EDI is an evolving journey, and the work takes time, commitment and intentional action in order to foster a sense of belonging in the community.
EDI informs decision-making across all service areas
At the City of Coquitlam, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) isn’t just a buzz word – it’s a top priority for City Council and all staff throughout the organization. With the evolving understanding taking place in Canada and around the world, Coquitlam is proving that municipalities, regardless of their size, can make a commitment to EDI for the betterment of residents who call the community home, as well as staff.
An urban and cultural centre within Metro Vancouver, Coquitlam is one of the fastest-growing municipalities in B.C. When considering that approximately 44 per cent of Coquitlam’s population are newcomers and the projected growth of the City’s diverse and vibrant population, the need for EDI as a business priority becomes even clearer.
To ensure staff can support this need, Coquitlam City Council established EDI as a key theme, and top priority, in the City’s Business Plan. This empowers the whole organization to champion EDI in their day-to-day work and ensure that EDI informs the City’s decision-making across all lines of business and service areas.
At the City of Coquitlam, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) isn’t just a buzz word — it’s a top priority for City Council and all staff throughout the organization.
A strategic approach to EDI
The first significant milestone in Coquitlam’s EDI journey involved creating a business area focused on identifying and supporting EDI initiatives, and hiring Manisha Dutta as Coquitlam’s first Manager EDI.
With the support of Council and senior leadership, Dutta is working to set meaningful and measurable objectives to ensure the entire organization is working towards their EDI goals.
These objectives are guided by the Global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Benchmarks (GDEIB) from the Centre for Global Inclusion and through a partnership with the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion, as well as the important local reality and lived experiences that shape the unique Coquitlam context.
“Regardless of city size, EDI initiatives require commitment and intentional action to produce better living outcomes for those who call Coquitlam home,” said Dutta. “I take great pride in trying to ensure our residents’ needs and realities are applied to and reflected in everything we do to impact their day-to-day lives.”
This includes projects such as the City’s Community Engagement Framework, which guides how the community influences the City’s decision-making process, as well as programs like the Financial Assistance for Recreation (FAR) program, which provides passes and credits to access recreational facilities for residents who can’t afford them.
EDI supports a changing workforce
With workforce demographics changing, and new generations bringing their values and expectations to their roles, the commitment to EDI naturally overlaps the City’s Human Resources policies and priorities as they work to support almost 1,900 employees across the city.
“In HR, EDI initiatives are important to ensure current and future employees are part of a team that is inclusive, safe and values diverse skill sets,” said Del Negro. “The labour market is changing and it’s important that we adapt so that employees are able to work for an organization that aligns with their values.”
This is reflected in the City’s ongoing commitment to enhance its recruitment and retention process with an EDI lens. Their success resulted in Coquitlam being named one of British Columbia’s Top Employers for the sixth year in a row in 2022.
Other major milestones for the city
The city has also delivered on a number of other key initiatives to meet its commitment to EDI.
For example, the City has launched a permanent Hybrid Work Policy that provides flexibility to staff who aren’t operationally required to be on-site daily and supports a healthy work-life balance.
The City also continuously seeks to offer flexible benefits and services for all its employees. This mindset also applies to its City Council where elected officials have access to maternity and parental leave, as well as compassionate care and caregiver leave. Coquitlam was the first municipality in B.C. to extend these benefits to elected officials in order to help remove barriers to participating in the local office.
Coquitlam is committed to transformation
EDI is an evolving journey, and the work takes time, commitment and intentional action in order to foster a sense of belonging in the community. However, it is a top priority for the City of Coquitlam’s Council and entire organization and will remain a key focus as they continue to evolve in service to their community.