Founding Partner & Strategic Advisor, Orenda
Founder & Executive Director, Building Up
Chief Operating Officer, CMiC
A diversity program can set the stage for community engagement — especially in an industry that’s not always known for its inclusivity. As a leader in construction and capital projects, CMiC isn’t just changing how firms do business — it’s also changing its own operational environment through a robust diversity program.
The company delivers an all-encompassing single database software platform for a wide array of construction firms, enhancing productivity across various business areas, including project delivery, financial controls, labour and asset orchestration, and document management.
The key to the successful development and delivery of innovative software solutions is a diverse workforce comprised of a high proportion of recent Canadian immigrants. Today, approximately 17 percent of the company’s employees have been in the country for less than four years. In addition, other talent acquisition initiatives have led to greater gender diversity. Currently, 35 percent of the workforce is female — including two Board of Directors members — in an industry where women have historically been less than 25 percent of the total.
“When people feel cared for, they’re more engaged, inspired, and productive — and all kinds of evidence now indicates that businesses with a social purpose outperform those that don’t have one,” says Peggie Pelosi, Founding Partner and Strategic Advisor at Orenda, a Toronto-based consultancy. “A corporate social responsibility (CSR) program can be a catalyst for developing a culture that attracts, engages, and retains great talent and customers.”
Pelosi believes there’s been a slow transformation since the 1990s of solely profit-driven corporate culture moving to one that’s also “purpose-driven.” Whereas a profit-driven culture largely focuses on shareholders and investors, a purpose-driven culture is more equitable, treating employees, customers, suppliers, community members, and the environment with the same consideration.
In keeping with its thinking around diversity and inclusion, CMiC recently established a CSR initiative. To foster engagement, employees actively participated in naming the program, agreeing on “Ready, Set, Build!,” CMiC worked with Orenda to formalize the program by connecting the company’s core competencies in construction efficiency and productivity with a social need in the community.
Everyone is Building Up
The Ready, Set, Build! program created the ideal conditions for connecting CMiC’s social purpose with community business needs. Building Up, a CMiC community partner, was founded in Toronto as a non-profit social enterprise to address labour shortages in skilled trades. By training people with barriers to employment, Building Up helps fill these industry gaps.
Marc Soberano, Founder and Executive Director of Building Up, says the non-profit uses CMiC’s software tools – and its employee volunteers – to increase its capabilities as a non-profit contractor, opening up opportunities to bring in more trainees.
“We trained over 100 people a year with very limited career prospects, who are often refugees, individuals with criminal records, or people who often don’t have a high school diploma,” he says. “About 85 percent of these individuals go on to become licensed tradespeople and turn their lives around in a meaningful way.”
The key to the successful development and delivery of innovative software solutions is a diverse workforce comprised of a high proportion of recent Canadian immigrants.
“Workforce diversity at CMiC represents a broad array of dimensions and initiatives, from talent sourcing and development – as well as religious, cultural, and gender inclusion – to active participation in community enhancement programs,” says Pat Shah, Chief Operating Officer at CMiC. Collaborations with universities and technical schools help to source talented students for co-op and internship programs. “By leveraging the diverse thinking that comes from Canada’s growing pool of highly-skilled immigrants, coupled with the fresh perspectives of new university graduates, CMiC gains a unique approach to solving problems for its customers.”
Shah notes that steps have been taken to create a “home-away-from-home” environment through accommodations for employees to observe their religious practices, flexibility to take time off to observe religious holidays, and the inclusion of company socials and activities. “As an organization, we’re committed to ensuring our employees feel like their work gives them a healthy work-life balance, “ says Shah.
“We envision a business community embracing more social inclusion. A CSR program is the most effective platform for employees to feel fully engaged as members of the local Toronto tech community by finding opportunities to give back,” adds Shah.