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Strengthen Your Workforce Through Diversity & Inclusion

The past few weeks have required that many of us have uncomfortable conversations in the workplace in order to address the importance of workforce diversity and inclusion. Many HR professionals and leaders have had to be at the forefront of these conversations to facilitate an inclusive workplace environment. To understand the concept of diversity is to acknowledge that each individual is unique in race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, religious/political beliefs, disabilities etc. and that each employee should be guaranteed an equitable opportunity in the workplace despite these differences. The question is, where do you start when developing your own workplace diversity and inclusion program?

Internal Assessment:

Begin by conducting a thorough assessment of the internal skillsets and the demographics within your organization. This internal study should include all government protected groups especially under the Human Rights Code such as race, ethnicity, gender, disability etc. Some of this data may already be available in the case that your company has an HRIS system and if not, then you may need to gather this data through an employee survey requiring individuals to self-identify in order to obtain more information. If you require extra support in analyzing trends and patterns at the national, provincial and sub-provincial levels, data is also available through Stats Canada for reference and comparison that may be useful to you as a part of this exercise.

Where will you focus?

The internal assessment, once successfully coordinated, should reveal the areas of concerns in order for you to begin addressing diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Is each group protected under the Human Rights Code being fairly represented within your organization? Is one department struggling more than another hiring certain demographics? Is your leadership team predominantly one demographic over another? At this stage, it may also be beneficial to stage more internal engagement and feedback surveys to review feedback around areas of concern to learn more on employee attitudes around workplace diversity and inclusion practices.

Ways of Implementing a More Diverse Workplace Culture:

Targeted Recruitment:

Once you know where to focus, you can initiate targeted recruitment efforts to assure that you are addressing the gaps within your workplace. A good place to start is to initiate the hiring of applicants that come from diverse backgrounds. Start with a job description that openly invites diverse individuals to apply which includes a clear statement to prioritize diversity and inclusion efforts alongside the skills required for the role. Think about where you would like to host these targeted recruitment efforts or where you will market and advertise these roles to ensure maximum outreach to potential applicants from a diverse background.

Training & Awareness Efforts to Dismantle Bias

Both implicit and explicit biases have demonstrated negative impacts in the hiring of underrepresented groups and minorities. As HR Professionals, it is important to lead training initiatives to raise awareness around these potential biases and provide tools to mitigate their impact on the evaluation of a potential candidate. The first step to mandating ‘sensitivity’ or bias training would be to raise awareness and acknowledge that the issue is prevalent in the workplace. A tool like the Harvard Implicit Association Test (IAT) is one way to gather information on levels of biases in different areas of the organization. Once obtained, it is important to build a long-term continuous training program as bias cannot be tackled in a day. This program should include ways to tackle bias prevalent through general day-to-day activities and through recruitment and selection efforts. Having policies, programs and accountability measures around this can also be key in building out a successful awareness strategy. Like any training, it is also important to measure that the required outcomes are being met regularly to ensure the training was effective and successful.

Diversity & Inclusion Marketing

Stapling diversity and inclusivity as a part of workplace culture through leadership initiatives and marketing is an effective way to build out a program and voice your commitment. Organizations can openly partner with under-represented groups or companies led by minority groups to express their stance in standing by a culture of diversity. Many companies also engage in philanthropic efforts as an organization to support diverse skillsets and economies at a global level.

In conclusion, fostering a diverse and inclusive environment can increase productivity, employee engagement, and have a positive impact on your workforce culture and employer branding strategy. In the case that you require more inspiration, here are 4 companies that are absolutely killing it in driving diverse and inclusive company cultures!

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