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Achieving equity in gradual, incremental steps

Many of us who work in large organizations, regardless of our positions on the hierarchy, often desire to help others in the organization. 

There are many ways to do this. Some people in positions of responsibility choose to mentor others and subscribe to the “Lift as you climb” motto. Some others choose to work at changing policies to try to make the workplace more accommodating and equitable for people from diverse backgrounds. 

Once you have been at your organization for a year or two and are past your probationary period you may want to gently ask about your company’s equity practices. Perhaps the best one to start with would be the company’s accessibility policy since all companies are required by legislation to be accessible to persons with disabilities. If the company does not have an accessibility policy you may want to inquire from Human Resources if and how these accommodations are made and offer to sit on a committee to look at developing policy. 

Another gentle inroad into developing equity practices is to inquire if the company has a diversity committee. Sometimes these are excellent and sophisticated committees that look at all aspects of equity and inclusion and help management to develop good programs and practices that bring in excellent workers of diverse backgrounds who help the company flourish. Other times these diversity committees may be nothing more than just a social committee that marks cultural celebrations with food, music and fun. Although this latter type of committee may not be ideal it is at least a starting point. 

Join the committee and work at improving the goals from just celebrating heroes and holidays to actually beginning to lobby for the removal of barriers for people from diverse backgrounds. This may be the committee that asks the company to develop some basic equity policies. The provincial Human Rights Office or website provides good information to get started or you could do your own research into other companies’ policies as starting points. There may be samples of accommodation policies for persons with disabilities; or harassment and discrimination prevention; or customer services guidelines or respect policies.

Many organizations, especially educational organizations, have found that engaging their employees in dialogue about equity and inclusion leads to the building of excellent infrastructures for a more inclusive and representative organization, more engaged employees and hence better productivity. But be sure to judge the safety of any move that you plan to make. If your management is not ready to listen then you may want to wait until you find an ally in management. In our next article we will take a look at the benefits of intercultural dialogue in a world that has become increasingly polarized by politics, strife, greed, war and inhumanity. 

 – DR VICKI BISMILLA

Dr Vicki Bismilla is a retired Superintendent of Schools and retired college Vice-President, Academic, and Chief Learning Officer.

Posted: Nov 30, 2017

December 2017





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