Connecting to your most important resource

Connecting to your most important resource

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Contributors:

Faten Alshazly, WeUsThem

Cover Image Credit: Faten Alshazly, WeUsThem

This past July, WeUsThem had the honour of being recognized as a Top Diversity Employer by Atlantic Business Magazine (a Halifax Chamber member). This recognition speaks to our greatest resource: our people! So, for this issue of Business Voice magazine, I would like to share what I believe are successful approaches to how we should truly bring DEAI into the workplace.

Parity and diversity on your staff and board

I talk about diversity a lot, not just because I am from a visible minority, but also because it is a key aspect of how we fill our talent gaps — and because it’s the right thing to do! We need to look beyond what we have seen in the past. If we do, I believe that we will find an entire untapped talent potential that can be brought into our organizations with fresh perspectives.

But many employers looking to increase the diversity of their workforce may feel stuck at the start. They may look to building policies and processes to ensure they are doing it right — but there is no singular “right” approach. Give yourself permission to make mistakes, but also give yourself the accountability to act — and act now!

The federal government launched the 50 – 30 Challenge as a framework to accelerate diversity actions in Canadian businesses and organizations. It asks that organizations aspire to two goals when it comes to the makeup of your board or senior management: 50% women and/or non-binary people and 30% from equity-deserving or underrepresented groups. The Halifax Chamber was an early adopter of this challenge and encourages our members to reach the same goal. The 50 – 30 benchmark is a goal, but it’s not the ceiling. Getting different perspectives around the table is invaluable in conducting good business.

Policies that work

As I noted before, don’t let the development of policies bog you down — act now. You can build policies with your workforce collectively as you evolve. Agree around the table that you will make mistakes and will promise to continually learn from each other as we grow and evolve. That said: does your workplace have a respectful workplace, DEAI, psychological safety, or similar policies? If you do, when were they last updated?

Policies should never sit on a shelf. They need to be living, breathing documents with actionable guidelines that can change when you need them to — not just when the policy document states you should. Be sure to revisit your policies regularly to ensure they still align with your people, goals, and practices.

There are a lot of experts in our city to help you with all of this, but in my experience, common sense approaches that are informed by collective brainstorming go a long way. Reach out to the experts if you need to, but remember to include those that will be impacted by these policies to get their perspective.

Camaraderie and celebration

Another reason we were recognized by the Atlantic Business Magazine was the level of camaraderie we have cultivated at WeUsThem. One way we have done this is by hosting or joining intentional celebrations of cultural festivals unique to our individual employees. This isn’t just because we want our employees to feel included, but also for our own cultural knowledge and education, which continues to grow each day.

Cultural knowledge is not just a fun exercise to explore the kaleidoscope of what the world has to offer. As an organization that has clients in six continents, this knowledge helps us in our daily business practices, engagements, and operations.

Recently, I had the pleasure of getting a note from Patrick Sullivan (CEO, Halifax Chamber of Commerce). Patrick wanted to get some information on what the Chamber could do to support individuals attending our events during the month of Ramadan (a month of fasting for Muslims). This note meant the world to me! It showed leadership to acknowledge that he did not have all the information, but recognized that something needed to be done, so he reached out to someone who had the knowledge. This is action — and yes, we will make mistakes, but let’s do so collectively while enjoying each other’s unique perspectives.

As an organization, your people are your most important resource. Their unique attributes, cultural norms, and ethnicity matter. Enjoy them and understand that they are the key drivers of your success and innovation. If you have stories or suggestions to share, please connect with me at:

weusthem.com


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