years old. So, I will let these four women describe the powerful strives that are being made in the energy sector. The journey that is yet to be undertaken and why inclusion and diversity is so important.
We do have a number of questions that we want to cover but I really, strongly urge all of you to use the Q&A button to make contributions, suggestions for resources and ask questions. I can't promise we'll get to all of your questions but we will note it. This is an opportunity for all of us to share in the joint journey towards diversity and inclusion. I thought before we got too detailed on the journey I'd ask Annette Hollas about where are we right now. What is the situation in terms of diversity and inclusion in the energy sector. Annette, did you want to take that on?
Annette: Absolutely. Thanks so much, Neena, for the enlightening introduction. I'm sure I've gotten people very curious and look forward to talking to people offline about my previous adventures. I lead a much more boring life these days. But I'd be pleased to take this question and to talk a little bit about, give it a bit of an overview, of the status of women's representation in this sector as we know it. I think it wouldn't be a surprise to anyone that's listening in, any of my fellow panelists, of course underrepresentation is a real issue in this sector. We know that globally women make up nearly a third, or approximately 32%, of the global renewable energy workforce. But within the industry more women work in administrative jobs. So that's approximately 45 to 50% than in STEM related roles, hitting closer to 28%. We get into lower numbers when we look at the traditional energy sector. So women represent approximately 22% of that work force and that translates over very similarly to Canada.
We are seeing a bit of a better story within the power and utilities sector. There are more women leaders but there's still a long road there. We did see an increase in the representation of women on boards in the past 5 years, for example, within the power and utilities sector. A fairly large jump from 2% in 2014 to 17% in 2019. North America, we're sitting around 22%, but as I say we still have a ways to go. When we look at numbers that are coming out of Statistics Canada on racialized women, indigenous populations in the energy sector, that workforce, that is a much, much smaller number. So we see racialized women are sitting at about 4.2% of the labour force in utilities and 2.8% of the labour force, they group mining and actually oil and gas, together in there. So those numbers are very low and I think we're going to be getting into that a little bit more as we go.
There are a minority of women in senior leadership positions and that's a real issue in terms of what we know publicly, those that are listed on the TSX listing, just 26% of board of directors and 19% of executive officers, compared to other industries. So we are seeing some comparability to other industries but in some case not knowing do as well. I'll just close off with the subsectors tend to do it a bit differently but one that really struck me, more recently, were some numbers around women in trades and Stats Can is reporting that although there was increase, it was from 3.7% to 3.9% in just one decade, from 2009 to 2019. That's pretty stark and we need to do a lot better there. So those are the numbers. Purely the numbers that tells just part of the story and we don't have all of the numbers and we're trying to do better there. I think that starts to get it a bit of a why. Why are we still talking about this? Maybe I'll end off there because I think we're going to really dig in deep into some of the issues and why we need to be paying attention to diversity and inclusion in this sector.
Neena: Thank you very much, Annette, and I have to tell you that if I was depressed about the situation of women in management in the legal industry I think you got me even more depressed when I think about the women in management in the energy sector. It just means we've got to keep working at it. I wanted to start with sort of a level setting question and I'm going to invite all of you to participate. We hear a lot from, I would say a moral or a values proposition, that diversity and inclusion is important but I want to drill down in the energy sector. Is there something unique or significant in our sector as to why diversity and inclusion is important? Emily, I'm wondering if you would like to lead us off on this.
Emily: Sure, yes, definitely and, Neena, if you want to just perhaps pop over that slide. StepUp was actually founded, as Neena mentioned, we're a start up organization. We just started last year with the idea that improved women's representation at the senior and executive and board level would improve energy management performance. But we didn't have hard data and so it's extremely exciting this year, Foreign Policy Analytics, we actually held an event with them, they did an very important report. We urge you all to go check it out, 'Women as Levers of Change', and I think that will be in the package for you at the end. This slide comes from that Foreign Policy Analytics report and it actually demonstrates how increased women's involvement at the board level actually translates to improve energy performance.
So specifically you can see here in terms of energy intensity of companies, and by the way, this is a report that was focused uniquely on legacy industries, of which the power sector was included as well as what they categorized as energy which they basically was mainly oil and gas. There were a few other legacy industries as well, mining, etcetera, but power sector is in here. The energy intensity, basically from 2013 to 2018, so over a 5 year period had a 60% improvement for those that had improved gender diversity on board. So this is linking sort of an almost intersectionality of gender and energy and environmental performance. So that's a huge improvement.
Similarly, if you look in terms of greenhouse gas emission intensity performance, there was a 39% improvement over the 5 years when you had an increased gender diversity on boards and also water intensity. It's not so much a problem here, in terms of Canada with our plethora of water, but if you look at other places like Chile and Australia, water is hugely important and water intensity, so that is again the amount of water per tonne of production or whatever they're measuring, per kilowatt hour of electricity produced, this had a 46% improvement, again with gender diversity. I think this is somewhat new information.
Again, it's very relevant to our sector. We've seen in the past improved gender and, more broadly, diversity and inclusion in general leads to of course more profitability. There are many studies about that. There's also more in terms of creativity. This particular report also showed with ESG, so environmental social and governance transparency. There was a 32% improvement in terms of ESG information disclosure with improved gender diversity on boards. 47% more profitable and finally, from a CSR, corporate social responsibility, perspective their rating of social responsibility performance was 74% higher. So huge improvement. So I think that kind of sets the stage.
Neena: Well, thank you very much. Emily, with your permission, when we send out the slides I think we're going to add that report so people have the ability to read the whole report, which I read yesterday, and it was very interesting. It was also written in plain language which for a non-engineer was very much appreciated. I know, Anya, that statistics and data analytics is your passion, it's your industry, in fact. I'm wondering if you have something specific to the energy sector as to why we want to make the argument for D&A from a numbers perspective. What would you say to that?
Anya: Yeah, definitely. I think it's interesting because the business case is something that is talked about often but it's difficult to sort of attribute causality, as opposed to correlation, and the numbers become easy, quote/unquote, to dismiss or to kind of argue a way or what have you, and that's why I think that the work that Emily's doing, for instance, is so important and just data generally. So something out of our research, and actually a national Canadian study that we conducted a few years ago found is, that for every 1% increase in gender diversity there is an actually an associated 8.9% increase in revenue and when it comes to cultural diversity, the ethnic cultural diversity, for 1% increase there is a 3% increase in revenue. So this is something that we're finding very meaningfully is impacting organizations' bottom line. Of course this is specific to energy sector. I think that now what's very interesting, and these numbers are more broad but I find equally as compelling, is that the public is really able to start impacting organizations' bottom lines through their sentiment and through their opinions about companies and how they're performing on diversity and inclusion.
So what I mean by that is that we're finding, for instance, actually we didn't conduct this study so the study was conducted last year across organizations in North America, more broadly, and folks found that for every company that had a diversity and inclusion related scandal there was an associated 7% drop in market cap. So what that means is that now for the first time ever the public is holding organizations accountable and it's no longer enough to just sit on a panel, no kind of weird pun intended, and talk about the fact that diversity and inclusion is important. People want to know what are you doing about it. What are you receipts? What does your board look like? What does your executive leadership team look like? What are your employees feeling? Because at the end of the day that is what diversity and inclusion means. It's not your theoretical commitment. It's your performance. That's what we're seeing organizations really, really take seriously because this can impact not only their upside but it can now impact their downside.
Neena: So, Anya, remind me afterwards to sort of include a link or a footnote to that study because I'd really, really love to read the one about, not just the upside, but the downside of not doing it right because I haven't read as much about that. So that's excellent. Farah, you're at Hydro One. You heard Anya talk about the importance of D&I and the consumer and the market holding companies accountable, what's specific to the energy sector? What's specific to Hydro One that makes D&I so important?
Farah: Thank you, Neena, and it's disheartening but it's also important that we understand the current state and the importance of the business side, the business importance of D&I. But I also look at it, mostly from my role at Hydro One on the talent management side, we need to attract talent but we also need to retain them. So from that employee perspective we see employees, joining our industry and our sector, who are more mobile that we might have been before. They are also looking for roles and thinking about do I stay here? Is this company aligned to my values and is the purpose aligned to what I think is important? So I think it as a company, as an employer, we've really taken that seriously and recognized that there is competition for talent. We want to retain those great people. We have different leaders now. We have to do this differently. We don't have, at least at Hydro One, we don't have the defined benefit plans for all of our employees. We're doing pay for performance. We are competing with those outside of the industry for certain roles like on the strategy, on the innovation side, customer experience, customer service.
We need to focus more on what are our employees experiencing at work. We expect from them productivity and results but in return we have to also do our part to create that environment that is respectful, recognizes diversity and also reinforces those behaviours. I'll just make another comment there in that I think we're doing a good job, foundationally, but we're still hearing things that are not okay. If we are hearing from our employees that they don't feel like they can be themselves at work, and fully bring themselves to work, or they have hesitation to bring up concerns, that's a major issue and we need to deal with that and understand what's going on and take some action. So I don't think some of that's necessarily unique to our sector but at the same time I think we've been a bit more traditional and have some catching up to do.
Neena: I know that some of the statistics are about gender equality but certainly there have been a number of equity seeking groups that have expressed concerns about their under-representation. We certainly saw the Black Lives Matter movement gain a lot of traction, both in the United States and in Canada, and you have the LGBTQ community. You also have people of colour, people with disabilities. Just wondering, in our sector, how does diversity and inclusion play out for those other equity seeking groups, not just women? I'm wondering, Anya, have you done some of that data analytics where you look at different equity seeking groups in our energy sector?
Anya: Yeah, that's a great question, and absolutely this is something that is absolutely critical and fundamental to how we approach measuring diversity and inclusion across all sectors and organizations, not just in energy. Our corps metrics that we use to measure diversity are, of course, gender, race and ethnicity, indigenous identity is extremely important, specifically in energy, disability, mental health, sexual identity, sexual orientation and I think what we are finding on a consistent basis is that while all of these kind of ethnicity groups, or under-represented groups, have challenges or experienced challenges when it comes to inclusion, the nature of the challenges are very different. As a result the interventions that you need to implement are going to be quite different. So for example, if we're finding, especially during COVID, that women, for instance by virtue of defaulting to becoming the primary caregivers in their homes, need maybe some additional flexibility. Persons of colour or folks with a disability might be finding other challenges and other struggles when it comes to, for example, feeling valued by their teams. Or feeling that connectivity tie is no longer necessarily there with this kind of virtual environment. That's not to say that one is more important than the other but the importance of data when it comes to understanding the unique barrier space by different groups of individuals.
The other thing I would say as well is that intersectionality is so critical when you're approaching diversity in the intersectional lens. Because a lot of what we're finding is compounding factors that really lead to insurmountable barriers facing certain groups of people, unless the employer gets in there, and is really mindful about the sorts of programs and policies and interventions that they're introducing. Especially, and again, during COVID one of things that we're finding becoming one of the biggest or most critical barriers is mental health. So if you're already in an under-represented group, or in a marginalized group, that component of mental health and struggling with the isolation and the kind of additional burdens coming from your personal commitments or what have you, are really, really, exacerbating the challenges. So it's critical to bring that lens in as well.
Neena: I was attending a mental health symposium a few days ago and they say at any year 1 in 5 Canadians will experience a mental health issue, and the speaker said he thinks it's probably closer 4 in 5 or 5 in 5, because this has just been so difficult. There's no human that hasn't felt the additional burden and stress and, of course, depending on where you are you may have better resources to deal with it. But just really encouraging employers to focus on increasing benefits for mental health, destigmatizing it, having open conversations. I suspect that that is good advice for any industry including the energy sector. I want to give a shout out to the Canadian Mental Health Association that's been doing a lot of work in trying to figure out ways of delivering mental health resources, online, for all Canadians because it's not easy to do. Just in terms of, if I could just use the term intersectionality, and I'm just wondering if you wanted to do a level set and just define that a little bit for me, Anya, and then I think want to move on to sort of maybe one of those great intersections. Go on.
Anya: Yeah, definitely. Intersectionality generally refers to an individual or an identity where multiple dimensions of the identity belong to a traditionally marginalized or under-represented group. So for example, a black woman would be someone who is a woman and faces barriers that are typically faced by women, as well as faces barriers faced by the black community or black employees. A lot of the time those compound on each other to really create almost a whole new systemic issue in areas of systemic barriers that are a combination of the challenges faced by the two groups. Neena, I think you're on mute.
Neena: Yes I am. I've been pretty good about this actually. Anya just mentioned the black community and next to COVID-19 I think Black Lives Matter is probably one of the big news stories of this year. 2020 certainly will be a memorable year for many reasons. I'm just wondering, and maybe I'll turn this over to Farah, because you're on the hiring side, but what is sort of Hydro One's specific response to Black Lives Matter and then perhaps, if you had the power to get all of the people on this call together to do something, what would be your recommendation that we could do in response to Black Lives Matter?
Farah: It's a windy question, Neena, and I'll do my best. I absolutely will have to say I'm not an expert in what the solution is here because I really think it's complex. But I can absolutely share with you what we've done at Hydro One and I am proud of what we have done. It's probably one of the, well just to go back a little, it's not just a 2020 issue. It's not just something that's been in the news on a short term basis. This is something racism and in particular anti-black racism has been, unfortunately, around for a very long time. It's also not just in the United States. So I think it's right here in Canada, right here in the GTA, where we even have diversity in terms of individuals. But it happens, it's real. Specifically though, definitely, we have a corporate responsibility, a personal responsibility, social responsibility and at Hydro One what we started to do, very quickly, was listen. We asked our black employees to tell us what are they feeling. Are they okay? What can we do differently? And that's really the first step because we're just trying to understand better what are those experiences. Experiences outside of work but also their ... experiences at work. We think we're a progressive employer. We have good intentions. But what is very clear that you have areas, or have had experiences, where individuals have not felt safe or comfortable and that is very concerning and eye-opening for some.
Our CEO, Mark Poweska, and our Chief HR Officer, met with our black employees in several different meetings, really trying to understand the experiences, and when I say trying I think it is. Even with those who recognize this is an issue and it's serious, I think there was still some surprise as to how great this is in terms of every interaction there can be those moments of people being unsure as to how are they going to be treated. Are they going to be unfairly, unlawfully treated? So there was some stories that I think honestly made some of our leaders cry. That is important because we need to have tough conversations and we need to have conversations that we've never had before and this is just the beginning of what we've been doing. But at the same time, as I mentioned, we've committed to some things. We absolutely need to look at a full systemic review of all of our talent processes. I take that seriously.
My role, I have talent acquisition development succession, all those things that have major impacts on people's lives on who bring into a talent pipeline. We've made some partnerships too. I think that's the part around who are those experts out there? Our CEO has signed the commitment of a pledge with the Black North initiative and taking that very seriously. It wasn't a tough decision to make but the tough part is to actually then make the changes so that we are really looking at what are those gaps? What are the measures? How do we build that pipeline of talent and really have an inclusive leadership team. Then I'll just, it's not necessarily based on my role but I'll bring up, it's all really personal to me. I mean, for me personally, this has been one of those intersections of my life where my work really is aligned to what I believe in and what I personally have felt we need to do more about. I am a person of colour, I'm not black, my husband is and so my son will identify as I don't know, bi-racial, but he'll probably be looked at as black. So I really think, seriously, every day I think about what can we do so that, not just my son, but others are not treated unfairly just based on the colour of their skin and really illegitimate perceptions.
Neena: Well, thank you. I have to give a shout out to Hydro One for establishing a number of scholarships for women in engineering and people of colour and indigenous students. That is certainly something that, personally, I think more organizations should be doing to encourage students in under-represented areas, of which the STEM and energy sector is definitely one, so you can take some pride in those scholarships. I know some students who were looking at them and applying for them.
Neena: Yeah! Excellent! Okay. Farah just talked about trying to be part of the solution and partnering with the subject matter experts. I have a number of engineers and number crunchers. What's the role of data? Like how do we use data in support of the D&I project? I think I'm going to start with Anya again because I think this is truly what Diversio is really about and what your business is about. So I'll start with you and then I think I'm going to get everyone chiming in on the issue of data.
Anya: Yeah, happy to speak to this and I think maybe afterwards I'll touch on the really exciting data project, in energy specifically, and then maybe afterwards pass it to Annette who's really leading the charge on this one and to really incredible kind of impact and great results down the line. Data is very, very critical. Maybe some background on how we started the company will help. Before Diversio I was a director with an office and the CEO at RBC, and as many of you might know the bank is very committed to diversity and inclusion, and I was leading a lot of top leadership on the future of work more broadly, diversity and inclusion specifically, and by the nature of this work we were doing a lot of consultations with executives of large organizations, kind of Fortune 500. Interestingly, so my partner, Laura, she was also leading some lawyer work at McKinsey. She was advising Fortune 500's on diversity and inclusion strategy. We were having conversations with executives, kind of in parallel, and the theme that came up over and over again is that CEO's get it. CEO's have bought in but they don't really necessarily know how to get there. It feels like a difficult or even solvable challenge. You talk to an executive and they say, "Listen. We do unconscious bias training once a year. We celebrate Pride month. We go on a retreat. My team looks exactly the same as it did 20 years ago so I don't know what I'm doing." The crux of the problem that we realized is that the approach for diversity and inclusion has been relatively nebulous. So it's almost been this let's kind of ad hocs, spot treatment here and there, we're building this culture but it hasn't been systemic, data driven, metrics based and the challenge if you're not metrics based, or data driven, is that it's nearly impossible to remain accountable and measure progress. So what we ended up doing is really quantifying, not only diversity, but inclusion. We ended up developing a system of algorithms that looks at the experiences of your employees within the organization and it looks for differences.
For example, if your men are feeling very welcomed by their teams, their opinions are valued, they're like a 9 out of 10 on culture but your women are a 4 out of 10, it's that delta that tells you that there's a systemic barrier being faced by women that's just not being faced by others in the company. That, when you're able to quantify that, is what you're able to set goals around and start moving the needle. That's what we've been doing with companies is conducting very robust assessments, identifying those scores, prioritizing the ones that they want to move the needle on first and then reporting out by assessing at a regular cadence. So say every 6 months or every 12 months. That's how some of the companies that we work with, like Honda or Modern Niagara or ViacomCBS are able to start holding themselves accountable, not just for diversity but for inclusion. Because at the end of the day, you can get those people through the door and get your diversity numbers up, but if they're not empowered to do their best or if you're not just going to, it's pointless. It really is meaningless. That's kind of how we're approaching it and I think the magic, hopefully that we will see, is by bringing this approach to the energy sector and I'll pass it off Annette in a second to talk about Equal by 30, but what we're really excited about is being this technology provider for Equal by 30 which is this global initiative of energy companies coming together and saying, "We are going to set a benchmark. We are going to understand, very granularly, what our numbers and what are scores are and we're going to set targets around that to achieve meaningful progress. Annette, maybe I'll pass it over to you to talk about exactly what the initiative is.
Neena: Alright, Annette, that's your cue.
Annette: Absolutely. I'm ready. Thank you so much. So as Anya was saying, Equal by 30 is a global campaign that brings both government and private sector together, actually, to combat gender equality, to advance gender equality in this sector by 2030. We have a few key principals that we're working around. Looking to increase equal pay, equal leadership and equal opportunities in this sector because those are the major pain points that we've been seeing that we need to really make some progress around. When we started this initiative it was very much about a gap, globally, that we saw a need to take concrete action and there was a lot of interest and momentum around that. It was a bit of a grass roots type of approach to this initiative but as we went along the way we very much came to the conclusion that, as Anya said, we need to be tracking progress. We need to be reporting and collecting data because, while we do have some numbers and some good understanding of under-representation in this sector, there's a lack of a lot of granular data to help us really understand what those specific pain points are. We're not the only ones that have recognized that. I say there was a gap globally but I'll give a shout out to, I know there's some people listening, Canadian organizations that are on this call that have really paved the way, and that we learned a lot from and who were looking at reporting from the get go, Electricity Human Resources Canada's on here.
I believe Michelle Branigan, the CEO, and her team are listening and are real leaders in this space and that we've learned from and partnered with quite a bit. They had been looking at reporting and tracking progress from the get go in relation to their initiative. It's really important to understand where we're at it in this sector, so that we can move forward and come up with tactical solutions that work, and also to understand what doesn't work. We're at the beginning of that journey, in terms of Equal by 30, trying to get a good picture and convince those that have signed on to the initiative to come along with us and collect data. But I'd say it's really critical. We can't make decisions about diversity and inclusion without a good understanding of what's happening in this sector.
Neena: Ambitious, certainly, Annette. Emily, I know that you're also another data driven person so I'm wondering if you could comment on the role of data in furthering D&I, especially in this sector where I think STEM people and engineers are much you show me the numbers, right? That's kind of the philosophy there.
Emily: Yes, exactly. Perhaps we can get a bit of a different perspective although, of course absolutely 100% agree data is really key and necessary absolutely for a baseline, but I would say one of the things in energy management we talk about a technique called measurement and verification. There's actually an international protocol related to measurement and verification. Myself, I'm a certified measurement and verification professional and StepUp, we are actually aiming to apply the measurement and verification principles to the impact of StepUp on equity, diversity and inclusion in the Canadian energy management sector. So we don't have all the answers yet but we are in discussions and have ideas of how to take that sort of very technical approach and apply it into a more soft skill kind of area about how many people have we influenced getting to the board level. So that's one aspect of data that we're trying to, again, incorporate.
The other thing that we're doing at StepUp actually is, our current and new sponsors, we will be asking them to provide data on their equity, diversity, inclusion in terms of the numbers at their board levels, etcetera. As well as energy and environment performance because StepUp has those two aspects, both through the energy management environmental and the diversity, inclusion piece, that intersectionality, I guess. It's key because we think that our sponsors need to have sort of similar values to be aligned with StepUp and we want to ensure that's the case. So we're going to be using data to ensure that that's the case going forward. Again, StepUp is a start-up company so we're getting a lot of these initiatives just kind of going.
The last point I would make is one of the weaknesses with I think a lot of the data is just looking at the current performance but it doesn't show the future potential. So similar to sales, where if you're just looking at your current or past sales but you're not looking at the pipeline, then that data is not going to give you an accurate trajectory. Are you on the path to go down in terms of your impact or are you shooting through the roof and you just haven't got there yet? Maybe offline, but I would love to hear Anya and others, about how to take that future potential into account versus just the current status. I think that's a weakness of a lot of companies that are currently measuring their D&I. So, just a few points. Thank you. I think you're on mute, Neena.
Neena: I'm loving to listen to everybody and I put myself on mute. Farah, wondering how data is used at Hydro One. Or maybe it isn't used. But in terms of informing D&I strategies what kind of data do you have or do you use?
Farah: So we do have data and it is one of those things that I think even with just that starting point I think we recognized that we need some more robust data to really understand who are talent is and what we're dealing with, however, we have a basis at point of hire we ask those questions and also there's a census that goes out there. Of course it's self-identification. We have about 70% who do self-identify but I still think that's a big chunk of talent and people out there we're not really familiar with. Who do they identify with? But it's important at the point of hire but we also then use it specifically when we're looking at who are those candidates who are applying to our roles, and then those who are successful, and is there a concern there in terms of a gap? We also look at it when we do talent reviews.
For example, on a regular basis my team works with our executive team and all our leaders in the organization, around identifying talent, looking at that pipeline. We provide them with an initial snapshot as to what is the representation of gender and people of colour for their group. But then we also then compare it to the leadership teams that they have. So, to put a spotlight on are there gaps here? We do some comparisons as well. We get a lot of great information from our partners, externally, like some of the folks on the call. I know, Annette, you mentioned the HRC. They have a great labour market information set of data that we use regularly and compare to the industry. I think what we recognize is as an industry we're lagging. So that's not really the standard that we should be setting for us. So we have it as a point of reference that we want to do better. I'll finally mention we look at the leadership pipeline and in particular our executive team. In their scorecards, and perhaps we'll talk about targets and things like that later, but we do make it important. If it's measured, it's on their scorecard, and there's something in there specifically on have more diverse executive team and successors as well.
One more thing I'll mention, if that wasn't the last one as I was thinking at a point even of those performance ratings, we want to take a look at our women and people of colour not getting the same type of distribution as males and others in our organization and we call those out. So there's so many different conversations that we have to have but having the data is really critical to having a robust conversation and calling things out so we can actually make some change.
Neena: Thank you. So now I think I want where the rubber hits the road. Which is if you were to sort of advise people about what is the most successful technique to increase D&I in your organization, what would that tip or success plan look like? I think I'm going to start with Anya because I'm going to assume from hypothetical that you've got some data, but of course you've got only point in time data, and you're being asked by that CEO who's perhaps bought in, "I need to increase D&I. How do I go about it? The multi-cultural potluck, while it's lovely, isn't doing anything to change the demographics." So, go for it. Anya, what's your advice?
Annette: I think the first step would be to differentiate between increasing really your kind of diversity goals in increasing diversity and increasing inclusion in the organization. I think on the inclusion front of things we're seeing that very specific interventions, or different interventions, increase inclusion in different ways. So for example, sticking to this flexible work theme that I mentioned. For instance even something as simple as instituting core hours which is a sort of a policy where your employees are still expected to work their regular work days, so let's say 8 hours a day, but they can choose how to allocate certain section of those hours around a set of core hours. So they're expected to be, quote/unquote, online from 11:00am until 3:00pm. And then the rest they can allocate depending on how they see fit. What this allows is for greater inclusion and flexibility for parents, for example, all genders or for people who are maybe facing those mental health challenges that we talked about before, who are scheduling certain appointments or maybe feeling more productive at certain times of the day. So the idea there is offering that flexibility that doesn't compromise productivity but makes certain groups and individuals, empowers them to be more included and to do their best work.
I think on the diversity end of things we're seeing multiple programs or approaches have an impact. So, some stats are interesting, interesting facts if you will, is even something as simple as the 40% rule. What the rule states is that at the very beginning of an interview process ensuring that 40% of your candidates are, at least 40% of your candidates, are women and 30% of your candidates or 20 or your goal, is people of racial or ethnic minorities or people of colour. What this does is, is just widens the pool and you kind of let, quote/unquote, let the chips fall as they may and let folks go through the interview process as normal and let the hiring decision be made as normal. We're actually seeing that this is very equitable. It is still very, very fair. Still the right person gets the job but ultimately what ends up happening is there is quite a huge impact on diversity.
So as an example, one of our clients, OLG, they implemented this role in their technology department and they saw the number of women at the director level go up from 14% to 40% in just 12 months, which was huge and a huge issue to impact, and they were specifically focused on gender in this department because technology is notoriously not particularly gender diverse. But for other departments you're looking at representation of people of colour, for example, or other types of diversity. So these are the things that we're seeing have a strong and powerful impact. I think the thing I'll leave off on is that there's not one size fits all solution. You can't just like slap on a bandaid. We have this program and this policy, we're good to go.
Organizations are unique and as a result the solutions that will work for them will be unique and the programs and policies will be unique. What works at RBC is going to be different than what works at Hydro or what works Shopify because you're different companies. Your pulse is different That's kind of why we are actually building out a whole AI system around making recommendations because it's quite complicated and nuanced. So I think it's always, while you can give suggestions, I always encourage companies to be very mindful as well and test and learn and not get discouraged. Because, like I said, what works for one of your peers might not necessarily be the right fit for you. But you can still get there. There's always an answer.
Annette: You're on mute.
Neena: Yup. I know.
Annette: All good.
Neena: That's it. So okay. On the optimistic theme we're going to talk about what works. What would be your best tip in terms of increasing D&I in an organization? Being mindful of the fact that no one solution is going to work for every organization on this call or for any industry.
Annette: Thanks, Neena. I think Anya scratched the surface on some really important solutions and maybe I'll build out on what she was saying. Maybe kind of the enabling factors that help with success on D&I in organizations. I think definitely the point that no one size fits all solution is really important to consider. I think what we've seen on this journey, those of us in this game, is that it takes commitment from the very top. You need to have buy in, and that's not to say that leaders themselves need to have all of the solutions, but they have to be willing and good leaders, I think, they listen and the empower their employees and their workforce to work with them to come up with solutions and so that is going to be really critical. You need buy in from the top level and leadership that's willing to listen and to dive in and potentially make mistakes. That's really critical. I think you won't get there if you don't have that.
Neena: Emily, I know you've got a tough act to follow, but what would your best tip be in terms of implementing a successful D&I program? Moving the needle, as it were.
Emily: Yes, so I think building upon what Anya was saying in terms of there's diversity and then there's inclusion piece. On the diversity issue insisting on the balance. We actually had that at StepUp. We had to do a second round for our board to ensure and we are very happy now. We have both genders represented, LGBTQ representation, quite a diverse board. Then we had to actually, as I say, actually go back and do a second round to ensure that we got, because our first round was not diverse enough in terms of the slate. So don't hesitate. Go back. It extended our process. I had to apologize to the candidates that, "Hey, this is actually taking way longer than we expected.", but it was the right thing to do and I think we're really happy in the end with the results. People always talk about hiring but they don't talk about layoffs. But I think that that's a really important lens to have. The appropriate checks and balances in your company to ensure that it's not just one person who might have some personal bias against someone, for a variety of reasons, but to really have those checks and balances so that there's multiple people, and you're ensuring that in tough times, like COVID, it's been said that this has disproportionately affected women and I think other minority groups. So that's really important as well. Who gets to keep their job and who doesn't and to look at that. Those are often made really quickly in times of emergencies as well. All the more reason to be really thoughtful about how that's done. So that's on the kind of diversity piece.
On the inclusion piece, I don't think we've really talked about the social stigma for fathers, for new fathers taking paternity leave. It's really critical that fathers feel empowered and enabled to work part-time. For fathers to take paternity leave. I'm talking about more than just a week or two. I think a very much a minimum 1 month. I would encourage 3 months. To have the leaders of organizations, if they're new fathers lead by example, by taking at least a 3 months paternity leave. So that's part of the inclusion piece that I think is really critical because there's that automatic view that, oh, a woman's pregnant. She's going to be off for a year. Well, it doesn't have to be the case. Of course the first 3, 4 months are necessary, biologically, but after that definitely is important and I have personal experience with that with my husband taking a bunch and that really helped. Lastly, unconscious bias has been touched upon but 95% of our brain activity is beyond our conscious awareness and unconscious decisions, they happen milli seconds before conscious decisions. They're based on your life experiences so there's a direct link between unconscious thinking and your actions. We have an affinity bias, one among many, of people who are similar to us. I think that's important.
Neena: And, Farah, what would you say is the best thing Hydro One has done in terms of moving the D&I needle? I know there's a long journey. I'm not suggesting, none of us has gotten this right. None of us are perfect. But what's been successful?
Farah: Yeah, so I think it's really recognizing that, as I heard from Annette, Anya and Emily, it's not just from the top. We actually have to have that executive support. That's critical. It sets the tone and it provides an opportunity for others to get on board quickly. But what we've seen make a difference is really from all different levels of the organization. Those grass roots, those frontline employees who are volunteering and are creating employee resource groups. We have several right now. We have a women in trades technology, engineering, a mosaic for people of colour, the indigenous circle, we have a Pride group. There's many more. But those are employee run and organized, and really have created some momentum, and with that we have executive sponsors. So they're at the table but they're not running it. We've also taken advantage of really thinking about who are those champions in the middle of their organization and let them have some runway to make some change.
I'll give an example of something that I think it was more of let's just do something different. Try something different and let's see what happens, and it was initiated by one of our managers, who's a superintendent. We have a union/management partnership when it comes to apprentice hiring. Sometimes people think that that takes away some of our control but there's a good relationship and then an opportunity to influence. So we are on our elected apprentices last year. One of our superintendents who's on that team really wanted to take it apart and look at what are we doing here and let's do it differently. So where are we posting? What is the job description read? How does it read? Are there screening criteria that are automatically excluding females, in particular? Looking at the physical demands analysis that was attached to that role and thinking, "Is this really legitimate or are there things that people can, especially with changes in equipment and technology, that it may not be as physical as it might have been and there's some very strong women, anyway." But looking at all of that in a lot of detail, and also really recognizing that the profile of a candidate that you might have had in this role for X number of years, is not necessarily the profile that is ideal or what you need today. There is a lot of education and side conversations to get this team on board. But she really took the lead on it and in the end they ended up with this. Anya talked about how many people were at the table for engineers. Over half of them were women. Out of the 11 electrical apprentices hired 5 of them were female. So a real effort but it worked and it's something that we will definitely use as an opportunity to look at our other ... of ... and other types of hiring.
Neena: So, well, okay. We've talked about things we can do but I have to tell you, even in more personal life, I've seen resistance, skepticism, backlash, whatever you want to call it and I guess I would like to talk about is where do you see that resistance or backlash and how do you kind of overcome it? I'm happy to say that I see less of it now then I did maybe 20 years ago. But I do still see it. So maybe, Farah, I'll start with you and we'll go down with the panel to talk about how you overcome the resistance.
Farah: Sure. I think this can be uncomfortable for people. I mean it's change. Changes can be hard for some. Especially for those who might feel as though this is taking away something that they've had the luxury to benefit from. So I think some of it is an awareness piece. Absolutely, that unconscious bias and the other part is, what's in it for them. This is absolutely the right thing to do. I think what we've tried to do when we have met resistance, as I mentioned, we tried to really make change for people to then see that we're not all that different in certain ways. But at the same time, from a forever perspective, this is really helpful. When we don't have somebody who's just the only person of colour or the first in a certain role, it takes off the pressure on that person but also it really changes the dynamics of the team. That resistance is there. I think it's by just having more diversity that people become more comfortable with diversity and inclusion.
Neena: Alright. So a little bit of a chicken and egg problem though because you have to get to the diversity for people to do it and, quite frankly, it sometimes puts a lot of pressure on the people who are the firsts. Like for me I was often the first person of colour in a boardroom, more than 30 years ago, and so you always felt like you had to be absolutely perfect because if you made a mistake, you not only ruined it for your career you might ruin it for generations to come. I leave that aside because I'm no longer a first and the only and it feels great to have a more diverse legal profession, certainly. I'm wondering, Anya, if you have seen resistance to D&I. You've talked about how the leadership sometimes has buy in but not everybody below that, necessarily, has a buy in and how do you deal with that resistance?
Anya: Of course there's always going to be resistance to change, or if there is a perceived infringement of the rights or the privileges or what have you, the lifestyle that certain groups have been enjoying. I think the conversation often starts with yourself and kind of were not in the ... when I look at myself. Maybe I face some systemic issues when it comes to my gender but I don't face any when it comes to my race, for example. Openly talking about that or openly talking about the privileges that I experience as a white woman is imperative to starting the conversation. I also think that another approach is really clearly just establishing processes that have impact but can't be dismissed as the wrong person getting the promotion. Or someone getting hired because they're a minority, quote/unquote. For example, like the 40% rule where all your doing is expanding that pool at the very beginning of the interview process and making a point not to hire the person because of their background or what have you.
I think that the last thing I will say that we're seeing have an impact is making the case for why this benefits you, frankly. So I think Emily's earlier point was very, very well made that it is incredibly important, for example, when you're talking about parental leave to emphasize the importance of men taking parental leave and this has a huge impact on women's career progression and women's achievements in the workplace. But there's also something that men want. The stigma that a lot of men face now, especially in sort of the more, I don't know what to call them, like the Bay Street industry, in finance or investment or trading or what have you, where a lot of the time where we go into these organizations we're seeing that the men, they don't feel like they can take something like parental leave without being shamed by the culture. So with that culture shift you're actually creating benefits for the, quote/unquote, dominate group. Your creating benefits for everyone. It's not just what you typically associate with diversity and inclusion. So I think those three things are really something that we see resonate with people, at least, and start the conversation and really kind of open, hopefully, the channels for positive change that doesn't illicit that much backlash.
Neena: Annette, I'm wondering from Equal by 30's perspective, where do you anticipate the resistance, the challenge? There's always inertia. That's to me like sometimes the biggest, we've always done it this way and certainly the legal industry, you know, precedent. This is always how we've done it. But where do you see actual resistance and your tip for overcoming that resistance?
Annette: When I was listening to everyone here, I would pick up on and agree about the points in terms of buy in, really important to appeal to the bottom line, to be making the case. But something that I've learned on this journey and that was rather unexpected and maybe surprise me that it was so unexpected, is that we shouldn't be afraid to appeal to people as people. We need to give numbers and we need to give evidence but something that's been really powerful, and can be very impactful about bringing people along is, for people to come forward and to share stories. I think Farah mentioned this about the executives at Hydro One having an open conversation with their black and racialized workforce and really appealing to their experiences in this sector. That's been a very, very interesting journey along the way that I didn't expect. Hearing the stories of other women in this sector who have experienced discrimination. Sometimes harassment. These aren't easy conversations to have whatsoever. But I think we need to have them and to appeal to people. I have been in boardrooms with men in very top positions suddenly just get it and you can see that they get it and some who have daughters, for example, who will suddenly say, "I don't want that experience for my daughters. I don't want it for my sons either. I want us to be in an environment where all people are being lifted up." I think that's something that gets really overlooked and that is really critical for us to be creating more buy in and to be in this together.
Neena: Yeah, Annette, I do think story telling does have a very powerful impact. A disproportionate impact. When I do some unconscious bias training one of the exercises we do is ask people to tell a story when they experience unconscious bias or observed it. Almost everybody has had an experience where they themselves experienced an unconscious bias but also where perpetrators of it. Like made an assumption because we're all human and I think it's so very powerful, story telling, opportunity. Emily, I'm going to let you have the last word on overcoming resistance. Your thoughts.
Emily: Sure, definitely. Just before I dive in I wanted to echo on the storytelling. StepUp, we actually had an event on Tuesday on storytelling by leading Canadian executives who happened to be women through the Judy Project. Just a shout out if anyone doesn't know about the collective wisdom, the Judy Project, it's an absolutely fantastic book and some think it's go to reference for wisdom inspiration. We've done so many webinars this year, that was definitely among, we haven't done this one yet, this is not included, but all to date, as of Tuesday, it was among my absolute top. It felt like rejuvenating going to a mental and emotional spa with a storytelling. So just a shout out to that.
In terms of the opposition to D&I I think it mainly comes from people who do not see a problem. Mainly those would be people of privilege, honestly, who have had the privilege and they just swim through life and haven't actually realized that they are part of privilege. I've been, as Anya mentioned, like from my race I've had a position of privilege, and have only realized that more recently than I would like to admit, that it is a privilege. But I think something, if you haven't seen it and I think Neena's going to send it out in the post package it's a YouTube video and it's absolutely fantastic. It was a group of high school students and there's a coach, it's a gym class or something, and he says there's going to be a $100.00, it's a running race. There's all these high school students and he says the person who wins the race is going to get $100.00. Then he says wait. There's just one rule. Before we start the race I'm going to say a number of statements and if it applies to you take 2 steps forward. And if it doesn't just stay where you are. It almost makes me tear up every time but he'll say like are your parents still married? Some people will step forward but others won't. Then do you have a father figure in the home? Have you never had to worry about helping our parents pay the bills? Etcetera. And it goes through and then you see before the race, before he says okay now we're going to set to go, you kind of look. It pans and it's mainly minorities, mainly, honestly, black younger high school students who are behind and to have a, in that case, he says at the end, the people who won the race it's not based on their athletic abilities. It's not based on what they did. They had a head start in this race that's called life. So anyway, it's a really powerful video and I really encourage you to look at it. To just show the privilege you have. That was actually one of the videos that told me because I have had a father who's amazing, and my parents are married and all this stuff that, yeah, it's a privilege.
Just the last thing I would say is there's new research in 2019 by Frontiers In Psychology. I'd heard kind of rumours but I hadn't seen actual, again, data that shows for leadership positions that men are hired on potential versus women being hired on past experience. Men being hired on potential versus women on past experience, that's huge in terms of implication, and how are we going to ever move forward if our potential is not being seen. So I think that's, if you want to try and address those barriers, you need to attack that problem of who's being hired on potential and get everybody to be hired on potential. Thank you.
Neena: Well, thank you, Emily. I've made some notes and I am going to be sharing slides again with some resources, but there's so much that has come up in this conversation that I think what I'm going to do is not share the slides right away, but just add to the bibliography so that people getting the slides will actually be able to refer to some of the materials that everyone of us has brought up. This may be a short, yes/no, but it's actually, certainly in the legal industry there's some sensitivity around having numerical targets that we want. Let's say 30% women in leadership roles by a certain date. I'm wondering, maybe I'll start with Farah, is that something that your organization is comfortable with and why or why not?
Farah: That is really important. I think it is one of those things that we thought about for a long time but ... recognize. We measure everything else. We set targets for safety, for productivity, reliability, customers. I think all of those things that come up on our scorecard but why are we hesitant to do it for something as important as inclusion, as diversity and inclusion, and so we're changing. We started off with looking at our board representation. We have a target. We assigned the catalyst approach. We had a target for 40% female on our board and we're at 50. We definitely need to expand that to beyond the gender category. We're taking some time right now. We have a diversity and inclusion council in our organization and it's not just HR. This is not HR run but we support it. So we have D&I council members from across the business. Mostly at the director level and they are talking about what those targets could be and there will some opportunities to dig very deep as to what's realistic but also challenging. That will be focusing on women, women in leadership, indigenous peoples and people of colour and then it will go up to our ELT for some approval and I expect some targets to be set in the new year.
Neena: That's a resounding yes, we should measure and we should start targets. I know we have a lot of questions so I'm just going to ask a simpler question. Maybe you guys could, is there anyone who disagrees with the proposition, and I'm very aware of sort of maybe we skewed the panel a bit, but is there anybody here who disagrees with the proposition that we should set targets and measure against those targets? Annette, maybe I'll start with you.
Annette: Sure. I lead a target based initiative. So absolutely I am supportive of setting targets but, again, this has been a journey and I will say that numbers, it's not everything. It's important and 1,000% I agree with Farah that we set targets for everything else so why wouldn't we here? But, targets can often be the stumbling block for, I've notice, for a lot of different organizations, whether it be the public sector or in the private sector, actually. Don't let that be the stumbling block. What is critical, you're beyond the targets and setting goals, is the action and commitments that you make to get there. There are a whole host and Anya, Emily, Farah, we've all touched upon a lot of the different measures that can work that are not target based that really can move the dial. So many of us are in this and have learned from various measures that work and some that don't. There needs to be a lot more sharing about that and I cannot stress enough how important it is to just start somewhere and to do something. You will get there and not to get hung up on the numbers. I agree with targets. I think they're important but maybe kind of a half way point is that they're not the end all and be all.
Neena: Okay. So a lovely way. So even if you can't get your organization to buy into targets there's still lots you can do. We've got a number of questions and I think I'm going to start incorporating some of the questions into it. One of the consistent themes in the questions is, it's all very good to have all this data but how do we translate that data into meaningful action? An example that was given is what happens daily on the ground. Sometimes sort of at the working level, of the unionized level, and the example that Gary Thompson gives, and thank you, Gary, is nooses being found on construction sites. How do you actually change the organization? We've got a picture with us, statistics, we've got targets but what is something we can do to make meaningful change. I'm going to put Farah on the spot, I think a little bit, because as a labour lawyer it is difficult sometimes dealing with the a unionized workforce because there is high job security. That can be job security for people who don't necessarily buy into D&I and who are, in fact, wedded to the way things always are. So, Farah, I'm going to put you on the spot.
Farah: Okay. Actually I think it's one of those things where we stand by what we're saying. So our actions speak loudly. I can't just leave the topic at the top saying this is what we value, respect and trust in a workplace, health and safety, etcetera, and then not doing anything when there are situations like this. I think it has to be swift and vocal action. Maybe it's in a different way. It may not be that, especially when we're dealing with ... we have processes that we have to follow and some of the conversations will happen behind the scenes. But there are still points where we, as a partnership, we have been successful with our unions to be very clear as to we are on the same page with this. A difficulty sometimes is individuals may not know what those consequences were for that individual but there can be reassurance in many different ways, that we've taken it seriously and this won't happen again. I will say we've been fortunate that we've had some great partnerships with our unions related to health and safety. What we are seeing now is a progression that there is an understanding that inclusion is about safety. Like it impacts how you feel on the job and that is a way that we've been able to make some headway with our union partners.
Anya: Do you mind if I jump in here quickly? I saw the question that came in from Gary and I feel passionately about this and I wanted to share. One of the companies that, because there was many construction companies where these hate crimes happened, one of the companies was Modern Niagara. It was on two of their sites. They actually came on as a client of ours and we've been working quite closely with them. I think something that has been quite critical, and part of the reason I was just incredibly impressed with their response and what they've done, is how seriously the CEO has taken this. Modern Niagara actually came on as a client with us, earlier, so before COVID happened, and diversity and inclusion was a priority but it definitely lived in HR. It was something that was HR focused, HR only. The CEO definitely supported the initiative but it wasn't his own personal mandate. After the hate crimes happened and nooses were found on construction site, he did a complete, his name is Brad, Brad did a complete 180. Number one, he came out with a statement that was exceptionally strong, quite unlike a lot of statements that have been put out by CEOs. He said, "I'm taking personal ownership. This is a personal failing of mine that I have not been asking the right questions and I have not been paying attention." He's like, "I don't care that this is normal in the construction industry. We are going to change it." He said, "Modern Niagara is going to step up to us, change this with us but if you don't, it's fine. I'm starting right here and this is no longer okay." What happened as a result of that is, number one, the difference between inclusion mandate suddenly blew up. It's no longer part of HR. It's part of every single department. All of the executives own a diversity and inclusion, own a piece of the strategy and a piece of the action plan. There all exceptionally engaged and they've adopted, essentially, once they ran the data that we collected or the ... analytics collected all the data they've adopted, I think, 90% of all the recommendations that we've made, allocated resources and now they're rolling out the programs. I think the change, the cultural shift, of all the foreman are receiving training, the approach in the construction industry has loosened your lives. You have been taking physical safety as incredibly important. It is number one priority on every single construction site. This is part of that. The fact that the HR department who are tasked still with delivering the programs and building them out and changing that culture, they have the backing of the CEO and the executive team. It's just a game changer because when something is that important then the entire organization stops and listens. When the consequence for not changing your behaviour is that you're not longer part of the company then change happens very, very quickly. Then suddenly something that has been instituted for ages suddenly starts moving and you see the impact. So, yeah, I'll stop there and I'm sorry. I didn't mean to go off on a rant.
Neena: No. I think it was a great rant. I just want to build that up because there is a tendency, sometimes, when we talk about diversity and inclusion to really focus on gender equality. I mean it doesn't take brains to realize that everybody on this panel identifies as female. But men of colour, in particular, have also experienced significant barriers in the energy sector. Many of them have found it difficult to go beyond sort of the front lines or the trades. I'm going to ask maybe some of the panelists, how can we support people of colour, but in particular men of colour and I'm even going to be, black men. Because I think black men face really a tremendous conscious and unconscious bias and conscious and unconscious barriers because of that. So maybe, Farah, I'm going to put you on the spot because you have a son who identifies as, at least, bi-racial or black, so what can we do?
Farah: I think that it's again finding out what's really going on. Real experiences. But I think one of the things that we have heard from our black employees is mentoring is important. Sponsoring is important, for all employees, but in particular our diverse employees. But also the idea of reverse mentoring and that's something we want to move forward on. So really having them mentor leaders. So it's an ongoing relationship and understanding as to what are the barriers. What are they facing daily so we can really have an understanding and also take some action. That's one of the things that I'm excited that we're going to move forward on.
Neena: Well, thank you, Farah. We have tons of questions. Just following up on that mentorship theme, Catherine Knipe, how do we use mentorship? We can have these targets. I know Catherine and she and I have been around for a long time, and in some cases targets since the 1980's and hasn't really moved the needle. To what extent do you see mentorship programs, that are formal, as being part of the D&I project? Perhaps I could ask Emily to answer that one.
Emily: Sure, yeah. Mentorship, of course, is critical and I think there's sometimes a more formal program. Sometimes less formal can be beneficial. Mentorship gets a lot more air time than sponsorship and I actually would say that sponsorship is equally, if not probably, more important than mentorships. So for those in the audience who may not know the difference. I'm not a dictionary so I may not be 100% correct, but basically mentorship is, for example, typically a more senior person helping a junior person maybe in the field to get the technical skills they require. Maybe some of the soft skills and sort of helping them, coach them, to move up in the organization, for example. A sponsor, in contrast, is typically going to be at least two levels or more above the person. Could be diagonal. Could be even someone like a client if you're in a consulting firm. I've had clients who've acted as sponsors for me, personally, and a sponsor is going to advocate, not only when you're in the room but more importantly when you are not in the room, and sort of put up your hand or at least put your name in the hat for really stretch assignments for great new committees and going to really help with, again, those stretch assignments. So I think sponsorship is actually, I've read actually it's not just my thoughts, women are over mentored and under sponsored. So I think we should spend more time talking about sponsorship and it would be lovely, as an action item, I'm assuming it's mostly leaders who are on this call, if all of you can act as a sponsor and pick as an action for yourself, pick one person, you don't have to do a long term sponsorship necessarily, but at least think of one action. Hey, one committee that you know of a potential opportunity that someone who is maybe not top of mind for everybody. You could invite them and put their name in the hat for that. So I would say sponsorship and just lastly, I don't think we've talked about finances and budget at all yet, and we cannot close this webinar without talking about the importance of allocating money to D&I initiatives.
I actually worked, previously, at a very large engineering firm who talked a lot about diversity and inclusion, who had invited me to speak to their board of directors who, by the way, were all men and it was at the 40 person North American Leadership meeting and there was only one woman in the room. Anyway, so this company, when we asked as part of the diversity and inclusion committee for finances, at the time the answer was no. You have no budget and by the way you cannot use any billable time to do any D&I initiatives. That is not acceptable. So I think possibly they might have changed their ways now. I'm not sure but for any company that wants to have this you need a budget, you need finances, money talks, and you need a budget.
Neena: I think, Emily, you had an announcement that you wanted to make. I'm going to give you 30 seconds to make that announcement.
Emily: Thank you so much. Yes, we are so excited and so happy to have Annette on the call, StepUp is formally the newest partner of the Equal by 30 initiative and we are so grateful and thankful to ... and Equal by 30 and we are very excited about the future. So stay tuned for some exciting work going forward.
Neena: Annette, did you want to take 30 seconds to respond.
Annette: Absolutely. How could I not? It's such exciting news. We are so, so pleased and excited to have StepUp on board. You guys are doing fantastic things in this sector and we're looking forward to collaborating and we now have this entire panel, that is very much involved, with Equal by 30 and I'm really excited to be collaborating with all of you and learning from all of you.
Neena: I realize we're 3:28 and we could talk for the rest of the afternoon, I'm sure. I will be sending contact information. I will be sending resources and I'm going to turn this over to Tom who essentially conceived of this panel, to have the last word.
Tom: Thank you, Neena. That was amazing everyone. Thank you so much. That was a wonderful discussion. The questions were amazing. Before people sign off I'd like to quickly ask everyone for feedback, particularly audience members. We need your feedback. We need your ideas in relation to this and in relation to future events. Each of you will have or will shortly receive an email in your inbox linking to a feedback website. Once again, I would like to thank Neena and each of our panelists, and each and everyone of you online for participating. That was an absolutely terrific session and I look forward to doing it again hopefully in 2021. So, thank you again everyone and have a great day. Cheers.
Annette: Thank you. It was a great opportunity. Thank you so much.
Anya: Thank you.
Emily: Thank you. Bye everyone.
Neena: Remember, everyone sponsor one. That is the thing. If you do nothing else, everyone one sponsor one. That's going to be our joint effort. Right?
Tom: Thank you again.