Embracing the principles of inclusion

Embracing the principles of inclusion

< Back to Articles | Topics: Working for you | Contributors: Nicole Slysz (Board Coordinator & Executive Assistant, IWK foundation) | Published: May 1, 2024

In today’s dynamic business landscape, it is more important than ever to listen to employees and identify the barriers they experience. Companies and not-for-profits that fully embrace the principles of inclusion not only create a more equitable workplace but also benefit greatly from the resulting diversity of thought, ideas, and experiences of their team.

The IWK Foundation is an organization made up largely of women—including our women-led executive leadership team and our current Board Chair. Flexibility is at the core of our organization. To retain and attract committed and dedicated women, this flexibility is needed to ensure a balance within the workplace—whether that be through modified hours, working from home, or time off for family needs. These are not simply “nice-to-haves” but “need-to-haves” for our team.

As a mother of two young children under the age of five, my needs for flexibility are vast. I can say with such gratitude that the IWK Foundation has supported these needs ever since I joined the organization as a contract employee. Three months into my contract, I told my manager that I was pregnant with my second child. I was immediately surrounded with support and joy, and a plan was put into place for my maternity leave and subsequent return to work (which they were not required to do, as I was a contract employee). This support has continued through my ability to bring my children to work when childcare was a challenge, accommodating flexibility for appointments, and enabling remote work or early departures. My work output has not only remained unaffected but has increased because of the understanding and support I’ve received.

“Understanding the demographics of your organization is essential,” says Jennifer Gillivan, President and CEO of the IWK Foundation. “We have five generations of employees within the IWK Foundation, and each has varying items that are important to them. Empathy and flexibility are needed whether that be with someone taking care of an aging parent or a parent with small children. We need to actively listen and find ways to accommodate our employees’ needs.”

I have continually watched my employer empower women in leadership roles, ensuring that each are contributing to significant decision-making processes and shaping the overall direction of the organization. Together, our team has demonstrated how our commitment to supporting women and children fuels our passion and drive to ensure women and children receive the healthcare they deserve here in the Maritimes.

“You need to look at each employee as a 360-degree individual and not just as someone who works for you,” says Gillivan. “You have to constantly find new ways to help, support, and empower them.”

Atlantic Canada is constantly evolving, and the fundraising market is changing faster than ever. Fortunately, we have a team and a culture that is committed to continuous innovation—helping to ensure that our fundraising efforts continue to grow year after year.

I believe that all organizations need to stand behind the transformative power of diversity and inclusion. This is something the IWK Foundation has stood by as a firm objective for our organization, and it will continuously evolve and improve. I believe that organizations need to understand the power and the momentum they gain when women are represented in their leadership and executive teams. Fostering a culture that celebrates differences, empowers women, and breaks stereotypes not only achieves success but also sets a positive example for the industry.

As businesses continue to grow and evolve, I can confidently say that the IWK Foundation reinforces the idea that embracing inclusion isn’t just the right thing to do—it is strategic and imperative for sustained growth and success. There is always room to grow, change, and evolve in this landscape, and the IWK Foundation team is focused on continuing to grow and evolve as an organization. I am so excited to be part of this powerful mission for children, for women and for our future!

< Back to Articles | Topics: Working for you

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