When diversity and inclusion comes up in conversation, often we’re talking about the private sector. But nonprofits need to think about these issues too: a 2014 report from the Mowat Centre discovered that many non-profits in Ontario are not representative of the province’s diverse population.

TRIEC has partnered with the Ontario Nonprofit Network to deliver a series of learning sessions and webinars on cultural diversity for nonprofit staff. Madeleine Nerenberg, a Program Manager from KEYS Job Centre in Kingston, is one of the participants in the ongoing training. She shares how this learning  is helping her to build a truly inclusive workplace. 

Update: TRIEC is offering Leading the Conversation – Diversity and Inclusion Training for Leaders again in Fall 2017.

“KEYS Job Centre in Kingston provides services to immigrant job seekers as well as all members of the community and support employers. We’re medium-size non-profit organization operating in a small town. As a member of the local immigration partnership, we offer a range of immigrant services and promote the values of diversity and inclusion in our community.

By participating in the Campus course, we were hoping to deepen our knowledge and practice what we preach. It’s also important to make sure we have access to up-to-date information and resources, and connect with other people in the province who value diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Personally, what I was expecting from the training was the opportunity to share best practices with non-profit organizations in Ontario, and also the opportunity to have our current practices and perceptions challenged by TRIEC.

gray-quotation-marks-hi When it comes to diversity and inclusion, the challenge that non-profit organizations face is that we operate in a unique and established cultural reality that is different than the corporate sector.

Overall, there is a genuine commitment to diversity and inclusion across the sector. But generally being underfunded and overworked is always a reality. The bottom line for the NGO sector is our clients. They’re always number one.  Because we’re so focused on meeting the needs of people we’re working with, we might not have as much time or resources or energy to focus on issues of inclusion and diversity within our organizations.

We have excellent internal policies, and during the training, we had an opportunity to delve back into them and look what those policies really mean. Now, we need to move from value statements about diversity to making it happen.

The environment we operate in is changing. There has been an increase in diversity in our workplace. And recently, the conversations of value of having immigrants in our community, socially, economically, culturally have been happening more. In terms of our work with employers, we’ve been very eager to move past the business case onto practical things. We offer them cross-cultural interviewing and resume screening practices, and support with onboarding, integration and retention.

Our clientele is culturally diverse. We can’t offer effective services to the community if we’re not internally living up to those standards and those values. The realities of immigrant experiences are rich and complex. There is so much we can learn as a forward-thinking organization by seeking to better understand what that is and how we can work cross-culturally to achieve our mission.

Creating a truly diverse and inclusive workplace actually requires everyone to be involved, the whole staff. In future sessions, we’ll talk about strategies for how we can promote individual and team movement on that continuum of cultural competencies. I look forward to that.

I want to thank and applaud TRIEC for what they’re doing and for offering their training beyond the boundaries of the GTA.”