Engaging Ideas series looks at diversity in the workforce


Left to right: Heather Peters, Dr. Travor Brown
and Dr. Dianne Ford at Engaging Ideas.

May 19, 2015

Research focused on diversity in the workforce was highlighted at a presentation intended to bridge the gap between Memorial’s business faculty and community organizations recently.

Engaging Ideas: Diversity in the Workforce was held on April 30 with over 20 representatives of industry and non-profit organizations attending. It was the third in the faculty’s Engaging Ideas series, the first of which looked at research on the transportation of hazardous materials, virtual decision-making and supply chain management while the second focused on topics related to healthy workplaces including multigenerational workforces and employee well-being.

“The purpose of this presentation series is to bring together researchers at the Faculty of Business Administration with individuals within business and community organizations who have a stake in a particular issue,” said Dr. Kara Arnold, associate dean (research). “We hope that these events will help us develop more collaborative partnerships between researchers here at the business faculty and organizations in the province in terms of ensuring that our research is relevant and has an impact on these organizations.”

The most recent event featured short presentations from Dr. Travor Brown and Heather Peters, Dr. Dianne Ford and Heather Clarke.

click-to-view-video-of-brown-petersDr. Brown, professor of human resources, and Ms. Peters, senior consultant at KBRS, spoke about issues related to mental health such as co-worker reactions to mental health issues and barriers to workers self-disclosing and seeking help for mental illnesses.

Dr. Ford, associate professor of organizational behaviour, presented her research into the ways in which organizational culture, particularly knowledge sharing, is impacted by cultural diversity.

Ms. Clarke, PhD candidate, talked about her joint study with Dr. Arnold that looks at the impact of sexual orientation on perceptions of capability when it comes to gender-typed jobs.

click-to-view-video-of-fordDr. Arnold says each Engaging Ideas session is responsive to the needs of the business community and arises from discussions with partners and others in industry and the community. The hope is that businesses and community organizations will gain a better understanding of the research that is currently underway at the business faculty, and how that may help address important challenges faced by businesses and other organizations.

“We need a forum to connect. Let’s face it: papers published in academic journals are read by other academics – a very narrow audience. So holding events such as these, where researchers are asked to present their findings and show how they are applicable within organizations, are a great way to facilitate this knowledge transfer,” she said.

click-to-view-video-of-clarke-arnoldBusiness owners and community workers are encouraged to contact the business faculty about specific challenges they may be facing. Past Engaging Ideas sessions have led to collaborations between some faculty members and participant organizations.

“If someone learns something that helps their organization to improve, then this would mean we have met our goal,” said Dr. Arnold.

Engaging Ideas: Diversity in the Workforce was supported by the Quick Start fund from Memorial University’s Office of Public Engagement.

Susan White