National Diversity Day celebrates who we are as individuals regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, nationality or disability. It is a day to reflect and learn about different cultures and ideologies but more so, it’s about embracing acceptance and tolerance.
At Ricoh, National Diversity Day provides the opportunity to reflect and ask ourselves; “How well as an organization, are we performing in championing diversity and inclusion?” The Ricoh 3 Loves intrinsically supports our efforts in our ongoing diversity and inclusion journey, but what measures have had an effect towards creating an inclusive culture where diversity is accepted and celebrated?
In an article in the Harvard Business Review1, Laura Sherbin and Ripa Rashid write: “In the context of the workplace, diversity equals representation. Without inclusion, however, the crucial connections that attract diverse talent, encourage their participation, foster innovation, and lead to business growth won’t happen.”
It’s important to highlight where we began in our journey and where we are going today. The journey for diversity and inclusion has been marked by a significant shift from very subtle nods of appreciation for diversity in the past – to a more explicit approach where the objective is focused towards building a stronger and more inclusive culture and presence. This shift has been guided by an overarching directive to create a workplace culture where employees feel they belong.
Ricoh first began its journey by identifying the little things that made their employees feel less included. By removing implied barriers at an employee level, it began and became part of the diversity and inclusion journey.
Policy changes that were very simple in nature were implemented to respect the diverse lifestyles of Ricoh’s workforce. Flexible working conditions allowed employees to make their careers fit comfortably with their commitments. Likewise, relaxing the dress code (with no explicit guidelines) enabled employees to bring their true identities to the workplace. These changes allowed for a more respectful culture where employee individuality could exist on its own terms.
In recent years, Ricoh’s has committed to a more concerted effort in its diversity and inclusion activities. By applying the diversity and inclusion lens to all parts of the organization from processes, sponsorships, talent management (with the support of a dedicated committee) – an internal re-education for diversity and a cultural shift towards inclusion has been triggered.
Talent management at Ricoh now adopts the diversity perspective in the quality of talent at both an acquisition and retention level. Ricoh understands that if you don’t advertise your roles to where people are looking, it closes the gap further in drawing a diverse range of candidates into the recruitment pipeline. New roles are now being made available to a greater audience of job seekers through dedicated diversity communities such as Equitek.
Likewise, job descriptions are now written in a gender-neutral voice so that candidates are not inadvertently screened to fit an expected stereotype for a role. For every role advertised, Ricoh commits to ensuring that a diverse range of candidates make it through the screening and interviewing process so that a true cross section of candidates is presented for final selection.
At a talent retention level, the diversity and inclusion lens is again weaved into organizational vitality activities. Leaders are now asked to pause and ask themselves – do they have enough diversity inside of their existing teams? How can they support both diversity and career development for high potential or successor reports?
While Ricoh continued its efforts to actively promote diversity and inclusion, it also looked outwards in engaging with diverse groups and communities that aligned with the interests of its workforce. International Women’s Day is now celebrated annually with customers and partners to recognize female leadership and empowerment.
With initiatives for bursary programs across British Columbia, support for quality education has also become another area of focus for Ricoh. By providing bursaries to indigenous communities, Ricoh remains committed to providing the future workforce of diverse groups with a foundational base for education.
As we celebrate National Diversity Day, we continue to embrace an inclusive culture and presence that drives the goal of creating diversity of thought. At Ricoh, we remain committed towards fueling our journey through different diversity and inclusion initiatives. And while we continue to embark on the long journey ahead of us, we remain dedicated in finishing it together. As Jacqueline Woodson succinctly puts it “Diversity is about all of us, and about us having to figure out how to walk through this world together.”
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1https://hbr.org/2017/02/diversity-doesnt-stick-without-inclusion