Survey: More than 2 in 3 Canadian Companies Have Taken Action on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Express Experts Say More Work Needs to Be Done

TORONTO, Feb. 24, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- According to a new survey released today, a majority of Canadian companies have taken action on diversity, equity and inclusion. The survey from The Harris Poll, commissioned by Express Employment Professionals, reveals more than 2 in 3 hiring decision-makers (69%) say their company has taken action to promote a more diverse and more inclusive workforce and work environment.

The most common actions taken by companies are:

  • Provided training for employees: 33%
  • Offered safe ways for employees to report discrimination and harassment complaints: 29%
  • Revised policies and procedures: 27%
  • Changed recruitment and hiring practices: 19%
  • Set thresholds for minority representation in the workforce: 16%
  • Partnered with an outside consultant (e.g., for resources or guidance): 13%

While a majority of companies have taken steps to promote diversity, equity and inclusion, the survey found that only 1 in 3 (35%) of those surveyed say their company currently has a diversity, equity and inclusion policy. Some (10%) say their company does not have one but plans to implement one by the end of 2021, while another 16% say their company plans to implement one after 2021.

Around 1 in 4 (23%) say one of the most important priorities for their company right now is expanding the diversity of their workforce. The majority of those surveyed (81%) feel just the right amount is being done at their company on this topic, while 11% feel too little is being done.

Notably, action on this topic increases significantly with company size. The largest companies (those with more than 500 employees) are at least twice as likely as the smallest companies (those with 2–9 employees) to have taken actions regarding diversity, equity and inclusion. The largest companies are also almost twice as likely as small businesses to already have a diversity, equity, and inclusion policy (47% vs. 26%).

Hanif Hemani, Express franchise owner in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, sees an increasing number of companies taking action on diversity, equity and inclusion.

“Companies are recognizing that their employees are not necessarily reflecting the society around them and they are beginning to change the ‘faces’ of the company to mirror the ‘faces’ of their cites,” Hemani said. “Companies are including the language of diversity and inclusion in their core values and they are providing sensitivity training and cultural awareness.”

In Pickering, Ontario, Express franchise owner Daisy Kaur also sees progress.

“We are definitely seeing more companies having discussions, asking questions and a genuine interest in not only reevaluating their diversity, equity and inclusion strategy, but reassessing their workplace culture,” Kaur said. “Some have invested in consultants or experts to assess and develop strategies and solutions that will be impactful for their company.”

Hemani and Kaur list several benefits for companies that take action on diversity, equity and inclusion.

“There is a competitive advantage and tremendous opportunity for business to capitalize on the knowledge, skills and experience that individuals from different cultures and backgrounds bring,” Hemani said. “The key to tackling complex problems is to look at the problem from many perspectives and having a diverse workforce allows business to draw upon a broad range of experiences, solutions and practices.”  

“Taking steps to improve diversity, equity and inclusion fosters trust, bringing fresh ideas and diversified points of view to a company,” Kaur said. “It also creates employees who are strong advocates of your company.”

While actions are being taken on diversity, equity and inclusion, Hemani and Kaur agree there is more work to be done.

“I believe that many companies, especially when it comes to ‘professional’ roles, are not capitalizing on the incredible talent that we have with individuals from other countries and backgrounds,” Hemani said. “Diversity and inclusion are nice to say, but every day, we meet amazing, talented and accomplished individuals whose potential is being overlooked by business.”  

Kaur points out that having an impactful diversity, equity and inclusion strategy “takes consistent time and effort.”

“Transparency is important, and companies need to develop a clear understanding of their goals, how they are measuring progress on this issue and then share results with their employees,” Kaur said. “One of the challenges is the idea that there is a single strategy that can be adopted across the board for all organizations.”

She adds that companies that do not act on diversity, equity and inclusion may see a decline in workplace culture, as well as employee engagement and loyalty.

“One of the challenges is aligning your actions with your words and when companies fail to hold their leadership accountable for their diversity, equity and inclusion objectives, this can damage the workplace culture,” Kaur said. “Consider providing anonymous avenues for employees to share candid and honest feedback without negative consequences.”

“It’s encouraging to see businesses working to create safer and more inclusive environments for all,” Express CEO Bill Stoller said. “This is an educational experience for everyone, and we have to work together to address diversity, equity and inclusion for a better workforce now and in the future.”

Survey Methodology
The survey was conducted online within Canada by The Harris Poll on behalf of Express Employment Professionals between Nov. 16 and Dec. 7, 2020, among 506 Canadian hiring decision-makers (defined as adults ages 18+ in Canada who are employed full-time or self-employed, work at companies with more than one employee, and have full/significant involvement in hiring decisions at their company). Data was weighted where necessary by company size to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.

If you would like to arrange for an interview to discuss this topic, please contact Ana Curic at
(613) 858-2622 or email

About Bill Stoller
William H. "Bill" Stoller is chairman and chief executive officer of Express Employment Professionals. Headquartered in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the international staffing company has more than 830 franchises in the U.S., Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Since inception, Express has put more than 9 million people to work worldwide.

About Express Employment Professionals
At Express Employment Professionals, we’re in the business of people. From job seekers to client companies, Express helps people thrive and businesses grow. Our international network of franchises offers localized staffing solutions to the communities they serve across the U.S., Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, employing 526,000 people globally in 2020. For more information, visit

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at

Company Action on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion