Diversity and inclusion is good for people and good for business. Employers are increasingly recognizing the importance of diversity and inclusion in recruiting and retaining the skills and talent they need to thrive in a changing economy. A diverse workforce can help drive innovation, improve market share, and increase access to talent. People want to work for organizations that demonstrate excellent employment practices. 

Learn more about the case for diversity from the Government of Canada’s Case for Diversity.

Diversity and inclusion efforts are not separate from other sound employment practices, a commitment to diverse hiring is just one component. For diversity practices to be meaningful, employers must also create an inclusive work culture. An open and inclusive workplace culture in which everyone feels respected, valued and safe offers a number of social and economic benefits. Employee retention and engagement, productivity, increased market share and access to a wider talent pipeline are just some of the benefits of an inclusive workplace. 

Race, ethnicity, disability and sex are common factors in diversity initiatives, but it is also important to consider sexual orientation, gender identity, and age when striving towards inclusion because they are often overlooked. Incorporate a comprehensive definition of diversity that applies to all hiring practices, including student work placement programs. Include your commitment to diversity and inclusion in all employee materials, job postings and policies. It’s also important to get senior leaders involved in workplace inclusion initiatives and commit to eliminating barriers. 

Ceridian outlines six ways to support diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Read the full article here

  1. Be aware of unconscious bias
  2. Communicate the importance of managing bias
  3. Offer diversity and inclusion training
  4. Acknowledge holidays of all cultures
  5. Make it easy for employees to participate in resource groups
  6. Mix up your teams

In order to decolonize and indigenize your hiring process, it is important to answer the following questions.

Questions about your workplace and intercultural training:

  • Does your organization have a clear sense of why they want to hire Indigenous students?
  • What have supervisors in your organization done to decolonize your workplace culture?

Questions about hiring and retention:

  • How do you intend to support an indigenous students in the workplace?
  • If applicants experience tokenization, how will your organization address it?
  • Does your organization offer any accommodations for cultural and family obligations?

For more information, you can read UBC’s “Decolonizing and Indigenizing your hiring process

As an employer to employees with disability, you have the following rights and responsibilities around your duty to accommodate.

You are obliged to: 

  • Take every reasonable step in order to accommodate an employee when they are experiencing discrimination due to a rule, practice or physical barrier in the workplace. 
  • Accommodate by providing alternative arrangements in a timely manner
  • Accommodate to the point of undue hardship (see “What is Undue Hardship?”)
  • Accept an accommodation request in good faith
  • Maintain confidentiality
  • Explain clearly to your employee why you cannot provide the accommodation, if such is the case 

You have the right to:

  • Request relevant information about the employee’s disability 
  • Have the employee be examined by your own medical professional in order to assess their accommodation needs and examine the amount of hardship that might be placed on you in accommodating the employee 

For the rights and responsibilities of employees with disability, see “What are my rights & responsibilities as an employee with a disability?” of the student FAQ.

There are four key factors that allow for an accessible and welcoming environment for people with disabilities.

  • Leadership commitment. Senior leaders in particular need to be committed to change in order to shift the culture 
  • Diversity and inclusion champions. Champions lead change and can be used to carry the message of inclusion
  • A long-term sustainable plan for inclusion. This includes a vision to educate and raise awareness among employees, review employment systems to ensure that the needs of employees with disabilities are identified and met. As well, a structured plan will help hold managers accountable for their efforts to create an inclusive work environment 
  • The ability to enable any policies and practices that are conceived within the organization. Diversity and inclusion will fall short without the implementation of long term plans and policies.

Every employee is different, with unique abilities and needs. As such, all employees, with or without disabilities, require accommodations of some sort. Most of the time, accommodations for employees with an intellectual disability or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) do not cost your business anything at all. Common accommodations are simple workplace modifications or assistive technology. As an employer, you are legally required to accommodate employees with disabilities to the point of undue hardship.

If an employee has disclosed a disability to the organisation and asks for accommodations, the employer has a legal responsibility to accommodate to the point of undue hardship. Undue hardship is defined as a non-trivial cost to the employer that puts an unnecessary burden on the business to accommodate. Undue hardship has no set formula as it is business by business and case by case specific. Some factors when determining undue hardship are:

  • Financial cost
  • Disruption of a collective agreement
  • Risk of problems with other employees
  • Size of the business and interchangeability of the workplace
  • The health and safety risks attached to the accommodation

For more information, you can read NEADS’ Duty to Accommodate and Disclosure in Employment.