Capital Context: Diversity Matters
Creating a competitive edge for Canada’s Capital Region
by Sueling Ching
Ottawa, our nation’s capital and the heart of our country has an opportunity to be known as a global, iconic city by embracing diversity and ensuring inclusion. Never has the time been so right to expand on our country’s reputation for multiculturalism to include all differences in abilities, backgrounds, gender, and thinking in a meaningful way.
We have a responsibility to lead and level up true inclusion so that our community may realize its full potential and create prosperity for generations.
It is time for a movement. We need a ramping up of not just acceptance but appreciation for the richness that can be found between us. We need leaders to share the why and demonstrate the how. We need businesses, government, and organizations to set visions that inspire others and clearly set out the collective benefits of actively embracing all diversity in our neighbourhoods, workplaces, and schools. Let us not leave any resource untapped.
Any good movement requires a few key elements; WHY. WHAT. HOW.
There is a place for everyone in our community.
Thank you to the contributors of this edition for sharing your approach to diversity and inclusion, as well as some valuable best practices. The themes herein can be transferred to any business and organization as well as our community, our family, and personal networks. We are all connected. And we will all benefit when we commit to the vision of a community that is known for deep collaboration and radical gratitude. Any good movement requires a few key elements; WHY. WHAT. HOW.
Here we go!
Diversity and inclusion provide an opportunity for our business community that we must capitalize on as our economic landscape evolves constantly and quickly. Our ability to adapt, be creative, and identify new business directly correlates with our level of commitment to D&I. In fact, it is a business imperative.
Embracing diversity and integrating differences directly impacts bottom-line results.
Companies who have made D&I a priority report:
- a greater understanding of their markets;
- more efficient and creative problem-solving and;
- fewer workplace issues.
In addition, with talent shortages remaining in the top three issues identified by business leaders, access to and development of non-traditional labour pools is key. The flip side is that employees have identified workplace culture and company values as deciding factors when choosing an employer.
Finally, consumers are looking for ways to influence world change with their dollars. Many even committing to impact investing. There is no question diversity is the foundation of our future business and community development. The question is whether we will seize the opportunity.
SETTING THE STAGE
Once we fully articulate why diversity is a key strategic tool for business growth then we must set our business up for success by declaring our vision and our goals. Then measuring our progress. Our ability to leverage diversity starts with our intention.
How many women will be on your executive team in the next two years? How many students will you hire from the local disabilities program?
What percentage of your employees will report a high level of belonging? Obviously, the goals will change by business and industry however setting expectations will ensure a sustained focus, ongoing improvement, and business results.
CREATING THE CULTURE
Setting your D&I priorities must be backed up with a plan that inspires and involves everyone in your organization.
It starts with hiring practices, training, and performance management. Your commitment to diversity and inclusion must be clearly identified in your values, policies, organizational structure, and corporate social strategy.
But it is much more than just setting up the standard tools. When it comes to diversity, those of us with the best intentions still fall victim to long-standing and even unconscious biases that can influence our approach and decision making. We must actively filter all decision making through the D&I lens. Employee engagement and client feedback mechanisms should seek to identify potential issues and opportunities for improvement.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Diversity and inclusion build the foundation for individual well-being, business growth, and community prosperity. It is a complicated concept that requires a clarity of vision, leadership, and constant commitment.
It is not an easy undertaking, but it is a worthwhile one. Cheers to us. All of us.