Happy Multiculturalism Day!
In 1971, Canada became the world’s first country to declare multiculturalism an official national policy. We didn’t stop there. In 2002, the Canadian Government designated June 27th of each year as Canadian Multiculturalism Day. Since then, Canadians have gathered across the country to celebrate our richly diverse population and the unique qualities that contribute to our cultural mosaic, a mosaic we believe makes us a better, stronger and happier country. At its best, our citizens take pride in their country and participate in what it offers, while at the same time retaining and celebrating their ancestry and their unique ethnic, religious, gender and cultural differences in an atmosphere of acceptance and tolerance.
This isn’t the first time we’re talking about diversity in the workplace and how it contributes to an organization’s success. It’s become increasingly clear that diversity and multiculturalism are no longer a nice-to-haves, but an organizational necessity. Companies simply can’t compete in their marketplaces without a diverse workplace – culturally and in every other way. Nor, in 2016, should they.
Statistics Canada estimates that 200,000 immigrants a year from countries around the world choose Canada as their home. That speaks loudly to our quality of life, the level of acceptance, and opportunities available. Further, it’s projected that 8.5 million people who are visible minorities will help us celebrate our nation’s 150th birthday in 2017. Stats Canada estimates the number of immigrants living in Canada on that date at 7.7 million and predicts that by 2013, immigration will account for all net population growth.
workforce diversity: the fresh face of employment in canada
The most successful companies have integrated workforce diversity into their corporate vision. They provide mentorship, networking, and career development opportunities. They create, update and execute regular inclusiveness training. They establish in-house diversity councils and committees, and assign leadership roles. They target for hire those diverse groups in which their research shows they are lacking. And they adapt their interviewing and hiring criteria as necessary to ensure opportunities are available to everyone.
Smart businesses that successfully manage a diverse workforce by recognizing, respecting and celebrating its cultural differences benefit in many ways. They know that if they’re staffing from a diverse hiring pool, their client base is also reflective of that diversity. They understand that differences are not to be feared but welcomed and encouraged because they generate energy, creativity, outside-the-box thinking and a broader, non-homogeneous knowledge base - all critical to any industry but particularly so in these times of constant change and threats from disruptive technologies.
Companies that have a well-entrenched diverse, multicultural hiring strategy are reaping the benefits of their forward thinking. They attract, hire and retain the best employees available from all demographics, which helps build immunity against employee shortages and economic downturns and makes them attractive companies to do business with locally, nationally and internationally. That’s because they really do ‘speak the language’ on all the levels that count.
Over 5 million households in Canada are non-English speaking; these people work somewhere, have contacts and networks, vote, shop, take their kids to hockey practice and dance class – just like their English-speaking fellow Canadians. So regardless of how you celebrate Multiculturalism Day, take a moment to reflect on who we are as a nation, how we operate at home and on the world stage and how the world sees us. You’ll see it’s impossible to separate who we are individually from who we are as a nation. And that’s a good thing. We’re very lucky.