While this is commendable, we continue to see evidence that many employers haven't yet mastered Human Rights 101 ... which leaves us to wonder how do you get to Diversity and Inclusion without mastering human rights?
Once hired, there are workplaces in which employees are refused accommodation based on disability, religion and family status -- often because managers don't know their legal obligations under human rights legislation. There are also workplaces in which harassment occurs and is allowed to continue even when the manager is aware of the inappropriate behaviours.
In all our work, we continue to insist that an inclusive organization needs to be built on a firm human rights foundation -- this means complying with accessibility, accommodation, and workplace violence, discrimination and harassment prevention standards. This includes training all managers and employees, providing ongoing education, ensuring policies and practices are discrimination-free, and having a good process to investigate and resolve complaints when they do arise.
It is clear that not all employers, large or small, are on the same page -- or in the same chapter -- when it comes to Diversity and Inclusion. Even within the same organization we see some managers implementing cutting edge approaches to hiring and managing employees, while also seeing some managers with who insist on hiring in their image and resist any organizational effort to diversify the workforce. When we see these contradictions within the organization, it is clear that the organization's vision, policies, processes and behaviours are not aligned and not grounded in human rights.
Without this foundation, the organization is building a house of cards. Even with a strong stated commitment to Diversity and Inclusion, the organization will breed cynicism if employees come to work and experience harassment on a daily basis, see that managers only mentor employees who look like them, or that they only hire employees who "fit".
Organizations also need to consider the damage that one human rights complaint can make to its public image of being an "inclusive" employer. It only takes one very public complaint for this carefully crafted reputation to be left in tatters.
While aspirational statements are needed to lead the organization on its journey of Diversity and Inclusion, the real work of creating a diverse workforce and inclusive working environment begins from the ground up -- embedded in a strong foundation of compliance with human rights legislation.