Five men who have led efforts to promote women within their organizations say that diversity leads to better decisions
Chair, Deloitte Canada
A few years ago, Vancouver-based Glenn Ives attended a meeting with 22 of professional services firm Deloitte LLP’s senior managers at a regional office in Ottawa overlooking a golf course. “I was talking about how we needed to change things at Deloitte and make sure we were fair in the opportunities,” he recalls. “I said, ‘How many of you would like to go golfing with me?’”
Out of 10 men, eight raised their hands. But out of 12 women, only two volunteered. Ives’s point was that an equal opportunity isn’t necessarily fair–most women don’t play golf, so they won’t say yes. “I’ve excluded all these people from getting to know me, and if I get to know you, I’m more likely to say, ‘Yeah, that person will be good for that job,’ and it affects their career,” he explains. “So I’ve got to frame myself not to do that.”
Since joining Deloitte in 2009, Ives has sought out women to mentor and coach, to help boost female representation in partner positions. He also led an effort to add diversity to the board. In 2012, Ives lobbied partners for a bylaw change to expand the list of nominations for director posts in each region from two to three; the third candidate would have to be “diverse” in gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation. The bylaw passed, and the initiative was successful. After the 2016 elections, the number of women on Deloitte’s 20-person board rose from four in 2012 to eight.
“We’ve created all sorts of things over the years that are not necessarily fair to women, so sometimes we have to lean a little bit the other way,” Ives says. “The work on the business case is done. There’s no question that diverse groups make better decisions than non-diverse groups, so it’s in everybody’s best interest, men and women, to be inclusive.”
CEO, Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers Canada LTD.
Ravi Saligram took over as chief executive of Burnaby-based auctioneer Ritchie Bros. in July 2014. One way he shook up the nearly six-decade-old company was by bringing more women to the C-suite. “It’s a very male-dominated industry, and I felt we didn’t have enough diversity,” Saligram says. “I have two daughters, and I want a world where they can aspire to be anything they want to be as long as they have the merit.” His new hires included CFO Sharon Driscoll, a former senior executive at Rexall Pharmacy Group Ltd. and Sears Canada.
Former President and CEO, BC Hyrdo
As head of BC Hydro from 2003 to 2009, Bob Elton was credited for challenging the hiring requirements for traditionally male-dominated roles and shifting the Crown corporation’s culture to one of inclusiveness and diversity. By the time he left the utility, 50 per cent of its executive team were women. Since 2010, Elton has served on the board of the Minerva Foundation, which delivers leadership and mentorship programs for women, where he is currently chair.
Joe Olivier and Todd Shewfelt
Regional Vice-Presidents, B.C., Royal Bank of Canada
In 2013, Joe Olivier (pictured above left) and Tim Manning, a fellow regional VP at RBC (Manning retired last year), set a strategic priority to increase the number of women in commercial banking leadership roles. “We decided we need to change the look of our workforce to be more representative of the graduation profile of commerce and MBA programs, and of the type of clients that we’re dealing with,” Olivier says.
Todd Shewfelt (pictured above right), who succeeded Manning, was also part of the effort, which included a women’s leadership development program, mentorship opportunities, the creation of a diversity advisory council and deepening connections with RBC’s women’s employee resource group. These local initiatives followed goals set by the bank, which measures and publishes annual data on women and minority groups in positions of leadership in its Diversity and Inclusion Report.