Are you a senior leader or manager in a public sector or non-profit organization? Leading the Conversation is a leadership development program that provides tools and best practices to help you achieve your diversity and inclusion goals. The program has already exceeded expectations, helping 57 participants across Southern Ontario through cohorts in Ottawa, Toronto and London. Register now for the next cohort starting in September!

Two of the participants from the Ottawa cohort are with the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre (SHCHC), a primary service provider for all things related to health and wellbeing for their community. We followed up with Matthew Garrison, the director responsible for human resources at SHCHC to ask what they’ve been up to since their diversity and inclusion training through Leading the Conversation.


TRIEC: What has Leading the Conversation helped you accomplish at SHCHC?

Matthew Garrison: Before taking part in Leading the Conversation, we went through a quality improvement planning processes in our organization, identifying a few key areas of improvement for the future – one was the onboarding and orientation process for new employees.

After taking Leading the Conversation we put a different lens onto our recruitment and onboarding process that brought diversity and inclusion to the forefront. In a given year, the change would affect about 30 competitions that typically lead to 15 hires and onboarding that include employees and volunteers.

While onboarding is an ongoing process and a learning experience for us all, what we’ve learned is also filtering into the review of our HR policy. We’re able to review the policy with a deeper view to diversity and inclusion; exploring how we can be more inclusive in recruitment, religious accommodation, and the broader HR perspective.


TRIEC: With the learning being applied in these important areas, how do you see it impacting your organization in the future?

MG: The real value of taking this type of training is that it provokes new ways of thinking about and approaching the work of our organization. It’s very eye-opening. Investing the time in reflecting on what we learned allows it to take root in the way you think and how you approach your own work.

To me, it’s clear that Leading the Conversation was time well spent, and that it will manifest in many ways we work at SHCHC.


TRIEC: How do new team members at SHCHC feel about your revised onboarding process?

MG: I think it’s better if I let one of our new team members answer this! Here’s Ameenah Elbarrani.

Ameenah Elbarrani: As a new employee of SHCHC, I can say that the recruitment and hiring process has been the most inclusive I have undergone.

Matthew was great at updating me on the stages of the process and made me feel comfortable to ask any questions I had. Other organizations could definitely take a page out of his book. Mandatory training was done online; it was impressive to see such organization and accessibility for all groups through an online platform.

Although I knew SHCHC was a culturally diverse workplace, it was confirmed on my first day, I can see for myself how everyone is treated equally and with the upmost respect. Matthew even made sure to tell me that if I have other holidays or celebrations that I observe to just let them know and they will be happy to accommodate.


Do you want to lead your organization towards best practices? Learn more about Leading the Conversation and register for the next cohort. You can also register for a free account on to view our catalogue of e-learning modules, videos and guides.

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