I came to Manitoba back in 2001. I moved here to attend university and get away from the craziness of Toronto. Back then, I think you would agree. This city was far less diverse than it is now. Boy, how the times have changed. One of the things that have most stood out in my mind when I think about this great province is how truly multicultural it is.
When I first got here. I noticed pretty quickly that things were a lot different. But maybe not the way you might think. I didn’t see a lot of faces that looked like mine. But what I did see was kids hanging out together from different races, religions and backgrounds. The cool thing was you could tell they were genuine friends and didn’t think anything of it. It wasn’t unusual or something worth mentioning out loud.
People didn’t stick to their corners like they do in Toronto. It just wasn’t a part of the reality here. To this day, I’m not sure if it’s because there aren’t enough folks here to decide you want to keep people out for reasons like ethnicity or because Manitoba is truly a friendly Manitoba. I think maybe both and probably a few other factors as well. The sense I’ve always had, though. Is that we are all kind of in this together. I love that about this province. I wanted to start here because it’s essential to recognize a good thing when you see it. So now the flipside…
As a business owner, I offer mobile equipment training and certification for construction and manufacturing companies. In these environments, you can see the real changes to the face of the population. For the most part, people get along. But there is one unwritten rule. If you want to last long enough to retire, don’t take anything personally.
Cracking inappropriate jokes is part of the workplace culture, and if you don’t have a somewhat darker sense of humour, you’re not going to last very long.
All that said, though. Fellow employees or superiors should never cross certain lines. These lines are bold, and you would think obvious. But they are trampled on regularly.
The problem as I see it. Many employees, supervisors, and even owners are not aware of how people are affected by their words and actions — this type of behaviour. Especially from leadership creates a quiet sense of acceptance that it’s just part of the job. Rarely does the person offending ask themselves how their words or actions could be perceived.
A quality sensitivity training program would go a long way to help close the gap for many companies, big and small. It just isn’t talked about enough. Companies need to have open forums just like we do with equipment training. These forums would teach their staff what is acceptable and not acceptable in the workplace. More importantly, it would give a platform for a better understanding of the person working next to you. What they may be going through and vice versa.
It’s an excellent start to build bridges and eventually get the workplace to look more like the friendly Manitoba I know and love.