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    small businesses

    Small businesses not immune in a digital world

    One email or social media post.

    That’s all it takes to bring years of hard work crashing to the ground for a business. Not even small businesses are immune from unacceptable actions of an employee, manager or owner that spill into a public space.

    The recent incident involving Valbella Meats in Canmore — which has had to deal with a public firestorm —  is a perfect example after an owner of the company sent a hate-filled email to the LGBTQIA2S+ community.

    The company may have fired the family member responsible for the email; however, the damage was done. The LGBTQIA2S+ community was left shaken and astounded. High-end restaurants and retail stores from around the province — relationships developed over years of hard work — walked away. 

    Discrimination training is necessary

    Every business has a responsibility and commitment to prevent discrimination and harassment between their employees and in the community. When operations are aligned with equity, diversity and inclusion principles, it becomes part of the corporate brand. Staff understand the core values and the importance of DEI. Customers all feel welcome, no matter their race, religion or sexual orientation. 

    A small or family-run business is no excuse to put your head in the sand and not develop core values, training policies and a framework to protect everyone. 

    Small businesses often grow quickly and organically. Managers spend their time scrambling to scale up operations and human resources issues often get put on the back burner. But training matters. 

    Start with training your senior leaders and developing internal human rights, discrimination and harassment policies. Explore ways to protect staff, management, ownership, customers and the community against sexual, LGBTQIA2S+, racial, ethnic and cultural hate and discrimination. 

    Creating a strong workplace culture starts with a strong foundation: education and learning. Through training, businesses may identify those with extreme views and work collaboratively with that individual to ensure the company message is what comes through — not personal perspectives. 

    Training is the opportunity for businesses to identify those with extreme views and ensure the company message is coming through strong and consistently. Family relations should be irrelevant. Inclusivity, diversity and equity training is important for every person working in your business. 

    Reputation matters

    Everything one of your employees says or emails can end up in the digital space and destroy a business in an instant. 

    For businesses like Valbella, they are back at ground zero and will have to rebuild from scratch. But it’s a long road back when you’re working to convince people your brand has evolved and diversity, equity and inclusion matters. 

    The team at Method includes former judges, Human Rights Commission Tribunal Members, and human rights lawyers. We can provide your workplace with training and advice on policy development and ensure the workplace is aligned with equity, diversity and inclusion principles.

    For more information, click here.    

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