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Multiculturalism and Diversity in the Workplace

By embracing multiculturalism and diversity, employers become more attractive to talent and more competitive in the marketplace.

Young people entering the workforce not only deserve an equitable, diverse and inclusive workplace, they demand it. And rightfully so.

They want to feel welcomed at work as their authentic selves and they extend the same to their peers, welcoming and expecting to work with people who have attributes, experiences and knowledge different from their own.

For that to happen, the workplace must embrace multiculturalism and diversity.

Multiculturalism ≠ Diversity

Multiculturalism and diversity are widely confused for meaning the same thing. While similar in some respects, they are indeed different. Here’s how:

Multiculturalism at work is the presence of multiple cultural or ethnic groups. For example, this could mean a group of employees includes people who are Chinese, Metis, Mexican and Guyanese.

Diversity refers to differences in a multitude of ways. Often, diversity is thought of as race, age and gender with the thought that if you can check these boxes then diversity is achieved. It’s not that simple.

True diversity brings together people with different sexual identities, socio-economic backgrounds, experience levels, political affiliations, abilities, gender identities, education levels and more. Diversity is the inclusion of a whole spectrum of differences among people.

Benefits and Rewards

According to U.S. research by BetterUp, companies who actively embrace diversity reap many benefits, including:

  • job performance increases by 56%

  • employee turnover decreases by 50%

  • employees use 75% fewer sick days

BetterUp also notes companies that prioritize and celebrate people and unique perspectives tend to recruit and retain the best talent. With Canada’s unemployed at near a near record-low, employers need every advantage to they can get to avoid costly turnover.

But, wait … THERE’S MORE!

Research study, after research study, after research study points to multiculturalism and diversity at work as improving profitability, innovation, resilience and more ... a lot more. Diverse teams are more productive, perform better, bring a broader skill set and can have insider insight into specific markets and audiences to help advance business goals.

Simply put: Diverse workplaces do better.

How to Promote Multiculturalism and Diversity at Work

The power of multiculturalism and diversity is clear. So, how can employers harness it? It starts with a corporate culture that authentically believes in belonging and inclusion. Without that, any efforts to improve or increase multiculturalism and diversity will surely fail.

An examination of policies and practices to ensure a system that fosters and nurtures multiculturalism and diversity is vital. It’s also important to clearly articulate the commitment to multiculturalism and diversity in an inclusion policy. Other steps employers can take are:

  • regularly scheduled unconscious bias training for employees and management

  • ensuring pay equity across all groups of employees and all backgrounds

  • actively celebrating differences by acknowledging cultural holidays and other days and/or events of significance, like Pride

  • creating employee resource groups for safe internal spaces

  • soliciting feedback and actioning it appropriately and visibly

By embracing multiculturalism and diversity, employers become more attractive to talent and more competitive in the marketplace. In turn, youth in the workforce and the Canadian economy thrive.

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