At Destination BC, we have been entrusted to share all that is beautiful about our province—the places and the people—with the rest of the world. That is the very essence of travel, to experience the land and cultures of others. Telling BC’s stories through a diversity of voices is what we strive to do.
In 2020, in light of global events and the Black Lives Matter movement, many organizations were rightfully called upon to reflect on their role in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). We realized that we needed to do better, to do more to ensure that a greater variety of stories from BC’s people and cultures are showcased—the stories that make our province, and our country, the open and welcoming place we all want it to be—for everyone.
Last summer, we committed to taking a thoughtful approach in defining and setting actions to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion within our organization and in all aspects of our work. We recognize that only a sustained and focused effort will lead to progress, and in the spirit of transparency, we wanted to share how we are following through on our commitment.
The culture and actions of an organization are the responsibility of everyone within it, and so we began internally by listening to our employees. We sought to understand systemic barriers in the ways we work with each other, with partners, and with the public. This included collecting information and feedback from our employees through a DEI survey. These findings were shared with staff and our board as part of our internal conversation and to guide our next steps.
We also put out a call for Destination BC employees who wished to serve as DEI champions on a Steering Committee or various Working Committees to support our future work. We now have a strong contingent of staff who are committed to helping us move our work forward.
Beyond our employees, we knew we needed to engage diverse external voices to help us see what we are missing. To do this, we posted the DEI Subject Experts Request for Qualified Suppliers (RFQ), which closed in October 2020. By the end of November, we had scored the applications and established a list of qualified DEI subject matter experts in the areas of audit, strategy, and training and facilitation.
To begin our work, Destination BC has identified three areas of importance.
The first is an internal audit of our corporate culture. We want to be an organization that celebrates diversity; cultivates a culture where everyone feels encouraged to bring their most authentic selves to work; and ensures diverse voices and perspectives are represented in our decision-making, marketing, partnerships, and all aspects of our work.
This audit will look closely at our culture, examining our current state, values, behaviours, business processes, and staff experience. We will also examine our hiring and promotion process and identify barriers for equity seeking groups.
The second area is an inclusive marketing audit which will help us both accurately reflect and celebrate the diversity of all the peoples and voices of British Columbia, including content creators and partners.
This work will include an evaluation of DBC’s marketing through a DEI lens, including brand strategy, content, advertising, the production process and how decisions are made, and our procurement process and who we work with.
While this work is underway, there are many things we can do immediately to support Inclusive Marketing efforts. For the last six months our marketing team has prioritized working with influencers, content creators, and models of diverse backgrounds, and has added hundreds of new video and photography assets to the BC Content Hub for use by DBC and tourism partners. Much more can be done and we look forward to learning where we need to make lasting and meaningful change through our audit.
The third area identified is foundational learning. This is being provided to all staff while the audits are underway and will give our employees a holistic understanding of the importance of DEI for Destination BC, as well as some basic skills to help us in our learning.
And finally, we will work together with industry and with Government to amend our policies and business practices to ensure that we are more inclusive of BC’s diversity of people and places.
Research shows diverse, equitable, and inclusive organizations significantly outperform those that are not. Through our work, we can ensure that our organization works together seamlessly and in harmony not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because it will help us become a stronger performing business to better serve our industry and the people of British Columbia.
Dismantling discrimination within processes, systems, and language, and unlearning attitudes or behaviours needs to be thoughtful and intentional. Therefore, we want to take a very thoughtful approach to planning proper action. We know this work won’t happen overnight and this process of learning and change will take time.
The greatest commitment Destination BC can make is to keep paying attention to how these issues affect us and those around us. We are committed to acting on and sharing our learnings with industry and will continue to update you on this important work.
You can see our previous corporate statement from July 17, 2020 here.
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