Canada’s greatest resource is its people. Businesses and organizations benefit from having the right people, reflecting Canada’s full diversity, putting their talents to use. The leadership of corporate Canada and our major organizations should look like Canada—not simply because it’s fair but also because it makes good sense. Time and time again, research has shown that businesses and organizations that embrace diversity on their boards and management teams outperform their peers. Intuitively, a broader range of perspectives and talents results in better performance.

Yet, the reality is that women, racialized persons, people who identify as LGBTQ2 and people living with disabilities (including invisible and episodic disabilities), as well as First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, are under-represented in positions of economic influence and organizational leadership, including on corporate boards and in senior management.

That is why today, the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, launched the 50 – 30 Challenge to advance and recognize diversity, inclusion and economic prosperity from coast to coast to coast.

Minister Bains announced a $33-million investment in the Challenge, including for the development of tools and resources to help participating organizations advance diversity and inclusion in workplaces across Canada. Additionally, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) will leverage its programs to encourage companies that receive ISED funding to advance diversity and inclusion within their organizations.

The Standards Council of Canada, Canada’s respected voice for and advisor on standards and accreditation, will collaborate with 50 – 30 Challenge partner organizations to develop Canadian standards for diversity in organizational leadership. Beginning with a guidance document, the Council’s work will serve as a roadmap to help organizations of various sizes and sectors across the country achieve measurable, concrete change.

The Government of Canada has been working together with private sector and diversity-focused organizations in a co-creation effort to develop the 50 – 30 Challenge. So far, more than 470 organizations—of every size and from every province and territory—have signed up for the challenge.

At the heart of the 50 – 30 Challenge are two goals for the board(s) and senior management of each organization: gender parity (50%) and significant representation (30%) of under-represented groups. To address the unique needs of various sectors in Canada, the Challenge offers three streams for participation: large corporations; small and medium-sized enterprises; and post-secondary institutions, not-for-profit organizations and charities. Organizations in all three streams will commit to working toward the 50 – 30 objectives in ways that show meaningful progress toward creating a workplace that reflects the diversity of the communities in which they operate across Canada.

The Challenge will also build on important work over the past years to advance equality, including Bill C-25 from the previous Parliament, which introduced diversity disclosure requirements for distributing companies; the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy; a charter on equity, diversity and inclusion for post-secondary institutions; and the recently announced Black Entrepreneurship Program—the first of its kind in Canada.