By Cheryl May
Michael Bach is an eighth generation Canadian, who says, “my family didn’t come here on a boat, they came here on the boat.” He founded the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion (CCDI), formerly known as the Canadian Institute for Diversity and Inclusion, in 2012, following an eight-year career with KPMG, where he was the National Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
He was taught from a very young age that he should be an advocate, “I had the right and responsibility to not stand on the sidelines, to do something to help people.” At the age of four, Michael joined his mother in a protest against a big name employer’s corporate practices. He recounts carrying a picket sign that was bigger than he was, but he knew that he was there because this company was doing something wrong.
Michael is openly gay. He came out at 16 “to the surprise of no one”, and his citizen engagement journey moved rapidly from advocacy to action. At 18 years old, he was the coordinator of the Lesbian and Gay Youth Toronto. He later became involved with the AIDS Committee of Toronto, and after moving to New York, the Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project.
“My entire life I have been involved in some way, shape, or form doing volunteer work in the community, whether it was in my own community, in the LGBTQ community, with people with disabilities, with women, or with newcomers"
Working in diversity and inclusion at a global firm was never part of the plan. Michael started at KPMG in Consulting. He wrote the business case for the creation of a full-time role in diversity and inclusion in 2006, and it became his job description, “Suddenly people were paying me to do this, which was awesome.” In 2008 he became the deputy Chief Diversity Officer for KPMG International.
For the next few years, he blended passion with profession, thinking about diversity and inclusion globally. Returning to KPMG Canada in 2010, he began to really think about where diversity and inclusion was heading from a Canadian context.
In 2008, Michael was a driving force behind the creation of Pride at Work Canada. “It was important to me to have a Canadian organization to support LGBT inclusion in workplaces.”
Once that was well established, he determined that more had to be done to move the needle, and CIDI was launched in 2012 to assist employers with their diversity and inclusion work. In 2014, under Michael’s leadership, the CIDI merged with the 65 year old charity, Canadian Centre for Diversity, which had a focus on diversity, difference and inclusion in high schools. The two organizations legally merged to form the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion – the only organization of its kind in Canada – with a focus on diversity and inclusion in both places of learning and places of work.
“Our goal is to help make workplaces and schools more welcoming and inclusive for all people so that they can succeed. Our new motto says it all – Diversity and Inclusion: From Backpack to Briefcase.”
Michael Bach's address to the 2014 CRRF Symposium and Awards of Excellence
Soul of the City 9 - Diversity is Good Business
Building on Citizenship, 2014 Our Canada Symposium session (audio)
Accommodation and Canadian Values, 2014 Our Canada Symposium session (audio)