Building diverse and inclusive workplaces: our partnership with the Diversity Employment Network
Our workplaces are stronger when we include diverse perspectives.
At Nova Scotia Power, like many organizations across the province, we’re focused on growing our diversity and fostering a culture of inclusion and belonging. As part of this ongoing process, we know it’s crucial to acknowledge that there are systemic issues that create employment barriers for minority communities in our province. It’s why we believe it’s important to not only make changes within our company—but to also support organizations like the Diversity Employment Network (DEN). DEN is a two-year pilot project focused on addressing the underrepresentation of African Nova Scotians in the province's workplaces.
This year, we’ve partnered with DEN to offer professional project management training to members of the African Nova Scotian community. We spoke with program participant, Nicole Johnson, to learn more about the program and its impact, along with Matthew Saunders, our Continuous Improvement Lead and member of our Black Employee Resource Group. Matthew and Nicole shared their perspective on the importance of programs like DEN, and how our communities and workplaces can prioritize diversity and inclusion.
Breaking down barriers and creating opportunities
“DEN is focused on helping Black Nova Scotians find employment”, explains Matthew. “And an important part of that is working to remove the barriers caused by systemic racism.”
Matthew points out that one of those barriers for African Nova Scotian communities can be exposure to opportunities. DEN is aiming to change that by providing the programs, network and tools to succeed.
“I’m excited that Nova Scotia Power is supporting the Certified Associate in Project Management program that will be offered through DEN”, he says. “DEN’s programs and training show young professionals what’s possible. It puts them in a space they might not have been exposed to before, and that’s very powerful.”
Providing access to opportunities and tackling challenges is something DEN participant, Nicole Johnson is passionate about, too. She explains that she considers her participation in the DEN program to be both an investment in herself—and in her community.
“I’m proud to be from East Preston—a community with a long-term history of driving change and lifting each other up. Programs like DEN can open doors. If these kinds of programs didn’t exist, many Nova Scotians wouldn’t have the opportunity to develop these professional skills.”
Nicole will be taking part in the project management course—a program she considers to be a perfect fit for her skillset and career aspirations.
“I consider myself to be a problem solver—and if I don’t have the answer to a problem, I find the resources”, she says. “It’s a skill that lends itself well to my job in event planning and wedding coordination, to my work as a community specialist—and to project management. By taking part in the DEN program, I hope to learn, develop and grow. I hope to gain new skills that will help set me apart in my industry.”
Building a culture of inclusion from the inside out
A critical part of DEN’s mandate is not only providing resources for job seekers, and those that are looking to grow in their career, but also offering programs for organizations that are working to include and celebrate more diverse perspectives in their workforce.
“As workplaces focus on diverse hiring, it’s important that all employees feel a sense of belonging”, says Matthew. “When you have a trusting, inclusive and supportive work environment, everyone can show up and feel safe to do their job. This is central to our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion strategy at Nova Scotia Power, and part of the mandate for the Black Employee Resource Group I’m a part of. We’re focused on identifying obstacles, along with opportunities to enhance the experience of current and prospective Black employees at Nova Scotia Power.”
DEN offers programs that contribute to building an inclusive environment—from recruitment services to workplace diversity coaching to ensure that that once employees are hired, they’re supported by an inclusive culture. Matthew believes that this is a crucial piece of the puzzle.
“We need programs like these because everyone has biases, and it can be hard to see blind spots. Many people and organizations want to do the right thing, but don’t always have the tools. DEN provides the training and resources.”
Taking the next step
Looking ahead, Nicole shares a sense of optimism—along with some valuable advice for others that are considering exploring DEN’s programs.
“I’m looking forward to making new connections and networking. Putting your best foot forward and trying something new in any industry can be daunting, but I try to remember that it’s a chance to learn. Even if things don’t go as planned, it’s a lesson and an opportunity to grow. Every challenge begins with taking that first step. What’s important is that you’re always moving forward.”
To learn more about Nova Scotia Power’s partnership with the Diversity Employment Network, read our media release.
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