'The actions or inaction of staff, and the implicit company or industry culture, can make or break diversity in a workplace'
While there’s been a big push around diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the workplace over the past few years, Canada still has a long way to go, according to a recent survey.
Half of working Canadians (54 per cent) say that they have observed instances of discrimination towards other employees. This includes less than equal treatment based on their race, colour, religion, sexual orientation, or anything other than their skill.
Women are 10 points more likely than men to observe discrimination, and those who identify as a visible minority are 16 points more likely to observe an instance of discrimination, finds a survey by market research company Abacus Data.
Close to half of working Canadians (45 per cent) say that they’ve experienced discrimination themselves. For visible minorities, the number leaps to 65 per cent, 26 points higher than those who don’t self-identify as a visible minority.
A separate report from ADP Canada released in late 2020 found that despite increased efforts around diversity and inclusion, many working Canadians continue to experience discrimination.
Belief in leadership
Despite the alarming numbers, many employees (63 per cent) say that the leadership team at their organization believes in a culture of inclusivity and values the importance of diversity in the workplace (61 per cent), finds the Abacus survey of 691 Canadians.
And most workers believe that their employer does a good job providing equitable treatment for:
- people of colour (67 per cent)
- women (68 per cent)
- LGBTQ+ (63 per cent)
- Indigenous Peoples (61 per cent)
- religious beliefs (69 per cent)
- political opinions (66 per cent)
And a majority of employees believe that their employer has done a good job in:
- having a safe and trusted way to discuss any discrimination/bullying in the workplace (62 per cent)
- providing appropriate training and policies to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace (62 per cent)
- modelling the right behaviours themselves (64 per cent)
- providing appropriate training and policies (62 per cent)
However, those who feel there is discrimination in their workplace are 20 to 30 points less likely to say their workplace ensures equitable treatment for these groups, finds Abacus.
And for each of these programs, there is about a 20-point difference in scores between those who’ve experienced discrimination (themselves or as a witness) and those who have not.
“Everyone can have the same diversity rules in their handbook, but the actions or inaction of staff, and the implicit company or industry culture can make or break diversity in a workplace,” says Oksana Kishchuk, consultant at Abacus Data.
“These subtleties aren’t the same everywhere. That’s why it is so important to collect feedback from employees, to understand what’s working and what can be improved on when it comes to diversity and inclusion, and beyond.”