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A broader view of workplace diversity

diversityWorkplace diversity efforts often focus on employees’ gender, race and ability. The Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA) wants to broaden employers’ horizons and help them see the larger picture of diversity. To show employers the way, the institute’s Risk Oversight and Governance Board has released Diversity Briefing: Questions for Directors to Ask. Author Fiona Macfarlane says:

While many documented examples of diversity focus on race and gender, the concept of diversity is broader and encompasses factors including age, culture, personality, skill, training, educational background and life experience. The influence of a variety of perspectives and viewpoints can contribute to flexibility and creativity within organizations, which can help them thrive in a complex and competitive global economy.

Is she suggesting organizations hire unskilled and inexperienced workers with poor personalities?

Probably not—at least not exactly.

At, we’ve laid out the business case for workplace diversity a few times before, but the CICA guide adds some nuance to the discussion, suggesting that directors must take diversity to heart and “set the tone at the top”. For example:

  • How does diversity affect an organization’s ability to innovate and stay ahead of its competition?
  • How can diversity improve problem solving at all levels and increase the effectiveness of risk management?
  • How will diversity come into play with respect to management succession planning?
  • What is the relationship between board diversity and board effectiveness?

There is no longer a uniform market—in Canada or around the world. Your markets and your employees are diverse and have diverse needs. The key is understanding that your market and your people are factors that continually support each other and push your growth. So when an organization incorporates diversity into its strategic planning, and its directors take on the challenge, it can gain the competitive advantage with its diverse and unique ideas, problem-solving capacity and risk management.

For detailed information on developing a diverse workplace, take a look at the Canadian Human Rights Commission’s A Place for All: A Guide to Creating an Inclusive Workplace.

You can find more information and sample policies on employment principles, employee relations, recruitment and selection, job posting, religious accommodation, accommodating disability, workplace harassment and violence, dispute resolution, fitness to work, flexible work arrangements, holidays and other issues related to diversity in Human Resources PolicyPro from First Reference. Finance & Accounting PolicyPro examines board structures, the role, rights and responsibilities of directors, succession planning and more.

Adam Gorley
First Reference Human Resources and Internal Controls Compliance Editor

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Adam Gorley

Editor at First Reference
Adam Gorley, B.A. (Phil.), is a researcher, content provider and editor. He contributes regularly to First Reference Talks and Internal Control blogs, HRinfodesk and other First Reference publications. His areas of focus include broad human resources issues, corporate social responsibility, corporate governance and government policies, information technology and labour market trends.Read more
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