Diversity in the Work Place

by Hannah Grover,

Social Media Summer Student

 Small Steps Towards an LGBTQIAP+ Positive Workplace

 Hannah’s Blog Post

A small amount of my adult life has been spent in a traditional workplace—I am much more familiar with the trials and tribulations of a university student. As such, the comforts afforded to me certainly were not in short supply. I’ve become quite accustomed to a diverse, animated population, student body, staff, and faculty alike– bustling with communal belonging, regardless of who your friends were. While it did me so much good to be surrounded by an inter-sectional community, it did present me with struggles when I entered a workforce that was not directly related to the university. Thankfully, what I learned from my time at the Work Preparation Centre is there is a very evident effort to increase diversity visibility in Regina workplaces.

I believe what makes a safe work space is an eagerness to learn from previous mistakes. While I’ve had plenty of opportunities to explore work spaces that embrace and encourage diversity, I have yet to experience a work space that is perhaps more hesitant to be “political.” Despite Canada maintaining workers’ and human rights, by enforcing anti-discrimination laws, there still exists problematic work space practices that do not facilitate a safe or positive space for diversity. Indifference towards minorities, like people of color, 2LGBTQIAP+, disabled or immigrants, becomes incredibly dangerous. Companies who want to make it known that minorities are welcome and safe in their space, particularly if they are of the most marginalized in their community (i.e. Indigenous , 2LGBTQIAP+ , and immigrants), need to be explicit about their desire to be that positive space for these communities.

As I have personal experience as a member of the 2LGBTQIAP+ community, I will speak to this experience alone. But again, I denote that the most impactful motions of diversity are moments for visibility. While vocal support is necessary, allowing those belonging to oppressed groups to just be with respect to individual experiences is powerful and meaningful. Embracing diversity in your workplace starts with small steps—perhaps a visible pride flag, gender neutral bathrooms, or a Positive/Safe Space demarcation somewhere. With these smaller initiatives, it becomes easier for folks from the 2LGBTQIAP+ community to feel safe in their workplace, should they choose to be out or not.

Open “intersectionality” is another important aspect of diversity in the workplace. Making a positive space for employees requires more than posters and simply saying diversity is valued. There needs to be an intrinsic understanding of “ally-ship”, knowing when your experience is necessary for the narrative, and making an abundance of space for silenced voices.  As a bisexual woman in Regina Saskatchewan, I find that it is very rare to see explicitly pro-2LGBTQIAP+ (two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex, agender/asexual, and pansexual—this does not include every identity there is) signage in traditional office work spaces. This makes it very difficult for folks to know if it is a safe space for them to be out and proud of who they are, as so many people in the community face violence and danger every day.

As I said, I was lucky enough to work on campus throughout my entire Bachelor’s degree and never truly had to face what the majority of 2LGBTQIAP+ citizens face. However, the visibility of minorities in Regina is increasing, and that, at least for now, give me hope for the future. Should more businesses be explicit in their support of diversity and safety in the workplace, companies will grow, workers will feel more secure, and it will encourage more progressive-leaning companies to follow suit.