DIVERSE Special: Diversity & Workplace

Diversity in Canadian Workplaces (3)

What are the obstacles to a better form of ¡°diversity¡± in the workplace?

Words, research & photos by Myungsook Lee



Awards, promotions, and reputations

Despite these arguments, it is obvious that more companies are paying attention to diversity, as there has been an increase in the number of training programs and awards programs in Canada. Like any other awards given to companies, diversity awards are a great way for the company to gain a better reputation amongst clients, customers and suppliers.

Hosted by Mediacorp Canada Inc., a private company, the Canada¡¯s Best Diversity Employers award recognizes employers across Canada that have exceptional workplace diversity and inclusiveness programs. With the sponsorship of BMO Financial Group and a partnership with The Globe and Mail, it is one of the most powerful national diversity awards.

Another example is the Diversity Conference hosted by Open Door Group, a non profit organization based out of British Columbia. This is the organization¡¯s first year of giving away diversity awards (see the following article for more information). Prior to the diversity conference, Open Door Group had been holing forums with medium and small-sized employers.

There are also many new groups offering diversity training for local, regional and national clients, including governments, non-profits and private companies. Often, they also host a workshop or a conference alongside the awards ceremony.

As diversity in the workplace has become a more appealing issue, there have been an increasing number of training programs and workshops. Some run by non-profit organizations include ¡°Cultural Crossroads Workplace Training¡± at the Centre for Race and Culture in Edmonton, Alberta, and ¡°Diversity in Our Workplace,¡± a half-day workshop at the Hastings Institute in Vancouver, British Columbia, which is supported by the City of Vancouver.

So far, in Canada we see most diversity programs hosted by non-profit organizations. In the USA you will find more programs than in Canada; in some cases, American organizations even offer programs in Canada. For example, a private company in the USA will host an event called ¡°Respect: The Source of Our Strength¡± on July 19 and 20 in Victoria, British Columbia.


To whom are we speaking?

Some immigrant service organizations are also working for diversity in the workplace. For them this issue is one of the most important, along with career credentials. The Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Service Agencies of BC, a non profit, has also created the ¡°Respect for All Provincial Business Advisory Committee¡± this year. Its committee members are Lindsay Marsh (Safe Harbour Program Coordinator, AMSSA), Arlette La Freniere (Canada Safeway Ltd, Vancouver Operating Area), Erin Robinson (Diversity Manager, Vancity), Anne Nickerson (The Hastings Institute and Advisor, Equal Employment Opportunity Program, City of Vancouver. Her photo is on page 21 beside Bruce McNamara as award giver), and I as publisher of DIVERSE magazine. The long-term commitment with the ¡°Respect for All¡± program is to encourage private companies to participate in Safe Harbour workshops, which will provide an opportunity for increasing awareness about the diversity in the workplace.

Another immigrant service organization, the North Shore Multicultural Society, made a video project called the ¡°Small Acts Big Impacts Video.¡± DIVERSE attended its launch on March 22. There were screenings of two short videos focused on the community and workplace inclusion of new immigrants. The video presentation revealed the barriers facing visible minorities who want to be part of Canadian workplaces.

Immigrant service organizations often encourage private sectors to work more actively on diversity in the workplace through hiring visible minorities. Yet often, the audience receiving this encouragement is made up of those who already advocate for diversity and those who are working for diversity groups, which brings up the question of ¡°how do we speak, and to whom?¡± For diversity in the workplace, the connection between the private sector and designated groups is the most crucial part in order to have better results.


Do you have a long-run plan?

DIVERSE attended the BC Nurses Union Human Rights & Diversity Conference held on December 9, 2011 in Vancouver. According to Frank Gillespie, RN, Education & Diversity Officer at the British Columbia Nurses Union, the conference is held to facilitate awareness of issues around diversity within their membership, achieved through self-reflection and time spent talking extensively with others. The conference actually targets members of the BCNU 4 equity caucuses: visible minorities, Aboriginal people, workers with disabilities, and lesbian, gay, and bisexual workers. He added, ¡°Our leadership believes in the value of diversity and recognises that within our membership we have a very diverse population.¡±

As Gillespie says, continual education, sharing and understanding might be needed for better results regarding diversity in the workplace. It may be a burden for those who are not ready to adapt, but it can also be very exciting to be part of this new change.


PHOTO 1:  North Shore Multicultural Society¡¯s video project, ¡°Small Acts Big Impacts Video,¡± addresses barriers of immigrant workers and was launched March 22, 2011.

PHOTO 2:  Gweneth Crook (seated), Disability Consultant, and Trudy Deichen (standing), Business Strategy Administrator at the Ministry of Social Development, BC Government, are leading a workshop giving an overview of the BC Labour Market at the BC Workplace Diversity Conference.

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DIVERSE 5th Issue

We are pleased to announce that DIVERSE 5th issue, Summer  2011 has been released.  

12 Diversity in Canadian Workplaces What are the obstacles to a better form of ¡°diversity¡± in the workplace?

- Open Door Group

- BC Workplace Diversity Inclusion Awards

6 BC¡¯s Diversity through 30 portraits



2 ThePower of Exchange A Historic Collaboration between Germany¡¯s

Premiere Art Collections and Canada¡¯s First Nations

28 Ezra Kwizera  Born in Uganda to Rwandese refugee parents, Canadian Musician and genocide  survivor speaks on the art of  forgiveness and of adapting to Canadian culture

42 Dana Claxton  

The Mustang Suite: Questioning mobility, freedom and autonomy 


24 Gung Haggis Fat Choy in Vancouver, BC: The Diversity of Canada      

38 Denise Brillon Breaking barriers in the fashion world



32 Pysanky¡¯s Resurgence

Joan Brander¡¯s contribution to the renaissance in traditional

Ukrainian egg art


10 Publisher¡¯s Note

27 Benefits of being a bilingual writer

31 Canadians come in all differences



35 News Briefs on Multiculturalism

36 Publisher¡¯s Picks


You Can Order Here.


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    DIVERSE......"Each person is born into a unique culture. All deserve respect.¡±