The importance of embracing inclusion, diversity, and respect for cultural differences needs to be at the forefront of organizational priorities in the changing landscape of the modern workplace. This is especially true when it comes to working with Indigenous organizations or incorporating Indigenous perspectives within non-Indigenous organizations.
September 30th marked Canada’s National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. For employers, this is a time to review their commitment to Truth and Reconciliation and the impact they can make to remove barriers Indigenous peoples face in the workplace. One step an organization can take is to create a culture of inclusivity by ensuring policies are respectful, celebrate diverse backgrounds and ideas, and promote a safe work environment. Lisa Isaac HR Professional Services is an Indigenous-owned organization that specializes in providing support and services to Indigenous organizations and communities. In this blog, we’ll explore why this process is important and tips to improve it.
What is Indigenization?
Indigenization is an approach that aims to infuse Indigenous worldviews, values, and traditions into various aspects of an organization that previously promoted a more westernized or colonial culture. The aim is to incorporate Indigenous perspectives and practices with deep respect, recognizing that Indigenizing policies can create a more inclusive workplace, sensitive to the diverse backgrounds and cultures of the workforce. Indigenous Corporate Training Inc. provides another perspective on Indigenization.
Why Indigenize Workplace Policies?
1. Respect for diversity: Indigenizing policies shows a commitment to acknowledging and respecting diverse groups and to foster inclusion.
2. Reconciliation: In Canada, reconciliation with Indigenous peoples should be a top priority of all organizations. Indigenizing policies is a tangible way to contribute to this effort. (See TRC Call to Action #92)
3. Inclusive recruitment: Indigenized policies and practices can help attract diverse candidates with unique skills and experiences to improve an organization’s creativity and productivity.
How to Indigenize Workplace Policies?
Reflect: Take time to reflect on your current practices and consider if they are imposing barriers on underrepresented groups. Even if your policies seem fine on the surface, they might inherently support an elitist, racist, ableist framework simply by not acknowledging the historical disadvantage these groups have faced.
Gain insight: Research how to ethically and effectively Indigenize your workspace. One key aspect is approaching learning with an authentic desire to know more and be open to changing your own perspectives. Gain insight from local and legitimate sources by reaching out to the communities and Indigenous groups near you to learn how to do this correctly. Take care to avoid added emotional labour to your existing employees.
Take action: Make an action plan to review all policies and practices and ask: “who does this leave out?” Would Indigenous groups be comfortable working in an organization that does not allow for time off during cultural events or hunting season? Highlight these areas and develop steps to take to improve these practices. Remember these goals must be Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, and Timely.
Finally, it’s important to understand that Indigenizing the workplace improves the culture for all employees. It shows the commitment your organization holds to Truth and Reconciliation and that diverse lived experiences hold value and should be appreciated and welcomed. Ultimately, whether you are looking to hire more diverse teams or support your current ones, it needs to be done genuinely and with respect.
Is your organization interested in learning more about adopting a more inclusive workplace through equitable policies and practices that promote diversity? Reach out to our team to review your policies to provide recommendations and next steps. Sign up for our upcoming workshop “Policies for Small Business” in #Sarnia where we'll walk through inclusive, easy-to-understand, consistent, and compliant policies and development so you can get back to work to focus on what you do best!
Lisa Isaac HR Professional Services
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From the LIHR team and lead collaborator, Allison Leach, HR Advisor