Our culture at Tridel is strongly defined as being a business that has “family” as one of its core values. We know however, that the word family itself and its meaning, has changed significantly since we started building homes 80 years ago. It now means different things to different people. What hasn’t changed however, is our intention and responsibility to build communities for each type of family and person. Places and spaces that are safe, healthy, supportive and inclusive.
Two years ago, my colleague did a creative exercise that resulted in a powerful adaptation of our Built for Life logo – and transformed it into a “Built for Love” logo. The impetus was tragic, but the result was beautiful and it wasn’t difficult to fall in love with. We made the decision that we would continue to use our “Built for Love” logo each year as it was the perfect image to feature during Pride Week in June and to show support for the LGBTQ community.
And while being inclusive is something that we support and celebrate at this specific time each year, it’s something that matters throughout the entire year. It matters in what we do (building places for EVERYONE to live) and it matters in how we do it (by being a “best place to work” and having an inclusive workplace).
Being inclusive seems to be on a lot of people’s minds lately and it’s a word we’re hearing, seeing and saying a lot more. It’s one of UNESCO’s main themes that shapes the Canadian Commission efforts. We also have a school named specifically after the concept – see OCAD’s School of Inclusive Design. Additionally, popular “corporate speak” has the word “inclusive” hanging on boardroom walls, being expressed as a core value and even being used in mission and vision statements. There seems to be a redefining role of businesses as they seek to align their commercial activities with larger social and cultural values.
But what does it really mean? Well, it would be fair to say that similar to the word “family,” it means different things to different people.
When you first google the word, search results lead you to something technical such as the following:
A little more refinement in the search and results reflect a definition more aligned with what our company considers the word to represent.
During the month of June, the theme of inclusivity is focused on the LGBTQ community.
As a city, we’re not doing too badly, according to this Huffington Post article citing a survey done just a year ago.
But of course, there are always opportunities to do better and to do more. In our workplace and in our homes and communities, we seek to make sure that we do just that. And it starts with the following realizations;
We realize that innovation isn’t merely in the materials and techniques that we use to build our homes.
We realize that while people quickly identify us as “building buildings” we’re strongly committed to going beyond the bricks and mortar.
We realize that while we contribute significantly to a new structure at the end of the day, that it is only part of the equation in building a community.
You need to build the social infrastructure to really have a community. And you need to build an amazing place for them to “be.” That means to “be themselves.”
As community builders, understanding different people and different cultures is critical to our business. Culture, in both the sense of the identity that you were born into, and culture in the sense of any group or community that you join or become a part of over your lifetime.
Your experience is intimately connected to design. Places have to be designed with INTENTION that reflects the people that it will serve. Gensler recently released an “Experience Index” that explains this correlation beautifully and addresses how design of a physical space has a quantifiable impact on the quality of people’s experience. Again – the words and concepts that you’d expect to appear – are those such as “sense of welcome,” “diverse mix of people” and “sense of community.”
Looking through this type of lens results in people feeling that they belong. It results in new design forward thinking like adding gender neutral washrooms to our Design Guidelines for our new communities. It also means engaging and supporting our people with actions like providing Pride Flags for employees desks and participation in this year’s parade where the Tridel Take Action team will be celebrating with all of Toronto – WATCH FOR OUR TEAMS & GET YOUR FREE TRIDEL BUILT FOR LOVE TATTOOS!
Fast Company featured a “Put their values to work” piece that offered advice that “the core operation of what you do should be aimed at making the change that you want.”
The change that we’re after is creating beautiful communities that strengthen the connection between people and places. Places that maximize societal prosperity and create conditions that enhance peoples’ health, happiness, and well-being. You can’t do that if you’re pretending to be something that you’re not.
Our business involves working and creating relationships with a variety of different people with different areas of expertise. Similar to the diversity of skill sets and people that take part in “building a building,” the end result should reflect the same type of diversity and create places where many types of people (not just one type of person) can live.
It’s a forever type of mission with a moving target, which makes it challenging, but also interesting… and rarely boring. Because we all know that the world refuses to stand still. And for that reason, we’re left in constant pursuit of perfection while fully realizing that there will never be a perfect formula for the perfect suite, the perfect building, the perfect community. Each one learns lessons from the ones that have gone before. And so while the world continues to change, so in fact will what we build. And it’s with tremendous PRIDE that we can continue to say that we are BUILT FOR LIFE (and of course BUILT FOR LOVE too 🙂
We’re just one type of community builder –and there are many others, also adapting to the needs of a changing world.
- Schools and Universities are also continuing to do more than usual awareness and support They’re also adopting gender neutral initiatives to support students of all genders identities and gender expressions.
- Communities that focus on retirement living, are looking for more inclusive communities that support LGBTQ. It’s something that our leadership team at Delmanor has brought forward in recognition that retirees and mature adults often lack the traditional support of their family and are twice as likely to age alone. As one mature resident explained, “I hope more long term facilities become more accepting over the years, because I think that’s probably something an older LGBTQ resident worries about – Where can I go to live? Where am I going to be accepted?”
There seems to be a positive trend happening here, and on a positive note, more and more companies and institutions are realizing that you can do well and do good at the same time. Fortunately, it’s not an either/or.
Feature Image: https://www.wgtd.org