June 6, 2018
I worked at Canadian Arctic Gas Pipeline until it was shutdown shortly after Justice Berger made his decision that our competitor would build the pipeline in the north (for the history books, it never happened). Shortly before this occurred though, I had decided to go to law school and be a lawyer – probably as a result of the influence of Mr. Goldie (see “91 Days” entry). For various reasons, many of which were very lame and entirely embarrassing now, I changed my mind, didn’t go to law school, and ended up employed as a secretary at Combustion Engineering Canada Ltd. (C-E Canada).
C-E Canada was another fascinating company in my mind – they manufactured, installed and maintained industrial boilers. Not boilers like those in your basement, or those big clunky things that keep hospitals warm – no, these were the big mothers that created energy for the entire Province of Ontario. Or Mexico City. Or Washington State.
Like this one! There were coal-fired ones, oil-fired ones, nuclear types, all sorts.
Here’s what made the company interesting – at the time, Canadian engineers did not have the expertise to build and maintain these babies. It took European engineers, mainly British, to get the work done. So C-E Canada was my introduction to the melting pot of boiler-makers.
It was 1978. This was the first time I was exposed to and worked with an ethnically diverse, cross-cultural, (wonderful) group of people. I had grown up in white-bread Canada and up until this point in my work-life, the only diversity I came across was English or French speaking. At
C-E Canada, our President was Romanian, my boss was Welsh, the head of engineering was Portuguese, other engineers in our group were Irish, Czech, Armenian, Spanish, German, and Scottish. Every single one of them was a recent immigrant, recruited, hired and moved to Canada by the company.
Diversityis the latest buzzword in corporate culture. As the world becomes more accepting of individual differences, corporations are recognizing the need for change in this area. Some companies are changing because the law says they have to, and others are giving voice to diversity and taking the culture shift seriously and are embracing it. Here at NAV CANADA the push is on and we have branded our shift in corporate thinking as our “Diversity & Inclusion” strategy. Is a shift in thinking possible for those people out there who are not inclusive by nature? Are the small-minded among us only going to get on board with this strategy and give it lip service because they have to? Maybe. But as my generation (the worst offenders in this area) retire, and our children’s generation come behind us, I hope the need for corporate strategies such as these will become less and less necessary.