How Employers Can Promote Diversity and Inclusion: A Complete Guide

  • Equality & Diversity
how-to-promote-diversity-inclusion-workplace
Kiljon Shukullari

Kiljon Shukullari, HR Advisory Manager

(Last updated )

According to the most recent census data, Canada is home to over 450 ethnic or cultural origins.

Often hailed as one of the most diverse countries in the world, Canada has a multicultural population that celebrates differences in race, ethnicity, religion, gender, and sexual orientation. However, despite its reputation for inclusivity, issues of bias and discrimination unfortunately still exist in many workplaces.

To prevent discrimination, harassment, and exclusion, it is crucial that employers know how to improve diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Without these measures, you risk negatively impacting employee morale, productivity, and the overall reputation of your company.

In addition to preventing these important issues, fostering a diverse and inclusive workforce brings together people with different perspectives, ideas, and backgrounds. This often leads to a variety of solutions to the problems they face.

Moreover, employees who feel valued and respected for who they are, become more engaged, motivated, and productive. Having a diverse and inclusive workplace is also important for your bottom line, with companies that value diversity and inclusion often seeing increased innovation, improved problem-solving skills, and higher employee retention rates.

As an employer, it is your duty to prioritize diversity and inclusion efforts to ensure compliance with legal requirements and create a workplace that is safe, inclusive, and welcoming for all employees. This blog explores the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace and how employers can promote these values.

What is diversity, equity, and inclusion?

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are related but distinct concepts that are often used together to promote fairness.

Diversity refers to the variety of differences among people, including differences in race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, culture, ability, and more. Embracing diversity means acknowledging and valuing these differences and working to create an environment where everyone is respected and included.

Equity means ensuring that everyone has access to the same opportunities, regardless of their background or circumstances. This involves identifying and removing barriers that prevent certain groups of people from achieving their full potential. In an equitable workplace, everyone has an equal chance to succeed.

Inclusion means creating a sense of belonging and community for everyone, regardless of their differences. Inclusive environments are those where everyone feels valued and respected, and where their perspectives and experiences are heard and valued.

In combination, the concepts of diversity, equity, and inclusion promote an environment where everyone is valued, respected, and given the opportunity to succeed, regardless of their background or identity.

Why you should promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace?

There are several reasons why diversity and inclusion are important in the workplace. Under the law, all individuals are protected from discrimination and bias in the workplace.

A diverse workforce also brings a variety of perspectives and ideas to the table, which often leads to more creative and innovative problem-solving and decision-making. The more diverse your workplace is, the more representative your staff will be of the broader community, which can help to build stronger relationships with customers and clients.

Diversity and inclusion also increase your chance of attracting and retaining top talent. Employees want to work in environments that value their unique perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds. By promoting diversity and inclusion, employers create a workplace culture that is welcoming to all employees.

In addition to attracting and retaining top talent, promoting diversity and inclusion can help organizations gain a competitive advantage. Diverse workforces are better equipped to understand and cater to the needs of diverse customer bases. This means that organizations that promote diversity and inclusion are better equipped to create products and services that meet the needs of their customers, ultimately leading to increased profits.

By embracing and valuing this diversity, individuals and organizations can benefit in many ways. Promoting diversity and inclusion in your workplace allows you to create an environment where everyone at work feels respected, valued, and empowered to contribute their unique talents and perspectives.

Promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace is also a way to build a positive brand reputation. In today’s socially conscious world, customers and potential employees are more likely to work with organizations that value diversity and inclusion.

What are the legal consequences of not promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion?

From a legal perspective, it is crucial that Canadian employers promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace because there are several laws and regulations in Canada that require employers to prevent discrimination and promote diversity.

Firstly, the Canadian Human Rights Act prohibits federally-regulated workplaces from discrimination based on several grounds, including race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation. Provincially-regulated workplaces are also protected from discrimination by their individual legislation.

Furthermore, federally-regulated workplaces are protected by the Employment Equity Act , which requires employers to implement employment equity programs to address systemic discrimination and underrepresentation in the workplace. For provincially-regulated workplaces, many are protected by similar legislation, for example, Ontario’s Pay Equity Act.

Failure to comply with these laws can result in legal consequences, including fines and lawsuits. Moreover, promoting diversity and inclusion can help companies avoid legal issues related to harassment, which can be costly and damaging to their reputation.

How to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace

Set goals and metrics

The first step in promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace is to set clear goals and metrics. This will help to establish a baseline and track progress over time. For example, an employer might set a goal of increasing the representation of women in leadership positions by 25% over the next five years. Metrics might include the number of women in leadership positions, the number of women who apply for promotions, and the retention rate of women in the organization.

Provide training

Training is an essential component of any diversity and inclusion initiative. It can help to raise awareness of biases and stereotypes and provide tools and strategies for addressing them. Training might include workshops on unconscious bias, cultural competence, and inclusive language. It is important to ensure that training is ongoing and accessible to all employees.

Foster an inclusive culture

Creating an inclusive culture is essential for promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace. This means creating an environment where all employees feel welcome and valued, regardless of their background or identity. This can be achieved through a variety of strategies, including:

  • Providing flexible work arrangements that accommodate the needs of employees with caregiving responsibilities or disabilities.
  • Ensuring that all employees have access to the same opportunities for growth and development.
  • Encouraging open and honest communication, including feedback from employees about their experiences.
  • Celebrating diversity and recognizing the contributions of employees from all backgrounds.

Recruit and retain a diverse workforce

Recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce is another important strategy for promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace. This can be achieved through a variety of strategies, including:

  • Ensuring that job descriptions and advertisements are inclusive and do not contain bias or stereotypes.
  • Partnering with organizations that serve diverse communities to reach a broader pool of candidates.
  • Providing mentorship and sponsorship programs to support the growth and development of underrepresented employees.
  • Offering competitive compensation and benefits packages that attract and retain diverse talent.

Be hyperaware of discrimination

Finally, employers should make sure they are regularly monitoring their workplace for instances of discrimination and bias. This can be done through regular employee surveys, focus groups, or exit interviews. Employers should be proactive in addressing any issues that arise. Employers should also create a culture of transparency, where employees feel comfortable reporting incidents of discrimination and bias without fear of retaliation.

How to address bias and discrimination

As an employer, it is important to take swift action if bias and discrimination occur in the workplace.  It is important to have policies and procedures in place to address these issues when they arise. This can include having a clear process for reporting and investigating incidents of bias or discrimination; providing support and resources to employees who have experienced discrimination or harassment; and holding employees accountable for their behaviour, including:

Listen to the affected employee

If an employee reports experiencing bias or discrimination, listen to their concerns and take them seriously. Show empathy and let them know that their concerns will be addressed. Offer support, including connecting them with appropriate resources, such as an employee assistance program or your human resources department.

Investigate the issue

Investigate the issue thoroughly to determine the facts and circumstances of what happened. Interview any witnesses, review relevant documents, take notes of your findings, and ensure that your investigation is conducted in a confidential and objective manner.

Take action

If the investigation confirms that bias or discrimination has occurred, take appropriate action. This could include disciplinary measures against the perpetrator, such as reprimands, suspensions, disciplinary action, or termination of employment. Ensure that the action taken is consistent with the severity of the offence and the organization’s policies and values.

Communicate the outcome

Communicate the outcome of the investigation to the affected employee, as well as any other employees who may have been impacted by the issue. Provide reassurance that the issue has been taken seriously and that steps are being taken to prevent similar issues from occurring in the future.

Evaluate and prevent

Evaluate the situation and identify what can be done to prevent similar issues from occurring in the future. Consider if any changes need to be made to the organization’s policies, procedures, or training. Consider involving an external consultant or expert to provide additional guidance on addressing bias and discrimination.

Follow-up

Follow up with the affected employee and check in to ensure that they feel supported and valued. Ensure that they are not facing any retaliation or further incidents of bias or discrimination. Make it clear that the organization is committed to creating an inclusive workplace and preventing future incidents of bias and discrimination.

By taking these steps, Canadian employers can help address bias and discrimination in the workplace and create a more inclusive, respectful, and productive work environment. It is important to prioritize the well-being and safety of all employees and to take appropriate measures to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.

Do you need help drafting inclusive workplace policies?

Promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the Canadian workplace is not only the right thing to do, but it is also a smart business decision. By creating an inclusive workplace culture, employers can attract and retain a diverse range of talent, improve employee morale and productivity, and enhance the organization’s reputation as an employer of choice.

A key part of fostering a workplace that is committed to diversity and inclusivity is to have well-drafted anti-discrimination policies in place. Our HR advisors can help you create, update, and review company policies, as well as provide any advice you may need on HR, health and safety, or employee management.

To learn more about how our services can benefit your business, call an expert today at 1 (833) 247-3652

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