Leadership Development

Fostering Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace


Diversity and inclusion are not only important to ensure appropriate policies for all employees but also to showcase to customers, clients, vendors and other external stakeholders that the employee population well represents the community in which they do business. In order to improve the effectiveness of such initiatives, organizations must focus on defining objectives and building a diverse and inclusive workforce, as well as a leadership pipeline.

Many organizations include creating diversity as a part of their overall strategy. However, many have not yet figured out how to make the environment inclusive—that is, create an atmosphere in which all people feel valued and respected and have access to the same opportunities.

PwC chairman and CEO Robert Morwitz believes that critical thinking comes from inclusion, that is, from the diversity of perspective. Leaders need to put inclusion—not just diversity—at the top of their agendas and mean it. They need to actively talk about its importance, notice when it is present and absent and set the agenda for the organization. – HBR

Making employees feel included usually leads to higher loyalty and productivity for the organization, contributing to a positive culture. In order to truly identify how to create greater diversity and inclusion, organizations need to understand all the facets it encompasses. Once organizations have implemented inclusion and diversity programs in their hiring practices, they need to adopt these practices in engaging with the employees as well.

Creating a successfully diverse work environment that fosters innovation does not only depend on hiring, but it is a manifestation of hiring the ‘right’ people based on their skills set irrespective of their physical abilities. It's important to find out how the individual can bring a specific skill set to the organization. Organizations should make amendments in the workplace and make it accessible to fully integrate persons with disabilities into teams.

Statistics Canada’s Participation and Activity Limitation Survey (PALS) tracks persons whose activities are limited because of a physical or mental health-related condition or problem. Discrimination through discouragement or even exclusion can be a difficult obstacle for people with disabilities. Data from the PALS  show that, one in four unemployed persons with a disability and one in eight persons with a disability who were not in the labour force believed that, they had been refused a job because of their disability.

Workplace accommodations are defined by Statistics Canada as modifications to the job or work environment that can enable a person with an activity limitation to participate fully in the work environment.

Employers reported that providing accommodations resulted in such benefits as retaining valuable employees, improving productivity and morale, reducing workers’ compensation and training costs, and improving company diversity. The report also found that other accommodations had an average cost of $500. How much is that cost compared to the cost of employee turnover? It is clearly much less expensive to provide the accommodation than to have an employee leave.

What are the benefits of hiring people with disabilities?

Organizations have noted low absenteeism rates and long tenures. They have also described their employees with disabilities as loyal, reliable, and hardworking. An additional benefit to hiring people with disabilities was the diversification of work settings, which led to an overall positive work environment. – Forbes

Organizations that provide an inclusive environment for their employees are far more likely to engage fully, develop loyalty and enjoy job satisfaction. It takes awareness of different backgrounds, abilities, cultures, and personality traits when managing diversity and inclusion. This is critical in developing an effective talent management strategy and optimizing each employee’s contribution in the organization.

We would like to hear from you on your experiences with diversity and inclusion policies and their implementation within your organizations.

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