In a speech given in Prince Albert today, the CEO of the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce, Steve McLellan, shared details on a charter being developed to promote Indigenous inclusion in the workplace.

McLellan says his organization will work with Indigenous businesses and organizations to develop a charter that will benefit the entire business community in the province.

“We’re going to work with the Aboriginal community (and) the business community generally and find a better way to assist businesses to be more strident. These are our friends, our neighbours, our business owners (and) our customers, we have a shared moral and economic responsibility,” said McLellan. “The way we’ve been doing it, in many ways, has been working well, (but) not working well enough, we need to do it better.”

A key motivation behind the charter is to promote inclusivity and the retention of Indigenous employees in companies throughout Saskatchewan.

“It would mean we’ll add job coaches in larger workplaces, where an Aboriginal employee, who is maybe too hesitant to say ‘I have to leave because of a family situation’ (would) just leave and not come back,” said McLellan. “It means we would send, perhaps, employees to powwows on the weekends, saying ‘we’ll pay your travel to go, because we want you to realize how important that is.’ ”

McLellan noted that it has been proven that diversity will always benefit a business.

“Every single study says more women, more diversity in terms of cultures (and) more diversity in terms of ages, makes you a better business. Every single business is better with diversity in the workforce,” said the CEO. “Our Indigenous population, as an example, is 17 per cent, every business in the province should be 17 per cent (Indigenous) or more.”

McLellan says he is very serious about the charter and noted that it will not be just another throwaway document.

“It’s a project that we’re working on, we don’t have it in place yet, but it would be a commitment where the CEO or the owner of a company would sign and say we are committed to it, it’s not a corner of the desk kind of thing. It’s a commitment,” said McLellan.

In the same speech, McLellan spoke about the importance of working to improve post-secondary graduation rates for Indigenous students, and the weight that companies should place on developing policies regarding legalized cannabis.

(PHOTO: Steve McLellan addressing Prince Albert business owners. Photo by Travis Radke.)