Our company has always supported equity, inclusion, and diversity, in our business and our community. Rooted in our values as the right thing to do, over time these priorities have become more formalized and embedded throughout our culture and procedures.
For more than ten years, we have participated in the annual Great Place to Work® program to survey our team on the quality of our workplace. This third-party research includes asking each person if they are treated fairly regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, age or sexual orientation, and if they feel safe and comfortable being themselves. With 95 per cent of employees agreeing with this statement last year, Proof was once again named among the Best Workplaces™ in Canada for Inclusion in 2021. In the last year, the firm has also been named a Great Place to Work® for Women, for Mental Wellness, for Giving Back and for Today’s Youth, among other categories.
Reflective of the public relations profession, we are proud that 77 per cent of our management team is female. We aspire to greater diversity in management and know the diverse members of our overall team are already a source of strength for the company.
Our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion commitment is focused on six pillars:
Workplace policies and culture: we are committed to researching, analyzing and adopting best practices in diversity and equity management in the workplace, through actions such as completing an outside audit of company policies and practices and the creation and support of an engaged Employee Resource Group that includes members of senior management.
Employee recruitment and advancement: we are taking active and deliberate steps to increase team diversity, particularly in management roles, as well as leading and supporting industry efforts to attract more diversity to our profession. These efforts include mandatory training for all current managers in identifying and reducing unconscious bias in hiring and managing people, posting employment opportunities to job sites for immigrants and new Canadians and hosting Black high school students for internships to expose them to the PR profession early on.
Training and education: we are providing our people with expert-led skills training in areas such as identifying and preventing microaggression, adopting inclusive language, managing people through an EDI lens; we frequently host guest speakers from diverse backgrounds, as well as sessions focused on diverse cultures and diversity topics such as Antisemitism, Anti-Asian Hate, Islamophobia and Indian Residential School Reconciliation; we are encouraging peer-to-peer sharing of EDI content and resources via a bi-weekly newsletter and monthly book club; and we are providing financial support and time for employees to engage in independent learning.
Community support and philanthropy: we are providing monthly support to community organizations recommended by colleagues that advance EDI with financial donations and we are using our social media channels to share and amplify the voices of marginalized communities. In 2021, we announced The Proof Strategies Community Leadership Scholarship at Humber College, aimed at attracting a racialized high school student into the Bachelor of Public Relations program and the PR profession afterwards, awarding one student a $3,000 scholarship for each of their four years in the degree program. The new scholarship is in addition to a Proof Strategies scholarship for an existing Humber student in financial need, donations to Humber’s emergency fund to provide relief for students facing an unexpected financial crisis and funding to create two endowed scholarships for Indigenous students pursuing an education in public relations.
Benchmarking and measurement: we are participating in third-party employee surveys and research to establish benchmarks for employee diversity as well as workplace experience, setting goals for improvement and tracking and reporting progress through our EDI journey.
Leadership: we are advancing EDI within the PR profession through leadership, including establishing scholarships and awards for BIPOC students, leading an ongoing initiative to ban unpaid internships, publishing EDI-related opinion pieces in marketing and mainstream publications and signing diversity-related pledges within our industry and the business community-at-large, such with BlackNorth and the Canadian Council of Public Relations Firms.
We view our approach to EDI as an evolving journey, not a destination, and we are committed to listening, learning and continuous improvement.
Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Definitions
Equity, Diversity and Inclusion terms are open to different meanings and interpretations. Common definitions at, and for, Proof Strategies create a culture that connects the workforce and supports the open and active sharing of ideas and diverse perspectives. These definitions set expectations across all levels and reinforce them as integral values to the organization.
The following were created by senior management and our EDI Employee Resource Group, with support from Jodie Glean of REACT Canada. These terms will be collaboratively revisited and revised, and more terms may be added.
Equity: The ongoing intentional and systemic approach to remove historic and current barriers for equity-seeking groups. It requires our organization to apply specific programs, policies and practices to support fair and just access to opportunities and outcomes for all.
Diversity: The different social, cultural and political identities of individuals (e.g. race, class, gender, sexuality, disability, nationality, religion, language, age, body size, socioeconomic status) and their worldviews, practices, experiences and knowledge.
Inclusion: The active and intentional engagement of people in all their identities that fosters a sense of belonging. This engagement is grounded in respect, and all members of the organization are recognized as valued contributors. (Adapted from Humber College EDI Definitions)
Belonging: The sentiments of welcoming and acceptance within an organization. Our interests, motivation, mental health, safety and satisfaction are inextricably tied to the feeling that we belong to a greater community that may share common interests and aspirations.
Accessibility: The degree to which our physical structures and organizational culture are (re)designed to enable the full, meaningful, and equitable engagement of all members of the workforce and the communities the organization serves. It includes and accounts for physical, financial, sensory, social, and language-level access. (Source: University of Alberta Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan)
Intersectionality: The understanding that individuals encompass many identities (race, class, gender, sexuality, disability, nationality, religion, language, age, body size, socioeconomic status) and that these identities do not exist separately or in isolation from each other. Intersectionality focuses on how multiple, interwoven identities shape experiences of social belonging in our work environments. (Source: University of Alberta Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan)