This month, CMJ’s columnist on CSR and executive director of the Devonshire Initiative, Carolyn Burns, interviewed inclusion and diversity expert, Jamile Cruz. Cruz is the founder and CEO of I&D 101 and recently received The Globe and Mail’s Business Changemakers award.
Carolyn Burns: You have a really interesting professional background. You’re an electrical engineer from Brazil and started your career in telecommunications. In 2006 you moved to Canada to work with Hatch and you’ve been a leader in the mining sector ever since. Now you work in inclusion and diversity and run your own consulting practice. You’ve also just been awarded the 2021 Business Changemakers award (congratulations!).
What was the transition from electrical engineer to inclusion and diversity expert like? What does this award mean to you?
Jamile Cruz: I believe that critical elements of the work I execute today were part of every career choice I have made. I’ve always searched for challenging opportunities and constant change, and I’m lucky I found them. Every change brought new skills and required me to connect, adapt and innovate – and made me rethink ways of doing things. Continuous learning, innovation, and a focus on results are characteristics in most organizations I’ve been connected to, and it is definitely a strong pillar of I&D 101.
Engineering principles are part of my core approach. I am a problem solver, a strategist – a changemaker! This award is more than a professional or a business recognition. Being part of the Changemakers showcases inclusion and diversity (I&D) as a business priority, and shows that organizations want to take the next steps to improve their workplace culture.CB: You’ve said before that your passion is to change work cultures to include ALL people. What makes the mining sector so interesting and relevant to this type of work? What is the challenge or opportunity that resonates the most in this sector?
JC: I didn’t choose a career in mining at first, but I chose to stay once I connected with the work. It can be fascinating. For example, my specialization, capital projects, enabled me to understand end-to-end design, project life cycles, the need for structure and awareness around people and team behaviours, how to drive alignment from investment to engineering design to community engagement, how to design business cases, and get projects approved and to the finish line.
The opportunities in mining can be endless, but it is clear that they are not equitable. Opportunities in the sector rely on group membership – hence the challenge. The sector has identified a need for more innovation! And studies have shown that companies that reported above-average diversity (including gender, age, career path, etc.) on their management teams also reported revenue from new products and services that was 19% higher than that of companies with below-average leadership diversity. I choose to build more inclusive workplaces in mining because I want it to be more sustainable, innovative, responsible and safer.
CB: Why can’t we rely on organic change to shift work cultures in the mining sector?
JC: When an organization has a specific goal, relying on organic change is similar to expecting concrete results by just talking about the action plan. Building an inclusive culture and pushing towards a direct representation of our communities in the workforce, are complex challenges that require at least a systematic, if not dramatic, approach to change. Advocating for an organic approach would be akin to abdicating leadership responsibility for I&D.
CB: How do we support a dramatic change? Where do we start? What are the most common systemic changes that we can drive to make workplaces inclusive for all?
JC: The recognition and acceptance that there are biases embedded in the systems, processes and behaviours displayed in our organizations is the starting point. For a culture of inclusion to exist, leadership has to model behaviours that clear the path for all employees to shine and to present their best selves to work. Everyone must participate to create workplaces where employees understand the value they create, feel a sense of belonging and are empowered to contribute effectively towards the organization’s goals.
Start by assessing the challenges that are part of your organization’s culture (values and behaviours), creating a strategy that aligns with your business goals, assigning roles and responsibilities at the right levels to drive the strategy, establishing metrics to measure the behaviour changes required, and creating and tracking I&D indicators. Invest in a structured approach, just as you would approach any other strategic priority that drives organizations to better business outcomes.
This isn’t an organic change, and there isn’t a magic pill. The creation of an inclusive culture requires an all-hands approach, with a clear story line that all employees can understand and that leaders are excited to own, and defined metrics placed to measure progress and allow for adjustments and corrections along the way.