Through the years, we have seen a strong business case emerge for diversity in the workplace. But broadening your talent pool to include diverse groups is just one part of creating an inclusive workplace. Equally important are the steps you take to improve individual and organizational levels of cultural competency in order to tap into the immense potential of culturally diverse teams.
Over the past couple of decades immigration patterns have been changing the face of Canada.
We live in one of the most diverse countries of the world. In 2011, one in five people in the Canadian labour force was born outside of Canada. If immigration patterns continue this way, by 2031, this number will likely increase to one in three being born outside of Canada. About one-third of Canadians speak a language other than English at home.*
Many companies acknowledge the importance of diversity, and are working to figure out what it means to them and how it affects their business. For many companies, there are three key drivers for promoting diversity in their organizations. These are:
- Customers/clients – their customer base is increasingly more diverse, and customers are rewarding companies that understand diversity;
- Talent – they want to access the best talent from the widest possible pool; and
- Performance – access to different perspectives and ideas leads to better decision-making.
But while many companies may understand the business case for diversity, and that to be successful, they need to access and hire from a broader pool of candidates, the focus is still on increasing the diversity of their population. It’s equally important to create inclusive work environments, where everyone feels welcome, can be successful and is valued in making a contribution.
As the demographics in Canada continue to change, it’s becoming more important for companies to be culturally competent. For individuals, being culturally competent means interacting effectively and building good working relationships with culturally different people. For a company, being culturally competent means providing products and services effectively to a diverse array of cultural groups.
There are clear benefits for a company to be culturally competent.
For the individual:
- An inclusive and supportive workplace
- Stronger teams
- Fuller participation
- Ability to provide more effective service
- Increased job satisfaction
- Retention of employees
For the company:
- Effective service delivery
- Increased creativity in problem-solving through new perspectives
- Minimized risk of legal complaints
- Strategic alliances within the community
- Enhanced reputation and trust
- Distinction of being a diversity leader
Yes, it is a challenge to add yet another thing to your already full plate. But think about the opportunities that await when you become more culturally competent…and what you may be losing if you don’t.
If you would like to find out how your organization can become more culturally competent, contact the Human Resources Professional Association about its “Cultural Competency Training Program”.
* Source: Statistics Canada – Census 2011
About the author:
Daria Kowalyk is a consultant who has been promoting diversity and inclusion in organizations for many years.
HRPA is organizing the “Cultural Competency Training Program” to help HR Professionals and Leaders learn about diversity and inclusion in the workplace. To learn more and register, click here.