National youth entrepreneurship non-profit NEXT Canada (formerly Next 36) issued an email statement to its stakeholders last week outlining significant changes to the organization’s approach to gender diversity.
According to the email, the changes are targeted to specifically address “inclusivity and gender parity” at NEXT Canada’s organizational level and in its programs, including code of conduct changes and a board commitment to reach the province of Ontario’s proposed diversity benchmark of 40 percent women within three years (the full list of proposed changes can be found below).
The organizational changes, proposed by a special committee of the NEXT Canada’s Board of Directors, come in response to recent criticisms of the lack of gender diversity on NEXT Canada’s board, as well as personnel and location decisions made during the planning of the Spotlight Awards, co-founded by NEXT Canada’s newly appointed CEO, Razor Suleman.
“In recent days, we have heard feedback from inside and outside the organization about the desire to be a leader where gender diversity is concerned,” the statement reads. “We acknowledge that we can and must do better in this regard.”
The organizational commitments include:
- Strengthening and enhancing of NEXT Canada’s code of conduct, including a mandate that additional procedures are put in place to provide future oversight for decisions related to events and partnerships.
- Organizational review conducted by an independent expert examining “policies, procedures, and training” pertaining to gender diversity. NEXT Canada’s special committee must also report to the board within 45 days with recommendations to increase “female participation at all levels of NEXT Canada.”
- Commitment to ensure that 40 percent of NEXT Canada’s Board of Directors consist of women within three years.
- Gender diversity training and education for the NEXT Canada Board of Directors and all staff by the end of 2016, with training to be included in the onboarding of all new staff, executives, and board members.
“I’m excited that our board is fully supportive of NEXT Canada taking a leadership role in helping address some of the challenges in our industry,” Suleman told BetaKit.
Note: BetaKit remains a proud sponsor of the Spotlight Awards, and applauds NEXT Canada for its proposed corrective changes. BetaKit also looks forward to holding NEXT Canada to account as it works towards implementing these changes.