40% of Canadians don’t know whether employers offer diversity programs: survey

Nearly half (40 per cent) of Canadians don’t know whether their employers offer diversity and inclusion programs, according to a study by the Smith School of Business at Queen’s University and Catalyst Canada.

About two-thirds (69 per cent) of respondents said they have a favourable view of these programs. However, 33 per cent of male respondents said they believe these initiatives are no longer necessary, whereas 20 per cent of women said they are. As well, men (58 per cent) are more likely than women (43 per cent) to believe Canadian society is sufficiently inclusive.

“As a leading business school, we know the importance of developing leaders who can create and manage diverse and inclusive teams,” said David Saunders, dean of the Smith School of Business, in a press release.

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Polling 1,000 working Canadians, the study found 65 per cent of women said they feel they can be authentic at work and don’t need to pretend to fit in at work, while 79 per cent of men reported the same. This discrepancy vanishes when organizations have diversity and inclusion measures in place, the study found.

“At Catalyst, we know an increasingly diverse workforce powers innovation and measurable success,” said Tanya van Biesen, executive director of Catalyst Canada. “And while companies may be investing in diversity and inclusion initiatives, they can’t achieve their full impact if more employees don’t know about them.”

Read: Employer intentions, actions on diversity don’t align: report

Through a partnership, the Smith School of Business and Catalyst Canada will be focusing on three areas of improvement for these initiatives — a corporate discussion forum, research and training.

The school’s faculty will be leading a new research hub aimed at gathering the input of Canada’s companies to further examine the issues of diversity and inclusion. In addition, Catalyst Canada is helping develop programming on topics for working managers, which they’ll be able to take through the university’s executive education offerings.

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