Ranked #7 globally for diverse workforces, part of what makes Canada (and Waterloo) among the best places in the world to build a business is our core values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. At the AC, we are committed to being a local and national leader for EDI in the innovation ecosystem by ensuring our programs, services, and community welcome entrepreneurs from all backgrounds.
In the fall of 2021, we embarked on a strategic EDI initiative to measure the diversity and sense of belonging in our community and to create an action plan to establish the AC as the most inclusive innovation hub in the world.
The findings of a qualitative and quantitative community study highlighted four key opportunities for improvement:
Gaps in diverse representation across all stakeholder groups
Diverse voices are not always provided the opportunity to be heard and pathways to provide feedback in a safe, inclusive, and equitable way could be improved across all stakeholder groups
Various stakeholders experience EDI at the AC unequally, with some groups citing power imbalances and a lack of understanding as a barrier to their inclusivity
Founders have unmet needs that can be addressed by more diverse mentorship opportunities and a more inclusive approach to programming
Today, we are pleased to release our EDI Action Plan. The Plan is our roadmap to creating an equitable, diverse, and inclusive AC community across five pillars:
Fostering a safe and inclusive client experience
Strengthening diverse representation
Amplifying and empowering diverse and first voices
Improving career growth opportunities for staff
Supporting mental health and wellbeing
Our EDI strategy and Action Plan were created in consultation with Empowered, our Board of Directors, AC staff, AC mentors, our founders, and our alumni community. The focus of the action plan is to improve EDI holistically across the organization.
“It is well known that diverse teams perform better,” says CEO Jay Krishnan. “However, our EDI strategy doesn’t stop at representation. Equitable and inclusive communities foster the entrepreneurial drive that propels the innovation economy. A sense of belonging is what inspires each of us to give back and support the next generation of founders. Our EDI Action Plan looks at every dimension of the organization and works towards ensuring representation, inclusion, and opportunity for everyone who interacts with the AC.”
Initiatives within the plan include evaluating the AC’s current mentorship model, diversifying mentorship options for founders, and creating supports for founders who are new to Canada. Additionally, we will provide inclusion and anti-bias training to staff, mentors, and board members, and integrate mental health supports across programs. To further cement our commitment to making the AC more a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace, we’re also joining the Government of Canada’s 50 –30 Challenge and joining hundreds of organizations across the country as we focus on this important initiative.
As we implement the Plan, we are committed to making our progress transparent. We will implement an ongoing survey and measurement framework to demonstrate our progress and make that data available annually to our community.
We want to thank all of our community members who participated in our surveys and our focus groups. We appreciate your openness and willingness to help us build a truly inclusive community for entrepreneurs from all backgrounds.
Download Our EDI Action Plan