Why should diversity matter? I thought long and hard about the answer. The United States has been more sensitive to the issue. See the recent survey in Amlaw. On a micro level, professionals with a different perspective can elevate “your game.” I have a perfect example of two new professionals in a service industry. Laura and Jean-Claude both had similar experience (under 5 years) in the industry, but otherwise they were like apples and oranges. Laura was attentive to detail, but J.C. was a totally different character. He had grown up in the U.K. but spent his formative years in France. Admittedly he was a downtown fast talking guy. But his approach to his profession was so analytical that it was almost scientific. I enjoyed working with him immensely, and I think it was based on his ambition, his intelligence and his street smarts. He knew about other cultures and their idosyncracies, which at times made me laugh.
J.C. and I live in Toronto where one day soon we will be in the majority, and calling us “minorities” will be a factual error. Immigrants or foreign born people are concentrated in 3 major cities in Canada and the trend is intensifying.
But the population has not caught up to the fact. The legal community is always talking about how to incorporate women more, but I have not see any Canadian survey done on diversity and hiring minorities. I look around my law firm which is still dominated by white males.
The local chapter of Special Libraries organized an event on “Exploring the diversity agenda : What does diversity mean for our organizations, profession and Canada” but it was postponed. I don’t know the official reason, but it may have been apathy. I waffled about going or not, eventually signing up. There was 1 member who wanted the event to be free as he or she felt it was such an important issue.
And, to get political, I worry about Canada and Canadians if we don’t become an inclusive society. I draw a direct line from disaffected youth to radicalized youth, like those in Toronto 18, who could hatch a plot against Canadians on Canadian soil. Diversity issues are everybody’s issues.
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Tags: diversity, minorities, workplace diversity