5 Brands Doing Great DE&I Work in Canada

Jan 31, 2023

In today's digital-first world, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) are becoming top priorities for agencies and brands alike.

As Canada strives towards a more inclusive and equitable society, we must celebrate and recognize those companies leading the charge in DE&I work.

This article will explore five brands in Canada that are pioneering DE&I Marketing best practices. The brands are pulled from the pool of winners and nominees for the Meta Business Equity Award. This special CMA award recognizes and rewards work that serves Canadian DE&I initiatives in inclusive, progressive, and socially conscious ways.

Through the examples below, this article will demonstrate how Canadian businesses can create meaningful change by implementing strong DE&I marketing strategies.

1. Sephora Canada

In 2020, Sephora Canada pledged to bring certain inclusive and equitable values to life. The brand has done exactly that in the years since. Sephora Canada’s pledge still stands today; you can read more about it on the Sephora diversity and inclusion page.

Sephora stands as one of the top brands Canada has in beauty. From its platform, the leading omni-beauty retailer demonstrates an understanding that representation matters. Its feeds feature people from all walks of life; visually, a clear and distinct inclusive effort is put into its online presence. But more than simply choosing a diverse group of people to feature on their social media feeds, Sephora Canada has put money, effort, and thought behind its DE&I initiatives.

Sephora Canada’s dedication to authentic marketing shows through the way the brand executes its campaigns. Through its “We Belong to Something Beautiful” brand platform, Sephora publishes content that authentically represents Canadian diversity. Sephora Canada’s first-ever Indigenous History Month Campaign is a particularly poignant example of this.

Sephora Canada’s Indigenous History Month Campaign

In June 2021, Sephora Canada launched its National Indigenous History Month Campaign.

The statement reads: “National Indigenous History Month is a time to learn about, appreciate and acknowledge the contributions Indigenous Peoples have made in shaping the country we live in. There was knowledge and wisdom here before Canada existed and the world deserves to hear these diverse voices, strengths, and teachings.”

Prior to the beginning of the campaign, Sephora Canada engaged Indspire to lead a Truth and Reconciliation Workshop for all employees working on the campaign, the Sephora Canada executive team, and the leaders of their Diversity and Inclusion Council.

The campaign kicked off with a video created by Indigenous partners featuring Indigenous talent. The intent of the video is to amplify Indigenous voices and to offer the Sephora Canada platform to “share the beauty that lives in the stories, songs, traditions, and truths of Indigenous Peoples.”


Everything in the video, from the soundtrack by A Tribe Called Red (a Halluci Nation musical group), to the voiceover, to the clips featuring creators, is Indigenous-led. Sarain Fox, Anishinaabekwe artist, activist, and previous Sephora Canada collaborator, held the integral role of Campaign Advisor and consulted Sephora Canada throughout the creative process.

The video is featured alongside a statement from Sephora Canada that reads, “We’re here with a message for people from all Indigenous communities: we want you to feel safe and welcome in our stores, in our offices, in the beauty community and beyond. You belong here.”

The campaign went on to feature videos and marketing material with Michelle Chubb, a content creator and changemaker, and Shina Novalinga, a proud Inuk throat singer, at the centre.


The campaign sought to drive a purposefully ongoing dialogue about greater representation in the beauty industry, and succeeded. The campaign sparked a National Roundtable on Indigenous Beauty and a subsequent report in partnership with Native Women's Association of Canada. Overall, it welcomed countless Indigenous voices into the beauty conversation, showing that we all belong to something beautiful and that there is still much work yet to be done.

2. Stocksy

There is true power in authentic representation. Stocksy United, a Canadian stock media company knows this well.

Stocksy lists “Cooperative Value” among its principles . Within this principle, Stocksy states that “our empowered shareholder artists receive fair pay — 50%-75% of all licenses go directly into contributors’ pockets.” This financial equity is one example of Stocksy living its values when it comes to DE&I.

According to their Global Head of Marketing, Christina Minshull, “Stocksy is looking to reflect the real world. We help brands be cognescent that media is a representation of what we value in society and we help them produce content that reflects diversity, intersectionality, complexity and evolution of modern culture.”

The brand’s 2022 Pride campaign, Beyond the Visible Spectrum, explores the concept of identity and fluidity, particularly queer identity and aesthetics.

Stocksy’s pride campaign ‘Beyond the Visible Spectrum’ was multi-faceted, much like the concept of identity they explored.

Stocksy stated, “As our global understanding of identity has evolved, we have uncovered that identity is expressed along a fluid, evolving spectrum rather than a restrictive, polarized, and confined binary. And like the electromagnetic spectrum, there are frequencies and wavelengths of identity that are seen and unseen but always present.”

It encourages the viewer to solve modern visual media needs with Stocksy’s progressive collection of subject matter. As promised, Stocksy enables site users to expand their perspective beyond the binary with visual assets that span the “infinite spectrum of modern identity.”


The pride campaign also introduced the Stocksy Contributor Pride Collection, a curated collection featuring Stocksy contributing artists that identify as LGBTQIA2S+ or allies that work with the community.

The Find Your Frequency Fund, another campaign initiative, was a giveaway focusing on shining a light on LGBTQIA2S+ creators. The prizes included $1,500 USD as support for the execution of a dream creative project.

During the campaign, Stocksy amplified Pride resources that uplifted LGBTQIA2S+ content creators and creatives and generally served a global collective of acceptance and celebration of the queer community and culture. They also urged other companies to go beyond one-dimensional representation or rainbow capitalism.

3. Randstad Canada

Randstad Canada is one of the top Canadian companies for recruiting services. Because they work with people as their driving assets, they have a responsibility to uphold human-forward values like those integral to DE&I.

Randstad Canada has long recognized this responsibility. A decade ago, they created the Women Transforming the Workplace Program. As of 2021, the gender wage gap in Canada sits between 16 and 18%, and Randstad recognizes that the work is far from done.

The company is dedicated to this work externally and internally. Randstad Canada internally is a female-forward corporation; women make up 57% of the Canadian Executive team. Randstad Canada also earned the Silver-level Parity Certification in 2021 from Women in Governance.

In 2022, for the ten-year anniversary of the Women Transforming the Workplace Program, Randstad launched the #ForwardTogether series. The campaign executed initiatives to further foster gender equality in the workplace through research, skill-building, storytelling, and conversations.

#ForwardTogether: The Ten-year Anniversary of Women Transforming the Workplace

This year, Randstad Canada’s program’s goal was to “emphasize the importance, both internally and externally, of achieving gender equality in the workplace.” The #ForwardTogether initiative highlighted this importance in a concrete, concentrated effort.

The strategy behind Randstad’s series #ForwardTogether revolved around three main areas of action:

Skill building: Partnered with tellent to create a successful program for women impacted by the pandemic. 62.5% of learners reported positive results regarding their employment status.

Message amplification: Created and amplified podcast, videos and blogs featuring women from business and science communities on gender equality.

Internal and community engagement:   Worked with local artist Maia Faddoul to create an illustration for a t-shirt representative of the #ForwardTogether campaign. The proceeds from the shirt sales went to Up With Women, a charity that helps at-risk women and non-binary people. 

Source: Randstad

Randstad also used internal resources to mobilize ambassadors to act as career experts for the Propeller Program participants. Employees were encouraged to participate in the general conversation surrounding gender inequity. 

4. Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)

At Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) Diversity and Inclusion is more than a value, it is core to the bank’s purpose and a fundamental strength of their organization. RBC’s D&I vision is to be among the most inclusive workplaces and successful companies, putting diversity into action to help employees, clients and communities thrive.

RBC also believes that diversity and inclusion is an engine for innovation and economic prosperity, and as Canada’s biggest bank, and a top global financial institution, they are committed to playing a leadership role in accelerating a more inclusive, sustainable and prosperous future.

Recently, two notable programs include the Black Entrepreneur Program and The Black Atlantic Experience Video Series. Each of these programs ties back to the $100 million 5 year commitment RBC made in 2020 to fund loans to small business Black entrepreneurs.

Black Entrepreneur Program

Many Black business owners struggle to gain funding and are disproportionately affected by lack of access to capital and expert advice. As a result, Black entrepreneurs face greater barriers to success than others because of these inequities.

RBC took action to help create opportunities for growth and equity for Black-owned businesses. They have delivered solutions in a number of ways, including a dedicated advice network, and have invested in a venture fund to drive growth for Black entrepreneurs.

There are four notable pillars to RBCs initiatives:

  1. The Black Entrepreneur Start Up Program:  This program is a collaboration between RBC and Futurpreneur that provides Black entrepreneurs with financing, mentorship, and resources to support startup ventures.
  2. The RBC Black Entrepreneur Business Loan: This loan is a financing solution that will provide Black entrepreneurs with funds of up to $250K.
  3. BKR Capital: RBC committed a $1M investment into the venture capital fund, which intends to invest in 18 Black-led Canadian technology companies in four years.
  4. Beyond Banking: Beyond Banking supports Black entrepreneurs with expertise and mentorship and networking opportunities.

The Black Atlantic Experience Video Series

The Black Atlantic Experience is an 8-part video series highlighting the stories, challenges and triumphs of some of Atlantic Canada’s emerging Black leaders, to educate and inspire a new generation. The videos shine a light on a new vanguard who are changing the narrative around what is possible for the Black community, marginalized peoples, and our region as a whole. 

Launched during Black History Month 2021, the series explores the unique challenges faced by Black people in Canada’s Atlantic region, including systemic and overt racism, emphasizing the importance and impact of addressing these issues in real, tangible, and strategic ways.

Each video follows a young black leader, who takes us through the challenges they’ve faced growing up in Atlantic Canada, and how they’ve harnessed those experiences to fuel their own success, help today’s youth and give back to the communities in which they live. 


5. TD Canada

TD Canada, another leading Canadian financial institution, is making significant strides to foster an inclusive workplace. They are embracing comprehensive programs and initiatives that prioritize DE&I. TD’s efforts have resulted in a diverse workforce that mirrors the cultural fabric of their employees and the global communities they serve. 

Their commitment to fostering a culture of inclusivity also extends to their recruitment efforts with targeted job postings for members of marginalized groups or those interested in pursuing career paths beyond traditional finance roles. Through their actions, TD Canada is carving a path for other organizations to become DE&I champions.

Recently, TD partnered with Koo Multicultural, a division of Cossette — one of the top DEI ad agencies Canada has — to execute a campaign addressed to South Asian Canadians. 

The TD Cricket Campaign

TD created a cricket campaign in order to reach more South Asian Canadians. In its research, the company noticed that when many South Asian Canadians immigrate to Canada, they report brands don’t understand their culture well enough. To help newcomers feel seen and understood, the brand created a campaign centered around cricket, a sport deeply loved and celebrated by South Asian Canadians. 

The bulk of the campaign culminated in three films: 

  1. New to Canada TVC
  2. TD Global Transfer
  3. TD Cricket TVC - Brand

The films show the same family, telling the story of moving and settling in Canada. TD used cricket as a throughline in each video's story narrative. The campaign resulted in authentic connections between TD and new South Asian Canadians because TD took the time to understand the interests of South Asian Canadians. 

DE&I Marketing Best Practices and Mistakes 

As you can see in the examples above, implementing diversity and inclusion best practices takes commitment. If a company only implements DE&I initiatives to meet a quota, the efforts will fall short. A company must be authentic in its DE&I efforts to create impactful change. 

The motto “Nothing About Us Without Us” is a telling example of what this authenticity can look like. Are you going to tailor your marketing campaigns to speak to a group of people? Then you must also include that group of people in the decision-making process, much like Sephora did for the Indigenous History Month Campaign. 

There is no short list of best practices for DE&I Marketing. The subject is nuanced and complex; however, starting with DE&I training from a qualified teacher is always a sound idea. Of course, finding inspiration in brands doing great DE&I work in Canada helps too.




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