Living in Canada, we are surrounded by diversity – economic, geographic, cultural, and ethnic diversity. With all of this diversity in our midst, it is a bit of a wonder how society can at times be reluctant to embrace it. Perhaps I’ve become more attuned to the concept of diversity since it has been the subject of a recent project, but it seems that everywhere I turn these days, there is some mention of diversity – the cover of the current issue of Maclean’s Magazine, the upcoming focus of the next Contact Point newsletter, or the recent CANNEXUS conference.
After spending the past month steeped in a diversity project, I have come to appreciate the importance embracing diversity has on employee engagement in the workplace. For engagement to work from a diversity perspective, employees need to be able to bring their “whole self” to work, without any fear of how their disabilities, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, age, etc. will affect how they are perceived. This in turn will allow employees to more fully engage with their job, increase productivity, and ultimately, lead to greater job satisfaction.
When an employee feels unable to come to work freely, without feeling emotions that could include discomfort, shame, dread, fear, this negatively impacts their ability to perform their work to their fullest potential. It seems that more and more companies are beginning to adopt or considering creating diversity policies and programs, recognizing that doing so is helpful to the bottom line. Because we live in a diverse society, hiring diverse workers and embracing our differences creates workplaces that better represent the diverse range of customers and clients, and will ultimately lead to increased employee engagement.