This project examines the barriers in WIL specifically faced by marginalized student groups such as international, refugee, LQBTQ2S+ students, students with disabilities, and students from low socio-economic status backgrounds. The project explores tools and resources to help WIL employers and staff effectively address student barriers around discrimination and inclusion.

Project Information

Institution(s): Simon Fraser University
Status: In-Progress
Project Dates: February 1, 2020 — September 30, 2021
Project Contact:
Akanksha Thakur - arthakur@sfu.ca


Project Contributors:
Akanksha Thakur & Howard Chu from Simon Fraser University

The resources below have been curated from the project’s research findings and to promote more inclusive and equitable ways forward in WIL. The aim of these resources is for WIL practitioners and employers to feel better equipped in understanding the diverse and interconnected needs of WIL’s diverse students. These resources are not intended as a comprehensive set of strategies and/or tools for achieving goals of equity, diversity and inclusion in WIL and the workplace. We hope you will use these resources as a starting point for further education and understanding, consequently enabling more inclusive and equitable ways forward.

Understanding Diverse Needs of Diverse Students

British Columbia is the most ethnically diverse province in Canada. Just over 30 percent of British Columbians immigrated to B.C. In order for organizations to stay competitive today, understanding the diverse and intersectional needs of employees is crucial today.

Understanding: Diverse Needs of Diverse Students

Expanding WIL Opportunities With An Accessibility Approach

This report investigates the gap in students’ participation in post-secondary institutions’ (PSIs) WIL programs and the need for a targeted approach to increase employment opportunities for students with disabilities (SWD).

Expanding WIL Opportunities with an Accessibility Approach

Recognizing Discrimination: Examples of Discrimination in Action

Discrimination may take many different forms. It can happen directly (intentionally) or indirectly (unintentionally), but the impact on the individual remains. When we think of discrimination, we often forget to acknowledge the indirect and subtle ways in which it can occur. However, discrimination today is a lot more ‘hidden’ than the historical examples of discrimination we often think of when we hear or think of the concept. Here are some examples of what discrimination can look like (intentionally or unintentionally) in different circumstances.

Recognizing Discrimination: Examples of Discrimination in Action

How To: Supporting Diverse Needs of Diverse Students

In order for employers to stay competitive today, understanding the diverse and intersectional needs of employees is crucial. Here are some resources on how to support diverse needs of diverse WIL students.

How To: Supporting Diverse Needs of Diverse Students

Understanding: Power Dynamics, Cross Cultural Communication, Biases and Assumptions

Power dynamics are inevitable in relationships, they play a particularly important role at work, and are especially crucial when we bring into consideration the obvious power dynamics between a Co-op student and their employer. The same goes for communicating across difference and being aware of our unconscious biases and assumptions as we increasingly work with diverse individuals.

In her book Dare to Lead, Brené Brown explains that shame is a universal emotion that we all try to avoid, and in the workplace shame manifests as favoritism, gossiping, harassment, perfectionism, and cover-ups, to name a few. The opposite of shame, Brown says, is empathy – connecting to the emotions that underpin someone’s experience. What stands out here, is that the examples that Brown notes for ways in which shame manifests in the workplace, have an underlying theme of power in play.
Power dynamics are inevitable in relationships both inside and outside of the office. But they play a particularly important role at work, and are especially crucial when we bring into consideration the obvious power dynamics between a Co-op student and their employer. Turcotte et al. (2016), studied students on work terms and described them as vulnerable and reluctant to complain about problems because they fear the loss or failure of their placement, do not want to jeopardize their chances of graduating, or fear alienating an employer who may provide future references or job opportunities. This provides us with a framework to understand how some groups in the workplace can exert power over other groups in ways which can exclude or exploit them from certain activities or positions. Additionally, power dynamics impact how you communicate, can streamline or sidetrack collaboration, can silence certain voices, and consequently lead to alienation and impacts on one’s mental health. To learn more about types of power and leadership, click here.

These resources are curated by the SFU WIL Co-op team as a way to educate ourselves on developing an understanding of the many influences on cross cultural or intercultural communication. The four spectrums in the infographic titled “4 influences on intercultural interactions” represent culturally influenced orientations that can play a big role in intercultural communication and interactions. Keep in mind: these are not binary. In other words, a particular culture is not either one or the other (high power distance or low power distance, for example). Instead, each spectrum represents a wide range along which individuals and cultures may fall. Both individual and cultural orientations to these spectrums can also shift and move over time. It is useful to reflect on our own orientations to these spectrums, because it can provide insights into potential misunderstandings or conflicts that could arise with people who orient differently to the spectrums than we do. That recognition is the first step towards developing strategies for engaging respectfully across these differences.

Understanding: Power Dynamics, Cross-Cultural Communication, Biases and Assumptions