Welcome to the October issue of Big Ideas in IDEA, CCDI Consulting's monthly newsletter dedicated to Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility. Our commitment to fostering a diverse, inclusive and equitable workforce is not just a mission statement - it's a fundamental part of our culture and how we support Canadian organizations in their IDEA journey.
Our newsletter serves as a vibrant platform to celebrate the diversity that enriches our staff and community and to showcase the progress we continue to make together. Within these pages, you'll uncover thought-provoking articles and valuable resources that can challenge you both personally and professionally. Celebrate National Coming Out Day and the importance of creating a safe space for the queer community; unmask the fear faced by those living with invisible disabilities; and dive into the intricacies of the generational gap in the workplace. You'll also find resources, tools, and guidance to help us further our mission and an invitation to part 2 of our Cultural Competence webinar series: 'Communication and Conflict Resolution Across Cultures.'
Remember to take part in our IDEA Research and let us know which factors are important to your organization when selecting a consulting firm.
Thank you for your continued support and dedication to our shared vision. We hope this edition inspires and enlightens you as we work towards a more inclusive world.
Interim CEO & Chief Operating Officer
National Coming Out Day: A Bigger Project This Year
Canadian history is riddled with highs and lows of the treatment and inclusion of the 2SLGBTQI+ community, and 2023 is not immune to these trends. From transphobic political commentary, protests at family-friendly queer events, anti-2SLGBTQI+ legislation in the United States, and a country-wide protest of queer inclusion in schools, it has been a tough year.
National Coming Out Day started in celebration of the second march on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. This march was held to bring awareness to the 2SLGBTQI+ community and the demand to be treated as equal citizens in the United States and North America. The Day provided the opportunity to celebrate the community’s bravery and combat the homophobia and unequal treatment the community faced and continued to face.
This National Coming Out Day feels a bit different, considering recent North American events. Typically, National Coming Out Day is seen as a celebration of owning one’s queer identity. The challenge Canada is currently facing is the transphobic and homophobic rhetoric appearing as a targeted affront to the education system and queer spaces for the inclusion of queer kid-friendly education. For example, on September 20th, 2023, there was a nationwide protest against the inclusion of queer education in public school systems. As well, across Canada, there is an increasing number of protests outside of Drag Queen Kid Story Hours and family-friendly queer events. Unfortunately, there is a beautiful culture of queerness that is and continues to be shamed, putting queer children, non-confirming students, and 2SLGBTQI+ teachers in the crosshairs of this tension.
This year, we might consider that National Coming Out Day may need to be about more than just celebrating people claiming their queer identity but also creating safe spaces for the 2SLGBTQI+ community as a whole. A Queer safe space is “a place or environment where a member of the 2SLGBTQI+ community can feel safe and confident about themselves, without their sexuality and/or gender identity being a problem or issue for the other people around them.” This work will allow those coming out to feel safe, valued, and seen. As you navigate this Day in your workplaces, below are some ways you can show up for your coworkers, family members, and educators and create safe spaces for everyone to thrive:
- Education: Find and share resources on queer identities, issues, and healthcare needs. Share reliable resources on supporting transgender journeys in schools, healthcare, and workplaces. Find some of our resources, workshops and related events here: IDEA Infographics for Your Workplace Journey.
- Policy and Procedures Review: Don’t wait to find out your policies are not 2SLGBTQI+ friendly. Go through your work policies, codes of conduct, dress codes, and communication plans to ensure language is gender-neutral and inclusive of all people. CCDI Consulting can support your organization with this important step in creating real change and contributing to your organization’s success. More information on policy and document review can be found here: Advisory Services | CCDI Consulting.
- Benefits Review: Ensure that your benefits are written with a gender-neutral lens. Review your parental and maternity leave policies to ensure they are gender inclusive.
- IDEA Groups: Whether it is an IDEA steering committee, pluralism group or an Employee Resource Group, ensure your groups have the support, funding, and leadership buy-in they need to move the needle to a more equitable and inclusive workplace.
- Explicit Support: Does your organization make it explicit that they are 2SLGBTQI+ inclusive? Ensure you have recognition and inclusive statements on your website, in your codes of conduct and in safe space materials.
- Celebrate: Celebrate and promote awareness of queer events. There are more days than just Pride and National Coming Out Day. Find notable days here: Notable 2SLGBTQ+ Awareness Date | QueerEvents.ca. In light of the transphobic rhetoric occurring, one Day we strongly suggest you prepare to participate in is the Trans Day of Remembrance coming up in November. How you participate comes in many forms. Some examples are educating yourself on related issues, learning and creating awareness on what the notable Day is about, sharing notes of support internally and externally to the impacted communities, or volunteering at local queer organizations and events.
The Canadian environment is not always a welcoming or safe place for the 2SLGBTQI+ community members. To ensure National Coming Out Day is a positive experience for those around you, as an ally and employer, we need to put in the work of creating inclusive spaces. This year let’s celebrate the Day by making the spaces queer folks interact with safe, understanding and inclusive enough that they can come out and live a full, rich and authentic life.
Unseen Struggles: Invisible Disabilities in the Canadian Workplace
Invisible disabilities, though not immediately apparent to the naked eye, are a significant part of the Canadian workforce. They encompass a wide range of health conditions, from chronic pain and mental health disorders to autoimmune diseases and sensory processing disorders.
Invisible disabilities are a topic close to my heart, particularly when it comes to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) induced anxiety. Anxiety, for those who experience it, can be an unwelcome companion that tags along, unseen, to various life situations, including the workplace. Like many individuals with invisible disabilities, I faced the disclosure dilemma. Should I reveal my anxiety to my employer and colleagues? Or should I keep it hidden, fearing potential stigma or misunderstanding? This inner conflict is a constant for those grappling with invisible conditions.
Statistics Canada reports that approximately one in five Canadians aged 15 and older has at least one disability. Of these, a considerable portion have invisible disabilities. The diversity of these conditions makes it challenging to pinpoint exact figures, but their prevalence is undeniable. Here are some common examples of invisible disabilities:
- Chronic Pain: Conditions like fibromyalgia, chronic migraines, or back pain can cause severe and persistent pain that is not visible to others.
- Autoimmune Disorders: Conditions such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or multiple sclerosis may cause fatigue, pain, and other symptoms that are not obvious to observers.
- Mental Health Disorders: Conditions like depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are often invisible but can have a profound impact on a person's emotional well-being and daily life.
- Neurological Disorders: Conditions like epilepsy, autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or non-visible brain injuries can affect cognitive functioning and behaviour.
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS): Individuals with CFS experience extreme fatigue that does not improve with rest, which is not apparent to others.
- Digestive Disorders: Conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn's disease, or celiac disease can cause gastrointestinal symptoms that are not visible to others.
- Sensory Processing Disorders: Conditions like sensory processing disorder or auditory processing disorder can affect an individual's ability to process sensory information but are not externally visible.
- Chronic Illnesses: Conditions such as diabetes, chronic kidney disease, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may be invisible but require ongoing medical management.
- Learning Disabilities: Learning disabilities such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, or attention disorders are not immediately apparent but can impact academic and work performance.
- Environmental Sensitivities: Conditions like multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) or electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) can cause adverse reactions to environmental factors which are not visible to others.
- Hearing Loss: Some forms of hearing loss, especially when aided by hearing aids, may not be apparent unless the individual discloses their condition.
- Vision Impairments: Visual impairments can vary in visibility, and some individuals may have partial sight or conditions like glaucoma that are not immediately obvious.
Impact on Employee Well-being
The workplace can either be a supportive environment that facilitates employees' well-being or a source of additional stress for those with invisible disabilities. Unaddressed challenges can lead to:
- Reduced Job Satisfaction: Employees who do not receive appropriate support or accommodations may experience reduced job satisfaction, affecting their motivation and productivity.
- Mental Health Implications: The stress of managing an invisible disability without adequate support can exacerbate mental health issues, leading to anxiety, depression, or burnout.
- Absenteeism and Presenteeism: Invisible disabilities can lead to both absenteeism (missing work) and presenteeism (being present at work but not fully engaged). Employees may struggle to meet job expectations despite their best efforts.
Creating an Inclusive Workplace
To create a more inclusive Canadian workplace that accommodates employees with invisible disabilities, employers can take several proactive steps, including:
- Awareness and Training: Offer training to raise awareness of invisible disabilities and reduce stigma. Equip managers with the knowledge and skills needed to support affected employees.
- Flexible Work Arrangements: Implement flexible work arrangements, such as remote work or adjusted hours, to accommodate variable symptoms and enable better work-life balance.
- Accessibility: Ensure that the physical workspace and digital tools are accessible to all employees, including those with disabilities.
- Accommodations: Establish a clear process for requesting accommodations and work closely with employees to determine reasonable solutions.
- Mental Health Support: Promote mental health resources and support services to all employees, reducing the stigma surrounding mental health.
- Inclusivity Policies: Develop inclusive workplace policies that emphasize equal opportunities for all employees, regardless of their abilities.
By fostering awareness, promoting inclusivity, and providing support and accommodations, employers can create an environment where all employees, regardless of their visible or invisible disabilities, can thrive, contribute, and reach their full potential.
Interested to know how you and your organization can support employees faced with the challenges of invisible disabilities? Contact us at email@example.com and let a member of our team support you on this journey.
Fostering Intergenerational Inclusion in the Workplace: Bridging the Generation Gap
The modern workplace is a mosaic of diverse talents, experiences, and backgrounds. While often overlooked, the presence of multiple generations working together under one roof is an aspect of diversity that affects every single one of us. From Baby Boomers to Generation Z, each generation brings its unique perspective, skills, and strengths to the table. Harnessing the collective wisdom of these diverse age groups is crucial for a successful, innovative, and inclusive workplace. In this article, we will explore the concept of intergenerational inclusion in the workplace and provide practical tips for its implementation.
When I think about the different generational cohorts – Generation Z, Millennials, Baby Boomers, Generation X – I am reminded of the many videos and articles that compare the generations and try to highlight how they are opposed to one another, essentially creating an us-versus-them phenomenon. Recently, I had a discussion with a friend who was sharing their observation that Millennials and Generation Z are focusing more on “work-life balance” and “mental well-being,” while Generation X and Baby Boomers focus more on the “grind” and “working hard.” I have heard this observation before and find it interesting that these are presented as opposing ideas because I think they are motivated by similar values – being fully engaged in work and not wanting to burden others in your workplace. Typically, folks who prioritize work-life balance are doing so in order to be able to bring their full selves to work and be more productive when they are at work. So, work-life balance is not the opposite of “working hard” but rather a method used to work hard. When time is taken to understand another perspective, even when it seems opposing, new understanding can be gained, allowing us to work better together.
How can we leverage more opportunities for different generations to work together?
- Establish Mentorship Programs: Implement mentorship programs that pair younger employees with older colleagues. This allows for the transfer of knowledge, fosters meaningful relationships and allows all generations to leverage and share their skills.
- Promote Inclusive Communication: Encourage open and respectful communication across generations. Create platforms for employees to share their experiences, perspectives, and ideas. Regular team meetings, feedback sessions, and brainstorming sessions can facilitate these interactions. Be cognizant of age-based microaggressions such as “ok boomer” and “kiddo.”
- Flexible Work Arrangements: Recognize that different generations may have varying work preferences. If it is possible in your workplace to offer flexible work arrangements such as remote work options or flexible hours to accommodate the diverse needs and lifestyles of your employees, this can have powerful impacts on employee experience. Remember, “work-life balance” doesn’t counteract “hardworking.”
- Training and Development: Provide opportunities for continuous learning and development for all employees. Tailor training programs to address the specific needs and preferences of different generations. For example, as a general tendency, older employees may appreciate in-person training sessions, while younger ones might prefer online modules. Offering differentiated methods of learning provides opportunities to engage more employees overall.
- Feedback and Recognition: Implement a feedback and recognition system that values the strengths of each generation. Encourage managers to provide constructive feedback that suits the needs of their team members. For instance, older employees may appreciate face-to-face interactions, while younger employees may appreciate recognition on social platforms.
- Generational Diversity Training: Offer workshops or training sessions that help employees understand and appreciate generational differences. This can reduce stereotypes and biases and foster a more inclusive workplace culture. This could be encompassed in Cultural Competency training. Each generation is shaped by the environment in which they were raised, and we continue to add to our economic, social, and political lenses as we age.
- Leadership Opportunities: Create opportunities for employees of all generations to take on leadership roles. Consider offering leadership roles that vary in scope and time commitment, allowing employees to balance leadership responsibilities with other personal and professional interests. This can help break down generational barriers and ensure that diverse voices are represented in decision-making processes.
- Flexible Benefits Packages: Offer benefits packages that cater to the diverse needs of employees at different stages of their careers. This can include options for retirement planning, childcare support, or wellness programs that address the physical and mental health concerns of employees of all ages.
Intergenerational inclusion in the workplace is not just a trend; it's a necessity in today's diverse and dynamic work environment. Embracing the unique strengths and perspectives of each generation can lead to improved innovation, productivity, and employee satisfaction. It's time for organizations to take concrete steps toward fostering a workplace culture that values and includes all age groups.
As a call to action, I urge employers and HR professionals to take the following steps:
- Assess Your Current State: Begin by assessing your organization's current state of intergenerational inclusion. Identify areas where improvements can be made and set clear goals for fostering inclusion across generations. Assessing the current state may be measured internally through surveys and interviews, but hiring external consultants can help provide a different perspective and can lead to more honest responses from participants.
- Develop a Strategy: Create a comprehensive strategy that outlines the specific initiatives and actions your organization will take to promote intergenerational inclusion. Involve employees from different generations in the planning process to ensure diverse perspectives are considered, such as through focus groups.
- Allocate Resources: Allocate the necessary resources, both financial and human, to support the implementation of your strategy. Ensure that there is buy-in from top leadership to drive these initiatives forward.
- Measure Progress: Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the progress of your intergenerational inclusion efforts. Regularly review and report on these KPIs to track your organization's success. An example could be measuring the percentage change in leadership positions held by different generational groups.
- Celebrate Success: Recognize and celebrate the achievements and milestones reached in your journey towards intergenerational inclusion. Highlight the positive impact on your organization's culture and performance.
Intergenerational inclusion in the workplace is a powerful tool for driving innovation, knowledge sharing, and employee engagement. By implementing practical strategies and fostering a culture of inclusivity, organizations can harness the full potential of their multi-generational workforce and create a brighter future for all. The time to act is now. Embrace generational diversity, and watch your organization thrive.
Big Ideas in IDEA Monthly Poll
DEI Poll Results for September Edition
The recent DEI poll reveals valuable insights into the areas where they are most interested in receiving training or support in the context of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA).
The survey shows that there is a significant interest in several key areas. Mental Health & Wellbeing and Policy Review & Design both received 40% of the respondents' interest. This suggests that there is a strong desire for support and training in promoting mental health and ensuring equitable and inclusive policies within the organization.
Another important area of interest is Neurodiversity and Disabilities, with 50% of respondents expressing interest. This indicates a recognition of the importance of inclusivity for individuals with different abilities and neurodiverse backgrounds.
Burnout, Stress, and Anxiety Management, along with IDEA Statement & Goal Setting, garnered 30% interest each, demonstrating the need for strategies to address employee well-being and establish clear goals related to IDEA.
Effective Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and Employee Life-Cycle both received 20% interest, suggesting a moderate interest in these areas, which may still require attention and support. Furthermore, 10% expressed interest in "Other" topics, specifically in the context of "Culture change." While this interest is relatively low, it underscores the importance of addressing unique and evolving cultural needs within the organization.
Overall, the poll results highlight the importance of prioritizing mental health, policy review, and supporting neurodiversity and disabilities. They also emphasize the need for clear goal-setting in IDEA initiatives. While some areas received lower interest, like ERGs and Employee Life-Cycle, they should not be neglected. These insights can guide organizations in tailoring their programs to meet the diverse needs and interests of their employees regarding IDEA.
In Case You Missed It
Important Days of Awareness
- Watch Recording: Inclusive Leadership Through a Cultural Competence Lens
- Measuring Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility: Part 1
- Measuring Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility: Part 2
- Measuring Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility: Part 3
- National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
- Newsletter by CCDI Consulting | September 2023 Edition
- October 4: National Day of Action for Mission and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
→ National Association of Friendship Centres
→ The Canadian Encyclopedia
→ Calgary Public Library
- October 11: National Coming Out Day
→ Human Rights Campaign
→ Awareness Days
- October 15-21: Invisible Disabilities Week
→ Invisible Disabilities® Association
→ Direct Employers Association
- October 18: International Pronouns Day
- Women and Gender Equality Canada. (n.d.). Federal 2SLGBTQI+ Action Plan… Building our future, with pride. https://women-gender-equality.canada.ca/en/free-to-be-me/federal-2slgbtqi-plus-action-plan.html
Egale. (n.d.). Affirming and Inclusive Language. https://egale.ca/awareness/affirming-and-inclusive-language/
Egale. (n.d.). 2SLGBTQI Terms and Definitions | Lexique et définitions 2SLGBTQI. https://egale.ca/
CCDI Consulting. (n.d.). IDEA Infographics for Your Workplace Journey. https://idea.ccdiconsulting.ca/en-ca/resources-infographics
GLAAD. (n.d.). Transgender Day of Remembrance. https://glaad.org/tdor/
Gerhardt, R., et al. (2022). Harnessing the Power of Age Diversity. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2022/03/harnessing-the-power-of-age-diversity
Weir, K. (2023). Ageism is one of the last socially acceptable prejudices. Psychologists are working to change that. Monitor on Psychology, 54(2). https://www.apa.org/monitor/2023/03/cover-new-concept-of-aging
Applewhite, A. (2017). Let's End Ageism. TED Talk. https://www.ted.com/talks/ashton_applewhite_let_s_end_ageism
TEDx Talks. (2018). Navigating the Multigenerational Workplace | Leah Georges | TEDxCreightonU. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzfAOc4L6vQ
Disclaimer: Our newsletter and blogs feature personal opinions and diverse viewpoints. We aim to create a safe space for our team to share their perspectives on diversity and inclusion. Please note that individual articles may not align with every reader's view or comprehensively cover a topic. We appreciate the diversity of opinions and respect our team's contributions.