Food In Canada

Staying relevant for business sustainability

By Janelle Abela   

Business Operations Diversity Editor pick Employee retention Equity human resources Inclusivity

Photo Ⓒ Rawpixel.com/ Adobe Stock

Industries have been faced with unprecedented labour shortages in the past two years, due to a combination of social justice advocacy, the COVID-19 pandemic, and access to remote work.

During this same time, it’s likely that at least one request for a diversity, equity, and inclusion policy has landed on your desk. The feelings that came with it probably ranged from curiosity to frustration, as the request landed on the never-ending pile of sick leave, leave of absence, hiring, resignation, and complaints paperwork you also need to complete.

Adding just another thing to do can become quite frustrating, but what if I told you that these policies could reduce the other paperwork that smothers you?

Each generation demands better for themselves and the world

Generation Y was extremely confident as they were born into the age of technology, Generation Z learned to become competitive in the fast-growing tech-based ecosystem, and Generation Alpha is coming in as a decision-maker.

The leadership role has also changed alongside these generational shifts, from delegation and guidance to empowerment and onward to inspirational. Newer generations are demanding to be involved in the world and co-creators of work.

Unfortunately, many workplaces do not adequately represent these generations, pushing potential candidates and current employees away from jobs that just five years ago would have been highly sought after.

Why are people valuing their well-being higher than wages?

Recruitment and retention relate to policy, procedures, and practice. Nearly half of our waking day is spent in our workplace and employees who are being negatively affected are saying no.

Outdated policies and policies that do not draw explicit attention to diversity, equity, and inclusion often risk employee’s psychological safety, are inconsistent regarding discrimination, exclude ongoing discussions and training on inclusion, support hierarchal structures, discourage reporting of incidents, and overlook de-escalation practices and training for workplace violence, harassment, and discrimination.

What are you supposed to do?

Many people in leadership will defend the above issues by explaining their necessity for compliance and efficiency. But the reality is, inclusion and recognition are what fuel those effects. No, I am not talking about gold stars and participation medals. I am referring to the genuine appreciation for an employee, no matter what position they have or how long they will have it.

Appreciation comes from physical and psychological safety, acknowledgement and appreciation of diversity, equitable practices to support differences, and the welcoming nature for belonging and inclusion.

Where do you start?

Work has grown beyond a pay cheque. It is critical for workplaces to increase opportunities to build stronger workplace climate and environments. This is achieved through workplace assessments and goal setting to alleviate the damaging attributes that impose on employee experience. Further, increase opportunities for open communication regarding safety and discrimination happening in the workplace.

Start by utilizing professionals to assess and review policies and procedures, addressing inequities that exist on paper and in practice. Implement training that supports action that creates inclusive workplaces for employees, while transparently including employees in the process. Long-term transformations include mentorships, task forces, ongoing training, communication pipelines, and continual redevelopment of practice.

How do diversity, equity, and inclusion policies and practices help?

There is a competitive market for talent and promotion of diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies ensures a quality workplace culture and responds to employee well-being – the top ‘asks’ for candidates. When workplaces are diverse, equitable, and inclusive, people want to be there.

Diversity, equity and inclusion are not just beneficial for the employee and the resulting retention. A diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace also has a competitive advantage.

Workplaces with these conditions boast higher innovation and are more likely to be innovative leaders in their market.

Faster problem-solving results from teams that have cognitively diverse people on them. Teams outperform individuals and singular perspective groups through better decision-making skills. Organizations see higher profits due to faster decision making with better business results.

Increased feelings of inclusion support higher employee engagement. Jobseekers are more likely to pursue and stay with organizations that support diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Brand presence increases when strategies of inclusion are increased and communicated, as they are deemed lower risk by clientele, talent, and investors.

In this moment, policy, procedure, and strategy development might seem daunting and time consuming. However, collaboration with community partners and professionals will ease this process, offer valuable knowledge, skills and insight, and inevitably reduces the endless piles of paper on your desk.

Janelle Abela founded Diverse Solutions Strategy Firm with the goal of increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in corporate settings, while comprehensively benefiting the organization, employees, and clientele.  Do you have questions about diversity, equity and inclusion? Connect with Janelle Abela via email: janelle@diversesolutions.ca.


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