Building a Foundation for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace

Building a Foundation for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace

Every employee should feel like they belong and are accepted in the workplace

As a business owner, it is your responsibility to build a foundation for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. Learn what you are responsible for and why it’s so important in today’s business arena.

  • Ethical Responsibilities in the Employer-Employee Relationship

Many businesses are so focused on performance and profits that they often don’t realize that they don’t have a proper ethics policy in place to promote and foster diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. This type of oversight could be impacting your business profits and success more than you may realize. It’s also your responsibility as a business owner or leader to ensure that all employees in your organization are given equal opportunities, regardless of their race, religion, marital status, sexual orientation or physical health.

In fact, there are certain laws and acts in Canada, such as the Human Rights Act and The Employment Equity Act, as well as the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, that make it mandatory for organizations to establish policies for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace. If your company is falling short when it comes to DEI and a complaint is filed, you could face fines, penalties, and your reputation could end up being seriously tarnished.

  • Importance of Inclusion

Every employee should feel like they belong and are accepted in the workplace. Not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it’s good for business. Studies have shown that companies with inclusive practices have a higher performance matrix and better revenue per employee. When there’s a real sense of belonging and acceptance among all the employees in a team setting, everything becomes easier – engagement, collaboration, creation, and retention.

  • Importance of Diversity

Along with inclusion and a sense of belonging, organizations also need to make sure that their teams are diverse. Diverse workforces perform better and generally outperform their competitors. What makes diversity such a driving force for success? Organizations with an open door to all applicants are able to attract top talent that leads to a cycle of increased returns. In fact, the statistics on this are mind-blowing. Companies that are more diverse for gender, ethnicity and race, outperform their competitors by a long shot. 

  • Importance of Equity

Equity in the workplace ensures that everyone receives the same opportunities for advancement, which helps encourage motivation and productivity. Organizations that have made a strong effort to increase prospects for different ethnicities, women, and LGBTQ+ groups in the top levels of management have also seen positive returns compared to those that have not made such an effort.

  • How to Create a Safe and Inclusive Workplace

It’s not as difficult as one might think to create a diverse, inclusive workplace that offers all employees the same treatment and opportunities. It starts at the top. The leadership team must develop programs and policies that encourage equity for all. Then they need to walk the walk. This includes employing methods to attract and retain a diverse talent pool and having checks and balances to ensure that everyone is treated fairly. Having a way to measure your progress, educate leaders and employees on (DEI), and obtain feedback from your employees on how to improve, should be an integral part of the process. Once the policy and frameworks are set, DEI should be integrated into the company’s core values. Hiring an HR manager passionate about inclusivity can help your organization implement any necessary changes to ensure that your company is staying true to this vision.

Processes and Procedures That Can Improve DEI

If you’re looking for some ideas on how to meet your ethical responsibilities in the employer-employee relationship, here are common DEI practices to implement in the workplace:

  • Make your workplace accessible

Can your workplace be easily accessed by those with mobility devices? Are there opportunities for blind or hard-of-hearing citizens to join your company? Inclusion should go beyond race, religion, and gender to include those with disabilities as well.

  • Include multilingual signage in the workplace

Are all your signs in English? Technically they should also be in French in Canada, but if you want to really show your employees that you care, include multilingual signage in the workplace.

  • Conduct diversity training at all levels

Your leadership team and all employees should be trained on diversity, equity, and inclusion to ensure your company’s values are clear and that they understand the repercussions if they go against any of the policies set in place.

  • Include holidays for other religious beliefs

If you have a diverse team, consider adjusting holiday / vacation schedules so that all of your employees can take time off to celebrate their faith-based holidays.

  • Set up casual mixers so team members can get to know one another

People tend to fear what they don’t understand, which is why people tend to experience discrimination because they are simply misunderstood. If you have a diverse team that is struggling to collaborate or interact with each other, try setting up some team mixers. Giving your team time to get to know one another can quickly change the dynamics.

  • Use a whistleblower hotline so employees can report their concerns about racist or unethical behaviour

Creating a DEI-friendly space is just half the battle. You also need to have a way for your employees to raise concerns or report unethical behaviour in the workplace, and for your HR team to address any complaints professionally. The best way to do this is by implementing a whistleblower hotline.  

How a Whistleblower Hotline Can Help

A whistleblower hotline is a confidential channel for your employees to voice their concerns without fear of reprises. They can call in or fill out an online form to report wrongdoing, discrimination or violence in the workplace anonymously. The system will then notify the appropriate senior-level managers so that they can investigate the claims immediately. Having an anonymous hotline like this speaks volumes. It tells your employees that you not only care about having a diverse and inclusive environment, but you also take discrimination and violence against other employees seriously. A whistleblower hotline also ensures that problems are handled internally and that staff do not feel deterred to report something unjust or illegal.

Does your organization have a whistleblower hotline? We can help you stay compliant and build a strong inclusion, equity and diversity foundation that will propel your business forward.


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photo Amanda Nieweler
About the Author
Amanda writes for WhistleBlower Security about ethics, compliance, workplace culture, and whistleblower hotlines. Amanda brings her nearly two decades of risk and compliance experience to the WBS blog where she is dedicated to helping people and companies promote speak-up cultures.

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