Rachel Wade – Manager of Global Diversity & Inclusion, Culture & Engagement at Parkland Fuel Founder & President at Including You Consulting

Rachel Wade
Founder & President, Including You Consulting Manager, Global Diversity & Inclusion – Parkland Fuel

Rachel has been working in the area of Diversity & Inclusion for the last eight years from various perspectives including: grassroots, corporate, public, internal and external facing, locally and internationally. Her industry experience includes finance, energy, tech, non-profit, and advertising.

Rachel is the Founder and President of Including You Consulting where she helps organizations activate diversity & inclusion on purpose. Additionally, she is the Manager, Global Diversity & Inclusion at Parkland Fuel where she is focused on building and guiding the organization’s D&I strategies across Canada, United States, and Caribbean.

Rachel Wade has championed diversity and inclusion efforts in the business world for over 8 years and it’s clear that she has a wealth of knowledge to share on the subject. She graciously sat down with us to share her advice for companies looking to start on their journey towards creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace.

Resist the urge to create a big campaign without first pausing and trying to understand.

First and foremost, Rachel recommends looking at your employee and/or customer data, including demographics, awareness of and attitudes toward diversity, equity and inclusion. If you do not already have the data available, collect it. You can conduct surveys or focus groups to get a sense of what your current employees feel about their workplace culture. She recommends working with external organizations that do this type of work, because even if you try to do the work yourself with the best intentions, doing it poorly will result in people writing off your efforts as shallow at best and harmful at worst.

Review job postings for qualification requirements and also language.

If you’re looking to be more inclusive in your hiring processes, this is a must. For example, if you’re requiring 10 years of industry experience, you’ll likely only get the people who have historically been in your industry. You can also review your job postings for language, and there are even apps to help with this. If you’re looking to widen your applicant pool to include more women, for example, apps can detect language that leans masculine. Rachel recommends building reciprocal partnerships with organizations that may be willing to review your job postings, interview questions, and so on, to ensure you’re using inclusive language. If you’re not getting the applicants you want from Glassdoor, LinkedIn, etc. they may be able to suggest alternative places to advertise so that you can cast a wider net.

Build an internal culture of understanding and inclusion, starting from the top down.

As a leader within your organization, you should be in the know about things like non-mainstream holidays, or news media related to race, culture, or gender issues. Part of a leader’s job is to realize that employees are whole people, and if they are expected to show up to work and act like nothing is going on besides what’s at their desk, this can lead to long-term impacts on engagement, creativity, and productivity. You can make sure all employees know that you have an open-door policy for talking, or that employees won’t be punished if they need to take some time to mentally digest something that may be weighing on them emotionally.

Consider the impact of allyship paralysis: what happens when you’re so worried about saying the wrong thing that you don’t say anything at all.

Allyship paralysis, a phrase that Rachel’s coined over the years, ultimately results in preserving systemic problems or microaggressions that make your workplace unwelcoming. She cautions against tokenizing people on your journey towards diversity and inclusion. Offer them the opportunity to be included, but don’t parade certain employees around as an example of how diverse your company is, or expect them to want to be involved with D&I efforts. Simply put, she says “Invite them to the table, don’t shove them to the table.”

Expediency is the nemesis of inclusion.

The biggest takeaway Rachel provides is that you can’t look to do this type of work quickly, just for the sake of doing it. People will see through any surface level efforts. Be prepared to do it well, not just fast. She says lean into the uncomfortable. The point is to stumble forward, as long as you’re doing it thoughtfully and are willing to admit you’ve made mistakes.

-Rachel Wade, bh


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