Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: diversity

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian technology contractors relating to diversity.

Is the Information Technology Industry as “Open” as We Think?

Cameron McCallum By Cameron McCallum,
Regional Vice President at Eagle

Is the Information Technology Industry as "Open" as We Think?

I work in as culturally diverse an industry as can be imagined. The candidates and clients that Eagle works with on a daily basis have origins that span the globe. Eagle itself is a company made up of a conglomerate of languages and cultures. We celebrate our diversity and inclusion almost daily with email bulletins which tell us what days of significance and celebration are occurring. And our work on this front has made us a better company. We are one of Canada’s Best Managed, Best Workplaces and just recently we were named One of Canada’s Best Workplaces for Women. I’ve personally experienced how being a part of this kind of a workplace can create challenges, but I can also attest to the strength of an organization that takes this approach.

At the same time, when I see the current state of politics in the US, I am saddened by the examples xenophobia being expressed by a vociferous minority of Americans. The reality is that this expression of distrust and bigotry is nothing new, instead just choosing a time and place to reemerge in a consistent and persistent manner. Travel bans, patriotic chants, racist actions are not new although headlines from all media sources seem intent on making us feel like they are. And I don’t believe that as Canadians, we are somehow immune to these emotions and, in fact, we share historical and modern similarities with our American neighbors when it comes to discrimination and bigotry.

These actions aren’t limited to national politics, but frequently affect us in our daily lives, including the workplace. As noted above, in the IT industry we have the privilege of working with a diverse group of people, but it’s not to say racism doesn’t exist.  This CIO article written last week by Sharon Florentine asks the question of whether the IT industry is really as open as we think it is and it contains a sobering message. We need to be aware of and take action against systemic discrimination. While outward appearances infer that all is well, there is ample evidence to suggest otherwise.

Referenced Article
Racism in tech runs deep
Sharon Florentine, Senior Writer, CIO
March 9, 2017

Are You Making Offensive Comments Unknowingly?

This post by Mark Swartz was originally published to the Monster Career Advice blog.

Are You Making Offensive Comments Unknowingly?You don’t think of yourself as insensitive. Co-workers generally laugh or smile at your jokes. It’s rare that someone complains you’ve hurt their feelings by something you’ve said.

Then a colleague files a complaint against you for making an offensive remark. How can this be? You ask yourself. I don’t remember being inappropriate.

The rules of office etiquette are changing. Yesterday’s tolerated comments may be unsuitable today. Do you know how to avoid being an offender?

Diversity Can Create Uncertainty

If everyone at work was similar to you it would be simple not to offend. There might be unspoken rules about off-limit subjects and acceptable ways to communicate.

In diverse workplaces cultural norms vary. It can be harder to tell who you might upset by saying the wrong thing. You may sincerely believe that you aren’t coming across as abrasive. After all, your friends, family and work buddies never complain.

Definition of Offensive Comments

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, offensive remarks are in the ear of the receiver. Each person will weigh what you’ve said against their own sense of what’s tolerable.

If they consider your remark offensive they’ll see it as one or more of the following:

  • Personally repugnant, in violation of their moral or decency standards. For instance if you make a sexually suggestive joke.
  • Personally insulting, like when you belittle their work performance or intelligence.
  • Bigoted, as in judging others based only on their skin colour, religion or political beliefs.

Offensive statements cause people to cringe. Those who are affronted feel attacked or otherwise upset. That’s why you need to be aware of the impact your words are having.

Bigotry

A remark can be distressing if it stereotypes people. Bigotry is a broad category that covers some heavy duty typecasting. Statements that reduce a person to a set of prejudged traits belong here. They diminish the importance of respecting others as individuals.

Racism and sexism are in this category. So are sweeping comments based on age bracket, disability or sexual orientation. Same for marital and family status or country of origin.

Good thing there are ways to minimize your tendency to pigeonhole people.

Put Downs and Insults, Even In Jest

It’s unlikely you blatantly insult your boss and colleagues. More probably any put downs are made with a measure of humour. It can be fun to point out someone’s shortcomings – or to exaggerate their behaviour – in a non-hurtful way.

Except there’s a possibility of your intent being misinterpreted. Some people don’t find those sorts of comments comical. There’s also a risk that no matter how harmless the remark, the person on the receiving end is insecure or overly sensitive. They could react negatively.

Be careful about making people feel vulnerable. That’s especially true when publicly shaming others to motivate them.

Raising Sensitive Issues

Are there topics best avoided where you work? You might offend accidentally by bringing them up, even if you do so innocently.

Recalling embarrassing incidents that everyone wants to forget falls under this banner. Revealing somebody’s personal information without their permission does as well.

Watch That You Don’t Violate Policy

The workplace is not a 100% free-speech zone. Your employer may have policies that govern what’s off-limits. Read the employee manual for guidance. Study the sections on mutual respect and acceptable communication practices.

These policies could extend to what you say online. Express your controversial opinions to trusted followers. Offensive social media remarks that are publicly visible might get you called in for chat.

Online and off, it isn’t that you have to walk on eggshells in fear of offending someone. What you need to ensure is that you’re delicate in what you say or write, and never blurt out something that could be taken as harassment or bullying.

Business Etiquette Around the World (Infographic)

Sometimes independent contractors need to travel to work with clients from around the world. It could mean you are travelling to other countries, delegates are travelling to your country, or more commonly, meetings over the phone or video.

Regardless of where or how you meet people with different cultural backgrounds, you can save yourself awkward misunderstandings or conflicts by first reviewing this infographic from CT Business Travel. It explores different customs from different countries when it comes to introductions, meetings and even dining etiquette. Are there any tips you would add based on your own experiences? Share them in the comments below.

Business Etiquette Around the World #infographic
You can also find more infographics at Visualistan

Are You a Master of Workplace Adaptation?

Gilbert Boileau By Gilbert Boileau,
Vice-Président, Québec at Eagle

As an IT consultant, you probably are.  If not, you should be.  In fact, having to adapt to different workplaces very quickly, in comparison to your permanent coworkers, puts you in the unique situation of being or becoming a “master” of workplace adaptation.

Each client expects that you adapt quickly, as it is an implied characteristic of a “true” consultant.  They require that you understand the nuances of their corporate culture, way of doing things and employee mix.  And you have to do that quickly and with minimal guidance, contrary to most permanent IT employees who have a thorough onboarding process and weeks or months to adapt to their environment. As an IT consultant, time is never on your side.  Notwithstanding each organization’s corporate culture and management styles, here are 3 simple facts about today’s workplace:

  • Never before has there been a workforce and workplace so diverse in race, gender, and ethnicity;
  • We have four generations working side-by-side for the first time in history; and,
  • All have unique experiences and attributes which influence their attitudes towards work.

I want to bring your attention to the second point, what some have called the “generational divide” in the workplace. As mentioned, for the first time in history we have four generations working side-by-side. It is important to understand their main attribute so you can “navigate” in your new team and work environment.

Generations working side by side:

  • Seniors/Veterans: born between 1920 and 1945 are loyal, respect authority, Many Generations in a Companyappreciate discipline and hard work, are more formal and are able to wait for rewards. While most of them are retired, the one who are still in the workforce value structure, commitment, conformity and responsibility.
  • Baby-Boomers: born between 1946 and 1964, are competitive and think workers should pay their dues. They are independent, work long hours to get ahead and struggle with work-life balance. They are sometimes called the “Me” generation.
  • Gen Xers: born between 1962 and 1977, are more likely to be skeptical and independent-minded.  They are techno-literate and are sometimes called the “Not impressed” generation.
  • Gen Ys (also known as Millennials): born in 1978 or later and like teamwork, feedback and technology. They are more impatient and independent.

A lot of articles have been written on the subject as well as dozens of books.  I invite you to learn more and read about it.  This is just a reminder that you not only need to understand where you are on this generation spectrum but, to be a valued consultant, you also need to recognize that each generation brings their own set of skills and cultural norms.  Today’s environments are a mix of those different generations, cultures and talent.

And never forget: everywhere you go, your listening skills and your attitude are your most important “weapons” of adaptation. Major studies have shown that one of the best attribute to integrate a workplace and show leadership in your domain is directly related to your ability to ask the right questions and listen.  As for attitude, we are social animals. Across generations, ethnicity and gender, peer mimicry is part of every workplace. So working on yourself and projecting the right attitude will also ease the adaptation process.

As a consultant, you have to adapt to every new client.  Being able to master this will build a unique set of skills and add more value for both you and your future clients.