Diversity in the Workplace: What’s next?

Improving integration and development for those considered socially vulnerable

As part of a research project funded by a SSHRC Insight Grant, Dr. Tania Saba, human resources professor and BMO chair for diversity and governance at the Université de Montréal, is addressing a major problem in the Canadian labour market.

Despite efforts by Canadian businesses to increase diversity and inclusion among their workforces, she noted people from underrepresented groups are not well integrated after recruitment. As a result, workforce diversification does not automatically have a positive impact for businesses.

Saba examined, on one hand, the career paths of people from groups considered socially vulnerable (women, visible minorities, and workers over 55 years of age), while taking into account intersectionality in terms of immigration, origin and age. On the other hand, she examined programs promoting diversity and the working environment at businesses hiring from these groups, to better understand the external and internal factors that can influence perceived discrimination and to propose measures to mitigate these.

Saba explains that the project’s topical issue affects all businesses, since, as evidenced, today’s Canadian labour force is greatly diverse.

The project, which brings together several Canadian and foreign partners, has generated enthusiasm from several businesses that agreed to participate.

The benefits of this research will be many and concrete. They will be economic, organizational, psychological and sociological. Improving the employment conditions of people in target groups will have a positive impact on business performance and on the well-being and economic integration of people in underrepresented groups. It could also lead to better public policy decisions about women’s positions in the labour market, immigration issues and challenges in encouraging “active aging.”

Saba, previously acting dean of the Université de Montréal’s faculty of arts and science, and director of its school of industrial relations, has received multiple SSHRC grants to study human resource management issues.

She says SSHRC grants have allowed her to carry out her work despite her administrative responsibilities at the Université de Montréal, and to undertake much larger-scope projects, use a more integrated approach, and involve international partners.