The Voice - Winter 2020 - 37

OSPE HUB EXCHANGE

EDI IN THE WORKPLACE:

STEM EMPLOYEES SPEAK TO OSPE HUBS ABOUT THEIR LIVED EXPERIENCES

A

growing, vibrant economy requires contributions from
workers of all backgrounds, regions, and sectors. Lucky for
Ontario industry, shifting demographics in the province
have led to an influx of employees from different backgrounds
who can provide a variety of experiences that lead to innovative
solutions.
We know that just tolerating differences is no longer enough.
Celebrating, enhancing, and finding ways to utilize unique profiles
in the workplace leads to rejuvenated thinking, creative practices,
and innovation. Meaningful engagement that fully utilizes
diversity is more than just reading handbooks or consulting
websites: what are some of the best practices that companies can
use to enhance their diversity dimensions?
OSPE's Exchange Hub at the University of Guelph asked its
network of engineers to relay some of their stories from the field
so that we may better understand how these lived experiences can
foster diverse and inclusive workplaces that support staff and lead
to long term development. Canvassing a wide sector of members,
OSPE heard from an array of sources that reflected recent and
longstanding developments in the field of engineering.
Ian Collins, P.Eng., and Senior Environmental Risk Assessor at
GHD Group and Chair of Rainbow Alliance of Diverse Identities
for Inclusion (RADII), has worked in the industry for decades and
has been witness - and pioneer - to many of its changes. " My
personal experience with D&I (diversity and inclusion) is that, as
a gay man, I have been the introduction to D&I for people just by
having been myself. When I first started working in this industry I
was really afraid to say anything. The first few months in particular,
I didn't come out because I didn't know if it was something that
is done in this industry. I would think to myself, 'have I sentenced
myself to a career of not being able to be out of the closet?' " While
he reflects that he is now more confident in embracing his identity
in the workplace, he views that as a personal development, and not
one widely reflected in the industry. " Every new job that I have
started, it feels like going back to square one. "
As Jon Hendy, Talent Management and North American
Inclusion & Diversity Council Chair at GHD notes, there needs
to be more emphasis placed on high-level thinking, rather than
just at the individual level. " The shift moved away from the idea of
meritocracy, which is kind of a fallacy, that you just have to perform
well and you will be rewarded, without taking into consideration
that some of the lenses that we look at performance through were
biased in some way. Some things like utilization, that being a high

indicator of performance previously. That is going to definitely
exclude certain groups of people; if you think about parents,
mothers, and people who are caring for older family members in
their homes, is something that occurs in a lot of non-white homes.
That is going to be a barrier if we are just looking at utilization as
performance indicators. " By stressing the need for thinking on
the larger scale, rather than individual metrics, Hendy suggests
the burden of diversity not just be placed on an individual like
Ian Collins, but adapted as a broader company policy that values
diversity as a plus.
Supervising Engineer, Adnan Akhtar echoes this by suggesting
leadership take charge. " Supervisors need to work hard to
establish these ground rules in their team and make sure each of
their team members is comfortable expressing themselves both
when communicating with their team members as well as their

Winter 2021 THE VOICE

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The Voice - Winter 2020

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