In a Q&A with Bob Thompson, HRPA’s Chair of the Board, he shared his insights on Diversity + Inclusion and the important partnership between HRPA’s leadership and Board members to get D+I right.

Bob has been an active member on the HRPA Board for eight years and is now in his second year as the Chair. He is a lawyer with an emphasis on workplace law, and has been a lead proponent of bringing the best D+I practices to HRPA. 

Why does Diversity + Inclusion matter?

Diversity + Inclusion is at the forefront of organizational agendas. Our members recognize this given the nature of our work as human resources professionals. It is a feature of what we do in our day-to-day responsibilities.

As an organization, HRPA has as its prime responsibility to protect the public. A large part of that protection is to ensure that our members have an appreciation and sensitivity for diverse and inclusive workplaces.

As the Chair of the HRPA Board of Directors, what do you see as the core role of a Board for any organization as it relates to Diversity + Inclusion?

The government has mandated that we as an organization and as members owe a duty to the public; a duty of care to all of those who are affected by our work. Employers benefit from our counsel on issues of D+I and it is a natural extension of our role to ensure that workplaces adhere to our legal and moral obligations.

It is my view that Boards, including the HRPA Board, have a fiduciary duty to ensure a diverse and inclusive Board. To do this, Boards ought to adopt a D&I policy in respect of their own composition and governance practices to authentically cascade their commitment to the organization as a whole.  Change starts in the boardroom.

What is the HRPA Board currently doing to embrace Diversity + Inclusion in the work it does?

The topic of D+I has long been recognized as a priority issue at HRPA. With the help of the entire Board, and with special assistance from HRPA’s past chair, we have created a D+I policy that was approved in the Spring. We are ensuring it is an integral part of our governance practices such as Board recruitment, director onboarding, the ongoing education & skill development of our Board, our corporate reporting and continuous policy renewal & review.

In parallel, our leadership team at the HRPA is highly engaged and supportive of purposeful action in our employment practices and in our member programming to be leaders in the D&I space.  Even beyond our core programming, our 27 Chapters across the province regularly lead member development, mentoring and networking programs with an emphasis on equity, diversity and inclusion in their workplaces and within the HR profession.

Could you describe the different initiatives?

We are committed to a merit-based system for Board composition within a diverse and inclusive culture, which solicits multiple perspectives and views and is free of conscious or unconscious bias and discrimination.

Our policy articulates our aspiration to attain a Board composition in which at least 50% of the Directors are selected from a diverse group including women, Indigenous people, persons from the LGBTQ2+ community, visible minorities and people with disabilities.  To help us accelerate our progress toward this aim, we have created a special Board Inclusivity Task Force for the current year that is developing new approaches to ensure that we implement and maintain leading D&I governance practices.

What advice would you offer other Board Chairs and Directors on how to move their organizations’ D+I processes forward?

Put words into action. Understand that there is a positive dividend to enacting such policies. Your governance and your organization will be more robust. Your decision making and your ideas will be better as a result.