to address harassment, bullying and discrimination
with Stephen Hammond
Tip #32 — REACH OUT TO ATTRACT A VARIETY OF EMPLOYEES
Ok, so I understand the workplace positives for reflecting the communities my organization serves. But for some reason, I'm not getting candidates knocking on my door who reflect the community around me. Valid point.
When you tend to get applicants who look like you, or more importantly don't look like your community, this begs the question, why are certain people staying away? Let's look at the police force as an example. Most Canadians approach the police expecting safety and trust. However, police forces in some countries are known for their corruption; there is very little trust. Hence, it doesn't occur to many Canadian immigrants and refugees to seek Canadian police for assistance, let alone to apply for a career with the force. Police and our security intelligence agencies throughout Canada have been actively working with multicultural and social service agencies for years to rectify this situation. As a result, Canadian police forces are better reflecting the population and are therefore making it easier to work with communities who otherwise are suspicious of them.
If you're not in the policing business, maybe you're not as worried about trust, yet you might have to do a type of outreach similar to that of the police. Outreach involves making contact with people with whom you don't typically spend time. However, don't feel you have to do it alone. If your workplace belongs to an association, find out what outreach efforts they have made. You may find resources and contacts already available. If not, be proactive and start an outreach program that will benefit your organization and others of interest. An outreach program can involve getting to know more about a group of people, or it can be as simple as sponsoring an event or placing ads in community or ethnic-specific papers. You don't have to rush in; building relationships takes time.
There may be times when you decide trust in your work is an issue. In those cases customers avoid shopping at, using the services of - or applying to - workplaces due to a reputation that people of their ethnicity are not treated well. Based on truth or not, outdated or current, a negative reputation is difficult to dispel, especially in this day of instant information. Most owners, managers, and employees would love to know if something is keeping customers and applicants away, so they can correct the problem. If you hear or read even a trace of this for your organization, you'll need to rectify it or you will suffer.
1) Act, don't re-act — and you'll be ahead of those reacting. Sometimes I hear of a call from a head office about something that has gone wrong and the company wants to quickly make up lost ground - in reference to a human rights complaint. If you suddenly try to recruit people without proper work and homework, it can be a disaster. You'll be looking at tokenism just to fill spots. So start now.
2) Get an outsider to ask some questions — as people might not want to give you honest feedback. The outsider doesn't have to cost a fortune. You can even find business students wanting to work on a case study. Get the person to take a pulse of what others think of your workplace as potential customers and/or applicants.
3) Slow and steady wins the race — and you have to be patient. If you think outreach will give you immediate results, you're just going to be frustrated. Do the work and build the relationships within communities and it will pay off...eventually.