DIVERSE Special: Diversity & Workplace

Diversity in Canadian Workplaces (1)

What are the obstacles to a better form of ¡°diversity¡± in the workplace?

Words, research & photos by Myungsook Lee



Why does diversity in the workplace matter?

There are absolutely a few reasons that now ¡°diversity in the workplace¡± is becoming a hot issue in Canada, although our geographically closest neighbour, the USA, is far more active than Canada on this matter. Consumers are getting more diverse as we see demographic changes in Canada. In particular, each year the number of newcomers adds into these new changes, as Statistics Canada anticipates minority populations will more than double in the next 20 years—from 2.3 million in 2006 to 5.6 million in 2031. City of Toronto suburbs are expected to surpass the 50 per cent visible minority mark in 2017. By 2031, almost 63 per cent of the region¡¯s population will be from a visible minority community.

This demographic change affects not only relationships between companies and their customers, but also culture within companies themselves. Wendy Cukier from The Diversity Institute at Ryerson University comments on diversity in the workplace in the report titled Diversity—The Competitive Edge: Implications for the ICT Labour Market: ¡°Having a diverse workforce can improve the bottom line, create global business opportunities¡¦¡¦ [and] enhance creativity and innovation within the organization.¡±

The report titled A Business Case for Diversity, researched by Jeffery Gandz, professor at The University of Western Ontario, reveals that both private and public sector organizations are under continuing pressure to improve their bottom lines. Gandz explains in the report that the bottom line for private sector organizations is ¡°profit and profitability,¡± whereas in the public sector it is ¡°the efficient delivery of services for all members of society.¡± So, is it true that bottom lines can be improved by achieving diversity in the workplace? The answer depends on how you measure things; however, Gandz indirectly agrees that diversity has an impact on business, saying ¡°There is increasing evidence that such an emphasis on diversity plays off on the bottom line.¡±


The link between diversity in the workplace and the Employment Equity Act

Before getting into more detail, I would like to ask: What is the definition of ¡°diversity¡¯ in the workplace? Josh Greenberg, an expert on diversity in the workplace, and President at AlphaMeasure Inc. in the USA, explains that ¡°[It] sounds simple but diversity encompasses race, gender, ethnic group, age, personality, cognitive style, tenure, organization function, education, background and more.¡± However, in Canada, many experts consider designated groups (women, visible minorities, people with disabilities, and Aboriginal peoples) for measuring diversity in the workplace.

Those ¡°designated groups¡± are from the Employment Equity Act, which was started in 1986 and expanded upon in 1995. According to Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC), the government passed into law the Employment Equity Act ¡°to ensure that no one is denied employment opportunities and benefits for reasons unrelated to ability.¡± Its implementation is an equitable representation of those four designated groups in workplaces across Canada. Introduding the Employment Equity Act has affected all federally-regulated employers with 100 or more employees, including organizations in industries such as banking, communications, and international and interprovincial transportation. Moreover employers are expected to ¡°develop employment equity plans through an analysis of their workforce and employment policies and practices.¡± HRSDC says that the plans include the elimination of employment barriers, and special measures to enhance employment opportunities for members of the four designated groups.


PHOTO 1: The BCNU (British Columbia Nurses¡¯ Union) Human Rights & Diversity Conference, which took place December 9-10, 2010 in Vancouver, BC. Debra McPherson, President, is presents the welcome message. PHOTO 2:  Taylor Basso, a student, writer, artist and activist on GLBT  issues from Surrey leads a Dialogue  Experience workshop.


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DIVERSE 5th Issue

We are pleased to announce that DIVERSE 5th issue, Summer 2011 has been released.  

12 Diversity in Canadian Workplaces What are the obstacles to a better form of ¡°diversity¡± in the workplace?

- Open Door Group

- BC Workplace Diversity Inclusion Awards

6 BC¡¯s Diversity through 30 portraits



2 ThePower of Exchange A Historic Collaboration between Germany¡¯s

Premiere Art Collections and Canada¡¯s First Nations

28 Ezra Kwizera  Born in Uganda to Rwandese refugee parents, Canadian Musician and genocide  survivor speaks on the art of  forgiveness and of adapting to Canadian culture

42 Dana Claxton  

The Mustang Suite: Questioning mobility, freedom and autonomy 


24 Gung Haggis Fat Choy in Vancouver, BC: The Diversity of Canada      

38 Denise Brillon Breaking barriers in the fashion world



32 Pysanky¡¯s Resurgence

Joan Brander¡¯s contribution to the renaissance in traditional

Ukrainian egg art


10 Publisher¡¯s Note

27 Benefits of being a bilingual writer

31 Canadians come in all differences



35 News Briefs on Multiculturalism

36 Publisher¡¯s Picks


You Can Order Here.


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