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Delivering on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Toronto Pearson

Posted: 8 November 2022 | | No comments yet

For Issue 5 of International Airport Review, Molara Awosedo, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the Greater Toronto Airports Authority outlines the steps taken at Toronto Pearson International Airport to ensure an inclusive employee model, highlighting how crucial the working environment is to the success of the overall airport ecosystem.

In an era of fast and profound change, workplaces must continue to evolve to meet the demands of today and prepare for the future. This is especially true when it comes to adopting corporate policies and practices that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). DEI is proven to be a key enabler for business growth and success, and at Toronto Pearson, we know that DEI is not only a strategic business priority, but also an important influence on organisational culture.

As Canada’s largest airport, our business is to connect people and cultures from around the world; this is the essence of who we are. Toronto Pearson represents the diverse beliefs, opinions and perspectives that make Canada a great nation and we are committed to continuing the journey to ensure the principles and practices that drive DEI are present in every aspect of our business.
To help us achieve this goal, we changed our approach to DEI in 2021 by creating a new, strategic three-year plan comprised of four pillars: leadership commitment and accountability, fair and equitable people practices, inclusive culture, and strong community partnerships. Our vision is to support and empower our employees to thrive in a work environment where everyone feels free to be their true authentic self, while leveraging our diversity to drive business results.

Leadership commitment and accountability

Creating change calls for bold and urgent action – starting from the top. We need our leaders to both be accountable for and model behaviours, values and norms that foster inclusion across the organisation, which is why we introduced a mandatory Inclusive Leadership Training course.
To help our leaders become better allies to their colleagues and team members, the Inclusive
Leadership Training course, comprised of four sessions, provides individuals with the skills they need to promote transparency, recognise and tackle bias, embrace DEI, and leverage diverse thinking to drive innovation.

Fair and equitable people practices

Toronto Pearson is Canada’s front door, welcoming passengers to one of the world’s most diverse cities and it’s our goal to create an environment that reflects that richness for every employee and passenger that comes through our airport. That’s why, from branding to hiring, and from development to performance and recognition, we’re ensuring our talent practices are both fair and equitable.
In 2018, we introduced our organisation’s first ever Diversity Meter Survey, followed by another in 2021. Conducted by a third-party organisation that has experience leading DEI strategies in a number of industries, this survey was ground-breaking for our organisation as it provided us with the most robust, in-depth look at employee experience as it relates to DEI in the workplace. The data collected from the 2021 survey helped inform our DEI strategy to put forth better practices and policies that support our employees. Building on the survey, we’ll soon be completing an Employment Systems Review, taking a holistic approach to further understand what programmes, processes and policies should be prioritised to help remove barriers and move our mandate forward.

In addition, we’ve introduced several Employee Resource Groups (ERG) to support individuals across all areas of the organisation, with more to come. In 2019, we created The Women’s Alliance @YYZ, a community of employees dedicated to the advancement of women in the workplace by attracting and developing talent, cultivating mentorships, and supporting professional growth. And just this year (2022), we established the Black Professionals Network. The Black Professionals Network aims to create a work environment that raises awareness and identifies the societal norms that create setbacks, systemic barriers, and challenges that our community faces, while advocating for fair and equitable career opportunities. We are also in the planning stages of developing and launching an ERG in support of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. Like our current ERGs, this group will focus on bringing awareness and promoting allyship throughout the organisation.

As Canada’s largest airport, our business is to connect people and cultures from around the world; this is the essence of who we are”

Inclusive culture

Today’s workforce is driven by a strong sense of purpose, including how an individual identifies and how that identity is reflected in their experience at work. At Toronto Pearson, we believe in celebrating and recognising our individual and collective identities and sharing those experiences across our organisation. From January to December 2021, we produced over 130 communication pieces to celebrate diverse cultural days and international days of awareness, including but not limited to Black History Month, International Women’s Day, Pride Month, and National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. In addition, for the first time ever in the Greater Toronto Airports Authority’s history, we marched in the 2022 Toronto Pride Parade.

Strong community partnerships

You cannot create movement and growth without strong partnerships. In 2020, on behalf of the GTAA, President and CEO Deborah Flint joined the voices condemning anti-Black racism, systemic racism, inequality, and injustices that impact Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) communities by signing the Black North Initiative CEO Pledge.

In support of this partnership and our DEI strategy, we took a measurable step toward fulfilling our promise to help build better futures for those impacted by systemic racism. In August 2022, we committed $150,000 to six Black and Indigenous-led organisations located in communities around Toronto Pearson. We’re very proud to be able to take an active role in supporting these organisations and we will continue to work together to support the communities in which we work and live.
Furthering our commitment to advancing women in the workplace, we have partnered with global DEI leader, Catalyst. Catalyst will be providing our employees with online workshops and resources to help them access the tools they need to succeed. Additionally, we will be working with the Catalyst team to help launch our internal mentorship programme.

As Toronto Pearson connects the world to Canada, we see diversity as one of our most competitive and sustainable advantages. A diverse workforce ensures the airport’s ability to meet the demands of a changing global marketplace, drives innovation and provides a warm welcome to people from around the world. Beyond the business case, supporting a diverse and inclusive workplace; it is simply the right thing to do for our employees and the community.

Biography

Molara Awosedo joined the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA), as the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in November 2021. Her focus is to ensure that DE&I are embedded into the fabric of the GTAA with diverse representation at all levels, all while fostering a safe, respectful and inclusive work environment where all employees can make a meaningful contribution. Prior to joining the GTAA, Awosedo worked in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Communications and Employee Experience roles within the financial industry where she was focused on creating and executing talent and communication strategies that supported the attraction, development and retention of a diverse and high performing workforce. In 2019, she was recognised as a Woman of Influence for her work in building a global network and ERG focused on the professional development of Black employees. Awosedo holds both a Bachelor of Arts degree and Public Relations diploma from McGill University and is currently exploring additional DEI certifications.

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