Introducing the IDEA Committee

Central Counties Tourism (CCT) is proud to introduce the tourism community to our Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) Subcommittee of the Board of Directors.

Formed in early 2023, the IDEA committee first set out to establish its role and goals, as well as a mission statement, as follows:

At Central Counties Tourism (CCT), we strive to be leaders in the tourism industry to foster BELONGING by working towards inclusivity, diversity, equity and accessibility inside and out. We are committed to ongoing learning in order to lead by example. We believe in gathering insights from data and lived experiences to better understand and support our stakeholders so they can better serve our diverse community.

The committee will act as a collaborative forum to share resources, ideas, and best practices amongst its members. The learnings and outcomes from these discussions will inform recommendations to CCT, applying the lens of accessibility, inclusion, diversity and equity to the organization’s activities and its work with the region’s tourism communities. This volunteer committee currently includes one staff representative and six Directors who are dedicated to continuing their personal learning to support these efforts and to better understand the systemic barriers facing marginalized communities in general. When called upon by the organization, the group can provide advice and guidance.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility in Tourism

Efforts to improve diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility in tourism will bring benefits to Central Counties Tourism as an organization and to operators within its regions, including to the tourism bottom line. Organizations who pay attention to DEI & A (diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility) enjoy competitive advantages such as an expanded talent pool, reduced workforce turnover, and the ability to attract and impress new traveller demographics.

Diversity

Diversity is the representation of various identities and differences. When we look at diversity, we ask ourselves, who is “in the room”; whose perspectives and voices are present? At Central Counties, we represent the York and Durham regions as well as the Headwaters area. Likewise, we want to be representative of the various people who live and work in those regions. Having diversity in our staff, board, members, marketing, programming, etc. can help us identify different opportunities, be more effective at problem solving, and appeal to a broader range of consumers.

Equity

Equity focuses on fair treatment and equal access to resources. Often, increasing equity involves identifying and removing barriers that exist for underrepresented groups. When we set out to welcome and promote diversity, equity must follow, ensuring that the “door is open” and the pathway is clear for those who need or want to join us.

Inclusion

Inclusion is the active engagement of the contributions and participation of all people. Once our “room” is full of diverse people and the barriers to participation are removed, are we actively including everyone, listening and welcoming their voices and perspectives, and what do we do with the contributions that we gain? Active inclusion should lead to feelings of belonging for everyone, making diversity sustainable.

Accessibility

Accessibility is the practice of making information, activities, and/or environments sensible, meaningful, and usable for as many people as possible. People with disabilities make up the world’s largest minority group, with 22% of Canadians identified as having a disability in 2017. Disabilities can be physical or mental, visible or invisible, and the needs for accommodations (a needed provision or modification) vary widely. For these reasons, it’s critical that Central Counties Tourism considers accessibility in its programs and activities, and that it supports operators in its regions to be ready to welcome visitors with a variety of needs and travel priorities.

What’s happening now

Central Counties Board of Directors has committed the organization to joining the 50 – 30 Challenge, an initiative which aims to advance equity, diversity, inclusion and economic prosperity in Canada by highlighting the benefits of giving everyone a seat at the table. As a first step, and with the official appointment of the new Board of Directors this month, the IDEA Committee will benchmark our current staff and board makeup. By becoming aware of where we stand today and accessing the tools available from the Challenge, we can factor the benefits of inclusivity into everything we do.

June is an important time for diversity and inclusion awareness and celebration. Many people are aware that June is Pride month, in which we celebrate the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. This occurs in June to commemorate the Stonewall uprising which was a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States.

June is also National Indigenous History Month in Canada, and on June 21st we celebrated National Indigenous Peoples Day and the Summer Solstice. This is a month to take the opportunity to learn about the unique cultures, traditions and experiences of First Nations, Inuit and Métis. It’s a time to honour the stories, achievements and resilience of Indigenous Peoples, who have lived on this land since time immemorial and whose presence continues to impact the evolving Canada.

Central Counties is committed to celebrating, commemorating, and elevating these occasions and stories year-round. We wish to deepen our relationships with people and communities in the region in order to connect and learn, so we can uplift the voices of our communities that make this such a special place to live and visit.

Get Involved

Feedback and accountability are important to us. Although we plan to engage the community directly in the future, we aren’t there yet! In the meantime, we’ve set up an email inbox – IDEA@CentralCounties.ca – so you can reach us with questions, concerns, or ideas. Your email will be received by Sandra Quiteria, B2B Marketing & Communications Manager, and shared with Leni Brem, IDEA Committee Interim Chair. Please allow 2-3 days for a response.

Current IDEA Committee Members

Leni Brem, Interim Committee Chair – Brem Consulting, President & Founder
Geri Smith – Village of Black Creek (TRCA), Supervisor, Guest Services and Audience Development
Laura Gibbs – City of Pickering, Manager of Cultural Services
Shruti Ganapathy – Markham Arts Council, Executive Director
Tony Elenis – Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association (OHRMA), President & CEO
Trevor Crystal – Tailwinds B & B, Owner

Susan Boyle, Interim Staff Liaison – Central Counties Tourism, Director of Marketing

Central Counties Tourism Land Acknowledgement

By Leni Brem,
Interim Chair, IDEA Committee


Learn more about the 50–30 Challenge:

The 50-30 Challenge: Your Diversity Advantage

The 50 – 30 Challenge is an initiative between the Government of Canada, Canadian businesses and diversity organizations.

The goal of the program is to challenge Canadian organizations to increase the representation and inclusion of diverse groups within their workplaces, while highlighting the benefits of giving all Canadians a seat at the table.

The 50 – 30 Challenge asks that organizations aspire to two goals:

  1. Gender parity (50% women and/or non-binary people) on Canadian boards and/or in senior management; and
  2. Significant representation (30%) on Canadian boards and/or senior management of members of other equity-deserving groups, including those who identify as Racialized, Black, and/or People of colour (“Visible Minorities”), People with disabilities (including invisible and episodic disabilities), 2SLGBTQ+ and/or gender and sexually diverse individuals, and Aboriginal and/or Indigenous Peoples. The program and participants recognize Indigenous Peoples, including First Nations, Métis and Inuit, as founding Peoples of Canada and underrepresented in positions of economic influence and leadership.

This initiative was created in collaboration with various diversity organizations, institutions and networks.

As of May 31, 2024, the number of participating organizations is 2,574.

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