With all the financial pressures and time constraints currently being experienced by industry, government and corporations, why would any of these organizations want to take time to conduct Diversity Training? And yet it is one of the most important things that you can ever do in the workplace.
From a business perspective, it is understood that budgets, business plans and strategic planning are crucial to the success of any organization. This type of planning focuses on the financial and business side of the organization and provides the leaders and employees with a compass or direction.
Concurrently, Diversity Training focuses on the employee or people side of the organization thereby improving human resources issues such as: productivity; reducing absenteeism; and reducing high staff turnover. Just as a budget provides insight and clarity for the financial side of the organization, diversity awareness promotes mutual understanding among the employees.
“In 1971, Canada was the first country in the world to adopt multiculturalism as an official policy…The 1971 Multiculturalism Policy of Canada also confirmed the rights of Aboriginal peoples …. The Canadian experience has shown that multiculturalism encourages racial and ethnic harmony and cross-cultural understanding.” (http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/multiculturalism/citizenship.asp)
Diversity can pertain to perceived differences such as: race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies. Diversity Training or diversity awareness does not need to be complex or complicated and could be as simple as recognizing each other as equals, a strong component of the Indigenous pedagogy which I proudly carry as a Lodgekeeper. I believe that harmony among all peoples is essential as demonstrated by the medicine wheel given to us by the Creator. The four colors of the medicine wheel that I promote represents the four largest cultures on earth, i.e. yellow in the east for our Asian brothers and sisters; red in the south for our Indigenous brothers and sisters; black in the west for our Black brothers and sisters; and, white in the north for our Caucasian brothers and sisters. My personal conviction is that it has always been the Creator’s intention for the four main tribes of Mother Earth to come together, to share together and to work together, hence the term ‘all my relations’.
Were you aware that “Most human rights complaints come from the workplace…Legislation outlines legal requirements of employers; however, the greater goal is not just about legal compliance but nurturing a cultural of acceptance in our workplaces.” (http://hrcouncil.ca/hr-toolkit/diversity-legislation.cfm)
Diversity Training is an investment in your employees and therefore ultimately an investment in your company. It can be as simple as giving your employees a chance to get to know one another in an off-work setting. I like to equate it to a pot luck. The guests coming to a pot luck all bring something different, something unique from their family. All the guests attending the pot luck really appreciate and relish in the different dishes. It would be so rude for one of the guests to point out that they did not like another person’s dish or that somehow the other person cooked it wrong. That would not be pot luck etiquette. If we do not like another person’s dish, we simply do not put it on our plate. By celebrating our differences, we can add richness to our lives.
If your employees feel valued and understood, their desire to excel in the workplace increases. Absenteeism is reduced. High staff turnover also decreases. This raises your company’s productivity which of course is reflected in your company’s profits not to mention your corporate social responsibility. In summary, similar to how much you value your budget panning, mutual understanding through Diversity Training is an integral part of your company’s success.