6 October 2016

Pluralism and diversity issues are one area of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation’s expertise. On 21 September 2016, Morris Rosenberg, the Foundation president and chief executive officer, moderated a high-level international panel on the benefits of inclusion and diversity, on the margins of the 71st United Nations General Assembly in New York.

This Canada-led event drew on expert panelists Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International; Patricia Erb, President and CEO of Save the Children Canada; Cathy Engelbert, CEO of Deloitte; and, Ambassador Moncef Baati, Special Advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Tunisia. Featuring opening and closing remarks by The Honourable Stéphane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs of  Canada, the initiative was centred on the premise that diversity is a fact and inclusion is a choice wherein panelists spoke on the economic, social, cultural and civic benefits of diversity-based inclusion.

The high-level panel aimed to promote a positive narrative on diversity and countering the rise of xenophobic sentiment across the globe. It attracted over 200 participants from government, civil society, private sector and also included a social media campaign.

Panelists considered the positive societal impacts of consciously choosing to implement diversity-based policies across the private, public and not-for-profit sectors. They also highlighted the importance of global leadership on promoting the importance of diversity-based inclusion and recognised Canada as a strong and dedicated leader on the matter.

Specific takeaways from each panelist included:

  1. In the case of Tunisia, Ambassador Baati spoke about how policies which have provided an enabling environment for gender parity have stimulated a domino effect across Tunisian society for inclusive change, noting that “Women are generators of the inclusive culture”.  Mr. Baati spoke to the economic benefits of inclusion where positive inclusion begets progress; and progress begets more inclusion. Tunisia’s conscious efforts to implement diversity-based inclusion was highlighted by participants as an example to the world of the positive change that can be achieved through the adoption of inclusive domestic policy.
  2. Patricia Erb, CEO of Save the Children Canada emphasized that inclusion is an imperative if we are to make progress in meeting the needs of the most vulnerable. She noted that “…accommodating diversity has a cost, but the cost of not doing it is higher for society”. 
  3. Salil Shetty of Amnesty International highlighted the rise of conflict and human rights violations within societies where exclusionary populism has taken hold. “The cost of failure to include is very, very high. The cumulative effect is conflict. The only hope for South-Asia and my own country [India] is embracing diversity. There is no choice.”  Mr. Shetty also took the opportunity to acknowledge Canada’s choice to welcome thousands of Syrian refugees. He also reinforced the point that Canada’s path to inclusion has not been seamless and that there is more positive progress to be made.
  4. Cathy Engelbert from Deloitte emphazised the need for senior leadership within organizations in order to move towards choosing to implement diversity-based inclusion and identifying the indicators that demonstrate its positive societal impact. “We have a lot of data. We have plenty of data – there are 2.5 quintillion bytes of data produced every day. We can find the data that supports the business case around how we can all be more successful if we’re more inclusive but we have to tell the stories around this.” She noted that going forward, it will be the leadership of countries, organizations, communities and companies that helps set the tone for inclusion.

Watch the panel

Morris Rosenberg

2005 mentor, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Foundation (2014 to 2018)

2005 Mentors