Litigation Management and Resolution Branch (LMRB),
Crown and Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

Fostering Inclusive and Healthy Workplaces

January 31, 2018


In a 2014 report on the determinants of mental health, the World Health Organization concluded, “social inequalities are associated with increased risk of many common mental disorders.”

The WHO’s message substantiates the notion that many mental health issues affecting Canadian workplaces are the direct result of a non-inclusive workplace, and thereby, a staff member’s capacity to foster an inclusive work environment.

As workplaces across all sectors race to create more respectful workplaces, there is growing realization that respect might only bring workplaces to a point of tolerance for diversity. Inclusive workplaces, on the other hand, go beyond respect, fostering both belonging and a genuinely healthy workforce. The connection between mental health and inclusion in the workplace is especially pronounced as Canadian workplaces become increasingly diverse; thereby, making the skills to navigate cultural differences, disrupt human bias, and foster feelings of inclusion, not only essential for managing multicultural teams, but critical for maintaining the mental health of workplaces today and in the future.

This full-day engagement addresses barriers to employment equity, the intercultural afterthought of greater diversity in our workplaces, and explores the impact of inclusion on employee wellness in the workplace.



(A) Establishing Intent in an Excellence Driven Culture
(60 minutes)

Purposeful leadership requires a strong sense of intentionality. In this opening session, LMRB staff will examine the different kinds of diversity, the business case (or business imperative) for a more inclusive workplace, and also explore the organizational stage-by-stage process towards fostering a work environment where people with profound differences thrive. Participants will determine where they are in the journey, what business outcomes are most relevant and the kind of organizational mindset they aspire to establish as leaders. This session will also build an awareness of the factors that result in unintended and often hurtful or inequitable outcomes.

(B) Six Vital Traits for Inclusive Leadership
(60 minutes)

Inclusive leadership is promised to be the heart of innovation. The capacity for leaders to model inclusive attitudes, language and behaviours are the litmus test of any leader's integrity and commitment towards social inclusion. Failure to demonstrate inclusivity at any level of leadership drives people away, harbours discrimination, normalizes inequity and has direct impact on the mental health of workplaces. This session provides a framework for what inclusive leadership is and aims to achieve. This session explores the most recent report by Deloitte on when employees feel included, provides a research-based framework around inclusive leadership, and further examines differences in what various employee groups perceive as inclusive leadership behaviours. 

(C) Intercultural Essentials for the Public Service
(120 minutes)

This engaging and interactive session provides a frank conversation about the aspirations of a more diverse and inclusive operation, the intercultural afterthought, and the emergent challenges faced by leadership, staff and community members in making the “world around us” an integral aspect of any organization. This session focuses on establishing the fundamentals needed for developing intercultural attitudes, social capital across culturally diverse communities, and intercultural communication skills.

This session will also cover:

  • The impact of cultural differences (cultural bias)
  • The stages of organizational change that must occur for inclusion to be institutionalized
  • Intercultural Fluency
  • Racial discrimination vs. Racism (incidences vs. the historic accumulation of oppression)
  • Examples of Micro-Aggression
  • Whose responsibility is it to adapt?
  • Saying the wrong thing

(D) Intro to Confronting Unconscious Bias in the Public Service
(90 minutes)

All public service staff are faced with the critical responsibility of acknowledging and disrupting bias. This session establishes a foundational understanding of how bias affects decision-making and explores the impact of three kinds of bias that impact board selection processes: implicit or unconscious bias, cultural bias and systems bias.

With a specific focus on bringing awareness to and disrupting unconscious and cultural bias in the selection process of new hires, this session will provide an understanding of how biases are formed in our unconscious, and specifically addresses four kinds of unconscious bias that affect recruitment:

  • Affinity bias;
  • Confirmation bias;
  • Social comparison bias; and
  • Attribution error. 

This session will also introduce how dominant culture shapes our expectations of leadership, influences our sense of “fit” and can result in overlooking diverse board candidates who might present confidence and other non-verbal cues differently.

In advance of the session, participants will be invited to take at least two Harvard Implicit Association Tests (IATs), available free online at: 

Advance Homework: please watch a 20-minute video or read one of the following articles:

Lastly, this session will discuss strategies for recognizing and disrupting the unconscious and cultural bias which tend to occur during the recruitment and interviewing process.

What? So What? Now What?
(45 minutes)

The closing workshop is a space for attendees to digest and self-reflect on what they have learned or discovered through the day, and what impact this might have on their aspirations as well-intentioned managers and supervisors.

It will also provide additional space for honest dialogue and reflection on how power can cause unintended meaning, and how management can further develop the courage and commitment to lead inclusively, disrupt exclusion and most effectively be an ally to women, people with disabilities, Indigenous Peoples, people of colour, and LGBTQ2S+ employees. 

Have a burning question or comment? Anonymous questions are welcome.