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Downtown Kingston Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Policy

Note: This EDI policy was developed by Keys, Kingston. 


Downtown Kingston Business Improvement Area (referred to as “DK-BIA”), is committed to embedding and mainstreaming Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) in all its forms. We value and promote human rights, adhere to the Ontario Human Rights Code, and recognize that to enable full participation of all employees in our workplace is to foster a workplace community that supports it. This begins with a starting point such as the setting out of an EDI policy.  

We celebrate the diversity of our board of management, staff, and member businesses, and see diversity as a strength in our mission to cultivate and enhance downtown Kingston’s position as the region’s leading culinary, entertainment, goods and services destination, while attracting more people to experience and contribute to our vibrant downtown community. 

BIA recognizes that society and corporate institutions at large historically and systemically perpetuated inequality, discrimination, and disparity of outcomes for equity-seeking groups. We acknowledge that this continues to hinder an individual’s ability to fully, freely, and equitably participate within a corporate setting and in society. We strive to ensure that the direct and indirect action of our association does not hinder someone’s ability to access and be successful in the work with our association or as a member.  

As such, BIA commits to identify, prevent, and eliminate discrimination and harassment in all its forms with respect to race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, physical or mental disability, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, age, religion, political belief, marital status, or family status of that person or that group or class of persons.  

As an association that plays a key role in Kingston’s economy through its accommodation, tourism, and food service, BIA commits to uphold the values of EDI to foster a barrier-free, respectful, and welcoming working environment for all its stakeholders.  

This policy:  

  • Articulates a core set of principles that lead to the development and implementation of practices for how we relate to and engage with the whole of our association and the wider community; 
  • Reflects the values articulated by BIA that scaffolds our strategic goals; 
  • Enables our core values and organization’s capabilities to be integrated into consistent practices that foster EDI.  


This policy applies to all our associates, whether working from home or physically on-site, to achieve their full potential in an environment characterized by equality of respect and opportunity while engaged in BIA activities. This policy is not intended to interfere with related legislation, nor the rights and obligations specified in individual contracts of employment.  


Equity is a condition or state of fair, inclusive, and respectful treatment that recognizes and acknowledges the accommodation of differing needs and expectations. Equity acknowledges that equal treatment does not always yield equal results. 

Diversity is the presence of a wide range of human qualities and attributes, both visible and invisible, within a group, organization, or society. 

Inclusion is what happens when diversity and equity meet. It involves creating an environment where people have both the feeling and reality of belonging and can grow and develop their potential. It is a situation where disadvantaged communities and designated group members share power and decision making at all levels in projects, programs, and institutions. 


Board of Management 

At BIA, the Board of Management has identified our role in closing the gap in EDI and the importance of taking concrete steps to create an inclusive culture in everything we do. The Board strives to embed EDI into the strategic direction and aims to create a sense of belonging in the organization, among staff, stakeholders, and the Downtown Kingston community. The Board of Management commits to promoting and practicing a culture that values insights of members lived experiences and understanding of inclusive practices. 

BIA Management acknowledges and fosters their commitment to EDI in communication to staff, stakeholders and public. We incorporate inclusive thinking and behaviours in all facets of board operations. 

Progressive Human Resources Practices 

BIA seeks to attract a diverse workforce that represents our communities. We embrace a hybrid approach for our hiring practices. We seek to contravene bias towards the homogeneity of westernized educational credentials and worldviews by valuing unique lived and professional experiences through merit-based employment eligibility criteria. 

BIA also recognizes that supporting the success of our employees requires understanding their unique challenges and needs. We advocate a holistic mindset in framing our workplace and strive to put in place conditions that not only make it inclusive, respectful and interculturally safe, but also a nurturing place where our employees grow and benefit from an upwards professional trajectory. With a robust design of professional development activities and career experiences, BIA is dedicated to redefining quality employment.  

We are committed to, and honour equity in, employment through the provisions of the Human Rights Code. As part of our ongoing commitment to transparency, we recognize the potential consequences of BIA’s in hiring practices and dedicate our efforts to impartiality and fairness in our procedures, practices, and policies. We want to feel confident in providing an onboarding experience where everyone feels welcome and ready to celebrate our EDI wins at every turn. Ongoing leadership, learning, and professional development opportunities that foster EDI will help create an organization hospitable to all stakeholders.  

Member Businesses 

In consultation with members of downtown businesses, particularly members of equity-seeking groups, and community partners as appropriate, BIA will draft an EDI Action Plan that will be made public and updated annually. This Action Plan will address specific barriers within the organization with the intent of addressing power imbalances, systemic oppression, accessibility, etc., with the hopes of fostering a sense of belonging and safety for all businesses, residents and visitors to downtown Kingston. 

We strive to create connections with downtown businesses, we promote and support each other, especially members who belong to underrepresented groups. We value lived experience of priority groups. We offer support and opportunities to our members through educational, networking, and promotional events. We recognize that EDI is a process, and we are committed to doing this work to benefit all our members and communities, as well as to encourage new members and communities. 

Sustainable Development of Kingston 

Equity, diversity, and inclusion is not the destination in itself. The DK-BIA endeavors to create opportunities for collaboration among its stakeholders for its equity, diversity, and inclusion as well as working to reduce inequalities and leading downtown Kingston as an interculturally welcoming and sustainable community.