Future of inclusion: Windmill clients share their stories of inclusion in the Canadian workplace and hopes for the future
Published October 1, 2021.
This would be a mistake.
The words mean different things.
The Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion defines diversity as “the variety of unique dimensions, qualities and characteristics we all possess.” It defines inclusion as creating “a culture that strives for equity and embraces, respects, accepts and values difference.”
Windmill clients often tell us about the transformation in their lives from continuing or restarting their careers in Canada, their income growth and the satisfaction they feel working in their chosen professions.
What’s often less talked about are the experiences they have in the workplace. Are they made to feel included within their organizations or that they belong? Are they involved in organizational decision-making and are their voices and unique perspectives valued? When employees answer “yes,” to these questions, they are likely describing the characteristics of an inclusive workplace.
We talked to three Windmill clients, Clodia, Anoop and Alexandra, about inclusion in the Canadian workplace and what the future of inclusion at work should look like. We heard that Canadian workplaces can be both inclusive and not, and their stories show us there is work to be done, but also hope for the future.
Anoop, a social worker, has had mixed experiences regarding inclusion at the agencies he’s worked for in Canada. He tells us that when he has felt included at work, it’s because colleagues have recognized his contributions and perspective.
“I’ve had a lot of positive experiences where I felt people recognized, encouraged and motivated me. In my work, that has meant collaborating with colleagues who valued my lived experience, valued my cultural background and believed these qualities strengthened my practice with clients.”
For Alexandra, a dentist, the nature of her work means that inclusion takes a different form and changes with every patient she meets. She believes an inclusive workplace comes from the individual actions of employees and the respect they show to one another.
“The workplace itself doesn’t make me inclusive or not. Ultimately, regardless of your job, if you have the skills and credentials to do a job and are treated with respect, that’s what inclusion looks like.”
Our clients agreed that the future of inclusion in the Canadian workplace is one where diverse employees feel empowered, fearless and accepted. Hiring diverse employees is a positive first step, but more organizations can benefit from further education and training in the areas of inclusion, unconscious bias and cultural sensitivity.
Clodia, a civil engineer, has had numerous experiences where colleagues devalued her because she was an immigrant and a woman. When asked what organizations willing to promote greater inclusion, moving forward, will gain, Clodia says “It will ensure that they are able to realize all the benefits that immigrants and diverse employees have to offer. There is a lot to learn from these employees.”
We agree. Our clients and diverse employees show us the value of inclusion, every day.