PUBLIC Chats: Aviva’s First Toronto Pride Parade

Aviva is taking large strides in the insurance industry to bring diversity and inclusion to the heart of their organization. As Pride Month comes to a close, we sat down with our clients at Aviva to chat about what diversity and inclusion means to them, as well as their involvement in Toronto’s Pride Parade.

We know that Aviva has participated in pride in the UK before, but this is your first year in Canada. How did Aviva bring this to Canada?

Aviva has been with pride in the UK for the last 10 years. There’s an employee group in the UK called the Allies Network for LGBTTQ+ people as well as anybody who is supportive of them. They’ve been around for about 10 years working on pride initiatives and a lot of our employees in Canada have been inspired by that. Last year we launched the Allies Network at Aviva Canada. This year our volunteers wanted to try one pride parade and see how it goes. We’re doing the Toronto Pride Parade because it’s where we have the biggest number of employees. Hopefully if things go well maybe for next year there’ll be more pride parades across the country!

We’re so excited to welcome Aviva to the Toronto Pride Parade! How did you make this happen?

Canada’s Allies Network committee decided to do the Pride Parade, but we didn’t really know where to start. We started brainstorming some float ideas but we couldn’t really land on anything so we decided that we needed the help of professionals. We touched base with our marketing team who were very helpful. Part of our marketing team, the Corporate Responsibility team, knows PUBLIC quite well. They decided to say, hey I think this is a great opportunity to work with PUBLIC! We met with the team and we’ve been doing some teamwork together for many months now. We established a plan and PUBLIC has since put us on the right track. Now we have a team of about 50 volunteers who have been helping make it happen.

Diversity and inclusion is very important at Aviva. How do you think Aviva lives and breathes these values?

As part of our Diversity and Inclusion Agenda we have five pillars that we call communities. Pride is one of them. We also have one for gender, origin, generation and ability. Ability is for people with disabilities to be included in the workplace as well as promoting wellness. We recently launched a yoga studio at our head office in Markham. Three of our employees are yoga instructors so we’ve given them the time during work hours to lead yoga classes open for any employee. Wellness is not something that you only do outside of work, we want it to be brought inside our workplace. We’ve also recently had a big exhibition at our head office led by the origins team. They set up multiple booths representing different areas of the world where people could taste different kinds of food from that region. There were also shows including traditional dances and other forms of entertainment. There was a lot of engagement and participation from our people and it was a wonderful day! All of the communities have the mandate to complete at least two big events or initiatives during the year. Another thing that is really dear to Aviva’s heart is our three paid volunteering days to all of our employees in Canada. We see a lot of teams gather around and volunteer across the country.

That’s so great that you encourage volunteering. How do you find your employees are engaging with this?

One thing that’s really connected with our employees about volunteering is that everyone is equal. No matter the role or seniority they have at Aviva, all decisions in the diversity and inclusion communities are made by the volunteers and they are fully supported by the executives. Not only does this feel good as an employee but also encourages volunteering and participation. Since a lot of employees in their day to day work are being told what to do, this is a great place where they can make the call and have a lot of input in what’s going on and how we shape the future of our diversity and inclusion agenda. This really encourages volunteering we’ve seen that all around the organization.

Last but certainly not least, why is the Diversity and Inclusion agenda so important at Aviva?

I think one of the things that’s really important for Aviva is that we all realize that the demographic that works at Aviva is also the demographic that we serve. Our customers are diverse, have all kinds of physical challenges, are from multiple genders, are from the LGBTTQ+ community. We value our employees bringing their true self to work, home or at play so that they feel comfortable to really be who they are no matter where they are. The same applies for our customer base. I think our workforce is representative of our customer base and we welcome all customers as they are and we think we should do the same with our employees.

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