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It’s the kind of workspace many companies are trying to create, with values embraced by all employees, from the CEO to the associate. A more inclusive workplace is what top companies have been striving to attain in the last decade, especially with a global push for equal rights for the LGBT community.  Understanding the importance of workplace diversity and equality not only benefits and protects a company’s employees, but it is also increasingly a measure of a business’ overall success.

An inclusive work environment makes communication and getting to know your colleagues easier and much more liberating, says Sharon Chung, manager of customer care at TD Bank Group, who identifies  as part of the LGBT community. “I’m able to share my personal experiences with my teammates. I have a team that reports to me; the more I know about them, it’s a way of connecting to them on a personal level, and it goes both ways.”

“We spend the majority of our lives at work and having people around you who accept you for who you are is extremely important,” says Kim Conti, team leader of the administration department at TD Insurance in Etobicoke, Ontario. She says educating not only one department, but the company and all of its employees is what all businesses should pursue. “From my experience, the company as a whole, from executives to employees, very much emphasizes the importance of being inclusive and creating an environment for your peers and co-workers in which they feel comfortable, valued and respected.”

Some ways companies are building an inclusive workspace include internal initiatives and resource groups. TD is well-recognized for its ongoing support for LGBTs both within the company and in the broader community. Although it is involved in a number of initiatives, TD strives to maintain work inclusivity through focus groups and mentoring. “We do that through a variety of employee-based programs [like] our LGBT mentoring group,” says Ron Puccini, senior manager of corporate diversity at TD. “This would be LGBT-identified employees who go through a six-to-eight-week program in which they talk about the challenges, opportunities, and how they build a career path and network within the organization.”

And why should companies be so committed to workplace inclusivity? For TD, it’s simply about attracting the best talent, not lifestyles. “I think it’s really about our focus on talent, talent management, and employee experience,” says Puccini. “We want everybody to have the opportunity to reach their career potential, to feel valued, and to feel authentic when they come to work.”

With the number of Canadian companies that are committed to creating inclusive workplaces, the future looks bright, but it’s not something that can be flipped overnight. “This is a journey; it’s not something that you do once,” says Puccini. “Diversity and celebrating people’s differences are really the core of our cultural values.”