Evelina Silveira, President, Diversity At Work in London Inc., Author of Diversity and Inclusion on a Budget: How to have a more engaged and innovative workforce with little or no dollars.
“When I grow up, I’m gonna marry a tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief, doctor, lawyer or Indian chief”.
In the 70’s, this was the skipping song we chanted as little girls. The goal was to land on the “rich man” or the “doctor”. Any other kind of a husband signaled a doomsday marriage. Fortunately, a lot has changed for the better and our evolving language has captured the humanness, equality and the need for all people to be included.
In this effort to restore equity to groups which have been on the margins forever, have we in the process gone too far with creating other inequities in the workplace? I think that we have. We are a long way from having a balanced workforce. Let’s take a look at some typical examples you find in the workplace. Is your workplace guilty of any of these?
• You don’t have a Christmas celebration in the workplace even though over half of Canadians identify themselves as Christian and even those who don’t still celebrate some aspects of Christmas. • You appease the demands of one group in the workplace at the expense of the other, because you don’t want to be labelled as a _______. • You withhold information that could advance social change or contribute to the betterment of the community because your findings shed a negative light on a group or groups of people. • You allow behaviours from certain groups of people who you would never allow from others. • You ignore performance issues from people of designated groups because you don’t want to ruffle any feathers. • Diversity of thought and politics are not permitted.
In these cases, we are talking about “Fear” which seems to be the norm in organizations that have swung too far on the left of the pendulum when it comes to political correctness. Legislation for sure makes people scared; there is more of it now than ever before. Many organizations let too many behaviours slide because of the fear of law suits and complaints. It is better to take proactive steps at creating workplaces that everyone can work in, instead of trying to police everyone’s thoughts, words and actions.