Director, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Greater Toronto Airports Authority
For the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, operator of Toronto Pearson, the airport should be a true reflection of the diverse global passenger base it serves.
As Canada’s largest airport, Toronto Pearson International is a space that represents the diverse beliefs, opinions, and perspectives that make Canada a great nation. Here at the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA), we believe that if there’s one place that should be a true reflection of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I), it must be Toronto Pearson. Our business, after all, is to connect people and cultures from all over the world.
DE&I has been a core value of the GTAA since its beginnings in 1996. As society evolves and changes, under the leadership of our President and CEO, Deborah Flint, we’ve evolved in kind and have developed a strategy that encompasses the importance of DE&I in the workplace and for all employees.
Every person passing through Toronto Pearson will be treated with respect and dignity, and every person — our employees and our passengers alike — should feel that their breadth of human experience is valued.
A diverse workforce
The GTAA’s DE&I strategy is focused on developing a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture to help build our business for the future. We’re committed to and focused on listening to our employees, building trust within the organization, being transparent, and sharing these learnings across the business. Ultimately, our goal is to ensure that DE&I are embedded into the fabric of the GTAA with diverse representation at all levels, all while fostering a safe, respectful, and inclusive work environment where all employees can make a meaningful contribution.
Fostering a diverse workforce and an inclusive workplace starts from within. I recently joined the GTAA as the DE&I Director, and I’m committed to evolving the DE&I strategy for all employees, implementing inclusive leadership training for all managers, and creating dedicated DE&I councils to drive business decisions for all equity-deserving groups. The GTAA launched its Diversity Meter, a comprehensive and impactful survey of not only diversity measures but also feelings of inclusion and perceptions at work. All of this will help us better do our job of providing a warm welcome to people from across the globe.
Actions speak louder than words
Here at the GTAA, DE&I aren’t just values we talk about — we also back them up with action. Over the last two years, we’ve taken a more visible and active approach in the community by signing the BlackNorth Initiative CEO Pledge in July 2020. We’ve also invested over $300,000 in Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) organizations through our Propeller Project program.
Through the Propeller Project, we invest in community-building initiatives to support organizations and projects working in local neighbourhoods to create stronger, healthier, and happier communities. Each of these organizations has its own unique area of concentration, but collectively their activities contribute to the ultimate goal of helping to build better futures for those impacted by systemic racism.
Not only are we working diligently in the communities we serve, but we’re also making progress here in the airport by co-developing new programs and services with advocacy groups for persons with disabilities. Last year, we became the first airport in Canada to offer the Sunflower Lanyards Program for passengers with invisible disabilities. The lanyard provides a discrete way to signal that a passenger may need additional assistance or extra time completing a task. We’ve deployed Aira technology for passengers who are blind or low-vision and hearing loops and video translation for passengers who are deaf or hard of hearing and have installed accessible check-in kiosks to create a more inclusive airport experience for all travellers.
Looking forward to 2022 and beyond, we’re ensuring that our DE&I commitments are top of mind — starting with our leadership and extending all the way to our frontline staff. Next year, we’ll implement a leadership commitment and accountability program to position our leaders to model behaviours, values, and norms that foster inclusion and equity. We’re committed to working together to develop fair and equitable people practices across the board that effectively remove barriers — from branding and recognition to hiring, development, and performance.
Together, we’re committed to continuing this journey to ensure that the principles and practices that drive DE&I are present in every corner of our airport. Every person passing through Toronto Pearson will be treated with respect and dignity, and every person — our employees and our passengers alike — should feel that their breadth of human experience is valued.