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From Informing to Empowering: Digital Public Participation – P2 – Tools

September 3, 2020 – 7:51 am | Comments Off on From Informing to Empowering: Digital Public Participation – P2 – Tools | 2,273 views

The shift to digital engagement is not new. Online public engagement platforms have been utilized for decades to keep stakeholders informed and engage and empower citizens. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of digital tools …

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Diversity News

Latest news weekly headlines on diversity in Canada about the many obstacles to equal opportunity in education, business, and culture.


IMHO or In My Humble Opinion is a blog where Olga Shcherbyna shares her thoughts and ideas about what she sees, reads and feels.

Diversity Events

Here you will find local and international PD learning opportunities: intercultural communication, fair hiring practices and inclusive workforce.

Our Research

In this section you will find samples of research papers, both opinion and academic studies and other materials peppered by our professionals.

Our Projects

This section covers our projects, which should give you an idea of how we use different communications tools, solutions, and the results that they bring.

Our Research »

Community Partners Consultations: Child Care Options

December 15, 2019 – 10:13 am | Comments Off on Community Partners Consultations: Child Care Options | 1,246 views

In partnership with SPARC BC, Diversity CLUES was retained by Child Care Options Resource and Referral Program (Child Care Options)  to conduct community stakeholders’ consultations to inform their future programming.

In the fall of 2019, Child Care Options Resource and Referral Program (Child Care Options) initiated key community partner consultations with the goal to better understand the role and value of Child Care Options in Surrey, Delta and White Rock. An inquiry also sought to understand how Child Care Options engages with stakeholders and which improvements it might consider in the future service delivery model to increase its outreach and impact in the community.

As a part of the project, Diversity CLUES Consulting also conducted a comprehensive environmental scan of promising and innovative practices in the delivery of child care referral services and engaging families in developing CCRR services in other jurisdictions. In addition, grey literature review was conducted to better understand the demographics and emerging needs of local families. Continue reading

Our Research »

Cultural Awareness Training: City of Richmond

June 18, 2019 – 6:35 am | Comments Off on Cultural Awareness Training: City of Richmond | 1,513 views

DiversityCLUES Consulting was retained by the City of Richmond to develop and deliver custom-made training for City’s employees to improve their cultural awareness when delivering municipal services in Richmond. Over the period of 2014-2016, Olga and two associates delivered five 2-day training sessions to over 100 employees, including front line workers and management staff. Over 100 staff have participated in training sessions from 2014-2016.

City of Richmond clients come from diverse backgrounds. Their needs and expectations for service vary according to personal attributes (such as age, gender, and socioeconomic status, etc.), but are also shaped by their cultural heritage. DiviversityCLUES team conducted a comprehensive research and developed a training curriculum that included a variety of experiential learning activities to engage adult learners. This training course aims at helping city staff enhance their “cultural lens” when they serve the multicultural population in Richmond, adding value to their current service practices and protocols.

Read about our other projects and research studies.

Our Research »

Planning Canada: A Case Study Approach

June 18, 2019 – 6:15 am | Comments Off on Planning Canada: A Case Study Approach | 1,454 views

Olga Shcherbyna, along with Nora Angeles and John Foster, co-authored a chapter in a new Canadian planning textbook (2016) which brings together a collection of essays and studies covering a wide array of planning topics.

Edited by Ren Thomas, the textbook includes a range of practice and research based cases in eight areas: community and social planning, urban form and public health, natural resource management, housing, participatory processes, urban design, urban redevelopment, and transportation and infrastructure planning. They include examples from urban, rural, and Aboriginal communities across the country.

Planning Canada: A Case Study Approach is intended to introduce undergraduate students in planning, geography, and urban studies to the planning discipline in Canada, but the case studies offer enough depth to be used in graduate courses as well.

Chapter 2.1: Promising Practices in Social Plan Development and Implementation: Applying Lessons Learned from Canadian Urban Municipalities in the City of Richmond, British Columbia by John Foster, Olga Shcherbyna, and Leonora Angeles



IMHO-blog »

Diversity Training: Symbolic Act or a Step in the Right Direction?

May 6, 2020 – 12:00 pm | Comments Off on Diversity Training: Symbolic Act or a Step in the Right Direction? | 1,154 views

In June 2019, Vancouver welcomed close to 8,000 advocates, researchers, policy makers and global leaders from over 160 countries gathered at the 2019 Women Deliver Conference. This is the world’s largest gathering of women right’s advocates. This year, the conference theme was around power and how it can drive — or hinder — progress and change.

If we think about the progress that was made with regards to gender equality and women in positions of power, the numbers, particularly for North America, are quite bitter. Consider just these three facts.

  • First, neither the US nor Canada has ever elected a female national leader — although Kim Campbell was Prime Minister for roughly six months after Brian Mulroney retired from politics.
  • Secondly, a woman working full time in the US makes 80.7 cents [in Canada, 75 cents] for every dollar a man working full time earns and these numbers are even lower for Indigenous and racialized women.
  • Finally, while in 2019, the Fortune 500 reported the highest number of female CEOs ever, but it is still at pint sized 6.6 per cent of the group — I find the headlines celebrating this ‘achievement’ painful at least.

So, while seeing the many young and confident female delegates of Women Deliver Conference on the streets of beautiful Vancouver made my heart cheer, a nosy thought kept breaking through; after all the efforts in the US from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 [a labor law in the United States that prohibited discrimination in hiring, promotion, etc.] to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act [the first bill signed into law by President Barack Obama 10 years ago], we are still celebrating the milestone of 6.6 per cent women making it to the top corporate executives in Fortune 500 companies.

Diversity, Doing the Right Thing and ROI

While the link between diversity in the workplace and company performance is not as straightforward as some argue, a number of studies have demonstrated that cultural and gender diversity improves profitabilitydecision-making and innovation, while inclusive workplaces improve employee engagement.

If equity and/or performance arguments were not compelling enough, consider only the #MeToo cultural shift taking the world by storm in 2017 and questioning the “normality” of toxic masculine workplace cultures. Then comes the global #TimesUp movement raising global awareness on gender inequality in workplaces. Both have sparkled not only a public debate, but multiple lawsuits and public relations nightmares for multi-billion dollar companies across the globe.

A Step in the Right Direction

So, what can companies do to address gender inequality and increase diversity in the workplace?

The most common go-to solution for corporations to address organizational diversity and inclusion issues is to provide diversity training. For example, in September of 2018, following the aftermath of #TimesUp, American Express Co. has introduced training for managers aimed to help them build more inclusive teams and support women/minorities’ participation in meetings (i.e. what to do when they are interrupted or when their ideas are not being acknowledged).

In the same year, and in response to high profile harassment and pay discrimination cases, Nike also introduced company-wide, unconscious bias training “providing additional mandatory training for 10,000 managers.” Most recently, both Starbucks and Sephora closed their stores across the US for diversity training to address stereotype-driven incidents with their customers.

It is not my intention to claim that companies only offer diversity training exclusively as a public relations gig. There are organizations around the world that have been proactive in their organization-wide diversity and inclusion efforts, including offering diversity training to their staff/managers for years. Over 60 of such Canadian employers have been recognized as Canada’s Best Diversity Employers. 

However, diversity training is not cheap. Only in the US, companies are spending 8 billion dollars on diversity training annually. So, if corporations spent that much money on diversity training, it should work, shouldn’t it?

The answer is not as straightforward as you might think. In fact, Frank Dobbin and Alexandra Kalev, sociologists who have studied organizational diversity for decades, have identified diversity training as “likely the most expensive, and least effective, diversity program around.”

Does Diversity Training Really Work?

There are different forms of diversity training that vary from raising awareness to skill-based training models. Study after study we learn that while diversity training might be somewhat successful in raising awareness of prejudice, it rarely has long-term, sustainable effects and is highly ineffective in changing behaviours.

In fact, Frank Dobbin and Alexandra Kalev, sociologists who have studied organizational diversity for decades, have identified diversity training as “likely the most expensive, and least effective, diversity program around.” Unfortunately, most diversity training simply does not work, works conditionally or, in cases with mandatory training, might even have negative, opposite effects from what it was intended to achieve.

Why Diversity Training Can Fail

  1. Diversity fatigue: Diversity training is a not new sensation. Corporations, public institutions and NGOs have been conducting some sort of educational diversity training for over half a century. The first prototypes of diversity training programs in the US were designed in response to a number of discrimination suits filed with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in the late 1960s. Speaking about the fatigue from diversity training, a 2016 Economist article paraphrased what President Ronald Reagan once said: “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help’.” Today they run a close second behind 12 words: “I’m from human resources and I’m here to organize a diversity workshop.”
  2. Try NOT thinking about elephants: As human beings, we are prone to resist anything that is reactive, mandatory and/or framed around restrictions and consequences. My favourite example to illustrate this phenomenon is by above-mentioned Dobbin and Kalev: “Try NOT thinking about elephants. Diversity training typically encourages people to recognize and fight the stereotypes they hold, and this may simply be counter-productive.”
  3. Time commitment: Decades of research have shown that short-term educational interventions do not make a difference in people’s behaviours; yet, most diversity training is a couple of hours long. Think about safety training for a construction worker. Companies would like their employees not only be aware of hazards but know what to do in hazardous situations and master desired behaviors by practicing concrete skills, correct? Will two hours suffice?

What Makes Diversity Training Work

I am not going to list examples of diversity training programs that have worked. Exactly the same training that has worked for one organization might not do a thing for another, even when both companies have the same training goals and are comparable in terms of their size/sector. There are many hypotheses for why selected diversity training programs work. Yet, I believe, there is one key factor that contributes to the success of a diversity program in any organization.

What makes diversity training a symbolic act in one company and a step in the right direction in another is each company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. In isolation, diversity training does not make any difference at all, but its effectiveness increases when it becomes a part of a larger organizational strategy aimed to create inclusive work environment.

True commitment does not start from the diversity and inclusion statement on a company’s website or a mandatory two-hour awareness training. True commitment starts from the top [think leading-by-example] and goes beyond executives showing up for the first 15-minutes of training and never mentioning diversity and inclusion for the rest of the year. A CEO who allocates time to mentor a minority student shows the level of organizational commitment more than all the speeches about diversity and inclusion they could have given to staff.

True commitment to diversity and inclusion is honest, transparent, goal-oriented and data-driven. It shows up in hiring processes, performance reviews and is linked to overarching strategic objectives of the organization. True commitment enacts change in the culture of organization and requires resources.

A Change in Perspective

Organizations that are serious about attracting top talent have another big factor to consider. The composition of talent pipes is changing. By 2025, over 75 per cent of the workforce will be Millennials. Over 50 percent of Millennials look for diversity and inclusion practices in their prospective employers when considering a new job and nine-out-of-ten would rather take a pay cut than work for an employer who does not share their values. As a result, they are not only increasing the importance of diversity initiatives in the workplace, but bringing new perspectives about what diversity, belonging and inclusion really mean.

Staying on top of these trends and creating a culture of true inclusion will attract top talent and bring a competitive advantage to an organization. Diversity training, most likely, will play only a small part in this cultural shift.


This article first appeared in the CPHR’s online publication PeopleTalk on June 18, 2019.

#diversitytraining #diversity #diversityandinclusion #training #genderdiversity #culturaldiversity #workplaces #healthyworkplaces #womenleaders #leadershipmatters #workplaceculture


Diversity and Inclusion. All we need is a little bit of inspiration and small steps forward.

October 10, 2019 – 11:52 am | Comments Off on Diversity and Inclusion. All we need is a little bit of inspiration and small steps forward. | 1,158 views

What comes to mind when somebody talks about Portland? My image of Portland was largely shaped by my avid-travelers-friends who painted it as a hipster city where two key attractions are [based on their pictures] …

Tired of hearing about a business case for hiring immigrants?

June 19, 2019 – 11:49 am | Comments Off on Tired of hearing about a business case for hiring immigrants? | 1,643 views

Let’s demystify a tale about a ‘cultural fit’, Canadian experience and foreign credentials.
Recently a friend of mine told me that they were tired of hearing about why it makes sense to hire immigrants and instead …

Creating a Diverse & Inclusive workplace

May 2, 2019 – 9:04 pm | Comments Off on Creating a Diverse & Inclusive workplace | 1,422 views

Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace can be difficult to navigate. This course will help professionals in the workplace to understand how to support your team with creating a diverse and inclusive workplace. Topics that are …

The Importance of Culture, Diversity, and Inclusion in the Workplace

April 25, 2019 – 8:39 pm | Comments Off on The Importance of Culture, Diversity, and Inclusion in the Workplace | 1,691 views

In the midst of social movements around equity, diversity, and inclusion, we find ourselves asking how important it is for us to be diverse and inclusive at work and what that really means for organizations. …

SFU Public Square presents 2018 Community Summit – Brave New Work

February 24, 2018 – 9:35 am | 3,099 views

The 2018 Community Summit, Brave New Work, invites us to consider how we can all thrive in the changing world of work.
Technological growth is happening at an unprecedented rate and scale, and it is fundamentally …