Every February, people in Canada are invited to participate in Black History Month festivities and events that honour the legacy of Black Canadians and their communities.

The 2021 theme for Black History Month is: “The Future is Now“.

At the Young Pipeliners, we are have a vision of future of a pipeline industry which is diverse, equitable and inclusive.  We think that part of that means senior leaders listen to the perspective of Millennials and Gen Z, women, Black, Indigenous, People of Colour (BIPOC), persons with disabilities and Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Bisexual, Queer+ (LGTBQ+) people in industry.  Our organization is committed to engaging in two way dialogue that catalyzes change.

We’ve previously shared our Tenets for our vision here: Values & Tenets – YPAC (ypacanada.com).  We continue to be committed to the following actions:

  • Addressing systemic gaps in advancement and senior leadership for women, BIPOC, persons with disabilities and LGTBQ+ people in industry
  • Ensuring fair and equitable parental leave. Enabling flexible work accommodations accounting for the realities of child care and elder care
  • Industry and government engaging in two way dialogue with young pipeliners and with marginalized communities
  • Pipeliners recognize and call out our own biases – conscious and unconscious – to create meaningful, sustainable change

Addressing systemic gaps, taking action, and having more dialogue starts with all of us.  No idea where to start?  Take some time to listen to a few amazing TED Talks: Talks to celebrate Black History Month | TED Talks. Check out Penguin Randomhouse Canada’s Black History Month booklist: Books to Read this Black History Month | Penguin Random House Canada.  Consider reading other great books about the black experience in Canada, we’d particularly recommend Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present by Robyn Maynard. 

If you want to recognize and call out unconscious bias, we recommend the following resources: Top 5 Ted Talks About Diversity in The Workplace | by ThriveMap | Medium, unconscious-bias (franklincovey.com) which has a good set of free resources and the CCDI – Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion which gives many companies access to free membership, which includes webinars, articles, and additional resources.

At YPAC, we are launching the YLAB model for inclusion of young professionals and marginalized voices in the pipeline industry.  YLAB = Young Leaders Advisory Board.  In this case, the Young Pipeliners Association of Canada acts as a partner in designing and governing the program.  A Young Leaders Advisory Board is a group of non-executive employees that work with senior leaders on strategic initiatives.  Before we break down what YLAB is all about – let’s look at some facts concerning millennials in the workplace.

We want to build on our understanding of the needs and expectations of Millennials and Gen Z to deliver something that both engages, attracts, and retains those young professionals while also enabling the organization to respond to a rapidly changing world.  The YLAB model tackles two complex challenges:

How can we leverage their engagement to create the future the pipeline industry needs, now? With YLAB, we harness diversity and inclusion to achieve improved organizational performance.  This is not a trivial time commitment and it requires sustained business involvement and in some cases, a cultural shift. 

If it was easy, everyone would do it.  But there are huge rewards for building authentic relationships with Millennials and Gen Z through an advisory board. 

The opportunity is threefold:

  1. Tap into the energy and fresh ideas of the next generation to leverage their insights and to diversify the perspectives that leaders are exposed to.
  2. Engage and retain Millennials and Gen Z by demonstrating that they are being listened to and able to impact decision making.  This makes the company a more attractive place to work.
  3. Develops emerging talent and builds a leadership pipeline that improves succession planning.

Here we’re applying best practices from stakeholder engagement (the principle of nothing about me without me) to harness inclusion for improved business performance on many fronts. 

We cannot underestimate the energy and creativity sitting in the population that’s already itching to be used and the pipeline industry has an opportunity to be part of that – we don’t want to miss out. 

It seems to work – other companies have used this model to test drive ideas directly impacting the next generation, to evaluate business models, process redesign, and organizational transformation and for many organizations, this has generator of new initiatives and innovations.

So how would it work?

Part 1 is prep where YPAC assists in forming the governance and recruiting the candidates who best demonstrate their qualifications and capability to participate on the council including a strong desire for personal and professional growth and a discussion on how they’ll bring diversity of thought and experience to the table.  This is also where we are building their capacity so that they are adequately trained and prepared to participate in the next phase.  This board has specific goals for the inclusion of diverse worldviews from BIPOC, women, LGBTQ+, educational background, and work experience. 

Part 2 is the business unit strategy input phase – where the Young Leader (“YL”)Advisors participate as a stakeholder in the strategy process.  And they don’t just stop there, acting as ambassadors, they take their learnings from the strategy review to engage with their peers in two way dialogue that broadens the impact of inclusion.

Part 3 has the YL advisors developing recommendations about a key business challenge and participating as an observer in the corporate strategy process.

In Part 4, the advisors share their recommendations with the leadership team and with their peers, once again, engaging with a broad group of young employees to evaluate and understand their needs.  In this phase, the program itself is evaluated and we take our lessons learned into the next year.

This model can be used as a broader template for seeking input with various groups within the organization and it achieves our core goals of engaging, attracting and retaining the next generation, providing excellent professional development, and also leveraging the fresh ideas, creativity, and energy of young employees.

We’re excited to launch this model in 2021 to meet our goal of building the future of the pipeline industry right now – one which is diverse, equitable, and inclusive. 

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to YPAC if you want your pipeline company to engage in this program.  We’re there to help you get it up and running!