. Case Study .
Canadian Tire Corporation
Size: 35,000 employees
Location: Toronto, Canada
Time frame: August 2022 - April 2023
Two training sessions for employee resource group (ERG)
Senior leader ally coaching
“We hit the nail on the head with the ERG team training sessions. I have heard nothing but good things about both sessions! Our team was surprised by how interactive and interesting the sessions were, and found them to be really helpful.”
As part of its Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (DIB) strategy, Canadian Tire Corporation (CTC) has seen the launch of a number of ERGs, which are are voluntary employee-led groups that help increase engagement across the organization by building communities among people with shared cultures, identities, and experiences.
The idea for a mental health ERG was raised as focus on mental health at work heightened due to the trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic and the adjustment to virtual work. After the idea was explored by cross-functional leaders, the decision was made to form a mental health ERG. Working committee members were recruited from across the enterprise and joined forces to bring Mental Health Matters (MHM) to life.
MHM leadership knew training would be important to the group’s success, given the privacy needs, complexity, and sensitivity of the topic. ERG sponsors and working committee leaders needed to understand their roles and responsibilities in supporting colleagues, and wanted insight into how to normalize mental health conversations at work and build an overall culture of support. They knew that any sharing of personal experiences needed to be done in an informed and effective way that minimized potential triggers and retraumatization for those in the audience. MHM’s Chair, Brenda Heatley, began searching for training and guidance around mental health storytelling and was surprised by the scarcity of resources on this topic.
Brenda came across a Mind Share Partners article in the Harvard Business Review called, “How to create an effective mental health ERG,” which then led her to Mind Share Partners’ website and Mental Health ERG Community. Brenda was impressed by Mind Share Partners’ expertise in the mental health ERG space, and reached out to inquire about committee training opportunities and storytelling assistance for leaders.
To equip CTC’s Mental Health Matters ERG members with key skills and knowledge related to mental health at work, Mind Share Partners held a committee training session with content that focused specifically on understanding ERG best practices and member responsibilities. The training also emphasized the importance of considering the intersectionality of mental health, through the use of thought-starting questions and additional resources provided to attendees. The feedback from the first session was extremely positive, and the decision to repeat the session the following year for new and existing committee members was an easy one.
As part of Mind Share Partners’ client partnership, a senior leader ally coaching session was provided and additional coaching hours were requested. These hours were used for story coaching, an opportunity that was made available to Mental Health Matters’ sponsors who would be speaking at upcoming events. The coaching enabled participants to create and deliver a unique and empowering story around their mental health experiences. Positive feedback resulting from the sessions led to the decision to obtain additional coaching hours to support other event speakers in developing their stories
ERG members have experienced increased understanding about how to effectively contribute to a mental health ERG and the boundaries of the ERG volunteer role. The training prompted thought-provoking discussions among the participants, such as how managers can better support employees who are struggling with mental health issues. Future training sessions will be used as “ongoing refreshers” and onboarding for new ERG and committee members. The content will be evolved as new needs are uncovered.
“We hit the nail on the head and have heard nothing but good things about both sessions! Our team was surprised by how interactive and interesting the sessions were, and found them to be really helpful.”
Senior leader ally coaching
Senior leader ally coaching has been offered to committee leaders and sponsors to facilitate the sharing of personal mental health stories internally. As a key goal of the ERG is to normalize conversations about mental health in the workplace, the impact of this storytelling is significant. Brenda shared that the opportunity to take advantage of Mind Share Partners’ knowledge and objectivity is typically welcomed by prospective speakers:
“It’s great to be able to say that Mind Share Partners can help you put your story together. There is a comfort level in having someone with expertise listen to your story, help you make sense of it and tie in meaningful takeaways so that your team members can learn from it.”
Mental Health Matters’ committee leadership plans to continue to offer story coaching opportunities to leaders in the company, committee members and sponsors
For other leaders embarking on this work, Brenda shares:
"Ask for help and recognize that as the leader of a mental health ERG, you don’t have to have all the answers. Creating a steering committee of mental health champions and advocates from different areas of the organization and intersectional identities was something we did to ensure diverse perspectives were being considered. Intersectionality in mental health means that there is no singular experience and no one person should be making decisions on behalf of the entire company. New steering committee members with fresh perspectives will continue to be welcomed, as we go forward.”
"These sessions have been invaluable in helping us tell our stories in a clear, compelling way. Having hands-on support to frame up the story was highly effective, and event feedback indicated that the messages were impactful. I would absolutely recommend leveraging Mind Share Partners’ expertise in story coaching.”