Interactive Ontario launches diversity toolkit for the Interactive Digital Media Industry

interactive ontario

Interactive Ontario has launched a Diversity & Inclusion Toolkit for the Interactive Digital Media Industry.

The not-for-profit industry trade association focuses on the growth of the province’s interactive digital media (IDM). With this toolkit, which was authored by Kelly Lynne Ashton, the association wants to give companies advice on how to improve team diversity and foster an inclusive culture.

Women account for just 25 percent of IDM sector employees. Twenty percent of companies don’t employee any women at all.

“The strategies in the toolkit are tailored to the unique needs of the IDM sector to help leaders attract and retain top talent from diverse backgrounds. Through implementation of these strategies, IDM companies will increase employment opportunities in the sector for talent currently underrepresented due to gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, class, religion, age, ability, and other identities,” the report reads.

In the report, Interactive Ontario says that diversity can provide better insight into target markets, the opportunity to reach niche markets, and improved wellbeing among employees.

The idea for the toolkit stems from Interactive Ontario’s recently released Measuring Success report, which collected anecdotal and statistical evidence that the sector lacks diversity. Specifically, that data indicated that women account for just 25 percent of IDM sector employees, and 20 percent of companies don’t employee any women at all.

The toolkit was put together in three phases, starting with four roundtable discussions of representatives from Ontario’s IDM industry to ensure that participants had the required experience to make valuable contributions. The consultants then conducted one-on-one interviews with representatives from companies in the IDM sector to get a better understanding of what companies with extensive experience in diversity and inclusion were doing right.

Finally, they reviewed literature that would help them take initial steps towards developing a strategy, or adapting elements from existing strategies.

The report outlines a few key tips for improvements, including:

  • Patience: companies should not expect immediate results because improving diversity and inclusion takes time.
  • Build trust: include existing staff that might be wary of changes to show them how the strategies will positively impact them.
  • Recognize bias: people have the tendency to hire within their own network, but employers need to be  ‘purposeful’ in reaching out to find talent and exercise ‘conscious inclusion’.
  • Training: managers should attend workshops on unconscious bias, diversity and inclusion strategies, inclusive workplaces, communication skills, and managing talent.
  • Leadership: diversity and inclusion should be supported by the company’s leadership, and not just exist as an HR function.
  • Research: don’t depend on “common wisdom.” Use statistics and interviews to assess your own hiring practices.
  • Accountability: managers and senior leaders should be accountable for implementing diversity and creating an inclusive environment. Employees should set goals for them and reward accomplishments.
  • The plan of action was created in partnership with the Ontario Media Development Corporation, the Canada Media FundUbisoft, and the Humber College School of Media Studies and Information Technology.

    Read the full report here.

    Photo via Interactive Ontario

    Aeman Ansari

    Aeman Ansari

    Aeman Ansari is a freelance writer who has been published in many Toronto-based publications, including Hazlitt and Torontoist. When she’s not re-watching Hitchcock movies, she’s working on her collection of short fiction inspired by stories from her grandmother, one of the few women in India to receive post-secondary education in English literature at the time.