The future of diversity and inclusion

Posted in : Blog
Posted on : June 6, 2019

Pamela Malins, PhD

What was once simply a conversation on an organization’s efforts towards achieving diversity and inclusion, is now an entire field of study. It used to be common for work in this realm to be completed by those in Human Resource roles. Increasingly, however, we now see jobs posted with titles such as Diversity and Inclusion Specialist. We know from the research that more diverse workforces, that also ensure their employees feel included, demonstrate higher levels of employee engagement and improved organizational outcomes (Swiegers & Toohey, 2012). So, what does the future of the diversity and inclusion profession look like?

To paint this picture, I draw on the evolution of the field of Human Resources. Prior to World War I, employees were often perceived as interchangeable with a focus on efficiency. Discussions over workers’ rights began to surface after World War I as employees began to develop more specialized skills, thereby increasing competition. After World War II, issues such as safety and equality increased, and for the next several decades, conversations continued to evolve regarding recruiting, hiring, training, and assessing workers. Retention of staff gained credibility in the 1980s as focus shifted towards motivation, team building, and approaches to change management alongside the increased usage of computers. In this shifting context, human resource management was instrumental.

In 1988, Canada passed the Multiculturalism Act to support the increasingly diverse racial and ethnic population. In 1995 the Employment Equity Act was assented and legislation was introduced to ensure organizations were seeking representation from the four designated groups: women, racialized minorities, indigenous persons, and people with disabilities. The conversation continued to develop from multicultural to inclusion broadly, as diversity was recognized beyond race and ethnicity to broader conceptions of diversity including family structures, gender equality, and ongoing immigration. In 2005, same-sex marriage became legal in Canada, and as recently as 2017, gender identity and expression has been added as prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act. Several provinces have also implemented legislation to better support individuals living with a disability, and accessibility is now at the forefront of many organizational priorities.

With such an increase on human rights and inclusion, employees required support beyond human resource departments. Many employees began taking it upon themselves to learn more about diversity, equity, and inclusion, and what they can do in their organizations to better serve their teams and the diverse public. It is no secret that there is a business case for diversity and inclusion, and with more jobs in diversity and inclusion, and more employees dedicating time and effort to these initiatives, these individuals deserve support and recognition.

The Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion responded to this need by developing the Canadian Certified Inclusion Professional (CCIP™) certification, a designation to certify individuals who are leading in the field. Under the direction of a national Advisory Committee and through consultation with over 200 professionals across the country, a Competency Framework was developed as a benchmark of core skills for diversity and inclusion professionals who practice in Canada. Similar to receiving a certificate in HR, certified practitioners can add CCIP to their signature and gain a competitive edge in a rapidly developing field. Now, with over 30 certified individuals, a standard is being established among professionals engaged in diversity and inclusion work and the field is being recognized. In order to join this group of practitioners, candidates are assessed for eligibility and then must complete a multiple-choice exam followed by a professional experience dossier outlining their accomplishments in the field, which are examined against the competency framework.

The future of the diversity and inclusion profession looks bright as more and more people shed light on the hard work and dedication that individuals are pursuing to raise awareness on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. Beyond implementing strategies and policies, organizations are also measuring success in diversity and inclusion efforts and responding to Employment Equity legislation. While this is more about procedures and representation specifically, celebrating diversity and inclusion turns the conversation to a collective goal to be intentional and collaborative in our approach to relationship building and international cooperation. Organizations can be seen educating themselves on topics such as Unconscious Bias, Cultural Competence, and LGBT Inclusive workplaces. I am proud to be in a country that is leading this initiative, and at an organization that is supporting this dedication.


Duggan, Tara. (n.d.). The Evolution of HR. Small Business - Retrieved from

ITA Group. (2019). The evolution of HR: Where It’s Been and Where It’s Going. Retrieved from

Swiegers, G., & Toohey, K. (2012), “Waiter, is that inclusion in my soup? A new recipe to improve business performance.” Research Report. Deloitte Australia and the Victoria Opportunity & Human Rights Commission.


Tags Pamela Malins CDNdiversity Diversity Inclusion

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