In April 2005, five managers working in education, children’s services, health, philanthropy and community development came together to address diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) issues that they had identified within their own organizations in the human services sector in Peel region. The challenge was to create a DEI infrastructure that would accommodate a variety of sector-specific needs and approaches while working towards the common goal of equity and inclusion for all.They sought to establish a space that would provide support, professional development, and networking for those who are taking on this challenging work and who are paving the path forward for their organizations in Peel. During the initial stages when RDR was growing as a collective network, it received funding from Human Resources Skills Development Canada and The Ontario Trillium Foundation alongside community support from a number of partners including The Social Planning Council of Peel, Peel District School Board, United Way of Peel Region, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Peel.
In May 2012, as RDR’s work gained momentum, it became a federally incorporated non-profit charitable organization. At this time, RDR was also able to secure funding from The Ontario Trillium Foundation, which enabled it to solidify many of its core capacity building activities and resources such as its Centring Diversity for Workplace Equity conference, Tough Questions Cafes, Journal of Promising Practices on Diversity and Equity. RDR also developed its first curriculum in 2012, Steps to Organizational Equity: Diversity and Equity Curriculum for Human Services and Public Sector Professionals, which has been used to provide DEI training for many organizations within and beyond Peel region. Alongside these capacity building initiatives and resources, RDR continued to strengthen its core through organizational membership, increasing the number and diversity of organizations at the roundtable. In 2013, RDR developed and launched The Diversity & Inclusion Charter of Peel and began implementing it within organizations across Peel in 2014 with the support of The Region of Peel Collaboration fund.
Since its incorporation, RDR has continued to grow. Today, it consists of a full board of 10, staff team of 5 and 47 member organizations alongside multiple community partners and engaged community members within and beyond Peel region. It is currently leading Phase 3 of the Diversity and Inclusion Charter of Peel. In 2017, RDR launched two new projects: Peel150- Celebrating and Empowering Diverse communities, as part of the Canada150 celebrations and its new DEI Organizational Leadership Program, Building DEI in Leadership, which is being piloted across 5 regions in Ontario.
The RDR model has been replicated while its work has sparked the creation of similar efforts in various regions across Ontario. It is the only not-for-profit organization in Ontario that provides capacity building through collaboration for human services sector organizations on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion.