London’s Poor Diversity Score No Surprise


Written by: Evelina Silveira, President Diversity at Work

As featured in New Canadian Media
Thursday, 27 October 2016 

A recent study published by the Western University’s Centre for Research on Migration and Ethnic Relations found a severe lack of visible minorities in leadership roles in organizations in London, Ontario. 

While the study made headlines, the findings came as no surprise to me.  I have lived in London all my life, working as a diversity consultant for 10 years. I would like to offer an explanation as to why inroads have not been made in visible minority leadership in  London, Ontario.

Flashback to about 13 years ago, when I started to work on a business plan for Diversity at Work: I interviewed many leaders in London asking them whether my idea of having a business which promoted hiring and supporting diverse candidates would ever fly?

I will never forget the answer I received from a human resources consultant who had previously held many jobs in the recruitment and leadership fields.  She said:  “Evelina, as long as there are enough white people to fill the jobs, no one will ever consider anyone else, because they don’t have to.”

Essentially, she conveyed that there really was no need to change the recruitment process and that it was too much work to do so.

A late joiner

In comparison to other cities, London has lagged behind. Perhaps it is because the jobs could easily be filled as the human resources consultant suggested, or maybe we ignore the ever-growing presence of visible minorities which started in the mid-1980’s. 

Some of our largest employers and institutions have only recently developed diversity policies, later than their counterparts in other comparable cities which have a high number of visible minorities and immigrants. I often scan the diversity plans of the public service organizations in London and it would appear that the effort or the kind of approach being used – if at all – are not producing  much in terms of achieving a representative workforce, let alone diversity in leadership. 

My observations are consistent with the findings which indicate a very low level of visible minority participation, notably 5.3 per cent on agencies, boards, and commissions.  Their lack of participation at these levels can have ramifications for how services are delivered, in addition to resource allocation. 

Furthermore, there is a tendency, especially with boards, to recruit people they know, often friends and co-workers, to fill vacancies.  This can perpetuate the lack of representation and the effort to create more diversified boards and committees.

It is startling how many workplaces have not implemented the strategies and best practices that can help mitigate these gaps. How might we explain the disconnect? There is a multitude of reasons why this occurs and this is key to understanding the problem of under-representation in London’s publicly-funded organizations.

Consider these possibilities:

·         Foreign credentials and work experience are not recognized. Generally speaking, if an applicant has not graduated from a leadership program in North America or the U.K , there is a good chance their education in leadership may not be recognized.  Leadership experience from other  parts of the world may not be taken into consideration for a host of reasons, including cultural differences in how we do business and interact with employees.  

·         Effective leadership requires highly developed communication skills:  in person, in writing and over the phone.  An internationally-trained applicant is disadvantaged if they have a pronounced accent and have an indirect style of communication.  Interviewer bias can hamper heavily-accented applicants, who may be mistaken as unqualified because they speak differently.  Across cultures, there are variations in how we conduct meetings, presentations and write reports. The Canadian standards are often learned in school or through work experience.

At civic level: zero

The number of visible minorities and immigrant leaders in municipal organizations is at a glaring zero per cent! 

Given that government organizations are held to a higher standard than the private sector to have a reflective workforce, as well as to meet Employment Equity standards, this represents a failure of implementation and consequently lost opportunities for diversifying the workforce and gaining new skills and perspectives. 

With increasing job insecurity, good benefits and salaries, public service employees are not likely to leave their jobs.  Understandably, this represents fewer opportunities for external applicants to get hired. 

It would be interesting to know if the City of London has an internal mentoring program to assist aspiring leaders.  Research consistently indicates that visible minorities and immigrants find a lack of mentors in the workplace. 

Successful leaders often attest to the significance of mentors throughout their careers.  There have been some attempts over the last few years to develop internships for immigrant professionals at the City of London. However, it is hard to know if this experience translated into permanent employment with the City.

Finally, we cannot overlook bias and racism in the recruitment and selection process, although it does not probably explain the huge disconnect between the population and their representation in the workforce. In my experience, if the leadership in an organization is not familiar with the business benefits of a diverse workforce, they are very unlikely to support and initiate programs which can facilitate the entry and promotion of visible minorities within their organizations.

Evelina Silveira is the President of Diversity at Work in London, a three-time award -winning firm which specializes in creating inclusive workplaces and diverse customer bases.  She has co-authored two globally acclaimed books and is the publisher of the Inclusion Quarterly.

The “Over-Qualified Bias”: What does this mean to employers and candidates?


MP900443225[1]Evelina Silveira, President, Diversity at Work in London,co-author  The No-Nonsense Guide to Workplace Inclusion

The topic of implicit bias has become increasingly popular in diversity and inclusion discussion circles.  Racial, gender, ability, age, cultural and other biases often play a part in deciding whether a  candidate is interviewed, offered, retained and promoted in a job.  Have you ever taken into account that an “over-qualified” label can also have serious ramifications for both your organization and the candidate?

With global unemployment as an epidemic, it naturally makes sense that many applicants may apply for work they have done before, with ease and for an extended period of time.  When these individuals then go to apply for a job which  is similar to what they have done before they are considered “over-qualified” and thus overlooked.  When employers go the “over-qualified” route, they believe that this is a nice way to let applicants down; telling them in a nutshell – “you are too good for this job”.

Next time you consider dismissing an applicant because they are “over-qualified’ it is worth reflecting on the following points:

  1.  The candidate applied for the job and this means they are interested just as any other.
  2.   You may think they are overqualified but they might feel otherwise.
  3.   They may be fine with lateral moves – not everyone wants to climb the corporate ladder.
  4.   They are looking for a less stressful job that they can balance more easily.
  5.   They have outside interests which they may want to devote more energy; and that is why they have chosen to apply for a job which they can perform easily.
  6.   An overqualified candidate can be your best asset. They can bring industry experience which can help your organization soar.
  7.   Do you want to eliminate a candidate from the pool because you fear they will take your job?
  8.   Different people approach work differently. This means that the candidate may find a new way of doing the work that will make it more stimulating and thus more inclined to stay.
  9.   You may be getting more value for their work.
  10.   Over-qualified is a label associated with mature workers. Could you be prejudicing the employment of mature workers?
  11.   Not all over-qualified people demand high salaries which is an assumption that is made all to often.

Before you think a candidate will be “bored in a second and gone in a minute” try some probing questions in the interview to determine whether the risk is high.

  1.   Where do you hope to be in 2 years?
  2.   What are you hoping to learn in this job?
  3.   What motivates you at work?
  4.   What is the ideal job for you?
  5.   What are you looking for in a job?

You may find the job is a perfect match for the candidate you have slotted as “over-qualified”.  There is no guarantee anymore that an employee is going to stay with a company for 10 years.  But realistically, job seekers are not doing a lot of job hopping when there are few options to go to.  If you are concerned their skills are not adequately being used asked them for suggestions.  With work experience under their belt they may make a fantastic mentor which is an exceptionally good way to recognize their value.

 

CHRR2159-16 HR_readers choice_div-emp-equity

The Guide to Workplace Inclusion


Preview and Purchase at www.yourdiversityatwork.com/ebook/

Read  below what others have said about our book:

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ENDORSEMENTS:

This is an important and timely book for those who want more inclusive workplaces. It moves seamlessly from concepts and terminology and translates them into practical and actionable ideas. All readers, no matter where they are on their diversity and inclusive journey, will find something valuable in this book. Evelina Silveira and Jill Walters have created an impressive resource that includes examples of promising practices from across the globe. This should be every HR professional’s companion!

~Ratna Omidvar, executive director, Global Diversity Exchange, Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University

The No-Nonsense Guide to Workplace Inclusion provides a thorough and engaging roadmap of the journey toward organizational inclusion. The authors write from a position of rich, credible experience, with the result that this Guide can help companies capitalize on opportunities and skirt problems on the road to fuller inclusion of an increasingly diverse workplace. Filled with examples and evidence-based solutions, this Guide is a valuable tool for any organization working on building and strengthening its culture of inclusiveness.

~Alison Konrad, PhD, professor of organizational behaviour, Ivey Business School, London, Canada

Managing diversity and creating inclusive workplaces can seem like a daunting challenge for many organisations, but Evelina and Jill have produced a really accessible, highly practical guide to help organisations get going. What we particularly liked was that it was packed full of real examples and illustrations and lots of useful links and tools.

~Tracy Powley, director, Focal Point Training and Consultancy Ltd, United Kingdom

Because inclusion is one of the core values of the USTA, it is important for me to lead, motivate and work well with individuals of diverse backgrounds, capabilities and interests in order to achieve the outcomes we’ve set for ourselves. This book is a great resource for any organization looking to create a successful culture of inclusion.

~D.A. Abrams, chief diversity & inclusion officer, United States Tennis Association/ author, Diversity & Inclusion: The Big Six Formula for Success

This book goes a long way in addressing the systemic discrimination faced by the LGBTQ2 community in the workplace. It tells you what you need to do and gives you the resources to do it. It makes it easy for any workplace to become more inclusive in their hiring, recruitment and retention practices. I highly recommend it for every workplace.

~ Deb Al-Hamza, past president, Pride London Festival/ diversity social worker, Children’s Aid Society of London & Middlesex

I think this book is very comprehensive! There is very valuable information from ‘Foundations for creating an Inclusive Business Environment’ to ‘Best Practices in Diversity.’ I see the value for small to medium businesses that lack a dedicated human resources professional or lack the experience with implementing policies and procedures to promote an inclusive environment; however, larger businesses can also benefit greatly from the examples, detail and strategy offered. I will continue to visit many of the resources offered in the future and have made note of some of the examples.

~Lesley Oliver, diversity & accessibility coordinator, Equity & Human Rights Services, University of Western Ontario

The book is strategic, concrete and to the point. The various examples make it relevant to readers and practical. I also like the fact it is rooted in personal experiences and takes a holistic approach. The book makes one reflect on what is not obvious, helps avoid assumptions and discusses unconscious bias.

~Magali Toussaint, international career and cross-cultural coach/ diversity professional, Netherlands, http://about.me/magali.toussaint

 

 

 

 

Mature Workers: Staying Relevant


By: Evelina Silveira, President Diversity at Work in London Inc.

I hadn’t seen Jeff for over 30 years, since we had worked together as teenagers but somehow we recognized one another as he left the employment centre. Stopping to say hello, he recounted how he was recently laid off as a sales rep from a food manufacturer and was coming from a support group for mature workers. I hesitated for a moment and replied with: “ I can’t believe it Jeff, we are mature workers!”.   “Wow, that makes me feel old and I really don’t understand why we would need a special group!” We both agreed that at our age we were really at our prime, having gained so much knowledge and skills. Why would these assets present such a dilemma for employers?

I guess it has to do with how we perceive mature workers. Are all of those stereotypes really true? Cranky, bitter, burnt-out technology dinosaurs. This seems to be the basis for the majority of complaints. Are they really warranted? While working on an assignment with a call centre, I had a chance to test this out. I noticed first-hand why my client was unable to retain their mature workers. The rapid pace of the computer-training was too stressful and they quickly became disengaged, alienated and embarrassed by the younger trainees. I could see how it would have been beneficial to take more time in the training and “nesting phase” (time before you go live ).

Spending more time on the front end would have actually saved on training costs and protect their reputation as an employer. Having a separate training strategy for mature workers would yield better results : creating higher retention and loyalty. Consistently, I saw mature workers quit  before they were put on the chopping block.

With three generations now working together for the first time, we must find ways to integrate them all for the survival of our organizations. It is estimated that approximately 41% of the working population is between the ages of 45 and 64 (up from 29% in 1991), and this percentage will continue to increase over the coming years.   This is an astounding number we cannot ignore. It requires a new shift in workplace and societal attitudes challenging our perceptions regarding aging.

Given how common is ageism,  mature workers must also do their part to stay relevant and informed about the trends in the changing workplace:

Refrain from being overly judgemental about the younger generation’s work habits and expectations. Taking this approach will automatically distance you from them and this will only make you appear older and resistant to change.

Look for opportunities where you can work with younger employees. Many younger workers often lament a lack of mentors in the workplace. Keeping an open-mind may make you someone they can turn to for advice. Conversely, they may be able to help you acquire or understand some of the latest trends that can be beneficial to your work –including technology and social media.

Familiarize yourself with your rights and obligations as a mature worker. Recognize that in some types of jobs which require physical work you may notice a drop in your ability to perform. You may be asked to perform other work.

Avoid getting pre-screened out of a job interview. Only include the last 10-15 years of your work experience and leave out the dates of your education except for recent courses. If you have 30 years of work experience listed on your resume, the screener can easily do the math!

Be open to learning and taking any required professional development. It demonstrates engagement and your interest in staying with your job and being productive. Be honest about the kind of training you need and what approach works best for you. Many mature workers often benefit more from one-to-one or small group training over larger groups especially when it comes to learning technical skills.

Avoid the temptation to parent your co-workers. As you get older there is an increasing possibility that your supervisor will be younger than you. Taking this approach will only work against you as it undermines their talents as a boss.

Stay in touch with the language trends. If you don’t know what something means ask. Remember the language you use speaks volumes about your ability to adapt. Talking about the “good old days” creates exclusion.

Challenge your own biases about ageing and ageism.   Do you carry biases of your own that may prevent you from being your best at any age? Do you let biases about younger workers get in the way of promoting and hiring them?  Age is increasingly referred to “as just a number” and you can be the inspiration to others who decide to remain in the workplace longer.

Rewards & Recognition –Excerpt Chapter 6


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Authors:  Evelina Silveira and Jill Walters

I will never forget one of the first meetings I had when I was just starting my business. I met with a young financial services manager who was rethinking how the company was rewarding its top performers. He noticed that nothing much had changed with their rewards program over the last 20 years, even though the demographics of his sales team were completely different.

He told me that the standard reward for the top performers was an all-expense paid holiday in Las Vegas. No spouses were allowed. Predictably, the week consisted of drinking, gambling and the like. Typically the only people who would attend these events were Canadian-born males.

Eureka! He came to realize that something was not working. His workforce demographics had changed considerably. The same-old-same-old was not going to wash. Not only for him, but also for his top performers who were now comprised of women, single parents, immigrants, religious minorities and those who liked to take a vacation with their spouses instead of leaving them at home.

If he continued with the historical trip to Las Vegas every year, would he really be rewarding all of his top performers? No. Most would not want or be able to attend. And what effect would this have on employee morale and feelings of inclusion?

Bottom line: Critically examine your rewards and recognition program and see if it is truly inclusive.

Rewards & recognition ideas

Special recognition pins, thank you letters, gift cards, time off or a write-up in your company newsletter don’t cost a lot, but they show that you have made an effort to reward your employees. Here are some more ideas:

  •  offer prime parking spaces—free! for a month!
  • hold contests with prizes for the best and most cost-effective reward system
  •  install a diversity & inclusion suggestion box in your workplace for employees where you can post problems or issues you would like to address and employees—even those who may be too shy to speak up or who wish to remain anonymous– can submit their ideas and may even be awarded a prize if theirs is considered the best
  •  ask your top employees what they need to succeed, extending that privilege to all employees, contingent on job performance

In her book, Care Packages for the Workplace- A Dozen Little Things You Can Do to Regenerate Spirit At Work, Barbara Glanz discusses more low cost and no cost ways to make employees feel appreciated valued and respected.

Consider how you would feel if you received the following types of recognition from your boss?

Business Cards
Ensure everyone in the organization has a business card reflecting the uniqueness of the employee it represents. Consider adding a quotation, a motto or a graphic.

Handwritten Notes
Send a handwritten note to at least one employee each week. Pick one consistent day of the week to get it done. You could recognize the special contribution this person has made to the creation of a better workplace.

Success Stories
Collect company success stories on video or audiotape. Interview the people involved. It is a great way to demonstrate company pride and to introduce your organization to a new employee. Put the two-ton policy manual aside. Instead offer them a recorded compilation of your success stories. It makes them feel included right from the beginning and reinforces what a welcoming team they’ll be working with.

The best sources of recognition and rewards are tied specifically to the needs and interests of the recipient. There are a number of online programs and checklists for free that you can use that make a busy manager’s job much easier. Take a look at the following website. It’s filled with alignment tools, worksheets and more.
http://bit.ly/1tZf25z

Evaluating a rewards & recognition program

Imagine for a moment that you are a financial services manager and the time has come to evaluate your rewards program. As a result, you discover how to reward and recognize more employees in more meaningful and perhaps cost-effective ways.

With that in mind, here are five questions to keep in mind when you are putting together a rewards and recognition program:

1. Are the criteria for rewards, incentives and recognition transparent?

Check at least once a year to ensure employees in all divisions are aware of them. Mention them during your employee orientation and in your employee communications.

2. Is the process for recognition well understood by all?

Supervisors and departmental managers can be responsible for this. If people don’t understand the process, then it is not a fair one.

3. Does the staff person still want to be rewarded and recognized in the same way this year as in previous years?

Maybe last year they received a day off, so maybe this year they would prefer a gift certificate.

4. Do you have a yearly plan in place which analyzes the relevancy and fairness of the recognition, incentive and reward programs?

Here is an opportunity for you to check with various departments and staff in different positions to see if the rewards are really what they want, and if they feel that they are truly attainable.

5. Is this the best way staff wishes to be rewarded?

This is an important question to be asked, either when a staff member first comes on board or as part of their orientation package. Some people, for instance, don’t like public displays of recognition. Make a check-list.

One of the biggest morale busters I have seen as a corporate trainer is when an employee felt that he could do the training but the company hired a corporate trainer instead. This can spell disappointment for the employee and may even lead to a sourness that spills into the diversity training session in ways such as discrediting the trainer or hijacking the workshop.

As a result, what could have been a worthwhile experience is spoiled. Trust me, if you don’t want to use an employee, at least give him a reason why or try to involve him in other ways that can help nurture his interest and competencies.

Ultimately, your goal is to create a culture of inclusion where the top talent you’ve hired is engaged and feel they can be themselves, where creativity and innovation are fostered and encouraged, and where the process is effective and yet cost-effective. As we mentioned before, juggling all these balls can be a daunting task.

Copyrighted 2015 Diversity at Work/Diversity Partners

Five Easy Actions for a More Inclusive Workplace


Evelina Silveira, President, Diversity at Work  co-author  No-Nonsense Guide to Workplace Inclusion

Workplace inclusion can seem like an elusive goal. Does it really have to be that way? Whether you have a strategy in place, or take small steps with bolder ones along the way—it will pay off! Here are a few ideas, they don’t take a lot of effort and best of all you can start them today!

1. Add a voluntary self-identification check box in your application process.

Who’s applying? Who is not? Self-identification will provide you with vital statistics for human resources planning. Case in point: if you start to see a pattern that only men are applying for a job, barriers could exist for women. This is worth investigating. Organizations are increasingly expected to reflect the communities they serve. Voluntary self-identification is one way of obtaining this information from the front end. Be sure to outline why you are requesting the information and how it will be used.

2. Add a diversity and inclusion section to each of your staff /leadership meetings.

Injecting awareness and instructional information into your workplace on a regular basis is a significant reminder, diversity and inclusion is an integral part of your operations. It is not an add-on but just as crucial as health and safety awareness.

3. Ask your generation Y (Millennials) for their opinion.

Seems strange? Not really! They are dying to hear from you. These workers have had diversity as a natural part of their landscape. They have expertise and want to be acknowledged for their opinions. Find out what they think you could do to make the workplace better and ask them to help out with building a strategy.

4. Thank an employee.

Each week send a handwritten thank you note to an employee recognizing their work. How long does it take? The busiest person on the planet has two minutes to thank an employee. Isn’t a good employee worth the time? Your recognition will go a long way with boosting morale.
5. Inform all staff about professional development and promotional opportunities.

You are probably thinking we do that already so what’s the big deal? Consistently, research points to the fact that visible minorities, women and immigrants are often left out of the loop when it comes to growing and developing in the organization. Workplace equity begins with giving everyone the same information and organizational opportunities.

Motivated to learn more about workplace inclusion? The No-Nonsense Guide to Workplace Inclusion can show you how to do it. Endorsed by business management schools and diversity practitioners, it’s all you really need.  Visit http://www.yourdiversityatwork.com/ebook/  to preview and purchase.

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