18 Oct Diversity Trends: A Look at What’s Happening in Canada’s Workplace
In Defining Roadblocks to Diversity Opens a Path to Success, I talked about the Canada-U.S. initiative designed to promote female entrepreneurs and drive economic growth on both sides of the border. The will hopefully be a springboard to drive diversity within the workplace. It’s an exciting initiative given that while women make up almost half of the Canadian labour force, they continue to be underrepresented in leadership positions.
Addressing workplace diversity is a relatively new concept in Canada, but it is a growing trend.
Addressing workplace diversity is a relatively new concept in Canada, but it is a growing trend, and not just from a female perspective. Declining birth rates and an aging population means Canada relies more and more on immigration to support population growth, and in turn, labour market growth. Aboriginal youth represent Canada’s fastest-growing population, yet this group has the highest unemployment rate – twice as high as non-aboriginal Canadians.
While today’s workplace is made up of five generations ranging from Baby Boomers to Millennials, it is estimated that by 2020, 38 per cent of the workforce will be 55 or older. Diversity programs also need to support members of the LGBTQ community and include people with different physical and mental capabilities.
What can businesses do to support this shifting landscape? Here are five trends companies will need to consider as they change their diversity profiles:
Flexible Work Times
Whether it’s accommodating for religious holidays, balancing work and personal obligations or decreased energy levels due to age or disability, companies need to allow staff to flex their schedules as needed. Some staff may require additional breaks for prayer, others may need more frequent pauses for a variety of other reasons. Diverse companies shatter the mould around traditional nine to five work hours with scheduled 15 minute breaks morning and afternoon.
Today’s workplace needs flexibility more than ever. Get rid of gender specific bathrooms and provide a dedicated space which can be used for prayer, meditation or as a quiet place for people who need a break from over-stimulation. Go one step further and develop work-at-home policies and virtual workspaces to provide even more flexibility for staff. Companies that do this benefit from these policies as well by opening the door to a wider labour pool of talented people when they cast their net beyond their local geographic area.
Training and Support
Ongoing training is essential. Diverse companies provide development programs for all staff, not just management, to help them create an inclusive and positive workplace for people with different backgrounds. They plan strategies around how to support multigenerational teams, as well as develop coaching and mentoring programs to advance diverse populations into management roles. They also implement health and wellness programs which focus on both physical and mental health support.
Create Opportunities for Awareness
Many decisions that stifle diversity are made due to unconscious biases. Diverse companies ensure their hiring team and management are aware of how unconscious bias impacts their hiring, training and promotion decisions. It’s an important step in maximizing diversity within the workplace and reducing systemic racism and inequality.
Today’s businesses need to have a diversity plan because equity, diversity and inclusion do not happen by chance. It takes awareness, planning and conscious action.
Ensure Fairness and Equity
Finally, diverse companies ensure they hire and promote people on their skill set, abilities and value they bring to an organization and ensure they compensate employees fairly and equitability for the skills, time and services they provide, regardless of age, gender, race or sexual-orientation.
Today’s businesses need to have a diversity plan because equity, diversity and inclusion do not happen by chance. It takes awareness, planning and conscious action to build a diverse workplace. Be sure to check out our other blogs on workplace diversity to learn more.
Sales Beacon is passionate about empowering women and developing opportunities in rural communities across Canada. Sales Beacon is proud to hold diversity certification with WBE Canada and WEConnect International.