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Asking the right questions: Diversity and inclusion in the workplace

Written by: Richelle Matthews, COO
August 13, 2020

“When we are approaching diversity, equity and inclusion, one thing is to make sure you are looking at the right problem,” the founder and CEO of Lunaria Solutions, Cassie Myers said during a recent panel hosted by Global Talent Accelerator. Rather than only asking questions like, “how are we going to stop anti-black racism within our office?” we need to address the root of the problem. The question should not be, “why are we not getting any black applicants?” but rather, “why are we not creating a place where people of colour want to work here?”

Unconscious bias is a major issue affecting companies and by shifting our questions we can break down the unconscious biases that exist when hiring and see how it stifles diversity and inclusion.

1. Discuss it, but with care: It is important to be aware of cultural differences and not view them as a barrier or fear the potential for conflict. But instead, we can take it as an opportunity to learn more about different cultures and backgrounds. Myers says in the webinar, “now that Black Lives Matter has been getting the attention it deserves, we are seeing that a lot of safe spaces are being created for communities of their own.” Myers discusses creating a space to talk about race and ask questions as well as opening up the idea that it is important to have these spaces with appropriate boundaries.

Myers also said that if you are curious about these topics that it is important to do the research and the work yourself as it will help you engage more effectively in conversations surrounding race. Thirty-eight percent of Canadians have experienced racism in the workplace, the problem is long from being solved, but with more individuals self-reflecting and educating themselves, we can get closer to eliminating racial bias in the workplace.

2. Make a plan: We need to start by identifying the company practices that are causing a culture that is unwelcoming, discriminatory, or racist. Dr. Leeno Karumanchery, co-founder of MESH/diversity shares that often when it comes to diversity, people tend to look at it from a surface level perspective. Karumanchery discusses how we now have the science and technology to back up diversity and inclusion strategy to allow companies to hire with purpose and direction. This is so that diversity and inclusion can now, more than ever before, be a part of more professional policies and practices.

3. Amplify people of colour’s stories: This includes people of colour’s triumphs and struggles so that their experience can be better understood, and can start to be better represented within places of work. We cannot move forward by simply discussing unconscious bias when it comes to hiring, we need to have diverse teams and know how to work within them.

It’s now not enough to say that companies do not see colour, but hire diverse persons and know-how to work within diverse teams. There are countless resources to use, stories to listen to and actions to be taken. With over 15 million full-time workers in Canada, the workplace is where the largest number of people gather every day. The more that companies make the effort to diversify, the closer we will get to hiring practices improving, with real policies put into place so that discrimination during the hiring process can be eliminated. People can not discriminate when the workforce becomes more diversified and does not cater only to certain groups of people.

If you would like to know more about unconscious bias when it comes to hiring, watch this panel to learn more.

Written by: Megan McClure, Marketing at Global Talent Accelerator.