Delving Into Diversity: The HR Imperative

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By Raluca Manolache

Diversity in such a multicultural city as Vancouver is a given. It is also both an opportunity and a challenge for businesses of all sizes – especially for those in HR seeking to attract, motivate, develop and retain the best of all worlds.

Understanding what diversity means can increase your awareness on how to work in a vibrant cultural mosaic. “When you think of diversity you can think of race, culture and accommodating people with disabilities,” says Arturo M. Duran, senior inspector, Ministry of Provincial Revenue. “Diversity is about working with people and the challenges they face.” 

Moreover, according to Gayle Hadfield, owner of Hadfield HR, diversity can include attitudes and ideas, as well as “age, education and respect.”  Regarding the relationship between business and diversity, Hadfield is adamant. “It’s not something that is aside it, it is something that is embedded within your business.”

Managing diversity and inclusion is not an option but a necessity. HR strives to effectively recruit and train personnel in order to help overcome differences and achieve successful results. Attracting, retaining and developing a diversified workforce encompassing a wide variety of attributes skills and is a necessity in a constantly changing global market. 

Timothy Lytle, human resources coordinator, illustrates a very relevant connection in between diversity and human resources. “HR has been thrust to the forefront of many business operations, due in part to the impact of the major issue of diversity in society and the workforce,” he said.  

Considering all the facets of diversity, Lytle admits, “HR currently faces a whole host of issues in the workplace.” He continues noting that these issues only begin with recruiting and selecting personnel with diverse backgrounds. “HR faces the considerable task of developing working environments that are appealing, and conducive to achievement for people of all types and backgrounds.” Understanding organizational needs in convergence with the ‘people’ needs as well as presenting them with suitable incentives presents an utmost challenge to human resources practitioners and the businesses they support. 

“Diversity training covers some of the things we don’t speak about because we are uncomfortable,” said Fern Moran, field-recruiting specialist. For example, different levels of harassment are not only difficult to face but also challenging to address. What is customary in an organization may be difficult to change because of the overall cultural acceptance of the idea that “that is how we do things around here”. 

One of the biggest challenges, as identified by Cindy Rogers, manager of human resources for the North Vancouver District, is communication on all levels. Language and technological barriers impinge on the way everyone communicates in the workplace. For example, there are unintentional consequences of cultural segregation at work when certain cultural groups communicate in their own language.

In order to overcome these barriers, it is helpful to set clear goals and expectations and offer appropriate training. The staff working for the District of North Vancouver has undergone ‘Respectful Work Training’. Furthermore, employees have a chance to participate in international potluck events that include games, music and trivia. 

Denisa Kubricka, an ICBC recruitment specialist, pointed out that diversity training helps in recruitment as well as in job design and evaluation. According to Kubricka, awareness is the first step towards understanding diversity. 

Valentina Natcheva, an HR management graduate from BCIT, agrees with the need for both training and awareness: “We don’t really learn about diversity in our day-to-day life. It is relevant to understand how diversity varies at all organizational levels.” 

The need to understand and factor diversity is critical at all levels within an organization, particularly since the levels of diversity, notes Georges Gracieuse, principal for Vital-HR, tend to decrease the more you move up the hierarchy. In order to work towards business sustainably, HR needs to sustain diversity.

A member of the BC Human Resources Management Association (BC HRMA) and current BCIT HR management student, Raluca is actively working towards her CHRP designation. She received a Bachelor of Arts from Simon Fraser University, with specialization in Sociology and French. Raluca has past experiences in the Federal government and non-for profit organizations with specialization in Human Resources support, mock interviewing, training and counseling, workshop development and delivery, resume and cover letter client feedback and support, compliance of procedures and guidelines/legislation, research and publishing. She is currently a volunteer for the La Source, a multicultural and bilingual newspaper available in numerous locations in Vancouver and online at http://www.thelasource.com/.

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  1. Good post. TELUS has done some great work, too, in the land of diversity and inclusiveness. The ERG (employee resources group) called Spectrum for the LGBT employees really took off last year, and TELUS has introduced new stores (CAYA – Come As You Are) targetted at the gay market.

    Inclusiveness is an area that often gets lesser attention. Even though an organization may have diversity, are they being included in the decision-making at all levels?

    Cheers!

    • Raluca Manolache May 30, 2011 at 9:04 pm · · Reply

      Thank you! The work that Telus is doing seems very interesting and I would be curious of the feedback it receives.

      I foresee organizations moving towards inclusiveness at all levels in order to keep up with a competitive global marker. However, it would be a very interesting topic to research next.

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