Why Is Diversity And Inclusion Important Michelle Shalinsky Answers
By Work With Us Foundation January 21, 2020
Michelle Shalinsky, Senior Coordinator, Accessibility Certification at Rick Hansen Foundation, joined WorkWithUs for a discussion on the significance of diversity and inclusion (D&I) in organizations. Michelle shares her HR expertise on the subject from a not-for-profit industry standpoint and explains the overall benefits of D&I initiatives. Read on for more HR insights and advice for building a more diverse and inclusive work environment.
What do diversity & inclusion mean to you and to your organization? Diversity and inclusion, to me and my organization, is the accumulation of various backgrounds and perspectives without barriers.
Why do you feel diversity and inclusion in the workplace are important? For so long, false societal norms denied respect and opportunities for all members – by not being inclusive and allowing for diversity. Fundamentally, this is wrong. Second to this, the more diverse background and world views that are brought to the table can only help an organization thrive.
Does your company have an employee policy when it comes to speaking about disabilities? Yes.
Who are the main drivers for D&I initiatives in your organization? Executive/Board.
What benefits have you seen from including D&I strategies in your business? Did you encounter any challenges or roadblocks during implementation? If so, what were they and how did you overcome them? I have seen a more respectful and open workplace, where people are comfortable to ask questions and learn about diversity versus being afraid to tackle sensitive issues. As an organization, we are lucky as D&I is woven into our framework.
What advice would you give to organizations or individuals interested in initiating or expanding D&I initiatives in their own organizations? Don’t hesitate. Don’t let false barriers get in the way of making the effort to become more inclusive and increase diversity. Yes, it is worth the investment. It will make your teams stronger and your business flourish.
What inspired you to get started with D&I initiatives? Personally, I have always been drawn to this type of work and have always sought out roles that work towards this mission.
Tell us a little more about how you promote and encourage D&I through your department or organization. As noted above, our mission is aligned with D&I. We work closely with different groups and prioritize hiring people with disabilities.
What trends do you see emerging either in your own industry or in the conversation around D&I as a whole? I more so see D&I growing outside of my industry and creeping its way into for-profit (which is so exciting!).
Do you partner with any local organizations to achieve those goals? As a foundation, we partner with many community organizations. The Presidents Group and Vancity are a few recent examples that stand out.
What more do you think needs to be done by government, business and civil society organizations to achieve greater awareness and acceptance of D&I programs and outcomes? Generally, demonstrating the importance and commitment by action. D&I can only become a way of life (not just an idea [that] we are advocating more) with more experience, exposure, and understanding.