Building a More Diverse, Inclusive Organization to Benefit Everyone

This year’s virtual Benefits Together conference, an annual learning and networking event for Medavie Blue Cross clients and partners, led off with a conversation focused on a topic that has taken centre stage in our world — a world of extraordinary diversity — and is increasingly reflected in Canadian workplaces.

Conference host, speakers

Host and Medavie CEO Bernard Lord is part of a working group, made up of senior leaders and employee volunteers from across our organization, who are developing an overall diversity, equity and inclusion strategy for Medavie. He spoke with two workplace diversity experts Zabeen Hirji (English opening keynote) and Déborah Cherenfant (French opening keynote)* on how managing inclusively with empathy is critical for future growth, prosperity and resilience, and the steps that can be taken to accelerate positive change.

Déborah Cherenfant
Bernard Lord
Zabeen Hirji

Words of wisdom on workplace diversity

They shared how an equitable and inclusive workplace touches all stakeholders and how it can bring organizations extensive rewards, from engaged and energized talent, to improved business performance and increased profits. Here are some of their words of wisdom.

“Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.” Zabeen Hirji
“When everyone in the roomis thinking the same thing, then no one is thinking.” Bernard Lord on why diversity of opinions and perspectives is needed in the workplace
“Equity is a starting point, it's realizing not everyone lives the same situation. Not everyone has the same starting point.” Deborah Cherenfant
“When I talk about DEI the headline is leadership, leadership, leadership.” Zabeen Hirji
"What we all need to understand is that diversity drives performance by leveraging creativity and creation. We foster a creative environment with new perspectives." Déborah Cherenfant
“Canada is a very diverse country. In order to serve this market, we need to hire this market.” Zabeen Hirji
“It is just not about leading from the head but leading from the heart. It is about creating the culture and conditions where people can thrive. That takes work. It’s a deliberate process.” Zabeen Hirji
“It’s not just about doing the right thing, it’s better for everyone and it makes a lot of business sense.” Bernard Lord
“If we further develop our thinking… We speak of inclusion, but inclusion in what? When we are speaking of inclusion, are we not putting inclusion in a box, when it's outside of this box we need to think? Maybe we should aim at something more open.” Déborah Cherenfant
“My dream is that (DEI) will be built into our DNA.” Zabeen Hirji
“If we don’t have the right culture, strategy probably won’t succeed.” Bernard Lord, agreeing that DEI should become “second nature” to organizations.

Medavie’s Commitment to Workplace Diversity

Medavie has made diversity, equity and inclusion a top priority, at all levels, and for all lines of our business, to benefit and enrich everyone we employ and serve.

As a trusted health solutions partner, our vision is to foster a respectful culture where are teams, patients, customers, partners and communities are valued for who they are and what they contribute. We strongly believe that varied perspectives fuel collaboration, innovation and excellence that is central to our mission of improving the wellbeing of Canadians.

DEI initiatives

Our DEI strategy will elevate the many initiatives we have underway now including:

  • ensuring all our member touchpoints use inclusive language and choices
  • developing inclusive benefits such as our new Gender Affirmation benefit and Hormone Replacement coverage
  • investing in communities that face barriers and inequities

Learn more about how Medavie is building a more inclusive organization.

Looking to learn about more of the Conference’s top insights? Review our full round-up of the highlights and discussions of leading experts.

*About the Speakers

Zabeen Hirji is a strategic advisor to business, government, and universities. She is an executive Advisor to Deloitte, and an executive in residence at the Beedie School of Business at S.F.U. Zabeen is the former Chief HR Officer of RBC where she led diversity and inclusion for 20 years , covering 80,000 employees in 40 countries.

Déborah Cherenfant is the founder of the creative studio Atelier Coloré and the women's business blog Mots d'Elles, president for the Jeune Chambre de commerce de Montréal (JCCM), chair of the Board of Directors of Compagnie F, Director of the KANPE Foundation, CLIPP and co-founder of BiAS. Déborah is now responsible for BCF Imagine, an exclusive program seeking to propel technology startups.

Our Mission is to Improve the Wellbeing of Canadians.

Medavie is a health company that oversees Medavie Blue Cross and Medavie Health Services. Together, we’re bringing Canadians better health and access to care.