FOSTERING CULTURES OF EQUITY, DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION (EDI)
In addition to the technological trend described previously, the Labour Market Information (LMI) Council (2018) identified two other emerging trends with respect to the future of work, the next largest being a demographic shift. In the LMI report, this trend is described as the combination of an ageing population and a declining workforce, resulting in concerns over labour and skills shortages1. In this report, LMI also proposes a key research question: “how best to develop and implement a range of strategies aimed at improving productivity, increasing labour supply through effective immigration and encouraging more labour force participation among underrepresented groups?”1.
Reflective exercises within WIL curriculum will also encourage students to think more critically about their experiences with others and help to uncover and work through existing biases.
This attempt to re-invigorate the labour market with new workers will likely result in a more heterogeneous workforce. Among these new workers will likely include millennials – or persons born in the 1980’s to 1990’s12. Some reports have focused on ways in which different demographics work. For example, Deloitte released a report on the future of work and highlighted the ways in which millennials use technology, how they communicate and where and when they prefer to work in comparison to older generations, or baby boomers3. This report noted that millennials rely more heavily on technology, tend to be less private and are more focused on results and impact than the hours they put in than older generations3. Although there is a tendency for older generations to require adaptation, it will be equally important for all workers, despite their generational differences, to learn to work harmoniously with one another and be understanding of each other’s differences.
In addition to increasing labour supply through immigration, heterogeneity will likely also be compounded by technological advancements and an increased ability to work remotely from anywhere in the world. The result will likely be a more globalized and diverse workforce, hence organizational pressure to ensure that employees are well versed in cultural sensitivity and diversity and inclusion training. However, these opportunities and challenges should not be mitigated solely by organizations and employers but point to an area of focus for WIL opportunities at the post-secondary level. The incorporation of WIL programs into organizations allows employers to be engaging with young talent at the earliest stages of their careers, helping employers to better understand the motivations and preferences of the next generation of talent. WIL students are also introduced to concepts of EDI in their programs to some degree, and they bring this awareness with them into workplaces. Reflective exercises often embedded within WIL curriculum will also encourage students to think more critically about their experiences working with others, and potentially help to uncover and work through existing biases. However, WIL programs should build intentional programming about EDI into their preparation of WIL students so that those students at the very least can advocate for themselves and become appropriate allies in workplaces to help foster cultures of EDI. Furthermore, providing students with cultural intelligence training can help them navigate cultural differences and foster EDI appropriately. This will help to ensure that post-secondary institutions, WIL educators and mentors create a talent pipeline prepared for and well-versed in EDI in the workplace.