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Workplace


MANAGEMENT


Embracing the Cultural Mosaic Is your team culturally diverse and inclusive? Here’s why it should be


MANY ORGANIZATIONS cite diversity as one of their core values and gloss over issues of inclusiveness as someone else’s problem, but just pop by their offices around lunchtime and what you see might tell a different story. “In day-to-day interactions, people still tend to congre- gate with people who look like them,” says Wendy Cukier, vice-president of research and innovation at Ryerson University in Toronto, and founder of The Rotman School of Management’s Diversity Institute. “They’re not deliber- ately trying to exclude others, they’re just following behavioural patterns they’re probably not even aware of. Who you did — and didn’t — have lunch with will tell you a lot.” It’s called unconscious bias, it’s the


16 | CPA MAGAZINE | JUNE/JULY 2016


biggest hurdle to creating a culturally diverse workplace and it’s everywhere. “In spite of some progress in the past five years, racial minorities and immigrants are still excluded from informal networks and continue to face discrimination and barriers to advancement,” Cukier says. Recruitment and hiring, for example,


are anything but bias-free. In 2012, researchers at the University of Toronto studied hiring practices in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver and found that applications submitted by people with English-sounding names were 47% more likely to receive callbacks than those with Indian or Chinese names in Toronto, 39% more likely in Montreal, and 20% more likely in Vancouver. It happened regardless of work experience, education


or language proficiency. In many ways, this subtle, subcon-


scious discrimination is a lot harder to tackle than the overt kind, Cukier says. “Even though organizations often employ a lot of rhetoric around inclusivity and diversity, when you look at what’s happening at ground level, it’s just not translating into action,” she says. “It’s something companies have to work hard at to overcome, but it can be done.”


Why you need to diversify With a continued focus on globalization, having people with local knowledge is invaluable when you’re trying to open into new markets or do business with international companies, Cukier says. And given Canada’s culturally diverse demographic, if you have employees who don’t look like the clients you’re serving, it puts you at a disadvantage. “There’s a lot of research that shows


Sandra Dionisi


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