CEO message: Leading the way to greater inclusivity for newcomers

June 16, 2022

Travel the world and ask people what comes to mind when they think of Canada. After beautiful landscapes and cold winters, we’re known for our cultural diversity. There is no doubt that Canada is one of the most diverse countries in the world and a work-in-progress when it comes to inclusivity.  

The 2016 census showed that out of a population of 35 million, over 7.5 million are first-generation immigrants – an astounding 21% of the population was born outside Canada – but communities and organizations are not always so diverse within Canada.  

As an organization dedicated to the economic integration of newcomers, where at least 95% of our clients are visible minorities, Windmill is always looking for ways to become more inclusive and welcoming of diverse perspectives. Earlier this year, we signed on to Canada’s 50 – 30 Challenge as a sign of our commitment to diversity and inclusion at Windmill. The Challenge asks organizations to aspire to 50% representation of women and men at the board and senior management level and 30% representation of other under-represented groups, including racialized Canadians and those who identify as LGBTQ2 or have disabilities, among board and senior management.  

Windmill was founded 16 years ago by six women and now has a balance of men and women on our board and staff teams. Our skills matrix for board members measures beyond key skills to include diversity through the representation of immigrants and other disadvantaged groups and different regions of Canada. We were delighted to add our first alumnus to our board earlier this year. 

We are taking similar measurements of our team’s make-up. Currently, 30% of our leadership team are immigrants, and 30% are visible minorities. The 50 – 30 Challenge goals are aspirational, and we are always looking to improve our practices around diversity and inclusion so that Windmill, our clients and Canada benefit.  

Beyond the board and leadership team, our staff of 40 are a talented group of people passionate about Windmill’s mission. The majority are immigrants, married to an immigrant or the children of immigrants. While we have a high degree of diversity, inclusivity and mutual understanding are works in progress.  

In this edition, Windmill (Janet Eremenko) speaks to Shamira Madhany, the Chair of Windmill’s Loan Committee and World Education Services (WES) CEO, about how organizations can foster inclusive and diverse workforces. Shamira has spent her life working to help improve diversity and inclusion and has some important lessons to share. With a little mindfulness and effort, we can all make small changes to shed exclusionary habits and lead the way to greater inclusivity for newcomers and one another.

Claudia Hepburn, CEO

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