As Sonepar continues to make Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) initiatives a priority within the organization, last year Sonepar Canada President Francois Anquetil, and VP of Human Resources, Reina Ohol, conducted focus groups aimed at learning from the experiences of our associates.
“It’s difficult for anyone to try and navigate how best to address DE&I in the workplace,” Reina said. “We wanted to create initiatives and action plans that would be meaningful to our associates and not be based solely on metrics. Therefore, we took an “inclusive approach,” to DE&I. We listened to what our associates had to say and got ideas directly from them to help create a positive impact.”
Associates were invited to participated in focus groups which took place over a course of three different sessions and concentrated on gender diversity, visible minorities, and multigenerational diversity and inclusion.
“Overall, the sessions exceeded my expectations,” she said. “You have to be courageous to persevere through a confronting and uncomfortable situation, especially within the workplace. In addition, we were asking our participants to relive and share their personal experiences not only with us but also with their peers.”
“Our associates trusted us enough to be vulnerable and I really commend their level of bravery, along with our ability as a collective to make the sessions a positive and safe space. I felt honoured to sit amongst these individuals and have the privilege to listen to what they had to say.”
“Moving forward, we are concentrating on education and training. Whether it’s regarding bringing awareness and understanding to different ethnicities, genders, or generations, we want to ensure we are creating a culture that is highly aware of microaggressions, biases and prejudices within the workplace.
“We also want to make learning opportunities more readily available, especially for the younger generations,” said Reina. “By doing so, we can eliminate the impression that career development is only obtainable to those who have a certain level of seniority with the company.”
“Ultimately, we want to ensure all associates feel they have access to career opportunities regardless of their ethnicity, gender, or age and that Sonepar becomes the depiction of inclusivity in the workplace.”
About Sonepar Canada:
Member of the Sonepar Group, we are Canada’s largest privately-held B-to-B electrical products distributor and supplier of safety, facilities maintenance and MRO (maintenance, repair, and operations) products and related services. In Canada, we are represented in nine provinces by Dixon Electric, Gescan, Lumen, MGM Electric, Sesco, Texcan and Vallen. Sonepar Canada has over 1800 employees working out of over 100 offices between our distinctive brands.