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The Benefits of Diversity and Inclusion: Indigenous-owned Businesses

Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity and Inclusion

Contributed by Katherine Boudreau

“To get real diversity of thought, you need to find the people who genuinely hold different views and invite them into the conversation.” — Organizational Psychologist, Adam Grant

Supporting indigenous-owned businesses illustrates how diversity and inclusion can play a vital role in diverse thinking and preserving cultural heritage while also strengthening the economy.

“As a talent sharing ecosystem, we specialize in building professional gig workforces. We have witnessed the power of diversity in the workplace to solve problems and to develop creative plans,” — Andrew Dillane, President of Curasion.

Innovation and Heritage

Indigenous-owned businesses often draw upon traditional knowledge systems and cultural insights that promote alternative approaches to business operations which may include prioritizing environmental sustainability. This commitment to the environment benefits both the local ecosystem and the broader community, fostering a sense of shared responsibility amongst industry leaders for the well-being of future generations.

In addition, support of these businesses and individuals can contribute to the preservation of indigenous knowledge, craftsmanship, and artistic traditions that are passed down through generations to ensure the survival and continuity of valuable cultural practices, as well as unique ways of seeing and being in the world.

Alison Tedford Seaweed is a Nakwaxdaʼxw woman, Kwakiutl First Nation member and author of the book, The Canadian Business Owner’s Guide to Reconciliation. She believes that the emphasis on diverse thinking that leads to a healthier bottom line is only a part of the story.

“I think that consumers have a desire to ensure that the funds that they spend are aligned with the values that they have,” says Alison Tedford Seaweed.

The guide is full of specific examples of how businesses can help support this alignment.

Strengthening the Economy

While economics isn’t the whole story, it is an important part. Promoting economic empowerment is one key factor. Historically, indigenous communities have faced significant economic disadvantages and marginalization. By supporting these businesses, people can contribute to the empowerment of indigenous entrepreneurs, helping them overcome barriers and build economic self-sufficiency. Economic empowerment not only enhances the financial well-being of indigenous individuals and communities, but also increases the potential for active participation in decision-making processes, advocating for rights, and shaping policies.

Economic empowerment seems to be taking a firm hold, according to an RBC Canada report “Indigenous Entrepreneurship in Canada: The Impact and the Opportunity“:

  • Indigenous business ownership is on the rise and increasing at five times the rate of non-Indigenous businesses,
  • Indigenous women-led businesses are starting at twice the rate.
  • Indigenous people are the fastest growing segment of the population, creating an Indigenous economy worth $30 billion.
  • Indigenous businesses are expected to grow to $100 billion by 2025.

How to Support Indigenous-owned Businesses

  • Personally seek out and purchase goods and services from indigenous entrepreneurs and increase economic growth within these communities.
  • Organizations can implement supplier diversity programs (like Deloitte which prioritizes sourcing from indigenous-owned businesses, creating opportunities for partnerships and economic collaboration).
  • Support government policies and initiatives directed toward indigenous industry and entrepreneurship that provide resources and training.

“Diversity and inclusion in the workplace are not about checking boxes. These are savvy workplace strategies that promote healthier approaches to the business landscape and the economy,” says Andrew Dillane from Curasion. 

How is your organization actively engaging with and supporting indigenous businesses, individuals and communities?

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