Five ways to boost workplace diversity

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Many organizations talk about diversity but how many actually make it a priority? With the face of Canada’s population rapidly changing, this is one question that every Human Resources department will need to consider. According to Statistics Canada, by 2031, if current demographic trends continue, 47% of second generation Canadians will belong to a visible minority group, nearly double the proportion of 24% in 2006. As well, Statistics Canada data also indicates that as of 2011, all net labour force growth in Canada is expected to come from immigration. For these and many more reasons, having a workplace that is reflective of the outside community should be a priority for any organization that wants to achieve a diverse workforce.
Following are five keys to workplace diversity:
  1. Make it Official – The goal of a diverse workplace should start with your organization’s core values and possibly, mission/vision statements too. By making the topic a key component of the company’s identity, you set the stage for both hiring as well as acceptance amongst your employees. Show your staff that your company’s commitment to diversity, other cultures, ethnicities and backgrounds are part of the basic values that your organization upholds and they will better follow your lead.
 
  1. Commit to a Diversity Recruiting Strategy – HR can be a great starting point for organizational culture. Bringing in new people is an immediate way to achieve diversity and a concrete plan or strategy to consistently reach out to diverse audiences and talent is critical.  As well, connections to outside communities as part of the overall corporate strategy will allow for easier recruitment from diverse groups.
 
  1. Senior Team Representation – Diversity shouldn’t just be in a company’s words nor just in a company’s entry level roles.  Does your leadership and senior executive team reflect the type of workplace that you’re promoting with your company objectives and values? Your employees will more likely believe your commitment to your diversity goal if they see representations of various diverse populations on the senior team. By having senior management members who are part of different communities, you will be making your organization more welcoming for potential and existing staff from diverse groups.
 
  1. Offer Training and Workshops – A key method of having staff support a diverse workplace culture is to provide them with the tools that will allow them to understand and appreciate those from other backgrounds. Organizations that make cultural competency a priority will assure that appropriate training and education are mandatory parts of employee learning and routinely updated so it cannot be forgotten. Training should start during new staff orientation and the inclusion of respect and diversity in the performance management cycle is another key to fostering diversity as part of the organization’s culture.
 
  1. Create a Welcoming Workplace – Actions speak louder than words. Employees will feel supported and will believe your company’s commitment to diversity by the environment that you create for your team. Supporting cultural events and holidays, celebrating and embracing different festivities all go towards fostering a culture of inclusion.  Essentially you want diversity to be part of your culture; for it to simply be a part of what you are.  By doing so, you will be successful in creating a work environment that is both diverse and engaged.
 
Dennis Fong is the Senior Director, Human Resources and Organizational Development at Toronto Central Community Care Access Centre (CCAC)
As the Director of Human Resources for the Toronto Central CCAC, he oversees all aspects of employee hiring and retention, as well as employee-related programs and training. A graduate of the University of Western Ontario where he received his Bachelor’s degree, Mr. Fong is also an alumnus of the University of Toronto, where he graduated with a Masters in Health Science.
 

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