You are now in the main content area

Investing in Inclusion: Building Support within Businesses

By: Jean-Pierre Fernandes
June 08, 2016
No matter how prepared students are, if business aren't prepared for their diversity, they will still face glass walls.

On June 9, 2016 the Ryerson Career Centre is launching a new seminar series entitled Investing in Inclusion. The series takes a unique approach to supporting our students’ career trajectory—the series is completely focused on businesses, in particular HR Managers, Diversity and Inclusion professionals, as well as any individuals who are able to elicit change within an organization. Each seminar will look to educate and share new and innovative ways of supporting people who identify with a particular equity seeking group.

As career practitioners, our goal is to help our students be as prepared as possible when entering the workforce. We try to do this through workshops, one-on-ones and coaching, and we try to provide students as many opportunities to interact with employers to help develop those much needed interpersonal skills. But we are also aware that many of our students do not enter the workforce on an equal playing field. Despite living in one of the most diverse and open cities in the world, equity seeking groups still encounter challenges in the workforce. Even though our students are as prepared as they can be, some of them will still encounter barriers to their success as a result of their sexual orientation, gender, disability, cultural identity, or a range of other identity related factors.

We try to teach students how to identify and overcome these barriers through education and student facing panels such as Voices of Experience. As prepared as our students may be, we know that if the organizations they are looking to engage are not ready to support and accept their unique identities, then no amount of preparedness will help. This is where Investing in Inclusion comes in. There are businesses that are looking to be inclusive, there are businesses that are trying to be inclusive but are struggling, and then there are businesses that are doing some great things to support various equity seeking groups. Investing in Inclusion looks to bring all these people together. We want to create a space where businesses who are achieving some success supporting, recruiting, and retaining members of equity seeking groups can share their success and challenges. This sharing will lead to new ideas and hopefully more inclusive spaces because of newly implemented policies or practices from ideas learned at this seminar.

Not only does Investing in Inclusion educate businesses, it also sets the tone. Equity, diversity, and inclusion is embedded into Ryerson’s academic plan and core values. We try to create spaces that are designed for the success of all our students. Similarly, we want the businesses our students are entering to do the same. Investing in Inclusion is our attempt to help make this happen. Equity, diversity, and inclusion is a journey and a process; there is no one way to do it right. Through Investing in Inclusion we hope to effect change so that all of our students have the best chance for success. Inclusive spaces lead to more successful businesses, so raising the bar for equity, diversity, and inclusion also means setting our communities up for success.

The process is not always easy, but the value of investing in inclusion is equally about a happy workforce as it is about a business’ bottom line. No matter where our values lay, we cannot deny this crucial conversation.

The first Investing in Inclusion seminar, LGBTQ People in the Workplace, takes place on Thursday June 9, 2016. This seminar will cover topics including challenges LGBTQ people still experience in the workplace; how these challenges affect your business bottom line; effective recruitment and retention strategies; and how to support LGBTQ people in the workplace.