Last week the Human Resources Professionals Association of Ontario (HRPAO) and G-FORCE, a Canadian human resources agency, released their Corporate Diversity Assessment report showing that although 70 per cent of companies have vision statements that outline diversity in the workplace, 74 per cent of companies failed to hire staff dedicated to diversity. “With respect to becoming inclusive workplaces, we have made some progress but there is still some way to go,” says Claude Balthazard, Ph.D., director of HR Excellence at HRPAO.
Robert Paul, chief strategy officer of G-FORCE, says while diversity is becoming better understood, companies are not devoting any resources or energy to implementing long-term objectives.
Diversity is essential for any company that wants to get ahead, says Paul. Research shows cultural diversity can provide better solutions for complex tasks. When a group of individuals from many backgrounds are put together to solve a new problem, the range of solutions proposed can be as varied as the group.
However, hiring a diverse staff isn’t enough. Paul suggests companies be open to re-thinking internal environments so if they hire someone, the environment is conducive to retention.
“It is not too helpful to hire someone, promise them the world, invest in training only to lose the individual because they did not feel comfortable due to their background, their religion, their age, or their sexual orientation. Not changing the internal environment defeats the process of reaching out.”
Why should we be concerned with diversifying corporate Canada? Because by 2011, projections shows 950,000 jobs won’t have employees, says Paul. Competent employees will see rising wages from increased competition for their services.
Companies will need to look at ways to retain employees beyond money, which does not buy loyalty.
“Companies that think outside the box to change their internal environments will retain more employees and be able to better attract job-seekers. By marketing themselves to new groups that were not previously targeted, companies can identify new pools of talent,” says Paul. “Companies will have to educate themselves on what foreign credentials actually mean as opposed to presuming they are inferior to local schools. Quite often, the reverse is true.”
Kavita Gosyne, 26, is a vibrant young journalist. She writes about her transition from student to employee and the issues she faces such as office politics.