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DEI Within the Circular Economy


PHOTO: ISTOCK/GETTY IMAGES

What is the Circular Economy?

The circular economy has been an increasingly relevant topic within society over the past decade. Compared to the linear systems that are integrated in the majority of society today, the circular economy offers an alternative process that prevents waste, encourages sustainability, and minimises environmental degradation. As more people become aware of the impacts of the climate crisis, they have been interested in this alternative. The three design principles of the circular economy are:

  1. Eliminating waste and pollution,

  2. Circulating products and materials,

  3. Regenerating natural systems.

Check out our blog post What is the Circular Economy? For more information about it!


What is DEI?

Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity (DEI) are a set of values and a framework that many companies have been adopting and internalizing into their companies. Starting in the 1960’s and birthed by the civil rights movement, the DEI framework has the potential to be used in any sector or industry; however, it has specifically caught fire to the word of companies based in the efforts for a circular economy. Why might this be?


Both working together

Well, pursuing the circular economy is a pursuit of climate justice which inherently prioritises diversity in order to serve the whole of society in a socially equitable way. This is why efforts towards the circular economy are so tied to DEI within the workforce, because they have this strong shared value of inclusion for climate justice.


While climate change impacts us all, it disproportionately impacts those from marginalised groups. This includes People of Color, folks who are Black, Indigenous, Queer, Trans, Disabled, Neurodivergent, women, immigrants, refugees, people experiencing houselessness, and so many more.


Because of this, marginalised communities must have the opportunity to lead climate solutions efforts in a meaningful way. It's so important to include those who have been intentionally pushed out of the conversation for too long and to let their voices be heard.


At ShareWares

ShareWares, as a circular economy based company, and a workplace that strives to embody DEI principles, we sit at the intersection of these topics. Soon we will have a section on our website dedicated to DEI within ShareWares, with all of our best practices and templates, which will be free for anyone to access and download. But for now, here are some highlights:


PHOTO: ShareWares Employees at a Team Bonding Party

Relationship Building

True relationship building is at the core of all of our work. Once everything else is stripped back, relationships are all we are really left with and we recognize that they are sacred and invaluable. Collective action and collaboration is not only our goal with consumers - but with our community as well.


Though this has always been a priority for ShareWares, this teaching is something that our Workplace Inclusion Coordinator, Kayla, has pushed to the forefront and prioritised above all else. Kayla learned and experienced the true meaning of developing meaningful relationships while working within the Indigenous Pathways community under Ji-gaabiikwe’s mentorship and guidance. It is the teaching of working alongside fellow community members in a good way - while centring reciprocity and respect.


ShareWares has evolved and flourished over the last few years thanks to the employees working behind the scenes and our community connections. We continue to learn and grow from every interaction we have with the wonderful minds in the space and strive to embody the sentiment of "for the people, by the people." This is done with a strong emphasis on collaboration and community.


Interview Process

Everything from creating the job description to pre-screening to interviewing is designed with accessibility and inclusion in mind. Job descriptions are written in plain language, screened for gender bias, and ensured to focus only on core competencies.


Instead of posting job listings on sites like Indeed, we circulate them through partnered organisations such as the Richmond Center for Disability, CBI Consultants, EMBERS or the Open Door Group.


All job listings include an itinerary of the interview process, a list of the pre-selected questions, and a "photo tour" of our work environment, so all candidates feel informed and prepared before their pre-screening call and interview.


Once the interview begins, candidates are evaluated based on their ability to complete core competencies, how well they align with our organisation's core values, and by the unique cultural adds they may bring. During the interview process, all job coaches, interpreters, support workers, snacks, written notes, sensory toys, etc. are welcomed.


And lastly, whether it's prior to the interview, or in the moment, we allow each candidate to choose how they would like to be interviewed. Whether it's physically demonstrating their skills through simulations, through sit-down questions, or moving conversation on a walking tour.


Inclusive Onboarding

Once a candidate is hired, we continue the adoption of flexibility into our onboarding process. Onboarding can be provided in a variety of ways, and what is most important is that the candidate completes the process feeling comfortable and safe to perform the job.


To accommodate varying experiential, auditory, visual, reading or other differing learning styles, we offer flexible onboarding, and work with individual needs to customise the format.


All new hires are also provided with a Community Resources Folder. This can be used as a first step if folks are looking for support of their own or are interested in how to show allyship for different marginalised groups. The Community Resource Folder also shows that our organisation is aware of and open to discussing taboo or stigmatised topics. It offers community based, grassroots support for a variety of life circumstances that any of our employees may be experiencing.


Job Carving

As the candidate works with us, we ask only that the core competencies of the job are achieved, and we can carve the rest!


Job carving is crucial to the longevity of a candidate's success, and is an ongoing conversation that may evolve over time as the employees interests and needs shift, and as the team grows.


Working through a Trauma-Informed Lens

A trauma informed lens is built into our hiring frameworks, HR procedures, and day-to-day activities. We use the National Center for Trauma-Informed Care's Six Guiding Principles to Gradually move ShareWares through the four stages to becoming a trauma informed workplace.


These principles are safety, trustworthiness and transparency, peer support, collaboration and mutuality, empowerment in voice and choice, and culture, historical, and gender consideration.


Our work towards this title requires constant attention, caring awareness, sensitivity, and even the possibility of cultural change at an organisational level. Ongoing internal organisational assessment and quality improvement, as well as engagement with community stakeholders help imbed this approach.


One example of this in action at ShareWares would include an employee arriving late for work. Instead of jumping to conclusions, or taking disciplinary action, we pause, and hold space for the employee, engaging in a conversation to try and understand why they have been late, and explore tools the organisation can provide to remedy any concerns. This may include tapping into employee benefits, searching for resources in the Community Resources Folder, or creating a Performance Improvement Plan.


Using a Workplace Accessibility Passport

ShareWares has also implemented a Workplace Accessibility Passport for all employees, which can empower individuals to receive the accommodations and support they need in a timely manner.


Creating this framework opens up a line of communication and takes the onus off the employee, who otherwise would have to proactively approach their employer about accommodations.


This is an ever-evolving, breathing document that can be visited at any time. It facilitates continued support even through changing management staff, so new managers can be briefed on each employee, and have a record of accommodations to date.


This is also a powerful tool for employees if they themselves switch companies, as it is unique to the individual, not the workplace.


Auditing

As part of the inclusive hiring framework, two auditing systems have been developed to understand how our DEI efforts evolve over time.


The first one is our Community Survey, sent to all members of our team. This was made in collaboration with 9 other folks in the DEI space.


The second is a self-auditing tool developed by LifeLabs Learning, intended to better understand ShareWare's demographics and help us tailor our DEI efforts. This is new and we're excited to collect our first round of data this year, which will provide us with the baseline data we need to move forward and track growth.


Both these audits provide information that allow us to see how the makeup of our community evolves over time. Our goal is to keep this information internally for community knowledge, to share it with interested job candidates who are curious about our workplace diversity, and to share on our website in the pursuit of normalising conversations about DEI. We also hope to show leadership in DEI employment by participating in the Pledge to Measure program, run by the Community of Accessible Employers.


Building Community Resources

In addition to our standard health benefits and workplace accessibility passport, we also have a Community Resource folder.


This is an internally public folder full of resources developed from our partners at various nonprofits, collaborative minds from those with lived experience, and other organisations in BC. We take extra effort to select resources developed in grassroots, and specifically targeting those in BC.


Using Plain Language.

And lastly, across the board and across all of these steps, we use plain language whenever possible. This includes internal support documents, meetings, social media posts, website contents, newsletters, and all published media.


We define and understand plain language as fair, inclusive and to the point, avoiding unnecessary and unique jargon. To confirm our internal vocabulary, we use tools such as the Hemmingway App, WriteClearly, and Microsoft Features to scan our work, and help us ensure only plain language is used.


Written By: Kayla Chutter

Published By: Lily Trinh

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