Mark Hancock | National President

Corporations and politicians are using words like “diversity” and “inclusion” a lot these days. But too often, it amounts to little more than a PR move.  

For CUPE, honouring diversity and inclusion is essential to who we are as a union. For 60 years, our union has been at the front line of important fights for equity in our workplaces and our communities. And we are proud to amplify the voices of those who have been left on the sidelines, every single day. 

As a straight white guy, I do my best to acknowledge and understand the privilege I hold in our society simply because of my background and my gender. And I’m acutely aware that the opposite is true for so many, who face discrimination and hardship for things outside their control. As a union leader and activist, I know how important it is to highlight the work and lift the voices of other leaders and activists who bring different perspectives to our work. 

The struggle for equity isn’t about any one member of our union. It is work that each of us must contribute to, as part of a collective effort toward building a stronger, more representative society. 

Whether it’s our recent Women’s Conference, our Anti-Racism Strategy, our Water is life campaign, or our bystander training, I am proud of the work CUPE is doing to advance equity, diversity and inclusion.  

As Canada’s largest union, we represent an incredible diversity of workers in communities across the country. Which means we have a collective expertise and a base of power and strength to bring to conversations about equity and human rights. 

And it is an important time to use it. We are seeing an outright assault on reproductive rights and the rights of the 2SLGBTQI+ community in the United States. Rights we thought we could take for granted are being clawed back. And as we all know, it never takes long for the worst undercurrents of right-wing extremism in the United States to make their way north. 

Now more than ever, we must stand and fight against attacks on our human rights, while we also fight to expand those rights. In doing so, we will take our lead from members who are most impacted, but we will also take our part in the struggle and be there with them every step of the way.  

We all have a role to play whether that’s making space for important conversations, creating opportunities for learning and understanding, or leading the way in advocacy. 

This year, as part of my commitment to human rights, I’m getting involved with the Moose Hide Campaign – a nationwide, Indigenous-led movement to engage men and boys in ending violence against women.  

I encourage you to think about how you can be a stronger ally and a voice for inclusion, so we can make our union stronger and our communities a better place for everyone.