Analysis: The Long Arm Of China And Free Speech

More evidence as if we did not know:

Doing business in China comes with major strings attached. This week it became evident that a few provocative words can cause those strings to tighten.

A single tweet by Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey in support of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong unleashed massive retaliation from China that put the team and the entire NBA on notice. China’s state TV cut off preseason games and ominously announced it would “immediately investigate all co-operation and exchanges involving the NBA.” Tencent, a major Chinese social media company with a reported $1.5 billion streaming deal with the NBA, said it will no longer stream Rockets games, even though the team is immensely popular in China.

China’s message to foreign companies and their employees is clear: Watch what you say on matters sensitive to our country if you want to do business here. This hardball response to Morey and the NBA fits a pattern of threats and reprisals against foreign organizations wading (even unintentionally) into the country’s sensitive internal politics.

Facing boycott threats this summer, Western fashion brands apologized for T-shirts that suggested that Taiwan and Hong Kong were independent countries rather than territories that are part of China. It isn’t just top executives who have paid a price for speech that offends China’s sensibilities. Last year, a Marriott employee earning $14 an hour used a company account to like a post on Twitter from a Tibetan separatist group. A Chinese tourism organization demanded an apology and urged Marriott to “seriously deal with the people responsible.” The employee was fired. When China threatens a foreign business, compliance typically prevails over resistance.

China’s efforts to impose speech controls on international companies and their workers have largely succeeded. Morey deleted his tweet. The NBA put out a statement saying the tweet doesn’t represent NBA or the Rockets, which led to an uproar in the U.S. and another statement from the NBA.

The league’s initial response provoked a torrent of criticism in the United States; in a rare show of unity, leading Democrats and Republicans rebuked the NBA for caving to China and failing to stand up for Morey’s free speech rights.

American companies have grudgingly accepted all kinds of Chinese rules for years. They may bristle about how they are forced to transfer technology in exchange for access to China’s market and about Chinese cyber spies who threaten their intellectual property. But the potential rewards — all those consumers, a middle class that’s expected to reach 550 million by 2022 — are just too great to spurn. And that means playing by China’s rules.

One notable recent exception: South Park, the sardonic, boundary busting Comedy Central cartoon. Last week’s episode, “Band in China,” appeared to offend authorities so much that all traces of the show — episodes, clips, discussion groups and social media posts — vanished from major platforms in China.

South Park‘s creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, seized on the moment to issue a fake apology mocking China’s President Xi Jinping and the NBA:

OFFICIAL APOLOGY TO CHINA FROM TREY PARKER AND MATT STONE.

“Like the NBA, we welcome the Chinese censors into our homes and into our hearts. We too love money more than freedom and democracy. Xi doesn’t look just like Winnie the Pooh at all. Tune into our 300th episode Wednesday at 10! Long live the Great Communist Party of China! May this autumn’s sorghum harvest be bountiful! We good now China?”

In fairness to the NBA, South Park thrives on political agitation. The basketball league has painstakingly built a thriving connection with hundreds of millions of Chinese fans.

The NBA has notably supported players and coaches who express their political views on subjects ranging from police violence to guns and President Trump. But Daryl Morey’s seven-word tweet “Fight For Freedom Stand With Hong Kong” puts the league’s progressive image to its sternest test. On Tuesday, the well-regarded NBA Commissioner Adam Silver sought to clarify the league’s position, saying it would “protect its employees’ freedom of speech,” while at the same time apologizing to the league’s fans in China.

The apology failed to defuse the league’s crisis. China’s state-run television network said it was “strongly dissatisfied” with Silver’s remarks. And it bluntly declared that any speech challenging China’s “social stability” doesn’t fall within the realm of freedom of speech.

The Chinese message is loud and clear: Your free speech ends at the water’s edge.

Source: Analysis: The Long Arm Of China And Free Speech

Immigration has taken a back seat in this election, and business is pleased

More on the biggest (non) surprise in the election campaign:

In the waning days of the last Parliament, Canada’s CEOs publicly called on the country’s political parties to keep immigration off the table in this fall’s election campaign.

Their wish came true, more or less, until this week.

With Alberta Premier Jason Kenney bursting into the suburbs around Toronto on the weekend, and the presence of People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier at the English-language leaders’ debate on Monday, what had mostly been a discussion at the riding level finally emerged nationally.

But the worst fears of the business community have not materialized.

Rather than degenerating into an anti-immigrant brawl with racist overtones, the discussion has been rational and measured for the most part, with Bernier’s opponents labelling his call for lower immigration levels as irrational and intolerant.

Canadian business leaders had looked at the anti-immigration sentiment developing in the United States. They looked at some of the backlash in Canadian politics as thousands of asylum-seekers walked across the border from the U.S. And they looked at the state of their workforces, their need for labour and the projections for growth going out a few years into the future.

They didn’t like what they saw.

“We are 10 years away from a true demographic pressure point,” Business Council of Canada president and CEO Goldy Hyder told reporters in April. “What I’ve said to the leaders of the political parties on this issue is, ‘Please, please do all you can to resist making this election about immigration.’ That’s as bluntly as I can say it to them.”

Business leaders and many economists argue that Canadian immigration levels need to rise if the economy is to grow fast enough to support a burgeoning number of seniors into retirement. Without increased immigration, the workforce won’t expand, and the number of people depending on that workforce for benefits and supports will be insufficient.

The Liberal government admitted 310,000 immigrants in 2018, with a goal of 350,000 by 2021. About 58 per cent of those are meant to be economic migrants, selected to meet federal and provincial labour needs.

Bernier proposes to cut that number to 150,000, and polling over the past few months suggested he might have the ear of a growing minority of voters.

But instead of taking the bait, as business leaders feared, the other parties were steadfast. Bernier’s federalist opponents found a rare moment of agreement on Monday night, with all of them expressing support for increasing immigration levels.

It actually started last week, when Conservative Leader Andrew Scheerblurted out in a television interview that yes, he would support the Liberals’ general immigration plan.

“That’s a legacy that I’ll continue to build on,” Scheer told the CBC, explaining that an open and inclusive immigration policy is crucial for a growing population and a healthy workforce. Canada’s role as a safe haven for migrants is something to be valued, he added.

Scheer also said a Conservative government would find better ways to allow temporary foreign workers to stay at length in Canada and become permanent residents — a boon to employers looking to bolster their staffing over the long term.

While the business community may have its wish of no bitter immigration debate, it comes with a side effect: there is also very little discussion around how to improve the integration of immigrant workers so their skills are put to best use.

Meanwhile, there are signs the immigration discussion is not always so genteel at the riding level, and some Conservative promotional material has been more aggressive in attacking the way the Liberals have handled refugees. Kenney played into that sentiment last weekend in a tour through an array of diaspora gatherings around the GTA.

When the Conservatives were in government, he said in Richmond Hill, “we sent a message that if you wanted to come to Canada, you should come legally through the front door, waiting your turn in line, not sneaking around it by cutting the queue.”

And the Scheer campaign has issued bumper-sticker style social media slogans urging a fairer immigration system.

While that’s a far cry from the anti-immigrant backlash that the business community feared, corporate Canada has not exactly seen all of its campaign dreams come true.

Global growth is slowing, free trade patterns have been deeply disrupted by U.S.-China tensions, and Canada’s prospects are anemic. In a new forecast from the Conference Board of Canada on Monday, economists pegged Canada’s gross domestic product to expand by just 1.6 per cent this year, despite a pace of nearly four per cent in the second quarter. The culprits? Global trade, hesitant business investment in Canada, and exports.

The longer term challenges for Canadian growth are equally troubling, with the prospects of widespread automation, a world turning away from fossil fuels, and an aggressive knowledge-based economy on the horizon.

But if the discussion around immigration at the national level is practical and pro-business, the discussion around Canada in a rapidly changing economy is nearly absent.

Source: Immigration has taken a back seat in this election, and business is pleased

Trump’s immigration policies are causing corporate employee revolts

Of note:

Employees at several big companies, including Google and Whole Foods, are revolting against their bosses for accepting work from government agencies that enforce the Trump administration’s immigration policies.

Why it matters: The immigration debate has become so polarizing under President Trump that companies are now finding themselves at odds with their workforces for being involved at any level with the immigration enforcement process.

Driving the news: Employees at Google circulated a petition Wednesday demanding that Google publicly commit not to support government agencies that engage in practices they feel amount to “human rights abuses.”

  • The petition calls for Google not to provide any “infrastructure, funding, or engineering resources, directly or indirectly” for Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). They’re worried because CBP is looking for a contractor to provide cloud computing services.
  • Whole Foods employees demanded this week that Amazon, their parent company, cut ties with Palantir, a government contractor that’s being called out for its work with ICE.
  • Ogilvy, a global PR agency, was forced to confront angry employees at a town hall meeting last month over a multi-million dollar contract with CBP. The agency’s CEO wrote to staffers in late July that the agency would continue to do work with the agency, despite employee backlash.

Between the lines: Even companies that are far removed from the government are under fire for ties to immigration.

  • In June, Wayfair workers protested the company’s furniture sales to an immigration detention camp. The tension between employees and the company spooked investors too, with Wayfair’s stock taking a hit as employees protested.
  • Axios’ Ina Fried reported in July that a nonprofit group slammed Palantir for its ties to government agencies in a study that details all corporate ties to CBP vendors.

Be smart: More than ever, there is pressure on corporations and their leadership to stand up for social issues that their costumers and employees care about. For instance, in recent months, several banks — including Bank of America, J.P. Morgan, Wells Fargo and SunTrust — said they would no longer lend money to companies that run immigrant detention centers.

  • Yes, but: That pressure companies face can be problematic for brands that need to serve a wide range of customers and employ diverse workforces. Advocates are pushing to hold companies accountable for their policies by encouraging employee and consumer activism on social media, but some employees feel that the pressure is alienating conservatives.

The big picture: Several issues have become divisive for companies and their workforces under the last two years of the administration, according to a Morning Consult survey.

  • Guns have become more contentious in the wake of high-profile mass shootings like Parkland. Walmart employees staged a walkout last week to protest gun sales after two mass shootings left dozens dead in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio.

  • Restrictive abortion bills at the state level have forced many companies to change their policies or pull their business from certain states. Earlier this year, Hollywood heavyweights like Netflix, Disney, NBC and WarnerMedia all considered film production boycotts if Georgia upheld a controversial “fetal heartbeat” abortion ban.

Source: Trump’s immigration policies are causing corporate employee revolts

Companies That Rely On US Census Data Worry Citizenship Question Will Hurt

Same issues arose from the Canadian business community with respect to the 2011 National Household Survey, given the adverse impact on demographic and other data, particularly in smaller geographic areas:

Some critics of the citizenship question the Trump administration wants to add to the 2020 census are coming from a group that tends to stay away from politically heated issues — business leaders.

From longtime corporations like Levi Strauss & Co. to upstarts like Warby Parker, some companies say that including the question — “Is this person a citizen of the United States?” — could harm not only next year’s national head count, but also their bottom line.

How governments use census data is a common refrain in the lead-up to a constitutionally mandated head count of every person living in the U.S. The new population counts, gathered once a decade, are used to determine how congressional seats and Electoral College votes are distributed among the states. They also guide how hundreds of billions in federal tax dollars are spread around the country to fund public services.

What is often less visible is how the census data undergird decisions made by large and small businesses across the country. The demographic information the census collects — including the age, sex, race, ethnicity and housing status of all U.S. residents — informs business owners about who their existing and future customers are, which new products and services those markets may want and where to build new locations.

Weeks before the Supreme Court heard oral arguments over the citizenship question last month, more than two dozen companies and business groups filed a friend-of-the-court brief against the question. Its potential impact on the accuracy of census data, especially about immigrants and people of color, is drawing concern from both Lyft and Uber, as well as Levi Strauss, Warby Parker and Univision.

“We don’t view this as a political situation at all,” says Christine Pierce, the senior vice president of data science at Nielsen — a major data analytics company in the business world that filed its own brief with the high court. “We see this as one that is around sound research and good science.”

Next year, the Trump administration wants to use the census to ask about the citizenship status of every person in every household in the country through a question approved by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who oversees the Census Bureau. The collected responses, the administration maintains, would be used to better enforce Voting Rights Act protections against discrimination of racial and language minorities.

Researchers at the Census Bureau, however, recommended against adding a question, which they said would produce citizenship information that’s less accurate and more expensive than existing government data. The question could bump up the cost of the 2020 census by at least $121 million, according to the bureau’s latest estimates.

Three federal judges have issued orders blocking the question, and the issue is now before the U.S. Supreme Court. The justices are expected to issue their ruling by the end of June.

“No substitute for a good census”

In the meantime, Nielsen and other companies are pushing back against the administration’s efforts.

Pierce says asking about a topic as sensitive as a person’s citizenship status is likely to discourage some people from participating in the head count. It’s also important, she adds, to test changes to a survey before implementing them.

The Census Bureau had not conducted a field test of a 2020 census form with a citizenship question before Ross decided to include the question.

Pierce emphasized these points last year in an affidavit for the New York-based lawsuits over the citizenship question. Through the court filing, she testified that Ross mischaracterized comments she made in a phone conversation they had that was later cited in Ross’ memo announcing his decision to add the question.

“If there is an undercount, that could carry through to our audience estimates and could mean that people will make decisions based on data that isn’t as accurate as it should be,” Pierce says, referring to the TV ratings that Nielsen produces using census data.

That data, Nielsen estimates, are tied to $90 billion in TV and video advertising.

“There’s just no substitute for a good census and having that count be as thorough as possible,” Pierce says.

Data that affect “our day-to-day lives”

The ride-hailing app Lyft is worried that an inaccurate census could mean that some communities may not get their fair share in federal funding for roads and public transportation over the next 10 years.

“That is a direct impact on our business because it means that those roads will end up being more clogged up and those people will have a harder time getting around,” says Anthony Foxx, a former U.S. secretary of transportation during the Obama administration who now serves as Lyft’s chief policy officer.

“This data that comes out of the census is not just some bureaucratic government data that sits in a vault somewhere that no one sees. It’s actually data that affects our day-to-day lives,” says Jessica Herrera-Flanigan, Univision’s executive vice president of government and corporate affairs.

Census Bureau research suggests including the question would discourage Latinos and Latinas from responding. Herrera-Flanigan is concerned that could lead to an undercount of Latinx residents.

“It’s a big lift”

Still, Univision is planning to talk up next year’s census on its TV programs. The children’s talent show Pequeños Gigantes recently featured a segment with kids attempting to explain what a census is.

“Regardless of what happens in the courts, we are going to be pushing people to know about the importance of the census and actually do it,” Herrera-Flanigan says. “It’s a big lift.”

It’s also tricky ground for businesses to navigate — especially after President Trump has tweeted his support of the citizenship question.

“The American people deserve to know who is in this Country,” Trump tweeted the day after the Supreme Court hearing.

At a public meeting earlier this month, Census Bureau official Burton Reist noted the bureau is running into hurdles trying to recruit businesses to promote the census.

“We had a meeting with McDonald’s, but that was a year ago. And we’ve had a hard time getting anything to come from it,” he explained to members of the bureau’s National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic and Other Populations.

In response, Arturo Vargas — who leads the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund, a member of the committee — said business leaders have told him they’re reluctant to promote a census that has become so “politicized” by the Commerce Department’s efforts to get a citizenship question added.

“This is now something that, even though it’s such a fundamental aspect of our democracy, that they themselves are not willing to be associated with something that is so controversial now,” Vargas said.

Reist said, so far, a promotional partnership is “underway” between the bureau and the J.M. Smucker Company.

NPR has confirmed the bureau is also in discussions with Procter & Gamble, the company behind Pampers, Luvs and other brands.

Since speaking with the bureau early last year, McDonald’s has “not made any decisions on this at this time,” a spokesperson for the company, Lauren Altmin, said in an email.

Source: Companies That Rely On Census Data Worry Citizenship Question Will Hurt

US Businesses Wage Two-Front War Against 2020 Census Citizenship Question

Similar to the concerns of Canadian business when the Harper government cancelled the mandatory census in favour of the less accurate voluntary National Household Survey:

Leading U.S. businesses have been pushing back against the White House’s anti-immigrant policies since the weeks following Inauguration Day, and now they have joined the fight to keep a controversial new citizenship question out of the 2020 census.

The legal battle over the new census question has been in the media spotlight as a lawsuit—joined by major U.S. business organizations—inches closer to a Supreme Court hearing.

In the trenches, though, an equally important fight is shaping up. If the courts preserve the new citizenship question, major U.S. businesses are already in position to launch a holistic, boots-on-the-ground outreach campaign to encourage census participation.

Why U.S. businesses need an accurate census

The new census question asks, “Is this person a citizen of the United States?” It further breaks down the question with different boxes to check for persons who are born in the U.S. or Puerto Rico and other territories, born abroad with at least one U.S. citizen parent, naturalized citizens, and lastly, “No, not a U.S. citizen.”

All things being equal, the question is a straightforward one. However, under the current administration, anything related to immigration is far from innocuous. Critics—and they are numerous—argue that the question appears deliberately designed to discourage counting in urban areas where immigrants congregate.

An inaccurate census may serve political purposes, but it is anathema to the U.S. business community.

Earlier this week, Reuters took a deep dive into the relationship between the business community and the Census Bureau and noted several significant reasons why U.S. businesses depend on accurate data:

“Retailers like Walmart and Target Corp use Census data to decide where to open stores or distribution hubs, and what to stock on shelves,” wrote Reuters reporter Lauren Tara LaCapra. “Big banks like JPMorgan Chase & Co use the information similarly for branch strategy, and real-estate firms scrutinize the statistics to determine where to build homes and shopping centers. TV networks like Univision, meanwhile, rely on the numbers to plan programing in local markets. And the Census is an important input for tech giants like Google when they create myriad data-based products, such as maps.”

To cite just one example, Amazon’s multi-city search for a second headquarters also harvested Census data to aid the company’s decision making, LaCapra explained.

How U.S. businesses can help ensure an accurate census

In this context, a new census question that could discourage millions of U.S. residents from participating—or participating accurately—is a bottom-line bombshell.

Nevertheless, there is an opportunity for businesses to step forward and take the lead, even if the new census question survives in court.

LaCapra of Reuters suggests that U.S. businesses have already amassed experience in encouraging census participation at a grassroots, face-to-face level: “Ahead of the 2010 Census, McDonald’s Corp featured information on restaurant placemats, Walmart greeters handed out flyers, big retailers featured reminders on receipts and utility companies stuck inserts into electric, gas and water bills.”

Intentionally or not, AB-InBev has already taken the lead on the 2020 census. The global company’s Budweiser brand touched off a media firestorm by unveiling a pro-immigrant advertisement at the 2017 Super Bowl.

Partnering with the U.S. census bureau

That could be just a small harbinger of private-sector participation in the 2020 census.

The U.S. Census Bureau itself provides guidance for companies that want to get involved in the 2020 census. It is actively recruiting private-sector partners through its Integrated Partnership and Communicationsprogram, which is tasked with “building ties with more than 300,000 state, local, and tribal governments, community-based organizations, nongovernmental organizations and advocacy groups, and the private sector.”

The IPC program appeals directly to the corporate social responsibility movement, explaining that “you benefit by fulfilling your CSR goals, accessing our personalized data training and information services, networking with other businesses you otherwise wouldn’t encounter, and engaging with your customers and employees around a civic duty.”

IPC is keenly aware of brand reputation, telling companies: “You have invested heavily in understanding how to reach and how to communicate with your customers and employees. You are trusted brands and trusted voices.”

Furthermore, IPC underscores the bottom-line benefits:

“The 2020 Census data will help you create projections of growth to identify prime locations to open new operations or close old ones. You can enhance your hiring practice and identify skilled workers. Our data provide valuable information on your customer base (income level, household size, homeownership status) to inform your pricing and location strategies.”

Helping the Census Bureau help you

As IPC partners, companies receive messaging, branding and guidance on spreading the word. That includes basics like sharing a link to the 2020 census on company websites, providing Internet connections and free call time to underserved households, and hosting community educational events.

IPC also suggests that companies engage in commentary, through op-eds and similar content, to explain why partnering with the Census Bureau is so important to them.

In addition, the IPC guidance aims to build the 2020 census-taker workforce. IPC partners are asked to advertise Census job openings and help applicants with filling out forms. That can include providing transportation to libraries and other locations where help is available, or where training sessions are located.

That’s just for starters. IPC also encourages companies to sign up for Census Bureau news alerts, spread the word by following @uscensusbureau on Twitter, and distribute Census bureau infographicsand other materials. The organization also hosts workshops to develop local solutions to specific challenges in their community and generate commitments to tackle them.

How brands can take stands supporting the census

IPC also asks companies to use text messaging and social media to encourage Census employment and participation. In that regard, IPC has one particularly salient piece of guidance for its partners, and that is to “actively monitor, fact check, and correct misinformation on social networks about the 2020 Census.”

Reportedly, the Census Bureau has received “initial” commitments from Facebook, Google and Twitter to clamp down on misinformation.

It will be especially interesting to see how the commitment plays out for Facebook. The company has a years-long history of alleged civil rights violations to account for and overcome, in addition to an ongoing connection with white nationalism and tolerance of white nationalismthrough one of its controversial board members, along with its alleged facilitation of Russian propaganda during the 2016 election.

Companies that have come forward include Levi Strauss & Co, Uber, Lyftand Univision. Yet Reuters also reported that companies involved in the lawsuit against the new census question have been reluctant to publicize their stand, fearing backlash from the Trump administration.

Source: US Businesses Wage Two-Front War Against 2020 Census Citizenship Question

Interactive research map reveals multi-billion-dollar US immigration industry

Quite a contrast with Canada where the “immigration industry” is characterized by service provider organizations, immigration lawyers and academics in contrast to business interests in the USA:

An interactive website which investigates the rising investment in detention, enforcement, and deportation of immigrant families in the U.S has been released by a group of researchers and academics this week.

The virtual resource charts financial contracts that the U.S government has with companies to supply goods and services required for detention, surveillance, and deportation of immigrants. This includes everything from IT supplies and services for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices, toiletries for detainees and even ammunition and taser accessories.

The website was co-built by Associate Professor Rachel Hendery from Western Sydney University’s Digital Humanities Research Group. Associate Professor Hendery contributed to the programming, design and analysis work for the platform.

The interactive data exploration reveals that ICE government values have increased 987 percent since 2014— and they have almost doubled in the past year.

Associate Professor Hendery said the research found the U.S government and businesses are heavily profiting from the detainment of .

“Businesses like Deloitte have various ICE contracts which collectively amount to $250 Million— and they aren’t the biggest,” Associate Professor Hendery said.

“Amazon, LinkedIn and Dell are just some of the household names of organisations that are a part of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement ‘industry’.

“I don’t think people are aware of the scale of this immigration prison industry, nor that it really is an industry, with all kinds of financial and other incentives for the status quo to continue, or as our data suggests, scale up even further,” she said.

The map is divided into ‘visualisations’ which provide different data on the financial industry of the immigration system. The visualisations include:

  • Monetary amounts of ICE contracts in each congressional district
  • ICE contracts from 2014-2018 showing the exponential growth of economic activity within the immigration system.
  • An exposé of some of the most egregious participants in the ICE economy.
  • An in-depth look at the expenditure categories for ICE contracts.
  • Re-displacements from the US since 2012 by port of removal.
  • A map of allies, double vetted for trustworthiness.

Professor Hendery said that maps and other interactive data visualisations that were used in the project help extract narratives from complex figures in a way that looking at numbers does not.

“Most people reading or hearing about immigration in the U.S are operating without all the information. It’s hard to understand how large the ICE machinery is, or what the scale of their financial web is like.”

The research makes up the second volume of the Torn Apart/ Separados project which provides a deep and radically new look at the culpability behind the humanitarian crisis in the United States. The project is made up of an interdisciplinary cohort of researchers around the world who combine technical skills and classical research practices to help mobilise humanity.

Source: Interactive research map reveals multi-billion-dollar US immigration industry

Promoting diversity and inclusion, and how to tell the difference: RBC Neil McLaughlin

McLaughlin, head of personal and commercial banking for the Royal Bank of Canada, on how to leverage and benefit from diversity:

Canada is one of the world’s most diverse countries. Business gets it.

Diversity and inclusion are part of our values. They’re critical to the future prosperity of our country. They’re a business imperative and key for growth and innovation.

We know this. So what are we doing about it?

That’s a growing challenge for Canadian businesses as we come to grips with twin revolutions in the technology we use and the society we serve.

This summer, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) and the Institute for Canadian Citizenship surveyed 64 leading organizations – from hospitals to technology firms – that collectively employ 1.2 million Canadians to ask them about diversity and inclusion: how they define it, how they go about promoting it and how they measure it.

The survey results will be released at the 6 Degrees Conference in Toronto on Sept. 26, and the findings are both encouraging and concerning. Canadian business gets diversity, but we’re struggling with inclusion – an imprecise and ambiguous word that most employers don’t know how to approach. Diversity is often considered to be what we see. It’s a fact. Inclusion is what we hear – how we value, respect and involve everyone. It’s a choice.

Nearly 90 per cent of organizations in the survey strongly believe diverse and inclusive teams make better decisions. And, as we deal with whipsaw changes in the digital revolution, we realize we need more diverse perspectives than ever.

Here’s the rub. Where the majority of organizations see themselves as diverse, and go to great lengths to foster diversity, few have found a way to come to grips with inclusion strategically.

The numbers tell the story: 65 per cent strongly agree that leveraging diversity is fundamental to organizational performance, but only 10 per cent say they’re taking full advantage of a diverse work force. Only 20 per cent tie diversity and inclusion results to performance objectives and only 10 per cent measure the effects of diversity and inclusion on innovation.

In roundtables across the country, we heard shared concerns from different and diverse companies. A mining giant saw attracting more women as an answer to the problem of an aging work force – and then realized at its mine sites it didn’t have goggles or helmets that fit them properly. A state-of-the-art hospital in a low-income neighbourhood discovered that many of the residents its serves view it as the “castle on a hill” rather than a health-care partner or potential employer.

These firms recognized that while they’re surrounded by diversity, they’re not harnessing it and, therefore, are not moving at the pace of change of the communities around them. We all know we have more talent, more ideas, more passion, more perspectives than we use. In business, we’d call it a stranded asset.

When you consider that Canada accepts 300,000 immigrants annually, that one-fifth of Canadians are visible minorities and that 60 per cent of Canadian females between the ages of 25 and 64 have post-secondary degrees, the survey numbers tell us we need to do better. Add to that the fact global talent is highly mobile, and it’s clear: We need to do better now.

At RBC, we’ve seen incredible creativity and innovation through a co-op program, Amplify, that encourages students – two-thirds of whom were born outside Canada – to solve some of RBC’s most complex business challenges. We’re taking that diversity of thought and trying to leverage it for better business results. That’s inclusion.

It’s not about relying on the “smartest person in the room” but the talent of many. It’s about the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. As our Amplify program shows, a diverse group of engaged people is more likely to solve a challenge than a genius lone wolf. This diversity of thought is where you get innovation.

If we are to tackle challenges such as climate change and health care, we need to cultivate the talents of all our best minds. We need to see inclusion not as an employee-engagement tool, but a core part of corporate strategy and a way to build stronger communities.

So, how can Canadian employers leverage the country’s diversity to come up with new ways of thinking and working? Here are some ideas we heard in conversation with organizations across the country: Get the strategy group to make diversity and inclusion their own priority. Adopt innovation metrics to see how inclusion is paying off. Make it a central part of every leadership discussion. Promote a questioning culture, to engage the minds of the many, not just those who think they’ve got it figured out. Measure, measure, measure. Compensate accordingly. Repeat.

Canadian business gets it. Now we need to act on it.

Source: Promoting diversity and inclusion, and how to tell the difference – The Globe and Mail

Diversity and creativity: the link is not as simple as we think

A good summary of a study that is more nuanced than most in the link between diversity and creativity.

Of particular note is how the benefits of diversity are greatest in innovation, less so in implementation. And that personality diversity is likely more important than demographic diversity.

Some good leadership pointers in how to manage diverse work forces:

It has become customary to assume that diversity increases creativity. But Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, a professor of business psychology at University College London and a faculty member at Columbia University, says the link is not as simple as we think.

Yes, teams with a diverse composition generate a wider range of original and useful ideas. But experimental studies suggest those benefits disappear when the team turns its attention to implementation, deciding which ideas to select and act upon, presumably because diversity hinders consensus.

He writes in Harvard Business Review that an analysis of 108 studies and more than 10,000 teams “indicated that the creativity gains produced by higher team diversity are disrupted by the inherent social conflict and decision-making deficits that less homogeneous teams create. It would therefore make sense for organizations to increase diversity in teams that are focused on exploration or idea generation, and use more-homogeneous teams to curate and implement those ideas.”

He adds that for all the talk about the importance of creativity, the critical activity is innovation – implementing creative ideas. “Most organizations have a surplus of creative ideas that are never implemented, and more diversity is not going to solve this problem,” he says.

Other factors to consider:

  • Good leadership helps. It can assist a team in overcoming the conflicts flowing from diversity. A key is to help members understand other people’s perspectives rather than fixating on their own individual agendas.Too much diversity is problematic. We might assume that the relationship between creativity and diversity is linear. But that appears to not be true and a moderate degree of diversity is more beneficial than a higher dose.

 

  • Psychology outweighs demography: While we tend to focus on gender, age and racial diversity, the most interesting and influential aspects are the psychological elements of diversity, such as personality, values and abilities. Those are the powerful factors to be alert to.

 

  • Knowledge sharing is key. For diversity to enhance creativity, a culture of sharing knowledge should be in place. “Studies mapping the social networks of organizations have found higher levels of creativity in groups that are more interconnected, particularly when creative and intrapreneurial individuals are a central node in those networks,” he writes.

 

  • Cynics are persuadable. He says diversity training is actually most effective with individuals who are skeptical of it. Of course, the challenge is to get them on board for training.

 

  • Other factors than diversity are more powerful in boosting creativity. He says analysis has found that vision, task orientation, support for innovation and external communication are the strongest determinants of creativity and innovation. Team composition and structure have much less impact.

 

Certainly diversity is nice for organizations to have. But he insists that if your actual goal is to enhance creativity, there are simpler, more effective solutions than boosting diversity.

Source: Diversity and creativity: the link is not as simple as we think – The Globe and Mail

Canada’s diversity, inclusion could win the war for global talent

The business case for diversity by John Montalbano, recently retired vice-chairman of RBC Wealth Management and how Canadian firms should take advantage of the ‘Canadian advantage’ in the era of Trump:

Before my retirement in December, I hosted a steady stream of women and visible minorities bewildered by the events south of our border. Their commonly held fear was that the unhealthy discourse of the election, and its outcome, would make it okay for unconscious (discriminatory) biases to become conscious biases within the workplace. Or, at the very least, allow unconscious biases to be reinforced. This uncertainty and dismay deserves to be addressed by our business leaders, even though the genesis of these fears took place outside of our country.

Corporate leaders who believe that their organizations have a culture that supports meritocracy in the workplace should acknowledge the concerns that have arisen among those who fear the repercussions of recent events. All employees want to hear that their CEO is sensitive to the presently heightened concerns of women, visible minorities, LBGT communities and those with physical challenges. It is the time to be vocal about your commitment to robust diversity practices.

Where gaps exist in a company’s diversity initiatives, this is the perfect time to review and introduce key action items, such as: pay equity (merit and experience should be the key differentiators); diversity targets for board appointments, external recruitment and internal promotions (or similarly a commitment to principles consistent with those introduced by Catalyst Canada, an advocacy organization dedicated to progress for women through workplace inclusion); mentorship programs aimed at building experience and exposure for high performers in mid-management positions where diversity pools are generally deep; campus recruitment programs that reflect local demographics and that of the emerging work force; removal of the stigma of paternity leave, and synchronization of maternity benefits in the United States to those offered in Canada; and introduction of mandatory programs for all senior executives, addressing conscious and unconscious biases.

The war for talent rages and the time is now for our CEOs to boldly declare an unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion. “Brand Canada” is our recruiting advantage. Use it to full affect, without apology.

Source: Canada’s diversity, inclusion could win the war for global talent – The Globe and Mail

Diversity is key to success in corporate Canada

Jennifer Reynolds, of Toronto-based Women in Capital Markets, on the business case for diversity:

In my role, I have the pleasure of spending time at universities across the country, meeting with students to talk about their careers and the important role they can play as future business leaders in Canada’s economy.

I am not sure who coined the term, but I often hear Canada’s leadership teams referred to as “male, pale and stale”. While I consider “stale” a bit harsh, the “male and pale” is hard to deny. A mere 12 per cent of TSX publically listed company directors are women, and visible minorities make up 4.5 per cent of FP500 company directors in Canada. One could argue that universities in Canada were not all that ethnically diverse 30 years ago when the current crop of senior leaders were graduating, however, you can’t argue that there were no women there. Women have represented 50 per cent (or more) of university graduates for 30 years. Women have also been abundantly present in middle management roles for years. The pool of female talent for leadership roles in our economy has existed for decades, yet less than 20 per cent of senior officer roles are held by women and 40 per cent of leadership teams in Canada have no women at all.

So as this current generation graduates from universities, can we tell them with confidence that 20 years from now Canada’s leadership teams will look like their classrooms? History would argue that “same likes same” in the corporate world. Unless leaders start challenging that overwhelming desire to hire and promote in one’s own likeness, we will find the disconnect between the demographic in our universities and that in the corporate boardroom continues to persist. The reality is, it will take intentional and tenacious focus to hire, develop and promote diverse talent.

To date, corporate Canada hasn’t been all that strong at developing diverse talent. If we want Canada to lead when it comes to innovation, productivity and economic competitiveness, we must take advantage of the immense pool of diverse talent in this country. Our diversity can be a significant competitive advantage. Volumes of research by credible organizations like Credit Suisse, McKinsey and Catalyst have demonstrated higher levels of gender diversity in leadership result in stronger financial performance, same hold true for ethnic diversity.

If you are a leader that buys into the thesis that you need to access the best of 100 per cent of the talent pool to win in the 21st century, you need to start the hard work now. You need to equip your management team with the motivation and tools to change the way they recruit and develop talent. Most importantly, you need to be the biggest, most vocal and tenacious champion of the need for diversity in your business’s talent pool. Even those with the best of intentions fall back on comfortable practices in challenging times. It will take a long-term view to change habits and culture in any organization and the CEO must champion that change.

When young people start their careers in an organization, they are looking for role models. People they relate to and aspire to emulate. If they don’t see anyone that looks like them, if they don’t fit in with the dominant group, that can appear to be a barrier to their prospects. It needs to be clear that “fit” is not “sameness”, that difference of opinion and perspective is valued, and that the leadership team of tomorrow, will look different than the leadership team today.

The best management teams, the ones the next generation will want to work for, will need to evolve from amalgamating power in one dominant person or group, to recognizing that the highest value they can bring to their organizations is to empower other people. To give power to diversity of thought, ideas and solutions. That is innovation in the 21st century.

Source: Diversity is key to success in corporate Canada – The Globe and Mail