What does inclusivity in the workplace look like to you?
Last week, we posted a question on social media asking “What does inclusivity in the workplace look like to you?” We received various answers from our followers on Twitter and Facebook accounts. Ray on Facebook said, ‘It doesn’t matter where you come from or who you are, there is a role for you and acceptance in the workplace”, while Valerie tweeted “ a spot for everyone regardless of race, shape, ability!!!” What we noticed is that the responses to our question all shared a similar theme by using words such as acceptance, unity, respect, empowering, acknowledging, and ability. According to Webster’s dictionary, the definition of inclusive is: “Covering or including; open to everyone; not limited to certain people.” It certainly seems that our followers are aware of inclusivity, and know what it means to be inclusive, but the greater question is, are we actually practising what we preach?
In the province of Alberta, The Alberta Human Rights Act, which can be read here, states that “…it is recognized in Alberta as a fundamental principle and as a matter of public policy that all persons are equal in: dignity, rights and responsibilities without regard to race, religious beliefs, colour, gender, physical disability, mental disability, age, ancestry, place of origin, marital status, source of income, family status or sexual orientation.” Interestingly enough, however, is that the statistics provided by Employment and Social Development Canada, which can be found here seem to tell a different story. According to their website, “In 2006, the unemployment rate for Aboriginal people was 14.8%, approximately 8.5 percentage points higher than the national average of 6.3%. People with disabilities (8.6%), lone parents (8.1%), and recent immigrants (12.3%) also experienced higher than average unemployment rates.”
So why are these individuals experiencing higher unemployment rates than the average Canadians, especially since something like the Alberta Human Rights Act exists? Could it be that our hiring processes aren’t particularly inclusive? How can we make it more inclusive?
Researchers at Cornell University presented a brief at the Innovative Research on Employer Practices: Improving Employment for People with Disabilities, titled “Disability Inclusive Recruitment and Hiring Practices and Policies: Who Has Them and What Difference Does it Really Make?” Although the research was conducted by an American University, the survey questions used could easily function for Canadian employers as well. The survey asked respondents eight questions about their recruiting and hiring processes, and sought to find out information such as whether their organization actively recruited people with disabilities, if they had relationships with community organizations that promoted employing people with disabilities, and if they included people with disabilities in their diversity and inclusion plan. They discovered that the three most inclusive types of employers were larger organizations, federal contractors, and nonprofits. They also found that organizations that had practices such as internships for people with disabilities, and a strong commitment from senior management were much more likely to hire someone with a disability.
Judging by the responses we received from our followers, it appears that we know what being inclusive means, and that we also want to be inclusive. The next step is to take that want and turn it into a need. We need to be inclusive in our recruiting processes. We need to be inclusive in our hiring practices. We need to be inclusive in our workplace.