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Telfer reconnects with gold at the annual Diversity and Inclusion Case Competition

4 young happy women holding a big mock cheque surrounded by older smiling peoplein front of a black urtain

Telfer School of Management Bachelor of Commerce students Joy Xu, Leah Salzman, Lina Salama and Madison Woo, better known by their collective pseudonym “Employees of the Month” at the competition, brought recognition to the program by winning 1st place at the 5th annual Diversity and Inclusion Case Competition. In all five years since the competition’s founding, a Telfer team has won first place each time, with “Employees of the Month” representing Telfer at the fifth edition. The competition took place last Saturday, February 29th, at Export Development Canada (EDC), one of the founding partners of the event.

The group’s ideas, which the judges found to be refreshing and grounded in the reality of today’s world, earned them a shared $5,000 prize that was presented at the evening awards gala. This was the first year that the competition was open to not only MBA students, but also to third and fourth-year undergraduate students. The latter showed they were up for the task, as two of the four finalist teams came from undergraduate programs.

A new edition this year in the spirit of renewal and innovation, this fifth edition of the competition started on Friday evening, February 28th, at a networking launch event at Bayview Yards. An interactive activity hosted by second founding partner, Deloitte, was definitely the highlight of the evening, according to many participants. The Deloitte Greenhouse team offered the students who were present an opportunity to attend four workshops that were each as useful as the next. Participants were invited to discuss real diversity and inclusion issues both in the workplace and in everyday life.

Woman presenting to an audience in front of a screenFor this year's competition, which could count on the support of Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) for the first time, the participants received the case analysis two weeks in advance, which marked a new direction for the case competition. Twelve teams from 10 different universities across Canada had to develop a strategy to recruit, retain, and develop employees of visible minority groups working for the Bank of Canada (the official author of the case study) by highlighting barriers to equal access.

According to Professor Catherine Elliott, Director of the Telfer MBA program, this new format enabled the teams to bring more depth in their analyses and increase the quality of the cases in the first round of presentations. “The bar keeps getting higher!” said Catherine; “Diversity and inclusion is now part of CEOs’ vocabulary, and is receiving more and more visibility as a topic in businesses. We can expect to host more teams and businesses involved in this subject, as a result, for the years to come.

The Competition

The purpose of the first part of this case analysis, which was presented before an audience for the first time this year, was to select four teams for the final round. This is where Joy Xu’s team stood out from the crowd, and this time the finalists had only 75 minutes to prepare before tackling a new problem posed by the Bank of Canada regarding employment equity data.

“Everything we learned in case resolution was really helpful to us, and each of us was able to put our own resources to work for the team, to determine exactly what employees needed”, Joy told us in the moments following the “Employees of the Month” victory. There was also the fact that two team members had to join the team just a few weeks before the start of the competition, and so the four of them were particularly pleased with this excellent outcome.

Another Telfer team, composed of Aditya Bhatkal, Allison Caverly, Camille Sigouin and Lisa Filter, all four MBA students, also performed well on the first round, but were unable to qualify for the final. The classmates were still happy to have had the experience and pleased with their presentation to the judges.

Competition Winners

1st Place: Telfer School of Management, uOttawa, BCom

2nd Place: Schulich School of Business, York University, MBA

Tied for 3rd Place:

Memorial University of Newfoundland, Undergraduate; and

DeGroote School of Business, McMaster University, MBA

4 women looking happy and captivated

The steering committee is already planning the 6th edition of the event, which will take place in early 2021. Any organization with an interest in diversity and inclusion issues and topics is invited to contact the Telfer Graduate Programs Office to discuss possible participation in next year’s competition at:


About the Author

Laurent Lavallée a travaillé à titre de coordonnateur marketing au sein de l'équipe de Marketing de l'École de gestion Telfer de 2019 à 2022.<br/><br/>Laurent Lavallée worked as Marketing Coordinator for the Telfer School of Management's Marketing team from 2019 to 2022.