Canada Border Services Agency
Kurtis DePippo (he/him) was excited for the opportunity to bring his unique perspective to the Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Office, when he joined as a micro-mission fellow. Kurtis has a technical background and 4 years of experience in the Department of National Defence (DND), including 3 years in the Materiel Acquisition and Support Officer Development Program. He has completed 6 different placements, 5 of which were within Director General Land Equipment Program Management (DGLEPM).
Kurtis joined the micro-mission because he thought that DND and the Materiel Group’s work culture would benefit from more standardized policies and education regarding D&I. Kurtis refers to the Clerk’s Call to Action when describing the positive impacts that diversity and inclusion have on the workplace: “For me, a happier and more diverse workplace is a better workplace for all and leads to better results at the organizational level.”
Kurtis grew up in Ottawa and attended university in Kingston, Ontario. He readily speaks to having benefitted from white and male privilege. Kurtis understands that his path to success may not have been as difficult as the path that others took and that no two people have the same level of privilege. Kurtis reflects on the trials and tribulations that he faced during his academic and professional life: “I tell myself, just imagine how much harder it would have been if what I looked like did not fit the standard mold of an engineer.” The Ask Me Anything Series has shown Kurtis how far we still have to go to ensure that our workplace fosters a sense of belonging.
During his time with the D&I Office, Kurtis realized that both recruitment and retention are essential to creating a diverse and inclusive workplace. The relatively homogenous work environments that he was used to were conducive to excluding people who did not identify with the majority group. Kurtis rationalized that those who felt excluded were more likely to feel unsatisfied in their work, leave their position, and find fulfillment elsewhere: “There really needs to be some sort of support network to help with retention issues. How can we diversify if we can’t hold onto any of our diverse talent?” With this question in mind, he helped the D&I Office start up the Lifting As You Lead Mentoring Circles (LLMC) Program. The LLMC program is a group mentoring initiative that seeks to improve retention in the workplace. The mentoring circles create a sense of belonging and provide the tools necessary for career advancement.
Kurtis really enjoyed his time at the Diversity and Inclusion Office. At the end of his micro-mission, he thanked his teammates and reflected on his experience: “This is a very different team than what I am used to with procurement. The work is also very different. It’s fun because I get to work on stuff and gain experience in things that I may not have been able to do otherwise.” Specifically, “being in a small team with a flat command structure and working on such a big file … meant that I gained a ton of experience working with senior management. Honestly, it’s a great experience and I’d recommend it to anyone!”
Kurtis is a strong believer in the benefits that diversity and inclusion can have in the workplace.