Let’s Start with the Basics. What is CODE?

November 4, 2021

6-minute read
These CODE newsletters are meant to inspire you to reflect on your commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, find valuable resources to further action and develop skills needed to facilitate bold change. 
Written by Sanjana Vijayann, Diversity and Inclusion Manager at The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce

Let’s Start with the Basics. What is CODE?

At The Chamber AGM last month, we launched our newest program and movement called CODE, which stands for Commitment to Opportunity, Diversity, and Equity. After numerous community consultations with people with lived experiences, employers, and community organizations, a common theme was evident: more needs to be done to advance equity and reconciliation.
With these perspectives, CODE came together to support businesses and organizations in implementing impactful diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies in their workplaces through workshops, conferences, and a dedicated online resource hub.

What did we hear?

The first step we all must take, and revisit multiple times, is recognizing the barriers that equity deserving groups face. As mentioned, we hosted 70+ consultations to listen to the experiences of women, Indigenous peoples, racialized communities, the 2SLGBTQ community, and people living with disabilities about their experiences as employees and job seekers.
We are so thankful to each person who took part in these consultations and shared their experiences and ideas for progress with us.
I share some takeaways from these consultations below. I hope that these perspectives will help us incorporate the values of diversity and inclusion with a person-centered approach that is directly responsive to the community’s needs.
Participants consistently noted that when policies and practices that were made for and by dominant groups were applied to them, they proved to be inaccessible and served to exclude them from opportunities.
KEY THEMES INCLUDED:
  • Hiring policies and practices need to be transformed to be more inclusive, accessible. Some ways to do this: screen for bias in your interview process, diversify where you post your job opening, allow job seekers to submit applications through a multitude of ways, ensure accommodations through the selection process should a candidate require it, and recognize equivalent experience.
  • People need continuous training to improve their knowledge of different experiences of people who might not look and experience life the way someone else does. Whether this is cross-cultural training, Indigenous awareness training, training on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation, or accessibility training.
  • Diversity in teams does nothing for an organization without action to embed inclusion and equity within the workplace.
  • Workplace policies do not impact all employees equally. In certain places, laws and customs related to sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics can differ from those we experience in Canada. As a result, people could face certain barriers and risks when they travel. With this in mind, consider your travel policies. Expand the definition of family in your employee handbook and ensure that bereavement policies are inclusive of different cultures and practices.
  • Almost unanimously, people who participated in these consultations noted that they were more likely to engage with organizations and businesses with an authentic commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Much work remains in transforming our organizations to be more inclusive and equitable. As employers and colleagues, we have a profound responsibility to create an inclusive environment where everyone can thrive. CODE is here to help.

What can you do?

There are many ways you can stay engaged with CODE to further your learning, take actionable steps, and connect with other organizations on a journey to advance equity and reconciliation.
  1. Attend our CODE Workshops to hear from experts, and engage in peer learning around topics related to DEI.
  2. Access our Resource Hub to find credible resources, tools, templates, contacts to local DEI practitioners and local organizations, all of which will assist you in creating impactful DEI strategies.
  3. Please email me at [email protected] with any questions you have about DEI. As a part of CODE, we also want to build custom resources in collaboration with experts and local organizations that fill identified gaps by our members.


Upcoming CODE Events:

  • CODE 101 | November 16
  • CODE Workshop | Supporting Job Seekers and Employees with Learning and Intellectual Disabilities | November 25
November Dates of Importance:
  1. Diwali | November 4
  2. Remembrance Day | November 11
  3. Transgender Day of Remembrance | November 20
  4. Hanukkah | November 28