Employment Equity

Article excerpt

Make it happen, watch it happen, or wonder what happened

Learning to recognize, avoid and eliminate discrimination is going to be critical to being a manager in the next decade. As we tackle this challenge, we can expect to see managers and organizations alike start to stratify into three groups: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened. Which group do you belong in?

We've all been exposed to the need to manage change and to burst our paradigms. The visionary organization has seen the signals and recognized that employment equity is a long-term strategic imperative. Such firms have quickly realized that the make-up of Canada's workforce has undergone significant change. Between 1980 and 1988, full-time enrollment in Canadian universities rose by 30%. In the past 10 years, women in Canada have earned more than 50% of all bachelors degrees and the figure continues to rise. Visible minorities, particularly those from Asia and Africa, are twice as likely to be university-educated as Canadian-born residents.

Changes in Canada's immigration policies over the past 25 years have resulted in significant shifts in the make-up of our population. In fact, by the year 2000, fewer than 20% of the new entrants to the labor force will be white and male.

Far fewer young people will be entering the Canadian workforce. Statistics Canada indicates that, in the last eight years, the number of 15- to 24-year-olds entering the workforce has decreased by over half a million and the trend suggests that the number will drop by another half million in the next two years. This means that labor shortages affecting McDonald's and Burger King today will be labor shortages at IBM and Imperial Oil tomorrow. Quite simply, there will be a shortage of skilled labor over the next decade. No employer can afford to ignore any available source of talent, including designated groups such as women, visible minorities, aboriginals, and people with disabilities. The manager who does not prepare himself or herself to successfully manage and motivate a highly diverse workforce is likely to be left in the dust--wondering what happened.

Hiding biases, conscious or not, behind the phrase "I will always select and promote the best candidate" is no longer good enough. Employment equity does not mean compromising our standards. It means looking for opportunities to expand our recruitment and promotion practices to be inclusive rather than exclusive. …