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23 Mar

GDPP 2018 Conference: Talk is Cheap

March 23, 2018 | By |

Join us for the Gender, Diversity and Public Policy Initiative’s fourth annual conference on diversity and inclusion. 

Talk is Cheap conference

‘Diversity and inclusion’ is the new catch-all term for everything concerning equity. Governments are releasing anti-racism strategies, diversity blueprints and action plans to address the barriers that some Canadians face in their daily lives. Our politicians and elected representatives are also taking action by proposing legislation that tackle these complex issues. At the same time, the private sector is beginning to pay serious attention to attracting diverse employees and building more inclusive workplaces. But all along, grassroot organizers (in the form of non-profits or activists) have been doing this work for years. In fact, before movements like #metoo or #timesup, an entire generation of feminists and scholars were at the frontier of change. Needless to say: everyone is implicated.

But who is responsible and for what?

Should we mandate and regulate behavior, or is cultural change the answer? Is our dollar more valuable than our retweet? Should we boycott or hashtag? Is diverse political representation the answer? Or do we take a stand and march?

The Gender, Diversity and Public Policy Initiative at the University of Toronto seeks to answer these questions at our fourth annual conference, Talk is Cheap: Whose role is it to advance diversity and inclusion in Canada? This conference brings together policy practitioners, non-profit groups, politicians, employers, students and researchers to encourage discussion of diversity and inclusion in Canadian society. We want to unpack the new buzzword in town and ask serious questions about boundaries, accountability and partnership building.

Featuring Keynote Speaker: The Honourable Ratna Omidvar, C.M., O.Ont.
Senator for Ontario, The Senate of Canada, Distinguished Visiting Professor, Global Diversity Exchange (GDX) at the Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University

Ratna Omidvar is an internationally recognized voice on migration, diversity and inclusion. In April 2016, Prime Minister Trudeau appointed Ms. Omidvar to the Senate of Canada as an independent Senator representing Ontario. As a member of the Senate’s Independent Senators Group she holds a leadership position as the Scroll Manager.

Ratna is the founding Executive Director and currently a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Global Diversity Exchange (GDX), Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University. Ratna is the current Co-Chair of the Global Future Council on Migration hosted by the World Economic Forum and a Councillor on the World Refugee Council. She is also a director at the Environics Institute, and Samara Canada. She is the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council’s Chair Emerita and was formerly the Chair of Lifeline Syria. Ratna was appointed to the Order of Ontario in 2005 and became a Member of the Order of Canada in 2011, with both honours recognizing her advocacy work on behalf of immigrants and devotion to reducing inequality in Canada. Ratna is co-author of Flight and Freedom: Stories of Escape to Canada (2015).


9:00 AM – 9:30 AM – Coffee & Registration 

9:30 AM – 10:45 AM – Opening remarks and moderated discussion featuring The Honourable Ratna Omidvar.

10:45 AM – 12:15 PM – Panel 1: Grassroots to Government: Diversifying our institutions

  • What is the role of government and policy in this space?
  • Does change start from within private sector organizations?
  • Should there be boundaries (e.g. cultural change vs mandated change OR activism vs policy)

12:15 AM -1:00 PM – Lunch

1:00 PM – 2:30 PM – Panel 2: Generations of Change: Women in Leadership

  • Have things changed? For better? For worse?
  • Is there a generational divide about how to approach these complex issues?
  • What can young women learn from those who came before them and vice versa?

2:35 PM -3:00 PM – Closing Remarks, Wrap up, Mix & Mingle

A light lunch and refreshments will be provided during the event.


CG160, Canadiana Gallery, 14 Queen’s Park Cres W, Toronto, ON M5S 3K9

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