Why Is It Important?
SUPPORT OF BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS
According to UNESCO, "Cultural diversity widens the range of options open to everyone; it is one of the roots of development, understood not simply in terms of economic growth, but also as a means to achieve a more satisfactory intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritual existence."
"It implies a commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms, in particular the rights of persons belonging to minorities and those of indigenous peoples. No one may invoke cultural diversity to infringe upon human rights guaranteed by international law, nor to limit their scope."
Policies for the inclusion and participation of all citizens are guarantees of social cohesion, the vitality of civil society and peace.
REACH AUDIENCE DEMOGRAPHICS
Since 2000, Saskatchewan’s population has continued to grow. Outmigration has slowed and immigration and births have increased. With more people, it’s no secret that Saskatchewan’s demographics are also changing – not only in urban centres, but in rural locations as well. Currently:
Approximately 180 different ethnic origins represented in Saskatchewan
15.6% of the population are Indigenous (15.47% in 2006 Census)
7.6% of the population are newcomers (5.5% in 2006 Census)
6.3% of the population are visible minorities (3.6% in 2006 Census)
15.5% of the population speak in a mother tongue other than English and French
(Statistics Canada, 2011 Census)
According to Sask Trends Monitor, by 2023, the proportion of Indigenous peoples and newcomers will be approximately 24% of the population, up 4% since 2006. The other interesting note is that this increasingly diverse population is also increasingly young. By 2023, the younger demographics of 25 to 34 and 35 to 44 years old, will see significant increases, approximately 32-34%. It is important that programs and services are available for this growing demographic.
- Demographic Trends in Saskatchewan (2014), Sask Trends Monitor
- Interview with David K. Foot, Boom, Bust & Echo (2009) by Meredith Birchall-Spencer
- Diversity in Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan Trends Monitor
INCREASE PARTICIPATION OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) produced its final report in December 2015, culminating in over six years of testimony from nearly 7,000 witnesses of residential schools in Canada. According to the final report, the 100 years of Canada’s Aboriginal policy, in which the “establishment of and operation of residential schools were a central element,” can best be described as “cultural genocide”. The 94 Calls to Action identified in the report lay out a road to reconciliation. Both Indigenous and non-Indigenous partners are encouraged to explore a new relationship – one of respecting nations, Treaties and culture.
INCREASE PARTICIPATION OF NEWCOMERS
One in five Canadians is born outside of Canada. Immigration now accounts for close to 70% of our population growth. In Saskatchewan, we welcome approximately 10 -15,000 immigrants each year. If we are to ensure these individuals stay and become part of our community growth, then it is important that we adjust our programs and services to be inclusive. Engaging newcomers is essential to ensuring we have the workforce to support Saskatchewan’s population into the future. At a time when Canada is already facing severe labour shortages in certain provinces, and given the forecast for shrinking labour availability as the baby boomers begin to retire in significant numbers, it is clear that immigrants will make up an increasing share of Canada’s labour force.
Demography and Census Reports and Statistics - Government of Saskatchewan
ELIMINATE RACISM IN SASKATCHEWAN/CANADA
The idea of “race” is a human-made, artificial categorization of human beings by their physical differences in skin tone, hair texture and facial features. Therefore, the idea of “racism” is the highly controversial belief that there are human groups with particular characteristics that make them superior or inferior to others. Racism is reflected by individuals and institutions, and has found its way into the systemic functioning of many areas of society. Racism is behind much of the prejudice, discrimination and stereotypes that exist today.
The United Nations Association in Canada defines racial discrimination as “any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin that has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.”
- Saskatchewan: A special report on race and power (July 2016)
- In case you missed it, Canada passed an anti-Islamophobia motion (2016)
- Islamophobia: a primer (2012), by Fathima Cader & Sumayya Kassamali, New Socialist
INCREASE FOCUS ON PEACE AND HARMONY
According to the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, three-quarters of the world’s major conflicts have a cultural dimension and bridging the gap between cultures is urgent and necessary for peace, stability and development. According to UNESCO, "In our increasingly diverse societies, it is essential to ensure harmonious interaction among people and groups with plural, varied and dynamic cultural identities as well as their willingness to live together.”
- Learning to Live Together in Peace and Harmony (1998), UNESCO
- Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future, UNESCO
INCREASE INNOVATION AND DIVERSITY OF THOUGHT
By bringing together individuals with different backgrounds and different lived experiences, communities and/or organizations can uncover new ways of thinking and doing that help address ongoing challenges or take advantage of new opportunities. Diversity enhances creativity. It encourages the search for novel information and perspectives, leading to better decision making and problem solving. Diversity can improve the bottom line of companies and lead to unfettered discoveries and breakthrough innovations. Even simply being exposed to diversity can change the way you think.
- How Diversity Makes Us Smarter (2014) Scientific American
- Why Diversity Matters (2013) Catalyst Information Centre
FIND AND ATTRACT THE BEST TALENT
According to Statistics Canada, by 2031, one in three workers will be born outside of Canada. It is vital that employers create an inclusive work environment, so they attract the right people that will help them remain competitive in the global marketplace.
- In a highly competitive world, is diversity Canada’s advantage? (March 2016) The Globe and Mail
- Canadian Best Companies find strength in Diversity, (May 2016), The Globe & Mail
- Recruiting for Diversity, Harvard
- Immigrant-Friendly Businesses: Effective Practices for Attracting, Integrating, and Retaining immigrants in Canadian Workplaces, (2009) Conference Board of Canada
- Recognition of the Foreign Qualifications of Immigrants, (2012), Government of Canada
- Foreign Credential Recognition (2015), Government of Canada
BUILD CREDIBILITY THROUGH COMMITMENT TO DIVERSITY
There are many positive benefits to building a diverse workforce and recognizing diversity and inclusiveness throughout your organization. Once in place, your organization may also benefit from ensuring that others are aware of your commitment. An organization’s commitment to diversity does not go unnoticed by new and existing donors, customers, employees, volunteers and others. It could be the reason they prefer working with you into the future.
- Five Reasons Diversity and Inclusion Fails, (2016) Forbes
- Corporate Reputation Management and Issues of Diversity (2013) by Damion Waymer and Sarah VanSlette, The Corporate Handbook of Communication
- The Value Proposition for Diversity vs Do Nothing: Cost and Impact, (2015), by Nancy Stewart
- Diversity is useless without inclusion (2014) by Christine Riordan, Harvard Review
Disclaimer: SaskCulture has compiled these online resources to help build awareness and knowledge around the benefits of cultural diversity and inclusion. We do not endorse any one particular point of view, but hope that readers will continue to look for ways to further these ideas into the future. If you have suggestions, please forward them to SaskCulture at email@example.com for review.