There are many definitions of diversity. For the University of Calgary diversity includes all the ways in which people differ, and it encompasses all the different characteristics that make one individual or group different from another. It is all inclusive and recognizes everyone and every group as part of the diversity that should be valued. (Wentling, 997). This broad definition includes not only race, religious belief, colour, gender, physical disability, mental disability, marital status, ancestry, age, place of origin, family status, and sexual orientation as well as other characteristics that shape an individual’s attitudes, behaviours and perspectives.
The population and workforce of both Canada and Calgary continue to become more diverse. It is important that this diversity is reflected in our faculty and staff and this is especially pertinent given the University’s developing role as a global presence.
Diversity activities ensure staff and faculty can operative effectively in a multi-cultural environment. Traditional employment practices have been successful in managing a relatively homogeneous work force. However, as the workplace becomes more diverse, traditional approaches are no longer effective.
New approaches are needed to ensure workplace practices are fair and that staff have the skills to work successfully with diverse individuals. In turn, a successful diversity strategy will be competitive advantage for the University of Calgary. By recruiting, promoting and retaining staff with diverse experiences and perspectives, the University will more fully understand its students, clients, and colleagues. The University will work towards providing faculty and staff with the skills and knowledge needed to function successfully in an increasingly diverse local, regional and international milieu.
The employment equity program has been in place at the University of Calgary for many years and steady progress has been made towards equitable employment systems and a representative workforce. Employment equity focuses on eliminating barriers to the employment of four designated groups (women, aboriginal peoples, peoples with disabilities and visible minorities). Employment equity is compatible with diversity because both approaches aim at achieving and valuing a workforce that reflects the diverse composition of Canadian society.
However, the workplace diversity approach is more comprehensive in that it includes more than just the four designated groups. Since the University continues to be subject to employment equity legislation, however, the existing employment equity program will remain a core element of the new workplace diversity strategy. The University recognizes that our initiatives in this area will change as diversity continues to evolve with the emergence of new diversity issues.