Diversity, Equality, Equity & Inclusion begins with acknowledging that disparities do exist. We acknowledge this reality and want to be a part of the solution.
What is our aspiration?
Community, integrity, freedom, and being genuine are the values of our business and the compass that guides what we do every day. With these values in mind, we are committed to doing our part to help create a world that embraces individuality through respect, acceptance, representation, and empowerment. It is not just about doing the right thing. This commitment is fundamental to who we are and is integral to who we want to be in the future. We believe celebrating diversity leads to more imaginative design as well as more inclusive and innovative business practices. Most importantly, inclusion leads to more authentic relationships with our team, partners and customers.
Our ultimate ambition is to be a preferred place to work for all, regardless of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or ability, and an ally for social change and representation within the local and global communities in which we operate.
Where are we on our journey?
We are moving forward with a pledge to drive impactful and lasting change. We recognize that we still have a lot of work to do, but we are committed to the journey.
Below Are Some Of Our Early Efforts:
Learning and Dialogue
We acknowledge that becoming a true ally and supportive voice for Diversity, Equality and Inclusion requires us to continue to build from the inside out. With recent changes in executive leadership, we now have a female CEO and CFO, and 75% of our executive leadership team is female. Further, one of our four executive officers self-identifies as a visible minority and another self-identifies as a member of the LGBTQ2+ Community. In addition, 25% of our Board of Directors is female, and we have a Board Diversity Policy in place. As further steps, we have implemented mandatory baseline educational tools across our organization. We have also established a cross-functional Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Council and a broad employee-driven Diversity Equality and Inclusion Committee to progress our Diversity Equality and Inclusion initiatives and commitments as well as to facilitate listening and learning within our employee base.
We believe taking concrete action is essential to driving change, and as a longstanding brand with nearly five decades of history, we are taking our responsibility of leading by example very seriously.
We have recently signed two extremely important commitments
The Dear Everybody Agreement with the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Centre in support of taking more purposeful steps toward greater inclusivity of individuals with disabilities in traditional media.
The Black North Initiative Pledge in commitment to actively working toward the removal of anti-Black systemic barriers that are negatively affecting the lives of Black Canadians in Corporate Canada.
We know that the true work in any underserved community is done by passionate community groups with feet on the ground. While we do not have the expertise to address the problems that plague these communities, we recognize the importance of supporting those who do.
Over the past year, through a combination of product donations and funds raised through the sale of our new, made-in-Canada, non-medical face masks, we have donated more than $1.5 million to many well-deserving organizations. We are proud to be able to play a role in progressing the life-changing work they do.
Girls E-Mentorship (GEM)
Partial proceeds of our IWD collection will be donated to Girls E-Mentorship (GEM), a girls' program by girls, to overcome barriers as they transition into adulthood. Along with the donations, our CEO Meghan Roach and Emma Knight will be partnering with GEM as mentors.
The Black Academy
Co-founded by Shamier Anderson and Stephan James, The Black Academy is dedicated to celebrating Black talent across Canada and inspiring generations to come through education, mentorship, and recognition. The Black Academy is a division of the not-for-profit B.L.A.C.K Canada.
The Black Coalition for Aids Prevention
Creates culturally relevant outreach and provides prevention and support services in response to the threat of HIV and AIDS in Toronto’s African, Caribbean and Black communities.
Brands for Canada
A nationally registered charity that supplies clothing, personal care, and houseware items to millions of Canadians living in poverty.
The Frontline Fund
Provides Canadian healthcare practitioners with the supplies, support and research funding they need to fight the COVID-19 public health emergency and to support northern communities and indigenous health.
Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital
Provides care and support for kids with disabilities, kids needing rehabilitation after illness or trauma, and kids whose medical complexity requires a kind of care they cannot get elsewhere.
True North Aid
Is dedicated to supporting northern Indigenous communities in Canada through practical humanitarian support.
In Spring 2021, we will be launching the Roots Emerging Creators Project. Inspired by the symbiotic relationship that we see in the way trees communicate and flourish in nature, the Roots Emerging Creators Project is a community-focused designer mentorship program that nurtures and gives exposure to emerging brands led by underrepresented creators. We will be sharing more information about the project and the application process in the coming months.
What is to come?
While we have taken important steps in amplifying our commitment to Diversity, Equality, Equity and Inclusion, these initial efforts are by no means our last. With deep commitment across our executive leadership team and throughout our entire organization, we plan to continue evolving our behaviour, taking action, and standing with the people who inspire us to be the meaningful and lasting change we want to see in the world.