By: Harshita Chopra

Immigrants have become an important source of labour supply in the Okanagan. According to the BC Labour Market Outlook, immigrants are expected to fill one-third of job openings in the region by 2022. So, it becomes essential to create more diverse and inclusive workplaces, emphasizes Luke Jamieson, a senior recruiter at Rogers Communication.

Establishing a diverse and inclusive workplace is not easy, especially for small businesses, points out Shawn, owner of Fusion Express, an Indian cuisine restaurant in Kelowna. “Most small businesses don’t have the expertise or funds to establish diversity and inclusion practices,” he adds.

While appointing diversity committees and creating apprenticeship programs may not be feasible for small businesses, various practical solutions exist to integrate inclusive business practices, suggests Kyle Watson, On-Campus Recruitment Manager at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan. The first step is to ensure everyone in the company values diversity, says Kyle. “It’s imperative for all employees to view diversity and inclusion at the workplace as a competitive advantage rather than something to check off the list,” he adds.

The priority is to make a conscious effort to accommodate the needs of your employees, stresses Watson. “Regularly asking for their feedback and ensuring that all employees are adequately represented goes a long way,” he adds. Kyle cautions against copy-pasting diversity initiatives from another organization. He highlights that every program needs to take into account the specific culture and context of its host organization.

Jamieson points out that establishing diversity and inclusion practices doesn’t have to be a laborious or expensive task. He advises small business owners to start with one or two initiatives to promote diversity and awareness at the workplace. “Establishing too many programs at once can be overwhelming and result in poor implementation,” he adds.

Letnick Estates, a real estate corporation from Kelowna, is already experiencing the advantages of a diverse workplace. “By employing people from diverse backgrounds, we have been able to expand our services and our customer base,” asserts Amy Dai, a realtor at Letnick Estates.

Letnick Estates offer services in multiple languages, including French, English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean, and Russian, which Dai considers a useful tool to expand their client base in the press release of the corporation.

Creating diverse and inclusive practices always pays off. Turns out, the right thing to do is also the profitable thing to do, laughs Kyle.