Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin speaking at the event (Connor Trembley - Kelowna Capital News)

B.C. Lieutenant Governor discusses workplace diversity and inclusion at Kelowna event

Around 60 businesses are attending the event at the Coast Capri Hotel on Friday

Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia Janet Austin was the opening speaker at an Ignite Okanagan 2020 conference at the Coast Capri Hotel in Kelowna on March 6.

Representatives from 60 Okanagan businesses attened the event to learn about how to promote better diversity and inclusive practices for people in workplaces.

READ MORE: Okanagan residents gather at Kelowna City Hall in support of workplace inclusivity

During Austin’s speech, she talked about her past work that helped to improve working conditions for people in Canada.

“During work I did at the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, I looked at how we can fully engage the protective capacity in our workplace by reaching out and engaging newcomer populations and people’s skills who are underutilized in the current economy,” said Austin.

“That work also included Indigenous peoples’ and women. I think the work produced great results.”

Austin said that companies with more diverse workplaces also tend to perform better in the long run.

“Research has consistently shown that companies that embrace diversity tend to have a healthier bottom line and outperform those that do not over a whole range of measures,” said Austin.

“A recent report in 2018 by Mackenzie and Company showed that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity were 15 per cent more likely to have financial returns above the industry average. The report said companies in the top quartile for ethnic and racial diversity were also 35 per cent more likely to achieve those above-average financial results.”

Laura Baumback, an employee at Tommy Guns Barber Shop in Kelowna, said the event is also meant to give employers insight on how new immigrants can help to fill job vacancies at their companies.

“This event will be talking about how employers can get foreign talent. That includes through current immigration and foreign worker programs,” said Baumback.

“We’ll also be talking about employees can feel safe in their workplaces and how they can have healthy conversations in their workplace environments.”

In total, there are more than ten presentations and panel discussions about diversity and inclusion at the event.

To learn more about the event, you can visit the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce’s website.


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