Last month, I wrote “Creating A Better Reflection”, talking about the importance of having a diverse set of people working on problems, to ensure we ask the right questions, or solve the right problems, and to help us come up with the best answers.
As the annual meeting of STAC, Canada’s Structure, Tower and Antenna Council, STAC2022 continued, I had an opportunity to listen to noon panel today, “Not Just Another Checkbox: A Reflection on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) in the Workplace”. Mandy Walsh, National Account Manager at Gap Wireless, hosted Amy Derickx, an Employment, Labour & Equalities lawyer at Gowling WLG, reflecting on the meaning of diversity, the importance of inclusivity and creating a sense of belonging, and the impact on businesses.
“Equity, Diversity and Inclusion are complex concepts that are not set in stone. Our understanding of EDI will continue to evolve as we listen to those who do the work of EDI and to those who encounter barriers in our workplaces.”
As we understand “Equity” in terms of treating employees fairly, we need to consider that this does not mean treating employees the same. When thinking about equity, it is important to think about removing systemic biases that may result in unfair treatments, despite all being treated the same.
If “Diversity” is an action, then what actions can be taken? While some view diversity as a result of EDI processes; others see diversity as a first step.
Where inclusivity is social and cultural, how is this reflected in formal and informal organizational structures and policies? When “Belonging” is a feeling, does the organization have a culture of welcoming voices that have traditionally been dismissed? How can every employee play a role in ensuring these feelings emanate throughout the company? How do these elements combine to contribute to the business’ bottom-line in a positive way?
The speakers explored how many corporate policies, processes and structures were implemented in a different era, and require a complete overhaul to adapt to the kind of diversity and inclusion that reflect today’s workforces in Canada. “Structural change takes time to achieve and is usually met with resistance.”
The legal requirements for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion should be considered a ‘floor’; satisfying workplace legislation, whether provincial or federal, is a necessary, but insufficient condition for creating a truly inclusive environment. There are roles for employees and employers to play in creating the kind of diverse and inclusive workforce where everyone has a sense of belonging.
Emphasizing the drive for increased diversity, there is a session at the event on Wednesday entitled “50 Shades of Beige: Communicate with the Cross-Cultural Advantage”, with speaker Tina Varughese.
Embracing Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in our workforce isn’t just the right thing; it’s the smart way to run a business.