Amid the Crowdstrike global outage, we are manually processing transactions and prioritizing clients with urgent disbursements planned for today. We invite our clients with time sensitive transactions to contact their BDC representatives directly for more information.

Amid the Crowdstrike global outage, we are manually processing transactions and prioritizing clients with urgent disbursements planned for today. We invite our clients with time sensitive transactions to contact their BDC representatives directly for more information.

The benefits of workplace diversity

The social and financial benefits of making your company more inclusive outweigh the costs

4-minute read

Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) has become an important prism for viewing your company’s hiring practices. It offers employees from diverse backgrounds an environment that is welcoming and where they see themselves growing. It also gives senior management and the rest of the company a wider perspective.

Steve Yan, Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Accessibility at BDC, answers some questions on diversity in the workplace and explains how easy it is to make your company more inclusive.

How would you define diversity?

Steve Yan: Diversity is all about bringing different groups of people together. You want to have the people in your workplace represent the communities that you serve and reflect the country we live in.

Often when we discuss diversity, it includes gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, racialized people, or those with different abilities, as these are historically underrepresented communities. Our challenge is to make sure people feel like they belong and have the same opportunities as everyone else to develop themselves in the organization.

In a workplace that doesn’t celebrate diversity, sometimes what ends up happening is employees hiding themselves to avoid standing out. They may feel they have to take on a different persona in the workplace and mimic the styles of senior leaders and colleagues. But I think that just turns your organization into one homogenous culture.

How does thinking on diversity enter into the hiring process?

Steve Yan: When encountering a potential hire, you may unconsciously make assumptions based on what your life experiences have been and what groups of people you’ve been exposed to. We sometimes consider biases as a sixth sense, a gut feeling, which can lead to you locking in on those views. But sometimes deeper self-reflection is needed, and it can be beneficial to ask yourself where your bias is really coming from.

Setting up diversity policies and programs is a way of mitigating these unconscious biases.

What are the benefits to employees when part of a diverse workplace?

Steve Yan: One of the benefits of inclusive hiring is that it can inspire others to do the same and positively impact the culture of your organization. For example, within my department, my colleagues and I brought together a diverse group of individuals and it likely influenced others to think outside the box when building their teams. I didn’t tell anyone to hire people of different backgrounds—they just naturally did it.

When you have diverse people around the table, they have different thoughts and ways of evaluating things. And that’s the richness of diversity, people speaking up and sharing their unique perspectives and ways of doing things. And it benefits employee engagement, making people feel more secure, comfortable and fulfilled at work.

A diverse workplace also creates an environment where all sorts of people can develop and grow. These are people who may not have historically been considered as candidates for a leadership role, and now management may reconsider what they can bring to the organization.

What have been some changes in office practices?

Steve Yan: It’s become more acceptable to see people with diverse abilities working from home. The technologies around hybrid work have been a driving force. These changes have made everyone realize what some knew all along; that people who can’t come into the office can be just as productive.

People feed on being near each other, but at the same time, hybrid work has given opportunities to people who didn’t otherwise have it. We know that Canada has work to do to make our country accessible, and we want to be nurturing

individuals to contribute as optimally as they can – allowing them to work in the environment that best suits them and their needs is an easy step to take.

You also have Indigenous people who want to work in their communities or give back to their communities. We need a new approach to tap into the incredible talent pools that we have been historically omitting.

The hybrid workplace allows us to hire folks in different groups, as well as engage talent in locations all across the country.

What are some of the challenges of implementing a DEI policy?

Steve Yan: You have to make sure that the policies stay true. You can’t write a policy or program without actually living it and making it thrive. So, the challenge is making sure you follow through. If we’re not walking the talk, we could easily shift back to where people don’t engage because they’re not feeling supported.

Employees will say they don’t want to work for a company that doesn’t value them as individuals. That goes for any group. You’ll start to lose some of the people you gained because they do not feel accepted.

It’s very easy for that to permeate into the community or to our customers, who will say, “They’re not really inclusive, and I don’t want to bring my business there.”

It’s important to do employee surveys and understand their experience. If we see a downward trend, we want to know how people feel and course-correct quickly. We also want to be canvasing other stakeholders and those responsible for the policy.

We have to be constantly on the ball to understand whether these policies are working.

Workplace diversity facts

  • Canada’s population is changing, according to Statistics Canada. In 2041, if current trends continue, half of the Canadian population will be made up of immigrants and their Canadian-born children. That will put added pressure on businesses to implement diversity programs so that their staff reflects the wider population.
  • Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians, according to research from McKinsey.
  • A study from the Pew Research Center found workers under 30 are the most likely age group to say focusing on DEI at work is a good thing. About two-thirds (68%) of workers ages 18 to 29 say this, compared with 56% of workers 30 to 49, 46% of those 50 to 64, and 52% of those 65 and older.

How does a small or medium-sized business become more diverse?

Start by simply asking yourselves who is not represented at the organization and look at that as a great place to start adding diversity. Look at the commonalities among your employees, and ask yourself if other perspectives are available. Actively seeking perspectives different from yours is a great starting point.

Next step

Get key insights into how to develop and enhance your HR policies with the free BDC guide, Hire and Retain the Best Employees.

Your privacy

BDC uses cookies to improve your experience on its website and for advertising purposes, to offer you products or services that are relevant to you. By clicking ῝I understand῎ or by continuing to browse this site, you consent to their use.

To find out more, consult our Policy on confidentiality.