Each year, Catalyst Canada recognizes those who show an outstanding dedication to furthering women in the corporate world.
The non-profit organization, which is dedicated to expanding opportunities for women in business, gives out their annual Catalyst Canada Honours Award to celebrate these champions.
This year, two of the recipients hail from Toronto: Gord Nixon, president and CEO of RBC, and Jane Allen, partner and chief diversity officer at Deloitte Canada.
Allen has made achieving diversity goals a priority throughout her career. When she was the co-dean at the University of Toronto, she co-founded the Woman Entrepreneur of the Award. Most recently at her job at Deloitte, where she’s a partner and Canada’s first chief diversity officer, she has helped to spearhead a number of initiatives.
Allen has won several awards, but said this one is uniquely special because it’s given specifically to people who are dedicated to advancing women in business.
“Catalyst is a very well-respected organization and they have a rigorous process for selecting their applicants so you know when you win this one that it’s really, really meaningful,” she said.
Allen was chosen because she has demonstrated the importance of senior sponsorship in advancing talented women and under-represented groups. Also, her work to improve management accountability for achieving diversity goals has led to a significant increase in the proportion of women partners admitted to Deloitte.
Allen has worked for Deloitte 16 years, but said her role of chief diversity officer was created five years ago when the firm decided to put more effort into creating a diverse and inclusive work environment.
“I have always felt very strongly about the need for women in business to get an equal shake as men, so I thought, what an opportunity to work in an organization that’s open-minded and wants to make change where change is required,” she said.
Allen said their goal at Deloitte is creating a workplace where everyone is respected and has the same opportunity to advance their career, so they have a number of initiatives oriented to that goal.
This includes working closely with their National Diversity and Inclusion Council and reviewing annually what progress they’ve made, identifying where the gaps are and creating new strategies and goals.
They also have leadership programs where they work with a consultant to guide them on how to make changes, as well as several education and awareness programs, such as their Gender Intelligent Leadership program.
“It’s all about having men and women understand how they work differently and behave differently, so knowing that, we can be more effective when we work together,” Allen said.
Nixon, who was not available for comment, was recognized for established the Diversity Leadership Council, which is responsible for overseeing the bank’s diversity and inclusion strategy, key goals and results, and he has chaired the Council ever since. He has also personally sponsored the development of many women at RBC, with many achieving senior leadership positions.