This Resource Page is designed to supplement nabs' DEI Learning Hub and help us advance inclusion in our industry. It's also applicable to anyone regardless of their industry, who wants to become a more inclusive leader.

You’ve hired diverse staff, now what? Check out Employer Success Considerations here:

Recruitment and Retention

Hiring Landscape

Our industry is experiencing a hiring frenzy right now, as we rebound from a global pandemic and all the human and financial impacts associated with these uncertain times. We have a shortage of people to fill the available positions, and the notion of reducing turnover and retention of staff is an ongoing challenge across Canada. During the pandemic, many in our industry restated and reconfirmed their commitment to inclusion, equity, and diversion, and while we’ve made strides, there is still work to be done, to impact diversity in our industry.

  • Talent abundance to talent shortage
  • The great resignation
  • People don’t quit companies, they quit their bosses
  • Pandemic shifted people’s perspectives on what is important in life
  • Empathy became a key leadership principle
  • Profound mental health impacts of pandemic – post pandemic stress diagnosis PPSD vs. PTSD

Retention of diverse talent is an opportunity to elevate vs. a problem to be solved.

Revise your Talent Management Model

A model of talent abundance led to decades of talent abuse in the twentieth century, and this traditional perspective on talent management continues to foster bias and exclusion while fueling highly toxic cultures that corrode creativity, innovation, and growth. The twenty-first century—driven by the knowledge, information, and culture industries—demands that company leaders and managers adopt a talent scarcity model that puts the onus on them to acknowledge and nurture the human complexity of a talent force that is the engine of growth in a multicultural and global market.

Recalibrate to Focus on Inclusion First

The focus on diversity without first pursuing inclusion harms everyone. The public focus on the retention of Black talent, while well-intended, is deepening the chasm between Black talent and their white counterparts, many of whom were primed by the talent abundance model to see diversity as a zero-sum game. More importantly, this question suggests that Black and white talent don’t want the same things from their work experience and careers.

Re-examine your Credibility

Inconsistently applied inclusion, equity, and diversity efforts can undermine impact and deepen the trust gap between you, your leadership team, and managers. Amplified by years of talent abuse, this trust gap will be hard to overcome without transformational change in the way you recruit, hire, evaluate, and advance talent. You might think this crisis of credibility is a relatively new phenomenon among your white employees, but it has been, is, and will continue to be a lingering reality with Black, Brown, and female talent who have suffered the consequences of these inconsistencies more acutely.

Re-imagine your Relationship with your Talent Force

The relationship between your leadership and your talent force should be a two-way street, not a highway and a bike path. Black talent feels the frustration of decades of neglect, managerial ineptitude, and indifference more keenly than their white colleagues. However, the lack of career satisfaction reported by the talent force as a whole fuels resistance to diversity efforts, which then pushes Black talent out the door. The key to retaining talent is fostering a corporate culture where ALL talent sees real benefits from individualized, equitable programs that support job and career success for everyone, and a leadership mindset that elevates the relevant differences among talent to reflect and meet the needs of a multicultural and global market.

Recruitment and Hiring Practices Review

Organizations seeking to employ people with lived experience can often be undermined by their own recruitment and hiring practices, which can exclude certain candidates by design. For example, people with mental illness may have gaps in their work histories – something that can raise flags and make it more difficult to get hired. But job candidates who have gaps in their work histories may have been dealing with personal challenges that enable them to offer fresh perspectives and make unique contributions. Unless an organization examines its standard procedures, it can miss out on such opportunities.


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Best Practices

If Diversity equals success – why is Diversity so difficult to put into practice?

  • The work environment is toxic.
  • There’s little diversity representation currently, so those who are underrepresented can’t “see” a career path for themselves, which further prevents progress.
  • The recruiting process may be broken and overwrought with bias.
  • Companies can’t articulate what steps they are taking to improve a toxic culture and aid in the candidate’s success once they are an employee.

Any of the above can “hinder” workplace diversity. When combined, they can make progress virtually impossible.

Here are some examples of ideals or practices that great company cultures have in common to foster diversity:

  • Organizations that aren’t afraid to talk about race and that take deliberate steps to foster impactful inclusion and belonging.
  • Great organizations have strong DEIB strategies, D&I Councils, ERGS, and leadership buy-in for initiatives.
  • The top leadership is active and diversity initiatives are tied to the bottom line.
  • Such organizations are involved in the communities they serve and have practices to meet the needs of diverse customer bases.

Because, if you are intentionally including those who are most likely to run into barriers at your office, you will see an overall increase in employee retention.

For example:

  • The flexibility policy you created to assist an employee with a disability that allows them to work remotely as needed can help retain and engage an employee who takes care of their aging parents.
  • The formal mentorship program you created to promote more diversity in leadership benefits all the employees who participate.

The inclusive language you use in your job description adds many more women to your candidate pipeline because they aren’t turned off by words like “hacker” or “competitive”.

The Power of Inclusivity

Inclusivity: an intention or policy of including people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as those who are handicapped or learning-disabled, or racial and sexual minorities.
Fact: If you create a workplace that is accessible and inclusive for the employees who have traditionally been excluded, the workplace becomes better for everyone.

6 Ways to make your Office more Inclusive:

  1. Challenge your definitions of “professionalism” and “leadership” within your organization – and then hire and promote diverse leaders.
  2. Consider offering flexibility to your employees.
  3. Be intentional in creating gender inclusive options like bathrooms, health care and dress codes. Challenge the default workplace settings.
  4. Provide education around and try to use inclusive language.
  5. Offer formal mentoring to all employees but be intentional about giving underrepresented groups access to information and key relationships that will make them successful.
  6. Ask employees what they need.

Fact: Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.

Fact: Flexible schedules reduce absenteeism, improve employee’s health, and increase retention of productive employees. Employees who have even a small degree of flexibility in when and where work got done had significantly greater job satisfaction, stronger commitment to the job, and higher levels of engagement with the company, as well as significantly lower levels of stress.

Fact: Language is one of the most powerful tools we have as humans. It binds us. Instructs us. When used well, it creates a common understanding. It is essential for creating an environment where everyone feels welcome and included.

Historically, language has left many out. We can do better. Inclusive language seeks to treat all people with respect, dignity, and impartiality. It is constructed to bring everyone into the group and exclude no none.

It does ask something of us. It asks us to try.

  • To change deeply imbedded habits
  • To consider the implications of words and phrases that have long gone unchallenged
  • To dig deep into empathy and imagine an experience not our own

Fact: it’s a great way to create more diverse leadership. A Harvard Business Review study found that formal mentoring programs within organizations boosted representation of women and POC in management on average by 9 to 24 percent.

It’s easy to assume we know what’s best for our employees, based on our own experiences and insights, but you know what happens when you assume things.
We’re all different. The employee who thrives with clear instructions needs different management than the employee who needs space and autonomy to do their best work. The employee with dependents needs different benefits than the employee nearing retirement. The employee who is new to your company experiences it in a very different way than a long-term employee.
You can use surveys, focus groups, shadowing, and interviews – whatever you need to develop a clear picture of what your employees need to be successful in your organization.

Orientation and Onboarding – Key Differences

Orientation is an event that takes place within the employee’s first couple of days, or maybe weeks.

Onboarding is the process of integrating a new employee with a company and its culture, as well as getting a new hire the tools and information needed to become a productive member of the team. Onboarding is a process which is longer in length lasting anywhere from six months to one year or more. Experts say how employers handle the first few days and months of a new employee’s experience is crucial to ensuring high retention.

What does success look like? A successful onboarding program will include things like:

  • Friendly note from their manager including: first day information, welcome messages, and photos from new teammates
  • A glossary of company acronyms
  • A virtual copy of the employee handbook
  • Details about the new hire’s department and job responsibilities
  • Anticipate first day questions and answer them in advance
  • Desk and office set up in advance of arrival to project the professional office atmosphere and readiness for a new hire
  • Explain your organizational brand, mission, vision, and values Experiences of work and overall wellbeing to create a climate of value and appreciation
  • Fostering a culture of inclusivity through peer support, where employees can access emotional and social aids that are based on a common or shared experience
  • Access to a support system/Buddy/ERG to talk more informally about company culture and navigate the nuances and unwritten rules
  • Inclusive environment and is invested in their long-term professional growth
  • Your people and professional culture
  • Outline expectations with regards to attitudes, knowledge, skills, and behaviours
  • Discuss and agree on performance and work-related goals
  • Professional development and career growth (to help people see their role in the organization over time)
  • Provide a new employee with the tools they need to be successful long term

Ensure you are considering all angles:

  • The emotional and perceptual experience of the employee
  • How interactive and interesting the program is
  • The sense of culture and meaning that the employee takes away from the experience and how the process is communicated on an ongoing basis

Tips for Supervisors and HR:

  • Regular check-ins in these and other areas are critical for reducing turnover and keeping staff morale high
  • Welcoming and being open to feedback on how to improve the organization (acting on these ideas can help individuals feel valued)
  • Acknowledging or rewarding individuals’ contributions – advocacy
  • Assign mentors from all areas and not just from your pool of people of colour
  • Train mentors on how to be an ally, mentor, advocate
  • Ask what they need is expected from you – explain what you can do for them and their professional development
  • Nurture Hires

Onboarding Plan: Example/Template

Overall objective of onboarding is to ensure the employee feels connected to the organization, builds key relationships, and understands how he/she/they fit into the overall mission and values. Emotional: the feeling the person takes away from their experience – “happy, satisfied, and wanting to return again in the future”

Tip from an Employer: “Right from the interview or Day 1 at work, we approach it from the perspective of ‘what do you need to succeed?’ And we ask that question on an ongoing basis, like “what do you need today, to feel successful?” And not just feel successful, but well. To do well.”

First Day

There are two main goals on the first day:

  1. Setting expectations
  2. Introducing objectives

This can be achieved by:

  • Social interaction with their new co-workers so they can get to know one another
  • Lunch together as a team
  • Acclimating new employees to corporate culture is critical. Employees who know what to expect from their company’s culture and work environment make better decisions that are more aligned with the accepted practices of the company
  • Make sure roles and responsibilities are outlined for the entire team – clarify the position of the new hire as well as the positions of the other team members whose work is closely related, how they will interact with one another, and how projects will run
  • Ensure all team members, mentors and buddies have received diversity and inclusion training

The First Few Months

HR should be in regular contact with the employee’s supervisor to check progress and offer any coaching that may be required to enhance the onboarding process.

HR should have a one month check in with the new hire to:

  • Ensure the new employee is comfortable, happy, and engaged
  • Asking the new hire how they feel things are going: is the on-the-job training progressing at a good pace? are they increasingly productive?
  • Identify challenges/barriers/ideas & solutions
  • Feedback on their buddy or mentor or coach or supervisor
  • Reviewing and giving thoughtful feedback on the new hire’s early contributions
  • Agree together on timing for next check in to ensure communication lines are open and that feedback is welcomed
  • Have ongoing discussions about future development – show them what their career path could look like – and what both employee and employer need to do to make it a reality

Fact: Nearly 90% of new employees decide whether to stay or go within the first six months. Showing you sincerely care, welcome feedback of any kind, will help the retention process and positively impact the new employee’s decision.

Onboarding Plan Checklist

Design a program that will evoke a positive perception of your organization.

Review your current practices and ask yourself these questions: 

  • Would you know the brand mission vision and values of the company?
  • Would you understand the culture that exists within the company?
  • Would you have a clear understanding of your role and performance expectations?
  • Would you know where to find the information you need to be successful in your role?
  • Would you feel like you belong?
  • Would you have someone you feel comfortable asking questions of?

Connecting your Mission, Vision, and Values/The Takeaway you Want to Create

What emotional takeaway do you want to create?
What perceptual takeaway do you want to create?

Make it Count

The onboarding process is an organization’s opportunity to make an exceptional first impression. You want to ensure the new employee feels welcomed valued and prepared for what is expected of them and doesn’t have to learn the “hard way”.

  • Ensure safety orientation protocols are provided and your firms priority on safety is communicated from day one
  • Introduce the key people of the organization
  • Allow the employee to shadow others
  • Instill a sense of pride
  • Show the employee how they fit into the big picture
  • Make it personal
  • Making it interesting, interactive and have everything ready for the employee on the first day

Train Supervisors to Manage the Onboarding Process

Include supervisors and managers in the design of the onboarding process, gather their input into what they think critical elements for new hires are. Train supervisors on how to manage and respect the onboarding process to ensure it is a top priority and reflects the organization positively.


Newcomer Employment Success Program (NESP)

This program focuses on helping newcomers to Canada understand the Canadian employment market, how and where their skills fit into the employment market, how to consider/position/communicate their skills/experiences for optimal results and how to build a long-term successful career in the Canadian marketplace.

The purpose of this program is to provide the individual with:

  • Understanding of the Canadian marketplace, expectations of a good employee and employee rights. What barriers might they face? How can we help them mitigate against those barriers?
  • Help create an awareness of their Canadian-relevant marketable skills/experiences and where these skills ideally fit into the employment market
  • How to use each job to build the foundation of your career and use it to build a strong & meaningful long-term career

To accommodate the evolving needs of nabs community, there will be 3 provided program options, based on differing levels of content and engagement. This program will be highly customized to the groups of 10 participants, and it is anticipated that we will move fluidly between all three options depending on the changing needs of the group, this will help us refine our offering for future participants. Other resources will be provided about the industry in Canada. We anticipate having guest speakers from various disciplines speak to the participants, to provide context around the various roles creative/account/strategy/media.

*UPDATED* Submission deadline for our inaugural cohort: July 15th, 2022


nabs LifeSpeak DEI Learning Hub

  • Visit the DEI Learning Hub HERE!

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEl) are more than buzzwords. When put into practice effectively, DEl initiatives can help create stronger teams, healthier cultures, and more successful organizations. The question is, how do you get there?

This Learning Hub is designed for leaders who are new to DEl or want to build upon their skills. It’s also applicable to anyone at the manager level, regardless of their industry, who wants to become a more inclusive leader.

Starting with the basics, this Learning Hub explains why DEl is important and outlines how to build the DEl business case. Once you have gained the foundational DEI knowledge and have a better understanding of the landscape, it delves into how you can drive change at the organizational or manager level with specific strategies and actions.

This Learning Hub is led by LifeSpeak experts with vast experience helping leaders and employers to move the needle on DEI. It will take you from a place of awareness and equip you to become a DEl leader, advocate, or ally.

 A user is guided through a series of expert-led content modalities (video, tip sheets, blog posts, etc.) at their own pace; upon completion of the playlist they will have gained valuable knowledge and gleaned practical tips that they can implement in their own lives straight away.


Indigenous Canada Online Certificate Course

University of Alberta – 21 hours – 100% online

  • Apply for FREE HERE!

Indigenous Canada is a 12-lesson Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) from the Faculty of Native Studies that explores the different histories and contemporary perspectives of Indigenous peoples living in Canada. From an Indigenous perspective, this course explores complex experiences Indigenous peoples face today from a historical and critical perspective highlighting national and local Indigenous-settler relations. Topics for the 12 lessons include the fur trade and other exchange relationships, land claims and environmental impacts, legal systems and rights, political conflicts and alliances, Indigenous political activism, and contemporary Indigenous life, art and its expressions.



The Micropedia

Developed by Four Canadian diversity and inclusion advocacy groups: The Black Business and Professional Association; The Canadian Congress on Diversity and Workplace Equity; Pride at Work; and Ryerson University’s Diversity Institute, with Zulu Alpha Kilo for strategy and creative, Zulubot for production and post-production, along with Pirate Toronto for audio.

The Micropedia of Microaggressions website offering comprehensive information and guidance about microaggressions. The micropedia is meant to raise awareness and provide more people with a better understanding of microaggressions. The site includes definitions, information and examples from culture, media, and daily interactions in nine different “volumes”: 2SLGBTQ+, Age, Class-Based, Disability, Ethnicity, Gender, Indigenous, Race, and Religion. 

In this video, people talk about their experiences with microaggressions before being introduced to the micropedia. The video ends with the line: “Unlearning starts here”

  •  Watch the The Micropedia of Microaggressions YouTube Video HERE!

Start browsing this resource to learn more about microaggressions and their impact.

  •  Visit The Micropedia HERE!

The team hopes to offer it in French soon, please stay tuned!


RAW Initiative Anti-Racism Short

All the Little Things

Independent film and cultural content studio BADLANDS has released this anti-racism short, All The Little Things.

Based on the real experiences of people of colour (PoC) working in the advertising and creative industry, the film is the first piece of work created as part of the studio’s RAW initiative (Racism at Work), which is volunteer-led and aims to promote openness about race and mental wellness through storytelling.

  •  Learn more, and watch the video HERE!



Diversity and Inclusion Toolkit and Articles

  • Diversity and Inclusion at Work – Toolkit
  • Think you may be gay, lesbian or bi-sexual? – Article
  • Teaching Your Kids about Diversity and Tolerance – Article
  • Helping Children Respect and Appreciate Diversity – Article
  • Diversity in the Workplace – Article
  • Effective Communication in a Culturally Diverse Workplace – Article
  • Saying No to Workplace Harassment – Article
  • A Little Respect Goes a Long Way – Article
  • Diversity 101 Dealing with Cultural Differences in the Workplace – Article
  • Re-traumatization and Coping with News Reports of Racial Injustice – Article
  • Coping with Feelings of Fear and Anxiety About Violence – Article


Mental Health Supports

nabs supportline – 1-888-355-5548

The people that respond to calls on our dedicated supportline, are all professional clinicians and can help you access counselling. The more you share at intake, the better they will be able to find you a clinician who has experience to help you – the supportline will do it’s utmost to find you a clinician with diverse, lived experience wherever possible.

Healing in Colour

A directory of fee for service BIPOC therapists who are committed to supporting BIPOC mental health.

  • Visit the Healing in Colour Website HERE!


Togetherall provides a clinically monitored, online peer to peer mental health community that empowers individuals to anonymously see and provide support 24/7.


Industry Associations





POCAM exists to ensure the voice, vision and talent of BIPOC professionals are fully and fairly present in Canadian Advertising and Marketing. POCAM was founded as an industry organization in 2020 by Alyssa Dominique, Stephanie Small, Joshua Richards, Julian Franklin, Justin Senior and Gavin Barrett. It was incorporated as a NFP in early 2021. The organization has its online roots in the POCA LinkedIn Group launched by Stephanie Small in 2019. POCAM is over 1200 members and growing.

  • If you identify as BIPOC, considering joining POCAM – learn more HERE!

POCAM’s 2nd Annual Visible and Vocal Study

POCAM (People of Colour in Advertising & Marketing) is pleased to present the 2nd Annual Visible & Vocal study, the only industry study that focuses on the profile, perspectives, and experiences of Canadian BIPOC advertising and marketing professionals. Moderated by POCAM co-founder Julian Franklin, and led by data scientist Chasson Gracie alongside POCAM Steering Committee member Chino Nnadi, this 1-hour report will highlight outstanding takeaways from the comprehensive survey. The year 2021 was another year of racial, and social unrest that impacted the lives of Canadian BIPOC professionals in the industry. Hear BIPOC experiences, and walk with us as we examine what actions are needed to advance and recognize BIPOC contributions in 2022. Because sometimes, being seen begins with being heard.

  •  Visit the Visible & Vocal: A report on the results of the 2021 study HERE!






Black Talent Initiative (BTI)

Black Talent Initiative (BTI) is a volunteer-driven, social impact organization committed to delivering professional development, mentorship and community for Black talent seeking career advancement. Volunteers and partners across North America collaborate with BTI to create connections and career opportunities for Black talent. An MH3 Collective venture, BTI was born of shared compassion, lived experience, and a vision to inspire equitable, anti-racist workplaces for today and tomorrow.

  • To join the movement and learn more about BTI, visit HERE!






MH3 Collective

The MH3 Collective is a group of ventures inspired and co-founded by Mark Harrison. From advertising and sponsorship marketing to integrated communications and education, each company shares a collective consciousness that focuses on empowering people, promoting social equity and reimagining a world where entrepreneurial passion and purpose comes to life.

  • Follow the MH3 Collective on LinkedIn to learn more – LinkedIn


Scholarship Programs



How do you get your foot in the door if there isn’t one?

The 20Doors Scholarship Fund was launched by Zulu Alpha Kilo Founder and Chief Creative Officer Zak Mroueh. Founded in 2008, Zulu Alpha Kilo has built a reputation as one of the most respected independent agencies in the world. The company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is rooted in the belief that more diversity leads to better creativity.

When starting his career in the late-1980s, Mroueh faced a number of barriers to landing a creative job in advertising. In fact, he was told he’d never make it in the business because he didn’t have the right credentials, background or connections to get his foot in the door. The 20Doors Scholarship Fund is his agency’s way of giving back to the industry by opening the door for 20 of the best and brightest minds.


BIPOC Canadians are underrepresented in the ad industry. Many of these young minds never even consider a career as an advertising creative. Why? Because often there is no door for them to enter the industry.


The 20Doors Scholarship Fund is about opening doors for new voices. The initiative will cover the tuition for four BIPOC candidates each year, over the next five years, to complete a year-long post-graduate program in copywriting or art direction. Additionally, Zulu Alpha Kilo will provide recipients with the mentorship they need to start a successful career in advertising.


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