The Canadian Region.

PositionCPA Activities

CPA Regional Conference

Halifax played host to dozens of parliamentarians from across the country and other delegates and observers during the week-long annual Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Canadian Regional conference from July 14-19, 2019. Attendees noted the Maritimes' welcoming hospitality and the strength of the panel topics.

Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) Meeting

Saskatchewan MLA Laura Ross provided the Chair's annual report, detailing a busy year in which she had the opportunity to attend numerous meetings, forums and conferences to share the CWP's goals. These events included a Nova Scotia Campaign School from May 25-27, which drew 200 participants. Ms. Ross said the campaign school included a wonderful cross section of women from diverse backgrounds and ages. Ms. Ross also mentioned the CWP's She Should Run publication (see our interview in this edition) and a successful outreach program held in Edmonton last year.

In a session on "Six Signature Traits of Inclusive Leadership," Terri Cooper, Chief Inclusion Officer for US Deloitte, and Cathy Warner, Marketplace Leader for Deloitte in Saskatchewan, outlined the sic Cs of inclusion: commitment, courage, cognitive of bias, curiosity, cultural intelligence, and collaboration. These six Cs depend on each other and are interconnected.

The presenters said personal commitment to inclusiveness must be present within all aspects of a person's life. For example, they asked the audience if someone is speaking over a woman would they speak up and say that's not okay. "We need to be able to be ourselves and we need to model that authentic behaviour," they added.

In terms of courage, they noted that one study has demonstrated that 99 per cent of individuals believe they are allies for others, but only about 25 per cent of people will actually speak up and challenge a behaviour that discriminates against another group.

Everyone has both conscious and unconscious bias, they explained. Recognizing this fact and thinking about it will help a person be more aware of how to prevent their bias from limiting opportunities for inclusion.

Being inclusive also means being curious about a person as an individual. The presenters encouraged attendees to ask questions about each other: what makes them tick? What makes them excited? What are their hobbies?

Ms. Cooper and Ms. Warner added that developing cultural intelligence is essential to being inclusive. There are significant cultural differences between us even if we speak the same language. They encouraged attendees to embrace differences and allow space for them to benefit everyone.

Finally, they said collaboration, rather than simply providing representation must be at the heart of an inclusive environment. "Diversity is being invited to the party," they stated. "Inclusion is being asked to dance." A workshop followed the presentation in which attendees broke into six groups. Each group focused on one trait and worked on suggestions for helping future leaders.

A session on "Inclusive Workplace and Hiring Practices" brought together a panel of women who work in a variety of fields. Presenters Mary Bluechardt, president and vice-chancellor at Mount Saint Vincent University, Bethany Moffatt, vice president and head of commercial banking for the Atlantic Region at Scotiabank, Tanya Priske, Executive Director of the Centre for Women in Business, Jill Provoe, the senior advisor for educational equity at Nova Scotia Community College, Sarah Reddington, assistant professor of child and youth study and chair of the Pride Committee at Mount Saint Vincent University, and Diana Whalen, former Deputy Premier and former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Nova Scotia all noted that inclusion is not a destination, it's a lifelong process. They outlined ways various institutions have developed strategies to promote inclusion, while understanding that progress can be uneven and sometimes slow. Creating a dialogue of change among women is one way they can support each other on this journey.

A final session titled "Ready-Set-Action: Next Practices in Inclusion," featured presenter Tova Sherman, of an organization called reachability. Ms. Sherman grew up in a family of five children where all children had some form of disability--it wasn't stigmatized within her family. But she notes that school was tough and so was the workplace. She started her own organization that is committed to sustainable employment. By finding the right fit to ensure people don't keep having to come back, reachability is designed to give many services to the few rather than spreading resources too thinly.

Ms. Sherman said that in order to move forward in terms of being inclusive she doesn't look for How to best practices, but next practices. She outlined five key steps from a...

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