A Case for Diversity

Diversifying the engineering profession requires strong leadership and actionable objectives that will increase the representation of communities, such as ethnic minorities, women, LGTBQ, the social and economically disadvantaged, and those with disabilities, who are currently underrepresented across the sector.

A more diverse and inclusive profession will provide significant benefits to the public by increasing innovative and creative solutions to overcome an industry wide skills shortage, produce a larger return on human resource investment, and support a more sustainable profession.

Three cases can be made to reinforce the importance of these elements in industry:

 

The Business Case

Business has the transformative power to change and contribute to a more open, diverse and inclusive society. With an expanding body of research tying a diverse workplace to business and financial performance, the case for diverse and inclusive workplaces can no longer be ignored.

From a financial perspective, McKinsey & Company’s global study of more than 1,000 organizations, representing 12 countries, concluded that organizations with the most gender-diverse leadership teams were more likely to outperform on profitability and value creation by 21% and 27% respectively.

Moving beyond financial gain, there is substantial research to show that diversity brings many other advantages to an organization, including higher employee retention and job satisfaction ratings compared with those who do not invest in diversity. While correlation does not equal causation, the correlation does indicate that when organizations commit themselves to diverse leadership, they are more successful.

When we bring together employees of diverse backgrounds, beliefs, affiliations and orientations, we are able expand our creativity and problem-solving capacity. Unique and differing perspectives ensure organizations consider issues differently and deliver more comprehensive alternatives than those of a homogenous group.

 

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The Ethical Case

Everyone has the right to be treated fairly and equally. It is when individuals are treated respectfully and feel included, they feel a sense of loyalty towards their organization. This can lead to increased business and revenue, but also a higher retention rate within the company.

The Engineers and Geoscientists Act, the professions' governing legislation, as well as the Bylaws and Code of Ethics, guides the association and its members and licensees in performing their duties. 

The Code of Ethics applies to all Engineers and Geoscientists BC members whether they are actively engaged in engineering or geoscience work or are working in other areas. This code states that:

Engineering and geoscience professionals have a duty to the public, to the professions and their fellow members and licensees and shall act at all times with fairness, courtesy and good faith to their associates. Each member of Engineers and Geoscientists BC is expected to exercise individual judgment at all times and in all situations.

If members do not conduct themselves appropriately, further action can be taken against the individual.

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The Legal Case

In British Columbia, all employers (including corporations, societies, partnerships, unions, and government entities) are governed by either the federal
Canadian Human Rights Act, RSC 1985, c.H-6, or the British Columbia Human Rights Code, RSBC 1996, c. 210.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms clearly prohibits discriminiation.

Section 15.(1) states:

Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age, or mental or physical disability.

This section of the Charter, together with the Code of Ethics requirements, rules out discrimination by members of the association, in their business life as well as in their public life, and any discrimination by a member could result in charges of unethical or unprofessional conduct under the Engineers and Geoscientists Act. Furthermore, violation of the discrimination provisions of the Charter could result in charges under the British Columbia Human Rights Code, on a much wider basis than is available under our Act.

Engineers and Geoscientists BC has a process for taking complaints against Engineers and Geoscientists BC professionals in relation to allegations that any Engineers and Geoscientists BC professional has not practised professional engineering or professional geoscience in accordance with the standards of the professions, including aspects of practice related to human rights and respect for others that could constitute unprofessional conduct or a breach of the Engineers and Geoscientists BC Code of Ethics. Principle 1 of the Code of Ethics requires members to hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public, and to promote health and safety within the workplace. Principle 7 of the Code of Ethics requires Engineers and Geoscientists BC professionals to conduct themselves with fairness, courtesy and good faith toward clients, colleagues and others.

If you are harassed or discriminated against, do not ignore it. Further information for dealing with discrimination and harassment can be found in the Engineers and Geoscientists BC Human Rights and Diversity Professional Practice Guidelines.

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