Managing Diversity

Change Management: Best practices on  Managing Diversity


In the recent more optimistic past, many organizations have been able to utilize their hiring ability to create a more diverse workforce. Such organizations have learned how to use diversity effectively as well as to gain a competitive advantage. If this is your organization, customers will expect the same sensitivity to their needs that you have always provided, and will continue to expect that your workforce will reflect the community. Following the latest fluctuations of the economy, what strategies are available to retain the diverse workforce that brought your organization to where it is?


5 Key Strategies:


  1. Try to avoid “last hired – first fired”. Following a layoff procedure based on strict seniority is likely to diminish the diversity you worked so hard to increase. Should downsizing be necessary, look for substantive criteria such as skill sets and productivity, on which to base your decisions. If you are a federal contractor, you will continue to have to comply with numerical requirements for designated groups (women, racial minorities, persons with disabilities, aboriginal people). Special program provisions in Human Rights Codes may also assist in designated group retention.
  2. Resist the temptation to target older employees. They represent the corporate memory, they are the story tellers, the trainers and the mentors. Not all 50- plus workers are dreaming about retirement. Some may find a package attractive while others may wish to transition out slowly – e.g. a shorter work week – and still others plan to continue working as long as possible. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms has legally done away with the notion that careers end at age 65.
  3. Review your internal employment policies and procedures to ensure fairness and equity in job competitions, promotion and training. Ignoring differences and refusing to accommodate them is a denial of equal access and opportunity. Reinforce with managers that employment accommodation is not just for good times but is required under most human rights codes. Accommodation includes ensuring that buildings, washrooms, entrances etc. are fully accessible and responding employee needs created by disability, family status and religion (creed).
  4. Communicate ( preferably from the CEO) your diversity policy, corporate ethics and values and make sure announcements and any new policies are rooted in these value statements. Employees will be listening for consistency, starting from the top, which in turn can help calm a turbulent atmosphere.
  5. Ensure your internal human rights and anti-harassment policies are functional and that everyone is aware of them. Should disputes arise, consider the use of third party neutrals as complaint investigators and mediators in order to emphasize corporate fairness and integrity.



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