Categories
Voices of our Nation

Language diversity

Workplaces should strive to diversify their workforce by focusing on recruiting and hiring workers of different cultural backgrounds and nationalities. Employees with a variety of cultural background in the  workplace can offer benefits such as a broader range of perspectives and a greater ability for the workplace to compete globally.  Diversity can be an asset to workplaces when it is managed properly. However, introducing an assortment of languages and cultures into a work environment can create workplace barriers that must be overcome.  Workplaces need to adequately address language issues to allow employers and employees to effectively work together.

Cultural and language differences can prevent effective communication and workplace interaction. Workers who are not fluent in the primary language used in the workplace may have a significant difficulty expressing their needs or responding to requests from their employers or coworkers. If their job involves customer contact, they may have difficulty understanding a customer’s questions and provide incorrect or misleading information. A customer who is unable to clearly understand the worker due to a heavy accent or lack of command of the language may become frustrated and take his business elsewhere. Employers may face the obstacle of having to adapt their management style to meet the needs of workers from a different culture. Workers from some countries often believe that asking a supervisor questions is a sign of disrespect and that they should simply do as they are told. A employer may become frustrated with the lack of input from these employers and develop strategies that creates a workplace environment where each employee’s suggestions are encouraged and valued.

A diverse workforce could also lead to the formation of various groups where workers of similar cultural backgrounds or who speak the same language bond together. These employees may be reluctant to have any social interaction with those outside of their group. Employers and employees must recognize that there is a problem so that solutions can be developed that allow for better communication within the workplace. English is a complex language and non-native English speakers must often make a constant effort to understand the language and to be understood. When employees are unsuccessful understanding the predominant language these employees may feel inadequate and powerless. These are feelings that can interfere with their job performance and satisfaction. A patient, understanding employer can go a long way toward preventing or relieving such feelings. It is very important that employers and employees communicate effectively with each other to allow the workplace to run efficiently.

This article was contributed by volunteer blogger Shan Simpson.

Categories
Voices of our Nation

Diversity vs Equality

Equality is ensuring individuals or groups of individuals are treated fairly and equally with no less favourable treatment, specific to their needs, including areas of race, gender, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation and age than any other employee receives. Diversity recognizes, respects and values peoples’ differences to contribute and understand their full potential by promoting an inclusive workplace atmosphere for employers and employees. It is essential that our culture respects and includes people from different backgrounds. An inclusive workplace would help organizations to create better products, spread new markets, and gain more resources which will strengthen the organization.

Workplace equality and workplace diversity are very different concepts. However, equality in the workplace is largely dependent on an acceptance of diversity in order for there to be equal treatment in the work environment.  An equality of opportunity means that qualified people have the same chances of landing a job, being promoted, and contributing ideas that are acted upon in the workplace. Workplace equality can be promoted by examining the hiring and promotion practices to ensure that minorities have as much opportunity as non-minorities. In addition, an organization should have strong policies that ensure employees treat each other fairly. Workplaces should have zero tolerance for discrimination and harassment, equal pay for equal work, and reasonable accommodations for their disabled employees.


Every employer and employee should be willing to accomplish their fair share of the work in workplaces. My previous employers have fairly worked with me to ensure that I was able to complete the assigned tasks while still maintaining an equal workload that was reasonably comparable to the workload assigned to other employees. Those experiences have taught me that communication is a very element that assists workplaces to be successful.  However, there still are some significant accessibility that could be better addressed which has caused less employment opportunities to be available to me in this American town. Progress has been made to raise awareness of workplaces issues, but certainly more effort could be made to further address the awareness of these vital issues globally within our workplaces.

This article was contributed by volunteer blogger Shan Simpson.

LEGO Brand Retail, Inc.

Categories
Voices of our Nation

How to maintain Holiday Diversity in the Workplace

Now there’s something we don’t often take into consideration: diversity in the workplace during the holidays. Since a good majority of the population in Canada is Christian – or assumed to be – we often don’t think that something so small as saying “Merry Christmas” to our fellow workers might be offensive or make them feel uncomfortable. Here are a few ways to make everyone feel equal in the workplace during the holidays!

1) Keep it minimal when decorating the office. Remember, less is more. Minimal decor includes things such as Christmas lights, while keeping in mind to avoid any lettering, unless they read “Happy Holidays.” Feel free to string up those red and green or icicle lights! Ribbons and bows are acceptable as well. Santas, reindeer, Christmas trees, nativity scenes – definite no-no’s!

2) Avoid “Secret Santa.” Seriously. Unless you know for sure that everyone in your office is a devout Christian, then you run the risk of offending that guy who sits in the cubicle next to Joanne who may be, say, a Jehovah’s Witness (hint: they don’t celebrate any holiday, under any circumstances). Remember, Christmas is considered a Christian holiday, so think of all the other religious groups who don’t celebrate it. And while Santa isn’t mentioned in the Bible, the whole concept of receiving presents, putting up a Christmas tree, and so on, is considered to be for those of Christian faith. If you absolutely must give a few select people in the office a gift, do so discretely.

3) Giving your employees a Christmas bonus? Start calling it the “Holiday bonus.” Well, either that, or just not give them a bonus at all. However, if the entire office is putting in those extra hours just to get that bonus they’re expecting, then rewarding people with a “Holiday bonus” keeps everyone happy.

4) Change the way you greet your employees. It seems like nothing when wishing them a “Merry Christmas.” The easy solution – if you absolutely must, start wishing them a “Happy Holiday.” This applies to when you are sending out a group email at the office, or just speaking to someone face-to-face.

Your employees will take notice of you putting in the effort to make the workplace comfortable for everyone during this Christmas season. To avoid any unnecessary issues, don’t be afraid to encourage people to do the same!

This article was contributed by volunteer blogger Sara McKerracher.

Categories
Voices of our Nation

Diversity vs Inclusion

Diversity v. Inclusion. What are they? Aren’t they the same thing? Personally, I would have to say no. Diversity, to me, looks like a workplace where people of different creeds, colours, race, religion, sexual orientation, ability and gender are represented. Management decide who is hired and is a part of the team. That is how a diverse workplace is created, but this does not ensure that employees feel a sense of inclusion.

In the workplace I consider myself a minority. I am a South Asian woman and I am an immigrant.  I moved to Canada as a child, so many people find it difficult to believe that English is not my first language.  I have heard many  stories of people struggling to feel accepted in their workplace, but I have never really felt such an experience.  Throughout my 11 years in the workforce I have worked in a variety of areas; childcare, mental health and most recently, legal services.  In my experience, people have been inclusive, curious and kind.  I have been asked numerous questions about my background and culture.  Some questions were funny, “So….what is underneath the turban that men wear?” and some were serious, “How do you plan on raising your children since you and your husband are two different religions?” (I am Hindu and he is Sikh).  Personal experiences have shown me people are sometimes unaware of my cultural background and beliefs, but are more curious than anything else. I have been honest and open and have tried to answer questions to the best of my ability and usually the response I’ve received from my colleagues is, “Wow, that’s neat and different”.  The more open and honest I have been with my colleagues, the more comfortable they feeling asking me questions and expressing their feelings.  This openness and candor has allowed me to experience a sense of inclusion in the workplace.

An employer decides who to hire and that is how a diverse workplace is built.  But inclusion depends on more than just who is hired.  Employees have to be open and comfortable with themselves and their background and colleges in the work place must be respectful and open to listening.  All parties must feel heard and respected only then can an environment of diversity be sustained.  In a global world all colours, creeds, backgrounds and races are interacting with each other on a daily basis.  Inclusion in the workplace comes into fruition when respect and openness are a part of a working environment.

This article was contributed by volunteer blogger Parul Datta.

Kobo Canada

Categories
Voices of our Nation

Age Diversity and the Workplace

Age diversity is the ability to accept all different types of ages within a workplace environment. A workplace composed of different age groups creates an environment where each generation brings different skills and talents to the workplaces.  Each employee brings attributes and attitudes that have value to the workplace and each has a role to play in the success of workplaces.

Workplaces are becoming increasingly diverse in age. This increase in age diversity is creating a workplace environment that is rich with experience and maturity as well as youthful exuberance. Workplaces that employ workers in a broader range of age have the advantage of creating a dynamic workplace with a diverse range of skills.  Employers need to develop strategies that will allow age diversity to be an asset to workplaces as each employees’ potential is maximized.

Age diversity is a reality in today’s workplace, and will only increase in the future. Workplaces will be more successful when employers gain an understanding of how to effectively blend the age diversity together to utilize the full potential of each of their employees. Workplaces that encourage age diversity can inspire all of their employees to perform to their highest level of ability. In contrast,  a workplace that is heavily composed only of people in a particular age demographic runs the risk of becoming obsolete.

Every employee can benefit from being exposed to new ideas and thinking. Younger employees will typically have a better understanding of modern technology while older employees will bring more years of experience. So developing a diversity of both younger and older employees could be very beneficial within the workplace.  Interacting regularly with the different generations in the workforce can add different perspectives and an understanding of the various approaches differing generations take in the workplaces and their daily lives.  Employees of all ages can add value to workplaces, and will be important components in the diverse workplace of the future. The age diversity has improved in the modern day workplace, but employers still need to be more aware of the potential beneficial aspects of promoting age diversity in the workplace.

This article was contributed by volunteer blogger Shan Simpson.

Categories
Voices of our Nation

Critical Life Choices and Events Shaping People

Each of us have significant moments, experiences, and events in life that can change our perceptions.

Our perceptions of the world can also change as we age or mature throughout our life. People have various values, beliefs and come from different ethnic backgrounds which contributes to shaping who we are.  Every employee will usually bring specific skills into the workplace and these employees can develop additional skills through training programs that can be an asset to workplaces if employees are willing to effectively manage these skills.  Workplaces will be more successful when the strengths and weaknesses of employees are properly managed so that the workplace can maximum the potential of individual employees.

I grew up in a small town in the United States which helped me to form my perceptions of the world.

Spending a few months per year living in larger cities in the United States as an adult has changed some of the early perceptions that I had developed at a younger age and further shaped who I am as an individual. Being physically disabled has also altered my perceptions and that experience have given me a unique perception of life that may differ from the perceptions that most people typically will have in their life.  As I’ve matured I’ve had experiences that have allowed me gain a much broader perception of the world around me than I could have had when I was younger as well.  For example, my mom died of breast cancer which caused me to be less naive and made me learn to be more self-reliant. Traveling to other countries has also helped me to form different perceptions than I had prior to those experiences and my education also adjusted my perceptions as well.

It is important that employers are aware of the perceptions and skills that each employee can bring to the workplace.  Supervisors and employers need to be aware of their own skills, strengths, and weaknesses as well.  Training and management strategies must be implemented that will allow workplaces to successfully operate more efficiently while also providing an opportunity for each employee to maximize their full potential.  Diverse employee backgrounds should not be seen as a weakness within the workplace, but rather as a strength that can greatly benefit workplaces. Employers should be willing to encourage more diversity in the workplaces so that a wider variety of ideas can be developed that can benefit the workplace.

This article was contributed by volunteer blogger Shan Simpson.

WagJag (AT)

Categories
Voices of our Nation

Gender Diversity in the Workplace

Gender is normally a factor that influences the role that people have within their society.  Societies expect specific behavior patterns from the two genders.  People are expected to behave in a certain way which makes them an acceptable part of the society. The difference in these gender roles can be observed everywhere including the workplace.  Apart from the physical differences, there exist the mental differences which distinguish both the genders. Females are generally stronger in their language skills which enhances their writing skills while males are stronger in their visual skills.

Males and females have specific attributes to contribute to the workplace. Gender differences consist of both physical and emotional factors. These physical and emotional characteristics influence the behavior of males and females in the workplace. Various psychological and physiological factors allow men and women to differ in perception. These differences in perceptions can be an asset to workplaces when gender differences are managed correctly by employers. Employers should be willing to accept gender diversity within the workplace and encourage input from both genders when important decisions are being made.

Some organizations still are hesitant to maintain an adequate gender diversity within their organization. For many years the dominant group in the workforce was always men, but in modern times this has begun to change as there has been an increase of women in the workforce and upper management positions. This change has made it necessary for managers to develop practical techniques and strategies to successfully manage a more mixed gendered workforce. In many workplaces an overhaul of all operating practices would be required to retain women and enable them to take on management positions in large numbers. There still needs to be more progress made to increase the gender diversity within workplaces, but with the implementation of effective strategies gender diversity can be a significant asset.

This article was contributed by volunteer blogger Shan Simpson.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwTVf3KnDl4]

Categories
Voices of our Nation

Diversity in Disabilities

Diversity consists of the ways that people differ from each other.  There are diverse types of disabilities including physical disabilities, mental disabilities, and even emotional disabilities. These disabilities can create several challenges for disabled employees. Every person, whether disabled or not disabled, possesses diverse individual strengths and weaknesses. Workplaces obviously need to become aware of the strengths and weaknesses of each employee.   

A physical disability is a limitation on a person’s physical functioning, mobility, dexterity or stamina

A mental disability is a significant behavioral or psychological syndrome characterized by a lower mental ability than an average person. An emotional disability is a condition that, over a long period of time, consistently interferes with a person’s learning process and adversely affects the person’s workplace performance.

I was born with the physical disability Spina Bifida which has caused my lower body to be weak.

I have used a wheelchair for several years. It has also been difficult for me to find job in the small community where I live due to accessibility issues. It is also challenging for me to be as mobile during the winter months due to bad weather. However, I do have skills and abilities that could be useful within a workplace.   

Workplaces need to be aware of disability issues and address these issues properly so that the workplace can function as effectively as possible. Training is one of the most important aspects that will eventually deal with most of the factors concerning disabilities in a workplace. When a person with a disability is hired this person may require different training methods to help this person to be successful within the workplace. Specific training strategies for him to sharpen his skills faster. Reasonable accommodation is another important element. Employees with disabilities deserve an accommodation that suits their rational requirements for expected productivity. Communication with these employees is another factor you need to pay heed to. If an employee has problems with speech, ask him again what you don’t understand. Just because he cannot take active part, doesn’t mean he/she isn’t allowed to participate in activities/discussions/meetings. These strategies could be useful to allow the workplace to function more effectively and efficiently.

This article was contributed by volunteer blogger Shan Simpson.