To kick off the start of Pride Month in Ontario, we encourage you to make sure your workplace policies are up to date and address the important values of equity, diversity, and inclusion. While most employers know discrimination in the workplace on any protected ground within the Ontario Human Rights Code is a big no-no, equity, diversity, and inclusion may not always be top of mind in the day-to-day running of a business. Promoting these principles within your company creates a safe and welcoming workspace and promotes different perspectives, innovative ideas, and greater collaboration and is important for the retention of the talent you have.
Meaningful Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion:
In order to properly promote these values in a workplace, we need to first understand what each of these words means. By way of definition, diversity is about a workplace’s composition, inclusion ensures everyone has a voice and is heard, and equity is making sure everyone has what they need to succeed. This does not mean employees are all treated equally. Employers need to be aware of disadvantaged or vulnerable workers and ensure they too have fair opportunities at work.
Creating Inclusive Workplace Policies:
A great way to ensure your workplace is on top of current diversity, inclusion, and equity protocols, is to have a specific policy in place to address these values. It’s important and recommended that this policy also address these principles within your company’s recruitment process. Having a specific policy in place not only promotes a safe space, but also can help with a company’s reputation, marketing value, and overall customer loyalty. Whereas on the flip side, any accusations of discrimination or a lack of diversity and inclusion in a workplace can have a major negative impact on the reputation of an organization.
Required and recommended policies include:
- Anti-Discrimination, Anti-Harassment, and Anti-Violence Policy (Required)
- Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Policy (Recommended)
- Progressive Discipline Policy (Highly recommended)
While an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Policy is only recommended in a workplace, it’s important to note that an Anti-Discrimination, Anti-Harassment, and Anti-Violence Policy is required. Among other grounds, every employee in Canada has a right to be free from gender identity and sexual orientation-based discrimination and harassment in the workplace. This is a right! Make sure your workplace has up-to-date policies addressing this, as well as a plan for discipline if these policies are violated.
Top Tips for Making Your Workplace More Inclusive:
- Provide diversity and inclusion training.
- Ask for employee feedback and organize check-ins.
- Create events and space for inclusivity.
- Use gender-neutral language – do not assume someone’s pronouns. Always ask if you are unsure.
- Ensure access to a gender-inclusive washroom (easily done with a single-user washroom).
- If you have a dress code, remember one size does not fit all and do not assume someone’s gender or what they will be comfortable wearing.
Do you have questions? Get in touch to make sure your workplace policies are up to date and following current legal requirements, or check out our DIY Workplace Law Bundle or New Employer Toolkit for detailed policy checklists.