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Cultivate the human potential of your employees

By Alison Grenier

For years, Great Place to Work® has documented the way high-trust workplaces outpace business rivals. But the latest research shows that what it took to be great 10 or 20 years ago is not good enough anymore.

Today’s organizations must clear a higher bar to reach their full potential by creating consistently great work experiences for all employees, no matter who they are, where they come from or what they do in the organization. Great Places to Work for All are better able to cultivate human potential, which helps them grow faster and outperform peers in the stock market.

Business leaders everywhere recognize diversity in all its forms as a competitive advantage. Diverse perspectives drive creativity, innovation and foster a feeling among employees that their opinion matters, which encourages them to give their best effort and stick around. And it seems that business leaders are putting this belief into practice. The vast majority of Canadian workplaces are representative of the communities in which they operate, have a formal diversity committee – with access to a budget – as well as an executive champion to drive this agenda forward.

Despite this overwhelming strategic focus on diversity, many Canadian organizations are still reporting that, while overt racism, sexism and homophobia are not as prevalent as they were a decade ago, diversity in workplaces has not yet translated into true inclusiveness. Diversity is about ensuring you have people of different backgrounds and experiences represented in the workplace. Inclusiveness takes it a step further by creating an environment where people’s differences of thought and experience are actually appreciated and viewed as a business advantage. Many well-meaning organizations have jumped on the bandwagon to hire for diversity without having the programs and structures in place to truly bring diverse perspectives into the fold. Diversity in itself does not create inclusion – an inclusive environment must be intentionally designed, nurtured and supported.

“Diversity in itself does not create inclusion – an inclusive environment must be intentionally designed, nurtured and supported.”

A truly inclusive workplace is what we call a Great Place to Work For All.

The idea is a kind of radical inclusivity where daily, human interactions at work recognize, welcome and expect great things from every employee. When there’s an authentic commitment to inclusion, fairness and trust building throughout the organization, people experience a positive workplace culture widely and consistently – not just in pockets, which is what we see in many other workplaces. Great Place to Work For All companies are therefore better able to cultivate the human potential of all their people – and to outperform their competitors.

Our economy has evolved through agrarian, industrial and knowledge phases to the point where the essential qualities of human beings are the most critical, where a culture of innovation is vital to sustainable success and where everyone’s contributions count. At the same time, societal and technological changes are creating new opportunities and challenges for organizations in the competition for talent. A reputation for developing employees and for welcoming people from all backgrounds and walks of life is increasingly crucial to attracting and retaining the best team possible.

In this new business frontier, organizations will reach their full potential only when they realize all of their human potential. That means organizations need to create an outstanding culture for everyone, no matter who they are or what they do for the organization.

Leading companies, including many of Canada’s Best Workplaces, are working hard to build diverse, consistently great workplaces, so they can close the gaps and stop wasting human potential. They realize that Great Places to Work For All are better for business, better for society and better for the world.

Want to learn more about how you can stop wasting human potential? Great Place to Work® Canada’s list of Canada’s Best Workplaces for Inclusion comes out Jan. 16 here. 

Alison Grenier is head of culture and research at Great Place to Work® Canada.

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