What is Diversity?
Diversity in the workplace is recognizing, appreciating and utilizing the unique talents and contributions of all individuals. Diversity at work is broader than just considering race and gender as it also takes into account many of the ways people differ from each other including race, language, and cultural backgrounds.
Why is it Important?
About 80 per cent of the Canadian workforce is made up of women, visible minorities, aboriginal people and people with disabilities. If employers want to effectively compete for the best talent out there, they have to consider all of their options and that means reaching out to diverse candidates.
What can we do to Increase Diversity in our Workplace?
In general, creating an inclusive and supportive workplace involves:
- Leading by example with a clear commitment from the top down that diversity is important
- Adopting policies and procedures to support diversity, anti-discrimination and anti-harassment. See Human Rights Legislation section of this toolkit.
- Promoting (both internally and externally) the organization’s commitment to diversity
- Holding all staff accountable
- Providing training and awareness in the workplace
Duty to Accommodate
Duty to Accommodate refers to the obligation of an employer, service provider or union to take steps to eliminate disadvantage to employees, prospective employees or clients resulting from a rule, practice or physical barrier that has or may have an adverse impact on individuals or groups protected under the Canadian Human Rights Act, or identified as a designated group under the Employment Equity Act. This includes the hiring process as well as accommodating an individual once they are hired.
When the focus is on building an inclusive environment that is welcoming to individuals with a disability, you may need to make changes to work areas, consider technological modifications, make information accessible in alternate formats or make changes to tasks or working hours.
Research by the Job Accommodation Network indicates:
- Most accommodations cost $500 or less.
- The benefits outweigh the costs. Accommodations lead to increased productivity by the employee and the company, improved interaction with co-workers, and increased company morale.
- 9 in 10 employers surveyed reported retaining a valuable employee through better workplace accommodations.
- In addition, three-quarters cited increased productivity, and over half said they eliminated the costs of hiring and training a new employee.
- For every $1 spent on accommodation, it is estimated there is a benefit of $10 for the employer.
Tools and Resources
Tools to Develop a Diversity Policy
Canadian Human Rights Commission offers a variety or resources including An Employers Guide to Anti-Harassment Policies for the Workplace, A Checklist for Small Organizations and A Guide to Creating an Inclusive Workplace
Information and Employer’s Guides on Workplace Accommodations
There are a lot of resources, tools and information available online to assist employers in regards to workplace accommodation. Here’s just a few:
For examples of accommodations for specific disabilities see the Job Accommodation Network site which includes a searchable database.
Canadian Public Service Agency’s Workshop on Duty to Accommodate Policy which provides information related to legislation, policies, guidelines, programs, initiatives, tools, resources, best practices as well as information specific to each of the four designated employment equity groups
Thinking Outside the Box provides information about making workplaces more accessible and inclusive. The site was created in Ontario, but the principles apply across Canada
Accommodation examples from around the country that illustrate accommodations that have been made for specific employees with disabilities in a variety of occupational settings are available on the Workplace Rehabilitation Engineering and Research Council website.
BCjob.ca provides information, tools and resources to help employers hire people with disabilities
Workablesolutionsbc.ca provides and employer toolkit to support recruitment and retention of people with disabilities