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Guest blog: We must embrace diversity to continue to thrive

Guest blog from Lisa McBride, President of Women in Nuclear Canada and Country Leader, Small Modular Reactors for GE Hitachi’s Nuclear Energy Division.
September 8, 2021

Lisa McBride will be part of the Diversity, Inclusion and the Importance of Allyship Panel at the CNA’s Annual Conference and Tradeshow. Don’t miss this important session on Thursday, September 16 from 10:25am – 11:10am. Click here to register.

By Lisa McBride | The nuclear industry stands firmly on a foundation of innovation. To build on this foundation and ensure our industry’s success, we must embrace diverse perspectives and an inclusive culture. I know first-hand that diverse teams drive better decision-making, are quicker to innovate, and are more resilient to disruption. 

While we’ve made strides in diversity and inclusion, we have an imperative to accelerate our forward momentum. As we’ve seen countless times—including recently with Canada’s SMR Action Plan—when the nuclear industry works together, we succeed together. And as the need for the global energy transition becomes increasingly crucial, the world needs the nuclear industry to succeed more than ever. 

The global pandemic and recent social justice movements have exposed widening inequality in our society; in that context, diversity and inclusion has become a focus for companies as simply the right thing to do. However, it’s also an essential element of performance. Studies, like this McKinsey report, show that improving team diversity has financial benefits, a trend that continues to grow. In Canada’s nuclear industry, women, Black and Indigenous people, people of colour, and people with disabilities are underrepresented. For example, WiN Canada recently reported that just 22% of our industry’s employees are women. We must leverage differences to create a workforce that realizes the full potential of all our employees.

So where do we start? We must listen to the voices of underrepresented populations and explore barriers that may be preventing us from realizing the potential of a diverse workforce. One barrier is a lack of role models. That’s why I am working with the Women for STEM Council at Ontario Tech U to increase the representation of women in STEM careers through financial support, recognition and mentorship. At GE Hitachi, we’ve made a commitment to diversity and inclusion in our own workforce and among suppliers. And, we’ve joined Equal by 30, a public commitment by public and private sector organizations to work towards equal pay, equal leadership and equal opportunities for women in the clean energy sector by 2030. Supporting these efforts should not be the work of underrepresented populations alone. Allyship requires leaders in our organizations to create the change required.

In Canada, we also have a unique opportunity to foster Indigenous business reconciliation as part of our work in diversity and inclusion. Meaningful partnerships with Indigenous communities to create business, education, training, and employment opportunities are central to this commitment, and ultimately help build our competitiveness by drawing on the strengths of all communities in Canada. GE Hitachi recently announced our collaboration with the First Nations Power Authority and the creation of 30 skilled, field technician jobs that we encourage qualified Indigenous people in Canada to apply for. As we continue to build our SMR workforce in Canada, we’re committed to Indigenous inclusion, gender equality and racial and ethnic inclusivity in our hiring and selection of supply chain partners.

We do complex things in our industry; if we can split atoms, we can solve the diversity and inclusion challenge. Through listening and reflection, commitments within our organizations and the projects we undertake to specific diversity and inclusion goals, and allyship that recognizes diversity is our strength, our industry will continue to innovate and thrive. 

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