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Since 2011, the LBG Canada network has actively worked to advance diversity, equity and inclusion within the practice of community investment. In recent months that work has become all the more urgent. In our conversations with companies across Canada, we’ve heard that the way they previously reported on DE&I commitments has shifted as corporate leadership has increasingly demanded detailed and effective internal reporting on how community investment is advancing their DE&I commitments, and their commitments to BIPOC communities.
Though it is often overlooked, to the detriment of many organizations, community investment is an incredibly effective tool that plays a critical role advancing DE&I. Not only does community investment funding contribute to meaningful social change, it also helps demonstrate a company’s commitment to the issue – essentially moving beyond lip service and putting your money where your mouth is. Since the inception of the LBG Canada program in 2007, member companies have contributed nearly $4.5 billion in community investment funds. This is an astounding number, but it doesn’t offer us much insight into the actual impact of those funds. How much of that $4.5 billion went towards supporting Black, Indigenous and communities of colour? How much of it directly supported services or programs for vulnerable or marginalized communities? Are we truly having the impact we think we are?
These are hard questions, but the LBG Canada community is working to answer them. Many companies have recently stepped up their commitments to BIPOC communities and are undertaking anti-racism action within their organizations and operating communities. We’re also continuing the evolve the LBG Canada methodology to support companies in this work and ensure that organizations are able to access the strategic information they need to make decisions. In September we convened an LBG Canada town hall to gather feedback from members and proposed the implementation of robust demographic reporting. This was supported by attendees, and as a result we will be actively working with companies in the upcoming audit cycle to report on demographic investments, including racialized communities, Indigenous peoples and marginalized groups.
Some more of LBG Canada’s ongoing work on investments within BIPOC communities includes the Indigenous Benchmarking Survey, first conducted in 2019. The survey offered encouraging news – for example, all of the respondents indicated that they wanted to increase their support of indigenous communities – while also highlighting some of the strategic work that needs to be done to enable effective partnerships.
- Of the respondents, only 9% indicated that they referenced the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action in their community investment strategy.
- Only 18% of companies actively measured the impact of their community investment within Indigenous communities (the challenge with measuring impact is, of course, widespread across all CI programs).
- 27% of the survey respondents also noted that they incorporated Indigenous cultural awareness learning for employees into their community investment projects, demonstrating an increasing desire to build internal cultural competency.
In sum – current events and the impacts of COVID-19 are all pointing to the same reality. Now is the time to act and deliver on the potential of community investment to significantly advance equity and inclusion, both internally and in our communities.