Why Diversity & Inclusion Is the Best Thing for Your Business

Cicely Belle Blain

Cicely Belle Blain is a diversity & inclusion business consultant, activist and writer; they are one of Vancouver’s fifty most influential people of 2018, as awarded by Vancouver Magazine, a co-founder of Black Lives Matter – Vancouver, one of CBC’s 150 Black Womxn Making Change in Canada and BC Business 30 Under 30 2019 and has served as a member of the Canadian Youth Delegation to the United Nations. Their work is informed by their professional and academic background at the University of British Columbia and their lived experience as a Black, queer artist, a community builder, an intersectional feminist and a Black liberation activist. Cicely Belle’s first book debuts in 2020 with VS Books & Arsenal Pulp Press.


Some questions Tynan asks:

  • When people say, “we want to hire women, but we also need to hire the best people and fit,” how should we think about this?
  • What are leaders that are hiring more inclusively doing?
  • What is anti-oppression?
  • Please help us understand the relationship between equality and equity.
  • What does it look like for conversations amongst those who are biased, instead of always a black person standing up for black rights for example?
  • Thoughts on D&I Councils.

In this episode, you will learn:

  • When we think about diversity and inclusion, we must first think about what an individual adds and brings to your organization. Having all the qualifications isn’t as trustworthy as we think, especially when people may bring the same skills but have shown it over their lives in different ways.
  • Even if someone’s role doesn’t have to directly do with it, we should be screening for an acknowledgment of diversity and inclusion in every hire.
  • The decisions to fight for D&I will often bring a lot of upheaval in an organization, especially before they bring joy.
  • When an organization is just looking for a short-term engagement to increase D&I, such as a couple of workshops, it’s unlikely there will be much change long-term.
  • Anti-oppression is based on the fact that for many people groups, things are simply not fair. There are people alive today who were born on slave plantations for example, and obviously dealing with the repercussions of that, and for their families affects everything including career.
  • Equality speaks to the idea that everybody should get the same thing because everybody’s the same. Equity is that everybody should get what they need to thrive, e.g. specific support or initiatives to help people get to the same end result as others. 
  • For people who experience privilege, it’s so important for people within those communities to hold each other accountable. Of note, it’s not helpful to have a “cancel culture” wherein if someone says the wrong thing they are chastised for it immediately without taking the time to educate them; we need to allow people to learn and grow, calling people in through compassionate conversations. 
  • Making D&I Councils meaningful comes from a commitment from leadership. Often they are nice to have, but not given financial resources or any decision-making authority to actually bring projects or initiatives to life. See Episode 4 with Tayo Rockson for more insights on D&I councils.

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Canada’s Fastest-Growing Company: How To Build a Better Culture

Caroline Schein

Caroline Schein recently joined Article, the company that has grown over 24,182% during the past 5 years as the VP People & Culture. As Canada’s Fastest-Growing Company, the executive team has its work cut out from them. Specifically, Caroline is responsible for building Article’s people and culture practices across North America. With more than 20 years of senior leadership experience in the hospitality and retail industry with brands such as Best Buy, a multinational consumer electronics retailer, and Boston Pizza, a North American restaurant chain, Caroline has an MBA specializing in leadership from Royal Roads University, and a MA & PhD in Human and Organizational Systems from Fielding Graduate University. She shares wonderful insights about the future of work & how to build a better company culture.

Some questions I ask:

  • 4:30 What is it going to look like for Article to be taken to the next level?
  • 6:00 As a new executive, how do you approach your first season at the company (e.g. your first 100 days)?
  • 7:18 How do you ensure the culture stays consistent as you onboard so many people?
  • 9:27 What is Article’s onboarding process?
  • 11:30 What does it look like to “own” the culture internally? Is it the role of the VP People & Culture or is it a shared responsibility across the entire executive team?
  • 14:30 How do we ensure we live & breathe our culture moonshot & values? Many leaders shout from the rooftops about having a great place to work, yet it doesn’t look like that internally.
  • 19:00 How do we ensure our organizations have two-way feedback, not just the lower-level employees receiving feedback, but also for managers from those they lead.
  • 26:15 What do you believe the future of HR is? What are you expecting from the HR professionals you will be hiring in the future? What is the HR skillset of the future?
  • 28:38 How do ensure there is a harmonious culture between the office environment of Article as well as your manufacturing facilities?
  • 31:55 What is your advice to job seekers? Beyond the online application, what should qualified candidates be doing differently to get a job at Article, or just to any organization? 

In this episode, you will learn:

  • 4:55 The culture now is not broken, it truly has been remarkable what the team has accomplished. Article’s has 5 core values – be good, be direct, be better, be adventurous, & be genuine – which ground everything Article does from their strategy to their operations. When addressing culture, in their case, it was more a matter of how to build from where Article is at now, and then becoming open and honest about what is it going to take, where do we need to be and how do we get there. 
  • 6:24 When joining a new organization as an executive, how can you make the transition as successful as possible & learn from the organization about what needs to happen. Here’s a hint, it’s all about starting from a place of listening and learning, while beginning to understand the business well.
  • 7:50 The best people & culture systems that can be put in place to ensure that culture stays strong during intense periods of scale.
  • 9:05 What success looks like when it comes to building a killer workplace environment where people (or Particles!) thrive.
  • 9:50 How onboard makes a big deal out of a new Particle joining the team. Onboarding is very serious to them and they do it well!
  • 12:30 The key to being customer obsessed, and sharing that heart for customers across the entire company, especially the executive team.
  • 19:30 How Article is still refining its performance management processes and figuring out a way to provide feedback to leaders, not just the other way around.
  • 22:37 The fact that accolades and awards are always a secondary priority to employees being happy with where they work.
  • 26:40 Caroline’s charge to any new employee, the great new hire, is someone who’s focused on knowing the business. HR professionals specifically need to truly be a partner, making sure that you understand what problems the business is trying to solve, and how to do that through the people & the culture.
  • 28:18 How the future is looking both at employee engagement, but even further to the employee’s health & wellbeing
  • 33:00 A look at Article’s recruitment process and candidate screening. 

Learn More

Connect with Caroline:

More about Article:

Article is the easiest way to make your space look beautiful.

Right now, Article is all about no fuss entertaining. From lounge-able poufs and sectionals to stackable chairs in the event of extra guests, Article is here to help you make this entertaining season stress free and beautiful.

Furniture shopping is famously terrible. Overeager sales people, poor quality pieces, interminable shipping periods… the works. That’s why Article decided to change the way that people shop for furniture. Instead of schlepping to a warehouse to shop for particle board, Article’s online catalogue features high quality pieces that you can browse right at home. Article’s team of designers have an eye to today’s trends, but focus on timeless design and great quality. Plus: in-stock items ship in two-weeks or less.

The Future of Leadership Development & Creating Psychological Safety

Some questions I ask:

  • It’s almost taboo to encroach on people’s “personal lives,” so how do leaders go about knowing what their needs are without crossing a boundary? 
  • What’s the psychological effect of somebody not being understood at their company? 
  • What does the future of leadership development look like? 
  • What is a “conscious culture”? 

In this episode, you will learn:

  • We are hardwired for connection. If we can learn how to motivate, inspire and drive people from an intrinsic level, then we can release untapped potential in our people. 
  • We need a secure attachment with our leaders. This means providing emotional availability and responsivity to our people. Unlike what we often think, people bring their full selves to work; they don’t just turn off their human side when they walk in the front doors to our offices. 
  • We have a responsibility to set the emotional tone of our companies. 
  • At the foundation of a high-trust culture are people being heard, seen and valued. 
  • When we provide flexibility to our employees, they in-turn provide our companies with high-performance of their own choice, even going above-and-beyond during non-work-hours because they care. 
  • Relationship challenges at work are a direct reflection of a need not being met by the other person in the workplace. Enquiring of that need is crucial in resolving conflicts & maintaining healthy workplace relationships. 
  • Leaders have a responsibility to their own cleanup work. You can start by doing the following:
    • Recognizing the clean up emotional roadblocks 
    • Recognizing the pain & loss that is getting in the way of us truly showing up for others in an authentic way 
    • This is the future of leadership development
  • If we want others to do the work on themselves to improve & grow, we have to do do the work ourselves as leaders 
  • A conscious culture is a high-performance culture grounded in trust, psychological safety, and belonging. At the center of a conscious culture are secure attachments;  the leader creating a space for people to take healthy risks, to speak up, to make mistakes, to put their best foot forward, to go the extra mile for their teammates, and to know that they belong and that they matter. 
  • Leaders can benefit greatly by considering how they show up for their teams, how they light up for them and the energy they bring to space/work environment. 
  • When leaders step back and think, “what is the most generous assumption I can make about my employees,” the workplace environment totally shifts. 

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As Founder and Director of People and Culture at The Grief and Trauma Healing Centre Inc., Ashley has nearly a decade of clinical experience as a practicing psychologist, and it is this scientific background that forms the foundation of her signature training program—Conscious Culture Bootcamp.

Featuring in national publications and appearing on global news channels, Ashley is a frequent media contributor and renowned public speaker.

Ashley found her own ‘Why’ early in life following a difficult childhood punctuated by her father’s substance abuse and eventual suicide. From this, the darkest and most painful period of her life, she uncovered a deep and passionate desire to serve others and a natural ability to create a safe space in which to explore life’s most challenging questions—a skill that has been immeasurably valuable in her career both as a psychologist and trainer.

Outside of work, Ashley likes to keep active both on the basketball court and by running regularly, rewarding herself for all this hard work with coffee and poutine. Ashley is very active in her Christian faith community and enjoys volunteering when she can through her church. She also loves to travel with her husband and young son, particularly favouring Hawaii and Arizona, and seeks out quality time with close friends and family whenever she can.


A Masterclass on Employee Recognition

Tom Short

Enter code "CULTUREING" for 25% off your tickets!

Over the course of 25 years, Tom has used his passion for entrepreneurship and marketing to launch numerous, highly successful companies. At each organization Tom has built, employee experience has been the cornerstone to building effective teams. His expertise and learnings resulted in the development of Kudos as a solution and system to promote and enhance corporate culture, motivate individuals and create great employee recognition & experiences.

Tom leads business development, marketing, and customer engagement at Kudos and is active in speaking engagements and thought leadership activities in the HR industry. He is passionate about the role employee recognition plays in creating a great employee experience and is dedicated to educating the world about what genuine recognition can do for people everywhere

Some questions I ask:

  • How do you come into a company as a new executive to bring change in a well-established, already world-class company culture? 
  • WE has an incredibly diverse set of roles in their 1000+ person organization. How do you hire so that across the organization, in the variety of roles & the types of people each require, to still hire aligned to your values?
  • How do leaders, many of whom are struggling with this, translate their values into behaviours people know how to demonstrate at school?
  • Are there tools & technology to help reinforce core values? 
  • What are some key learnings you’ve found that millennials need to thrive in the workplace? 
  • “Working with a purpose” is incredible, WE may even have it more easy than most, sometimes work still gets monotonous… how do you keep your workplace invigorated? 

In this episode, you will learn:

  • Often leaders are doing things that are fleeting and immaterial when it comes to recognition. Without a system and a purchased tool, good and bad managers alike will continue to recognize their people poorly.
  • It costs approximately $5000 just to hire and train a minimum wage employee. For the same price, you could provide an employee recognition system for your entire organization and drastically reduce turnover.
  • Tips to know when to invest in recognition:
    • If you’ve started a business… it’s now!
    • Go to the parking lot at 4:30pm. If it’s empty, you need it.
    • Walk up to a conversation of your employees. If they stop talking, there’s an issue with your culture.
    • Management and team players have an “us vs. them” dynamic.
    • Just ask, “what can we do better?” or “where can we improve employee engagement.” The #1 thing that comes back is that people don’t feel appreciated.
  • Even if you’re in the office, there’s a 300 ft rule. If you’re about that distance from a fellow employee, you may as well live on the other side of the planet.
  • ASK your colleagues how they want to be recognized. SIMPLE!
  • People seldom leave because of compensation, it won’t come up nearly as much in exit interviews as feeling unrecognized or under-valued. 

Learn More

How To Build a High-Performing Company of World-Changing Millennials

Victoria MacDonald

One Canadian organization that has made one of the greatest global impacts is WE. We have the honour of hearing from Victoria MacDonald, their Chief People Officer today for a brilliant discussion of millennials, translating values into actions & leading a team in a hyper-growth mode! 

Victoria is a 20-year veteran HR professional who is known for building cultures of alignment, accountability and high levels of engagement without pool tables, beer fridges or free food. 

Some questions I ask:

  • How do you come into a company as a new executive to bring change in a well-established, already world-class company culture? 
  • WE has an incredibly diverse set of roles in their 1000+ person organization. How do you hire so that across the organization, in the variety of roles & the types of people each require, to still hire aligned to your values?
  • How do leaders, many of whom are struggling with this, translate their values into behaviours people know how to demonstrate at school?
  • Are there tools & technology to help reinforce core values? 
  • What are some key learnings you’ve found that millennials need to thrive in the workplace? 
  • “Working with a purpose” is incredible, WE may even have it more easy than most, sometimes work still gets monotonous… how do you keep your workplace invigorated? 

In this episode, you will learn:

  • Heading into a major growth-period that involves maturing as a company is highly complex. Adding a more diverse workforce (in WE’s case, adding more tenured employees bringing the average age from 24 to 30 years old). Most elements of your people programs much change including your offer letters, performance management processes, the way you set goals, even your career development conversations. 
  • WE sets out to always continuously improve, Co-Founders Marc & Craig Kielburger never let themselves think they’re “done.” 
  • WE doesn’t see their quarterly employee engagement surveys as a way to figure out whether people are “happy at work.” Rather, they use their surveys to find out: 
    • what is working, so they can do better at those 
    • what needs to be tweaked or changed > create plans against these things 
  • When Victoria created her detailed HR Roadmap, every item on this plan is directly related to something that has come out of their surveys. 
  • Hiring for core values such as “we move for purpose & positivity,” guide their interviews. 3 Day Orientation is also integral to having people understanding how to display values at work, this achieves cultural cohesion. Because this occurs in all offices around the world, there’s a similar employee experience across-the-board. 
  • What’s rarely discussed is that millennials go to work everyday to create a sense of community and to be with their friends. Nurturing that and giving people the opportunity to work with their friends is really important. 

Learn More

Connect with Victoria:

More about WE.org:

WE is a family of organizations spanning from charities to social enterprises. One of their most famous events, WE Day is the greatest celebration of social good on earth. A multi-million dollar event where you can’t buy a ticket… you only get in through service & volunteering. World-leaders, celebrities & outstandingly brave people gather with and youth activists arena events to inspire the next generation.

Listening to Your People in a Fast-Growth Company


Tia Fomenoff has always loved helping others solve their problems—whether she’s placing people in their dream jobs, working with customers to make more money, guiding small businesses on the uses of social media or even recommending great restaurants to acquaintances. In today’s podcast, Tia shares in-detail how she and the leadership team have listened well to their employees, even adapted accordingly to the extent of giving a $2000 mental health spending limit for every employee! 
Her unconventional career-path began in northern British Columbia in the non-profit and tourism industries, then shifted to focus on digital marketing and customer success at high-growth tech companies Unbounce and Buffer. Tia is now the Director of People and Culture at Thinkific, where they build software that enables entrepreneurs to create, market, sell, and deliver their own online courses.
Some questions I ask:
  • What are company leaders today realizing is the most important thing for their businesses when it comes to culture?
  • Are you seeing a lot of mobility (people bouncing around) between startups in your city? How do you deal with that?
  • When a startup Founder & CEO decides to introduce a Director of People & Culture role, what are they thinking?
  • As a non-native People & Culture leader, what has been the most challenging part of stepping into your role & what have you learned about yourself?
  • How do you balance non-traditional experience with the need for the compliance that a Chartered Professional in Human Resources (CPHR) brings? How do you split up these responsibilities on your team?
  • What is the difference between culture fit and culture add… and what does values fit seem to be something you look for when hiring?
  • How do we build cultures where people speak up?
  • How do we properly survey our employees? How do people at every level of the company bring forward ideas to leadership?
  • What mistakes have you made in your hiring over time?
In this episode, you will learn: 
  • Great recruitment becomes a primary competitive advantage in a high-paced, fast-growing tech cities
  • How to transition from a different area of business (e.g. in Tia’s case, she was in marketing) to People & Culture (P&C)
  • Having a non-strict-HR background can be an advantage for a leader in the P&C department, you can understand all the roles & their needs, how to help people grow & be happy opposed to having a key focus on compliance
  • Diversity is very challenging to obtain when looking for culture fit. When you look for a values fit however, you will be rewarded in the beautiful diversity you have in your organization.
  • Amazing to see that when people are encouraged to adopt the value of “We give a shit” how people will roll up their sleeves to pitch in when needed.
  • Set up a channel for communication of new ideas to leadership! Having a flat structure internally allows for people to bring ideas forward to their people leader, even one level above without much feeling they are stepping out of place.
  • Structuring your employee engagement surveys with (1) evidence-based questions, (2) net-promoter score (e.g. How likely are you to recommend working at Thinkific to a family or friend) and (3) free and open-ended questions (e.g. What’re your favourite things about working here? What are some things we can do better?).
  • How to act on your employee’s suggestions, group them into themes, and then make them fully transparent by sharing them with the whole company so people know of the progress towards change and understand what is happening!
Connect with Tia Fomenoff:
Also mentioned on this show: