According to the 2016 Supplier Diversity in Canada report by the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion, there are many important benefits that support the case for supplier diversity. These benefits include things like improved employee engagement, increased access to ethnic or diverse markets and community relationship building.

In the past you may have heard that some big businesses were mandated to adopt a culture of diversity, and as a small business owner, you too, can choose to embrace diversity in your day-to-day operations. How can you make diversity fit your small business? Here are some examples:

  • Decide what is important to your business — make it known.
  • As a business owner, become sensitive to different cultures. This can be especially meaningful if you are located in or serve a very diverse neighbourhood.
  • Allow your employees to take time off for significant cultural holidays — not just traditional holidays.
  • Take the time to consider others’ positions, thoughts and ideas.
  • Look for tie-ins with festivals and parades in your city. Show your support for a variety of causes.

Becoming a diversity-conscious business may take significant work and you may find that it may take time to see results that you can directly link to your new business outlook. While you are adjusting the way you do business, you are also building goodwill in your community.

Sole proprietors and small businesses may find it more difficult finding ways to practice diversity.

  • Look at changing the way you hire suppliers you need for your products or services. Seek out organizations that can help you identify businesses or contractors who may not traditionally be included in the supply chain.
  • Consider certifying your business, if you are at least 51% owned by an underrepresented group.

Diversity does not just mean different colours or creeds. Make sure that your customer and supplier base reflects all segments of society: women, youth, seniors, LGBTQ+, Indigenous people, and immigrants. It can mean extending your workforce to include those struggling with mental health issues, those being reintroduced to the regular workforce for various reasons and people with different levels of ability.

Promoting diversity in your business is a sign of respect. By offering equal employment opportunities and by treating all customers well, you are illustrating that you are in business to serve all who visit your establishment; whether by walking through your door into a welcoming environment or visiting a website that caters to all.

Be open to opportunities — diversity is a win for your organization, the cause in question and your bottom line.