The key driver for diversity in the workplace is to gain valuable new insights and perspectives through diverse and even divergent perspectives. This is the ingredient in workplace innovation and performance discussed at length in Forbes Insights. In Alberta, we have a lot of ‘untapped’ diversity within a couple of growing groups; they are in fact the fastest growing minority groups in Canada.
Indigenous people and people with disabilities are the two most under-represented demographics in Canada. Employment accessibility, or lack thereof, is about a variety of issues and barriers, the least of which are physical. Systemic barriers and attitudinal barriers are far more prevalent – though generally less understood than barriers in the built environment. Many recruiters and employers know the ‘what and why’ of diversity and inclusion but the ‘how’ part continues to present challenges.
The annual Community Futures Treaty Seven Employment Event provides opportunities for recruitment leaders to build their knowledge and capacity in key areas of inclusion, while connecting with a wealth of resources and services to assist in their diversity initiatives at work. This year’s event is based on curriculum co-developed by Narcisse Blood, an esteemed Niitsitapi (Blackfoot) elder, teacher and film-maker who passed tragically in 2015. The ‘So That You Know’ curriculum represents an Indigenous perspective on disability and workplace inclusion as well as an opportunity for non-Indigenous people to more deeply understand the specific strengths held within this diversity group.
First Nations communities endure high rates of unemployment for a number of reasons. Economic development is low in no small part due to the fact that the Canadian government does not collect the same employment participation information from First Nations communities as they do from all other Canadian communities. This incomplete economic picture prevents investment and action. This is one example of the kind of quiet, systemic barriers between talent and the workforce. It’s also a barrier that can be mitigated with an investment of time to build knowledge, capacity and relationships.
We hope you will join us on May 9th for this engaging, interactive event around Indigenous diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
-Sean McEwen; Director – Calgary Alternative Employment Services