The BCFED’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, equity and social justice
British Columbia’s workforce is one of the most diverse in the world. The multicultural character of the province, the growing acknowledgement and inclusion of First Nations communities, and the liveability of major centres has made BC a destination of choice for people all over the world.
As a community of over 50 unions across the province, the BC Federation of Labour is committed to supporting the diversity of BC’s workforce, fostering more inclusive workplaces, and advocating for equity and social justice for those who experience barriers to inclusion throughout BC’s unions, workplaces and communities.
The BCFED’s fight for the rights of all working people includes advocating for the removal of obstacles to inclusion due to age, ethnicity or race, gender identity and expression, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, socio-economic class, cultural histories, religion and faith identity and other protected grounds. It is imperative that all workers feel they are equitably heard, represented and able to contribute to their workplace, community and union.
Equality vs. Equity
Is it enough to treat everyone the same? The goal of “equity” is to ensure all workers have an equal opportunity and access to opportunities in the workplace, community and within their union. It does not mean all workers require the same level of support. Some workers will require additional support to be able to have the same opportunities for success or to achieve the same levels of inclusion. Groups that have been historically excluded can be disadvantaged, and have a harder time being heard and understood.
Equity & Diversity Officers
The BC Federation of Labour supports the following equity groups to ensure the perspectives of all our members are heard, and to enhance a sense of belonging within respective unions and communities:
- Indigenous Workers
- LGBT Workers
- Workers of Colour
- Workers with Disabilities
- Young Workers
- Women and Gender Rights Committee
Support for affiliates
The BC Federation of Labour recognizes that member unions have different strengths and challenges around diversity and inclusion. As part of the BCFED’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, equity and social justice, the BC Federation of Labour provides a variety of on-going supports to its members, member unions and their elected leadership. For more information on how the BC Federation of Labour might support you, please contact: Kassandra Cordero Director Equity and Human Rights BC Federation of Labour 200-5118 Joyce St., Vancouver B.C. V5R 4H1 Direct Line 604-436-7034 Fax: 604-430-5917
Ready to further your organization’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, equity and social Justice? Not sure where to start? The following are recommended activities that the BC Federation encourages and supports its members to undertake within their unions.
- Conduct an equity audit of your members: the best place to start is with research. Contact the BC Federation of Labour to learn how to conduct an audit of your membership that will reveal who is struggling with inclusion in your union.
- Grow the cultural literacy of your leadership and members: it's much easier to provide supports or accommodations to workers who are experiencing barriers to inclusion when you and your members have greater levels of knowledge and understanding. For example, ensuing indigenous workers feel included in union activities requires knowledge (or literacy) of local indigenous language and history. Some basic education around the cultural differences of workers is a great way to demonstrate the value of diversity within an organization.
- Be accessible to members with disabilities: People with disabilities are one of BC’s most untapped pools of talent. Ensuring union activities and spaces are accessible is the minimum requirement by the law. As leaders in creating inclusive workplaces, the BC Federation of Labour encourages members to engage workers who identify as having visible and invisible disabilities to identify and eliminate potential barriers to full inclusion.
- Get “Positive Space” training (LGBTQ*2S inclusiveness training): This half-day workshop is a foundation to learning how to use inclusive language and better understanding the nuance of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, and presents the fundamentals to creating a workplace that is inclusive of workers who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Transgendered, Intersexual, Queer, Questioning, 2-Spirited.
- Engage and include First Nations and Indigenous workers: Canadians have made a public commitment to the revitalization of First Nations and Indigenous communities, including greater inclusion and more knowledgeable support in the workforce. It is in every union’s best interest to build meaningful relations with local First Nations and better understand the needs and expectations of First Nations and Indigenous workers.
- Test and train for implicit bias: Uncovering your implicit or unconscious bias is key to identifying our “blind spots” and creating fair and barrier-free decisions and decision-making processes. Implicit Association Tests (IATs) are free, and can be followed-up with training on how to reduce the impact of implicit bias in our work. Take the test here.
- Get up-to-date on a “Multifaith Calendar”: Each year the Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Service Agencies of BC (AMSSA) produces and distributes a multifaith calendar that describes significant dates for a wide range of faiths and faith identities. Engaging your union members to determine which dates are most significant and recognizing these dates enables members to bring their whole selves to work and to union activities. For many workers, faith identity is as significant to one’s identity as sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. Here is an example of a multifaith calendar.
- Recognize and celebrate human rights dates: Human Rights Dates refer to dates that are significant to human rights and diversity, as designated by the United Nations (UN). A list of dates recognized by the United Nations can be found here. Acknowledging and celebrating these dates through your membership brings your union into solidarity with social justice efforts throughout our local communities and around the world. The dates also provide an opportunity to engage workers of equity-seeking groups, and communicate the values of diversity, inclusion, equity and social justice.
- Make use of consultants and facilitators: There’s no need to figure out this complex work on your own. Getting help from experienced experts helps to build capacity, develop action plans, and provide training that is inspiring, impactful and valued.
- Form Employee Resource Groups (ERGs): Companies throughout Canada and the US are engaging their employees through Employee Resource Groups. Familiarizing, and even advocating for management-sponsored ERGs, deepens your engagement with workers and demonstrates your influence on employers. ERGs often have a senior executive as a champion, but require volunteer support to implement activities, programming and outreach into the community. In the area of diversity and inclusion, there is potential for unions and management to partner for the benefit of workers. For basics on how to start an ERG, please visit prideatwork.ca.
- Encourage labour movement champions: Championing of diversity and inclusion by labour movements is not new. In fact, historically, it has been labour organizations fighting for fair wages, job security and pay-equity for various equity-seeking groups, that has transformed work conditions in the US and Canada. The role of union leadership in the advancement of diversity, inclusion, equity and social justice remains true today, but requires on-going encouragement and leadership development.
- Make use of resources for diversity champions: There are plenty of online resources for those who are interested in supporting the efforts for greater diversity and inclusion. Visit the pages below for a collection of online resources:
- Priming people before implementing a DI plan, by Naveen, General Counsel and Director of Human Rights, Equity and Diversity at UFCW Canada
- A Leader’s Guide to Strengthen Unions
- Advancing Equity and Inclusion
- Equity and Inclusion Lens Handbook
- Trans Etiquette 101
- Gender Identity Glossary
- Unite Against Racism