Building Back Better with a Diverse Workforce

A culturally diverse workforce can be your organization’s competitive advantage to building back better post COVID-19 – here’s how.

The world of work as we knew it has changed drastically, bringing with it a host of new challenges for employers globally – and locally in Ottawa. Businesses have adapted quickly, moving services online, shifting to remote work operations, responding to widespread lockdowns, and new and evolving health protocols. The last year has shown us that adaptation and resilience are key ingredients to organizational survival and success. As businesses plan in anticipation of economic recovery and to building back post COVID-19, leaders and managers must develop strategies for success and growth in this “new normal.”

A key ingredient for any organization to succeed and rebuild will be having a diverse workforce – one where everyone feels they belong, including immigrants. The pandemic has highlighted the contribution of immigrants to the well-being of our communities and across all sectors of the economy. Canada aims to welcome 1,233,000 permanent residents over the next three years.[1] of which more than half are slated to be in the economic class. This has implications for both the Canadian workforce, of which immigrants already constitute more than 25 per cent[2] and the consumer population.

Here are the top three reasons why a culturally diverse workforce can be your company’s competitive advantage – helping you build back better.

  1. Enhanced Problem-solving – As businesses navigate towards the “new normal,” enhanced problem-solving skills and vision will be needed to reassess business models and compete in a new environment. Research demonstrates that organizations that invest in diversity and inclusion are strongly positioned in this regard,[3] as diverse teams bringing multiple perspectives thereby boosting the odds of more creative solutions. When companies foster a culture of inclusion, employees can be themselves at work and are engaged and empowered to participate and contribute.
  2. Adaptability – In an uncertain environment, businesses benefit from a workforce that is closely representative of the evolving economy, this helps to better understand market dynamics, current and future trends. Imaginative and exploratory team thinking can also help leaders consider the broad range of potential challenges around the corner – and prepare for what is to come.
  3. Greater innovation – Diverse teams have proven to be more innovative, potentially generating a competitive edge. Results from The Wall Street Journal’s first corporate ranking that examined diversity and inclusion among S&P 500 companies, notes that companies with above-average diversity produced a greater proportion of revenue from innovation (45% of total) than from companies with below average diversity (26%).[4]

Flexibility, innovation, and resilience are key factors for businesses as they seek to navigate an economic and social viable path forward post-pandemic. While not a silver bullet, well-managed diverse teams will help organizations to understand and mange the complexity of potential challenges ahead and to build agile, inclusive workplace cultures going forward. Those companies who choose to intentionally unlock the power of inclusion and diversity as an enabler of business performance and organizational health by sourcing diverse talent will be better positioned to contribute to the wider efforts of economic recovery and safeguard social cohesion while building back better.


This blog was written by Trisha Mitchell, MA student in Migration and Diaspora Studies, Carleton University during her placement with HIO in Winter 2021.





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