Diverse recruitment: tips for inclusive recruitment & interviewing

Content for this article originally appeared in “Recruiting for Success: A Recruiting Firm’s Take on Diversity Recruiting” in JER HR Group August 2016 Newsletter

Establishing inclusive recruitment practices is an important step to reach the broadest talent pool.  Companies can rely too heavily on dated practices that unwittingly limit hiring access to just a segment of the talent pool. For example, hiring strategies that may be limiting the diversity of job candidates could include relying on traditional ways of sourcing talent, or using interviewing techniques that are not sensitive to diverse backgrounds including language backgrounds. Impacts of outdated strategies are felt at both at the sourcing and interviewing stages.

Below are some practical tips from JER HR Group, a human resources consulting firm servicing global clients with offices in New York and North Carolina.

Tips and recommendations from JER HR Group

Data-driven approach equips you with the right information

To recruit effectively know the facts and data about what works in your industry:

  • Strategically decide where to post jobs
  • Determine what content goes into the posting
  • Identify what criteria will attract a target group

Don’t re-invent the information wheel, leverage existing resources

Way to identify and plan how best to leverage existing sources:

  • Job boards
  • Universities
  • Networking groups and social media that are proven to drive influence and impact

Now that you have a plan on how to recruit diverse candidates, it’s time to implement

Focus on:

  • Examine & challenge your own biases before you begin an interview
  • Focus on the actual qualifications needed for the job
  • Evaluate a candidates’ qualification based on merit
  • Select an interview panel that is diverse and respectful of different cultures and characteristics. Diverse interviewers bring diverse viewpoints.

What constitutes a diverse and inclusive interview panel?

  • Interviewers understand and are respectful of different cultures and characteristics.
  • Interviewers understand diversity and cultural competencies for interviewing and hiring
  • Integrate diversity into the interview in a way that allows for valid and critical information to be gathered
  • When hiring, consider how each applicants’ similarities and difference might enhance diversity in the company.

Inclusive workplaces lead to thriving businesses, fostering an inclusive workplace starts with making inclusion a company-wide priority and value.

  • Ask employees how the company is doing in fostering an inclusive workplace.
  • Collect the data you have gathered and determine if there is an inclusivity problem- are employees not fitting in?
  • Develop a plan to address the inclusion issues.

Content for this article originally appeared in “Recruiting for Success: A Recruiting Firm’s Take on Diversity Recruiting” in JER HR Group August 2016 Newsletter

Additional Resources

Understand what it’s like to be an immigrant job seeker                                                              

 3M Managers Walk in the Shoes of Newcomers

Understand your blind spot – Tips from Harvard psychologist Dr. Mahzarin Banaji       “We’d like to believe we are open-minded, fair and without bias, but research shows otherwise. This is an important, even if uncomfortable, realization for most of us.”              Dr. Banaji

Look out for Hidden ‘Mediterranean’ Noses

Set diversity targets for the recruitment and hiring process                                                          

 A Page for Immigrant Diversity from the Gender Diversity Handbook? Lloyds Set           Diversity Rules for Top Job Shortlists

Widen the scope for recruitment and hiring to meet growing international and global market needs                                                                                                                                               

Using a Diversity Lens Helps Scotiabank Succeed

Take an active approach to building diverse teams at no additional cost                                     

Hack the hiring process to reap diversity’s bottom-line benefits

Post a simple job ad that highlights key qualifications and job requirements                                 

Writing a Barrier-Free Job Description

 

 

Hack the hiring process to reap diversity’s bottom-line benefits

By Ratna Omidvar, Executive Director, Global Diversity Exchange

For a long time, Google didn’t release data on employee diversity. Last year, it did, with the admission the company is “miles from where we want to be.” Google is now pursuing an aggressive corporate diversity program. Why?

The answer is in the numbers. Companies with racially and ethnically diverse employees are 35-per-cent more likely to financially outperform non-diverse companies, according to a recent study by management consultants McKinsey & Co. Diverse teams lead to better group performance, reputation, customer connections, market share and innovation.

The Googles of the world increasingly understand diversity is an asset with bottom-line impact. The shift in thinking is happening at a faster pace in cities with a high share of immigrants, such as Toronto, where more than 45 per cent of the population is foreign-born.

But while the evidence is in front of us, where we still get stuck as employers is finding immigrants to hire. We get the why, but not necessarily the how.

A new study conducted by market-research firm R.A. Malatest & Associates for Toronto-based Maytree, a charitable foundation that focuses on reducing poverty, found that, while half of the employers surveyed had some degree of difficulty finding suitable candidates of any background to fill positions, the majority of employers – nearly 70 per cent – reported that they do not actively seek out immigrants as a potential talent pool.

There’s also a mismatch in where and how employers and newcomers try to connect. Newcomers frequent job fairs and immigrant-serving agencies. Employers use sector and professional associations and, of course, rely on word of mouth.

Confirming what we know from other research, 72 per cent of immigrants say it’s very or somewhat challenging to find employment opportunities in their field. This costs. A 2011 Royal Bank of Canada study put the cost of immigrant underemployment to the Canadian economy at $30.7-billion.

It’s clear that companies don’t build diverse teams by accident. Instead, they need to be
deliberate about hiring immigrants, or at least about stripping bias from the process.

But there are creative ways to hack the hiring process, and some don’t cost a thing.

Search somewhere new

Some companies have trouble reaching diverse candidates. It’s not a problem of bias or barriers – there’s simply a lack of applicants from different backgrounds. For companies with a budget to advertise or send out recruiters, a solution lies in these tools. Think about where job posts are appearing, and who is likely to see them. If you’re unsure that diverse candidates will see a posting, that’s a sign that more can be done. Consider advertising in ethnic media, through professional immigrant networks and in diverse neighbourhoods.

The same goes for recruitment. Interviewing based on word-of-mouth referrals is easy and effective. Good contacts recommend good people. But we tend to trust people who look and think like we do, and that means the referred candidates might not be very diverse. Get recruiters back to places where they encounter strangers. Remember that immigrant job seekers rely on job fairs and immigrant-serving agencies more than employers do – to the benefit of employers who do target these venues.

Set an interview target

A commonly upheld practice to ensure women are in the applicant and interview pool is to set a target – a mental anchor. Why not extend this practice to immigrants and visible minorities? Targets are not quotas, but they do help us to stay accountable because what gets measured, gets done. The target that’s right for you will depend on demographics. What works in Montreal will not be realistic in Guelph. In Toronto, employers could set a target of 2/5. If five candidates are interviewed, two should be ethnically diverse.

Make CVs anonymous

Research by Phil Oreopoulos at the University of Toronto showed that Canadian employers are 40-per-cent less likely to hire Samir than Matthew, even if their skills are identical. In addition to being equally qualified, Samir could have perfect English, be born in Canada, even have a surname like Davidson or Crosbie, and still be cut at that critical first screening. All because of his first name.

The small German town of Celle piloted anonymous CVs for civil-service positions, precisely to solve hiring bias, and it greatly increased the diversity of new hires. A few decades earlier, the New York Philharmonic saw similar results when it stuck auditioning candidates behind a curtain and suddenly found itself hiring a lot more women. Why not make applications anonymous? Strip out personal information like a person’s name or place of education, and let the first screening hinge on skills and talents.

Use new language

What we hear anecdotally and in research is that “Canadian work experience” remains a significant barrier for immigrants. Human-rights legislation has moved the dial toward removing this criteria, but behaviour takes longer to change. Whether it’s official or unofficial criteria, Canadian experience is still more desirable than experience in India, Singapore or the Netherlands. In some industries, there is good reason for this. In others, international experience may well be equally or more competitive.

It might just take new language to change internal minds. I still hear immigrants described as having “foreign work experience” when we should be calling it “international work experience.” The latter sounds like an asset. This may seem like a small thing, but language can change workplace culture and signal to managers that international education and experience is an advantage.

This last example is especially good because it shows that solutions to immigrant hiring are not only embedded in structures, but in individual and personal change, too. This change can be incremental and still go a long way.

This article was originally published in The Globe and Mail, May 22, 2015

2013-14 WIL Award: Sarah Tattersall,Talent Solutions Manager at 3M Canada

HR champion has assisted skilled immigrants in achieving meaningful employment in their fields.

By WIL Employment Connections

Each year, WIL is very pleased to recognize an individual, group or company that has demonstrated Winning, Innovation and Leadership as related to the clients served by our organization. This year, our selection committee unanimously and enthusiastically selected Sarah Tattersall as the receipient of the 2014 WIL Award.

As Talent Solutions Manager at 3M Canada, Sarah has consistently volunteered her time and talents to assist WIL’s clients in achieving meaningful employment in their fields. She demonstrates a WINNING commitment to connecting business and newcomer talent within her company and London Region’s broader business community.

Read more here.

Related

3M Uses Language Game to Build Cultural Competence
A five-minute language exercise helps 3M supervisors better understand the experiences of skilled immigrant employees who speak English as a second language. 

Why not use Refugees to Solve our Temporary Foreign Worker Problem?

Create a system to link refugees who are ready to work, with businesses that are currently using the Temporary Foreign Worker program to fill permanent jobs. 

By Howard Adelman, Naomi Alboim and Mike Molloy, The Globe and Mail

Howard Adelman is a Professor Emeritus at York University and a founder of Operation Lifeline. Naomi Alboim is a fellow at the Queen’s University School of Policy Studies and a former Ontario Deputy Minister of Citizenship. Mike Molloy is a senior fellow at the University of Ottawa’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, and a former Canadian Ambassador to Jordan.

Two separate announcements were made by ministers of the Crown on Friday, June 20, World Refugee Day.

The first, made by Chris Alexander, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, announced a contribution of $50.7-million to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees to help that organization in its protection and relief efforts with Syrian refugees.

While this is welcomed, there was no announcement by the minister about Canada’s response to the UNHCR’s request to allocate additional resettlement places over the original 1,300 previously agreed to by the Canadian government for these refugees. Nor has there been a clear statement by the minister as to how many of those Syrian refugees have actually arrived in Canada.

The second announcement was made by Jason Kenney, the Minister of Employment and Social Development, and Mr. Alexander, about changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. These changes will make it far more difficult for employers to bring in TFWs to fill low-skilled, low-wage jobs.

There is an important potential connection between these two announcements. This connection was not made by either minister.

Read more here.

Moving Beyond Headlines Towards a More Diverse Judiciary

Diversity at the top of the legal profession is a social imperative as lawyers and judges are in the forefront of advocacy and social change. 

By Ranjit Bhaskar, Maytree

The lack of diversity among superior court judges in Canada that made headlines recently has been flagged before by several studies. In reported comments, Peter MacKay, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, has been anecdotal on why there is a lack of women on federally appointed court benches while being silent on why the number of visible minority judges is so low.

Minister MacKay’s inability to offer insight into an opaque process that produces a demographically skewed judiciary may stem from lack of official data. While we know that female judges account for 382 out of 1,120 federal judges, the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs does not track the numbers of visible minority appointees. The Canadian Bar Association, in an assessment of the procedures for the appointment of judges, has identified the lack of data about representation of visible minorities in the judiciary as a major barrier to progress.

According to a Globe and Mail and University of Ottawa analysis, in the past five and a half years Ottawa appointed just a handful of non-white judges out of the nearly 200 first-time justices it has named to the bench. Improving Representation in the Judiciary: A Diversity Strategy,  a study released by Ryerson University’s Diversity Institute in 2012, revealed that while some progress has been made with female representation, it remains stalled in
the case of visible minorities. Just 2.3% of the federally appointed judges analyzed based on a sample of 221 were visible minorities.

There is a higher percentage of visible minority judges among Ontario’s appointees. In a sample of 138, 10.9% are visible minorities compared to 15% of practicing lawyers in the province. The better representation could be partly attributed to the differences in the appointment processes between the federal and provincial courts.

More open and transparent process

While not perfect, the Ontario Court of Justice requires a broadly constituted appointments committee that reflects the diverse population of the province, the Diversity Institute study said. The process is also made more open and transparent by announcing and advertising vacancies and reaching out to communities. In contrast, the study found the federal process appeared to be less transparent, with decision-making more concentrated in the hands of politicians.

The Diversity Institute research, part of a large multi-year study, builds on an earlier examination commissioned by the Maytree-Civic Action DiverseCity Counts project. That report, released in 2011, showed just 6.8% of leaders in the Greater Toronto Area legal sector were visible minorities, relative to 49.5% of the population studied. Judges, justices of the peace, governing bodies, law school leaders, partners in the top 20 law firms and crown attorneys in the area were included in the study. It reinforced an earlier report that showed only 14.4% of practicing lawyers in the area were visible minorities.

Previous research also suggests that barriers to entry persist in law firms. The Canadian Association of Black Lawyers has said legal professionals from the community do not have equal access to articling and post-call positions in corporate and commercial law firms. Immigrant lawyers, particularly visible minorities, also find it difficult to get their credentials recognized. They face barriers to advancement and are frequently offered non-permanent contract positions with fewer leadership opportunities.

As judicial appointments are inherently political processes relying heavily on informal networks for nominations, visible minorities are less likely to have access to them. This very lack of diversity throughout the path makes the likelihood of finding visible minorities in positions that lead to judicial appointments more difficult.

What this implies is that not only does the problem increase as we move up the value chain, but lower down, the reservoir of talent that supplies the federal courts doesn’t reflect Canada’s changing demographics, either.

Diversity at the top of the legal profession is a social imperative as lawyers and judges are in the forefront of advocacy and social change. The federal government should take the lead to ensure fair representation in a sector that is critical to our democratic society. It could start by establishing clear diversity goals, tracking the number of diverse appointees, and establishing a more open and transparent process.

TRIEC Thanks RBC and Gordon Nixon


As chair of TRIEC, RBC’s CEO Gordon Nixon has been a champion of  immigrant inclusion in the workforce. This article was originally posted on the Maytree blog.

Ratna-with-Gord-Nixon

By Sandhya Ranjit, TRIEC

Ever since the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) was founded 10 years ago by Maytree and CivicAction, RBC has been a key partner, partnering in and funding many of our initiatives. RBC has also provided leadership through its CEO, Gordon Nixon, and Chief Human Resources Officer, Zabeen Hirji, who have demonstrated their commitment to immigrant integration as chair and co-chair of the TRIEC Council since 2009. Gordon has stated on many occasions that he sees diversity and immigration as important parts of Canada’s past, present and future.

Gordon Nixon is retiring from RBC in the fall of 2014 and will step down as Chair of TRIEC Council. As his last act as Council Chair, Gordon published an op-ed in The Globe and Mail on how a diverse workforce can help enhance our economy.

TRIEC would like to thank him for his partnership.

View this video on the impact of Gordon Nixon’s and RBC’s leadership in immigrant integration.

Investing in Internships

Exploring the business case for paid internships.

By Sydney Helland, Career Edge Organziation

The paid versus unpaid internship debate has intensified in the Ontario business community as the Ministry of Labour cracks down on internships that violate the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA). Meanwhile, employers face continuous pressure to cut costs and stimulate economic growth, making unpaid internships ever more appealing. But can they really help businesses achieve results?

Unpaid internships have been common among both public and private organizations for decades, especially in tough economic times. But, economic uncertainty and budget constraints should not be allowed to compromise employment equity and fairness, internships or otherwise.

In Ontario, both paid and unpaid internships are regulated by the ESA, which stipulates that if a person performs work for another person or an organization, they are considered to be an employee; the term “intern” is essentially irrelevant. As employees, interns are entitled to ESA rights, such as minimum wage, vacation, overtime, and occupational health and safety.

However, there are exceptions for unpaid internships, albeit very limited ones, which are typically restricted to vocational training for college and university students. According to the ESA, an intern is generally considered an employee unless all of the conditions below are met:

  • The training is similar to that which is given in a vocational school,
  • The training is for the benefit of the intern; the intern receives some benefit from the training, such as new knowledge or skills,
  • The employer derives little, if any, benefit from the activity of the intern while he or she is being trained,
  • The intern does not take the job of someone else,
  • The employer is not promising a job at the end of the training, and
  • The intern has been told that they will not be paid for their time.

Read more here.

Related

Low Risk, Big Return: Using Paid Internships to Recruit Skilled Immigrant Talent
Learn about Career Edge’s internship program and its innovative partnership with RBC on supporting business clients of the bank to access internationally trained talent.

Why Immigration should be a Cornerstone of Canada’s Economic Policy

Canada’s labour force is changing. Justin Smith, the Director of Policy for the Calgary Chamber is taking a look at how improvements to immigration can improve Calgary businesses.  .

The Calgary Chamber was pleased to participate yesterday in the 2014 Western Canadian Immigration Conference organized by the Conference Board of Canada. We spoke on a panel discussing ways to support new Canadians and build an immigration system that is more responsive to the needs of the business community. Throughout the informative and thought-provoking discussion, what became clear was how crucial immigration is to our continued economic growth and competitiveness. In fact, last year was a bit of a turning point when it came to labour market statistics: it marked the first year that Canada’s total net labour force growth was 100% attributable to immigration. Put another way, because of baby boomer retirements and other demographic trends, at least for the foreseeable future, growing our workforce, and by extension our economy, will depend wholly on immigration – there simply aren’t enough Canadians to keep pace.

That means ensuring the efficiency and proper functioning of our labour market, and ensuring that this market is sufficiently resourced, needs to be the cornerstone of Canada’s economic policy, at every level of government. This is particularly true in Western Canada, where a tight labour market is hindering our economic potential; it is limiting our overall output, it is hampering our ability to grow existing industries and diversify into new ones, and it is stifling our capacity for innovation. Despite a solid decade of adjusted approaches and reforms from the federal and provincial governments, and a renewed focus on economic immigration, too many immigrants either lack the skills needed in our market, lack the certification required to practice these skills, or otherwise face significant difficulty in fully integrating into the Canadian economy.

Here’s a snapshot of some of the ideas discussed at the conference.

Read more here.

emergiTEL – 2013 RBC Immigrant Success Awards Winner

Telecommunications and IT recruitment agency works closely with candidates to position their skills so employers can clearly see how they meet their needs. 

By TRIEC

emergiTEL is a growing recruitment agency that is becoming the go-to source for hard-to-find skills in the telecommunications and IT industry.

emergiTEL supports its candidates, including many new immigrants, by managing their career paths. emergiTEL was the outcome of a tech worker’s realization that tech employers were hard pressed to find skills that they required. An immigrant herself, Aneela Zaib, emergiTEL’s founder and Vice President of sales and marketing, was aware that most of the skills sought by employers were available in Canada. Employers just needed
help finding them.

That’s where emergiTEL comes in. The recruitment agency works closely with its candidates to position their skills so employers can clearly see how they meet their needs. Founded on the belief that experience is valid no matter where it is from, supporting

immigrant employment is a core value for emergiTEL.

“I personally believe that immigrants have a lot to offer. What is missing is confidence and somebody to give them customized attention to help them present themselves in the best way,” says Zaib. “That’s what we do and it helps ensure our clients find the best talent to meet their needs.”

Instead of just trying to place a candidate, emergiTEL works with its candidates to manage their career lifecycle. This is what makes emergiTEL stand out from other recruitment agencies and in particular important for immigrants who may not understand how to position themselves in the Canadian marketplace or how to succeed in an interview with a Canadian employer.

One distinguishing feature of emergiTEL’s process is that its recruiters meet with all candidates to assess their strengths, weaknesses, and job-readiness. This helps emergiTEL not only to understand their technical skills but also their soft skills and identify areas where coaching may be required. The company then helps candidates build a strong resume that reflects their technical expertise, provides interview tips and supports soft skills development.

emergiTEL’s clients, including the telecom industries’ top employers expect a high caliber of talent and emergiTEL delivers. Nothing demonstrates this better than their clients’ continued business and an average revenue growth of 300% per year.

“Our clients recognize the value we bring in helping them find the right talent with the right experience no matter where it is from,” says Zaib. “In the end, that’s also helping generate awareness among employers of the value that immigrants bring.”

Find solutions to better integrate skilled immigrants into your workplace or contact TRIEC
for more details.

Related

Learn more about IS Awards

Learn more about  emergiTEl and their participation in the RBC Career Bridge Associate Host Program.

A 10-year Record of Immigrant Success

Toronto immigrant jobs council finds much success, but much work remains.

By Bob Hepburn, Toronto Star

Oddly, Ratna Omidvar dreams of the day the organization she helped launch some 10 years ago goes out of business.

“In my heart of hearts, I wish five years from now we didn’t exist,” says Omidvar, the initial executive director of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC), who now chairs the group’s board of directors.

To her thinking, shutting down TRIEC would be a clear sign that the small yet influential council had succeeded beyond its wildest aspirations, opening employment doors for all skilled immigrants and convincing big and small companies that hiring talented newcomers is good for business.

Since its beginning, TRIEC has developed into one of the top agencies whose goal is to help newcomers find jobs in the Toronto area and raise awareness among employers about the advantages of hiring skilled immigrants.

As well, TRIEC has developed resources that help employers effectively hire skilled immigrants. Started in 2005, hireimmigrants.ca became a vital source of practical advice on recruiting and training immigrant employees. The program has since expanded into a national project.

One part of the program, the hireimmigrants.ca Roadmap, has been accessed by more than 50,000 unique users and is now fully integrated into the Ontario government’s website.

Read more here

Ontario Charts its Own Course with Proposed Ontario Immigration Act

Province is  taking steps to strengthen its role in immigrant selection by introducing legislation  that would, if passed, help meet the province’s future labour market needs and support economic growth.

By Bonnie Mah, Maytree

On February 19, 2014, Michael Coteau, Ontario’s Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, proposed the province’s first ever immigration legislation. Bill 161 follows A New Direction: Ontario’s Immigration Strategy, released in November 2012.

The bill, if passed, includes parts that would allow Ontario to:

  • Select immigrants to Ontario, in collaboration with the federal government, and set target levels for the number of individuals selected for Ontario;
  • Establish a registry of employers that would be eligible to make job offers to individuals selected under selection programs;
  • Enact compliance and enforcement measures to protect people from fraudulent immigration services and to deter fraud in the immigration application process; and
  • Increase fairness for internationally trained health professionals.

The proposed legislation also includes a provision for the Minister to conduct research on permanent and temporary immigration, selection and settlement. If carried out, this would be a welcome recognition of the importance of gathering evidence to inform policy making on immigration in the province.

The government of Ontario also announced that it will redesign its Provincial Nominee Program and has called to increase the number of immigrants coming to Ontario through this program to 5,000, up from the current level of 1,300.

In addition, the bill aims for collaborative relationships with the federal government, municipalities and employers.

Valuing immigrants’ contributions to Ontario

Significantly, the proposed legislation affirms the importance of immigrants to Ontario, and the role that they play in shaping the provinces’ social, economic and cultural values. The bill also recognizes the province’s family and humanitarian obligations.

In these ways, the bill is part of the province’s effort to write its own immigration story – one that is positive, inclusive, and recognizes the contributions that immigrants and refugees make to Ontario.

The bill underwent first reading on February 19. It must now undergo review by committee, and second and third readings before possibly becoming law.

Related:

Celebrating Canada’s Best Diversity Employers


Winners of the 2014 Canada’s Best Diversity Employers competition were announced in February.  In particular several employers were recognized for their development and implementation of various programs and HR strategies to better manage visible minorities and skilled immigrant talent.

By Stephanie Saunders, Maytree

On February 10, 2014, the winners of the annual Canada’s Best Diversity Employers competition were announced, recognizing employers from across the country for creating inclusive workplaces for employees from five diverse groups: women; visible minorities; persons with disabilities; Aboriginal peoples; and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) peoples. Employers were selected by the editorial team at the Canada’s Top 100 Employers project, which manages the competition.

In this post, we highlight employers who have developed and implemented programs and HR strategies –  many in partnership with immigrant employment organizations – to create a more inclusive working environment for visible minorities and skilled immigrants.

A number of companies have recognized the power of mentoring and networking and the mutual benefit for both the employer and the skilled immigrant. Employees at Agrium Inc., Jazz Aviation, Newalta and National Bank are helping skilled immigrants develop their Canadian career by providing coaching, guidance and connecting them to their colleagues. KMPG has participated in the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council’s Mentoring Partnership for over seven years and regional offices have since partnered with other immigrant employment councils to offer similar programs (Mentorat MontréalEdmonton Region Immigrant Employment Council and the Calgary Region Immigrant Employment Council). Cameco supports the Saskatchewan Intercultural Association’s Connector program, which matches employees with internationally trained job-seekers for networking opportunities.

Enbridge and Rogers Communications offer skilled immigrants a much needed job opportunity by providing paid internships through Career Bridge. Shaw Communications, the City of Saskatoon, and Saskatchewan Government Insurance work with local settlement organizations to offer work placement opportunities.

Winning companies are also implementing innovative HR practices to develop an inclusive working environment. BC Hydro encourages managers to hire skilled newcomers at junior-level positions and provides a defined career advancement plan, which includes timelines for performance and development reviews. The electric utility also recognizes provisional membership to regulatory bodies, such as the Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists, and Geophysicists of Alberta (APEGGA), and supports new Canadian employees through the membership process.

Various levels of government also recognize the value of a diverse workforce. The Ontario Public Service piloted an Admin Support Program, which offers visible minority and Aboriginal administrative staff learning and development opportunities by placing them in a higher stream position for a full year. The City of Ottawa partnered with Hire Immigrants Ottawa to host a coaching event for new Canadians and provides members with opportunities to connect with human resource professionals.

We would also like to congratulate ALLIES national partners who have been recognized as one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers: CIBC, Dentons Canada LLP, Ernst & Young LLP, RBC, TD Bank Group and Telus Corporation. These employers have continually implemented a range of initiatives to attract and retain employees from diverse communities and create an inclusive working environment.

Related:

Technology and Innovation in Talent Management

In this article, Cathy Gallagher-Louisy of the Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion, highlights the work of two Alberta employers who have used technology and innovative approaches to address the challenges of talent acquisition, retention and talent management in order to their diversify their workforce and create an inclusive work environment for all.  

This article was originally published in HUMANCapital, Winter 2013 issue , and reproduced with permission of HRIA and its publisher Naylor (Canada), Inc.

By Cathy Gallagher-Louisy, Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion

As an HR or Talent Management professional, the biggest challenges you face are attracting and retaining top talent, and providing an engaging workplace where employees can thrive.  These are no small tasks.  Alberta’s HR community is well aware of the myriad of challenges posed by talent shortages.

One of the best ways to address these challenges is by ensuring you are tapping into all available talent in the market.  This can be done through diversifying your talent pool and creating an inclusive work environment for all.

Talent pools look more different today than they ever have before.  Immigration is rapidly changing the demographic makeup of Alberta’s towns and cities.  We are challenged with providing engaging work environments for four generations in the workplace – with each generation having vastly different expectations of the employment deal. Furthermore, the fastest growing demographic in Canada is Indigenous People: Aboriginals, Inuit, Métis and Peoples of the First Nations. All these demographic changes impact the talent pool and ultimately Alberta’s workplaces.

Talent shortages, low engagement and high turnover all create significant costs for
organizations; therefore HR and Talent Management professionals have the opportunity to provide real bottom-line impact for their employers.  Organizations that create an inclusive and engaging work environment have a competitive advantage when trying to attract top talent – especially in a talent shortage.

The Challenges of Attracting, Retaining and Promoting Diverse Talent

Recently Halogen Software embarked on a unique interactive research initiative called HR Raging Debates, asking over 8,000 HR thought leaders for their views on the topic of the talent shortage. Their findings indicate that most view the talent shortage as a real problem, but it is not necessarily caused by the things we thought, such as lack of
employment-ready college and university graduates, or lack of the right skills or experience. Instead, they suggest the talent shortage is in part, being caused by organizations’ lack of ability to think creatively in order tap new talent pools and attract the right people.

Innovative, creative approaches are required by HR and Talent Management professionals to address today’s challenges.

Innovative Approaches Using Technology

We are pleased to highlight the work of two Alberta employers who have used technology and innovative approaches to address the challenges of talent acquisition, retention and talent management: The City of Calgary and Morrison Hershfield.  To find out more, we spoke with Cheryl Goldsmith, Business Partner, Talent Acquisition and Anne-Marie
Pham, HR Advisor, Diversity & Inclusion at The City of Calgary, as well as Zakeana Reid, Senior Manager, HR Strategic Initiatives at Morrison Hershfield.

LinkedIn Program at The City of Calgary

The City of Calgary  has implemented an innovative approach to increasing the diversity of their applicant pool.  The LinkedIn Program, implemented in October 2012, uses technology to leverage relationships and reach previously untapped networks.

Here’s how it works:  each week, The City posts five of their hard to fill positions on LinkedIn.  The unique aspect of the postings is that there is a “Contact Us” link which enables individual job seekers to directly connect with a City recruiter.  Potential applicants can ask questions about the position, and get information from a Human Resources Advisor  about working at  The City of Calgary, all prior to submitting an application.

“This significantly levels the playing field,” said Anne-Marie Pham,, HR Advisor, Diversity & Inclusion.  “Applicants no longer have to rely just on their existing network and who they know at The City to find out more about the position and its requirements.”

Implementation of the Program

In order to implement this new program, The City established recruiter accounts on LinkedIn, and put together a marketing and communications plan to internally and externally promote  The City’s LinkedIn page.  Internally, the Talent Acquisition team developed a plan to encourage employees to share LinkedIn job postings. They used all available channels, including The City s intranet, emails, banner ads, and in-person presentations to business units and HR advisors.

Externally, communications included presentations and regular communication with partner agencies of The City , such as Bow Valley Collegethe Calgary Region Immigrant Employment Council (CRIEC)Champions Career CentreAboriginal FuturesAboriginal Human Resources Association, Hire Canadian Military, and many others.

“The City’s employees’ existing networks are diverse, and so are the networks of our community partners,” said Pham. “Through this program, City recruiters, with the help of employees and partners, are able to reach out to a very diverse network.”

Goals of the Program

The goals of The City’s use of LinkedIn are: to enrich the candidate experience, to make the The City of Calgary an employer of choice for all citizens, and to use LinkedIn as a key tool to create a broad and diverse pipeline of candidates for various positions.

“Our primary purpose was to be more inclusive for all individuals wanting to work at The City of Calgary ,” said Cheryl Goldsmith, Business Partner, Talent Acquisition.

Measures of Success

Measurement is a key component of any successful program.  Quantitatively, The City tracks the number of followers on The City of Calgary pages, the number of applicants sourced through LinkedIn, the number of interviews and hires made from LinkedIn-sourced candidates, and the number of shares through LinkedIn. Qualitatively, they collect feedback from hiring managers and new hires about the quality of their LinkedIn experience.  Response to the program has been very positive.

The City of Calgary  has found the use of LinkedIn to be valuable in several ways. First it is giving them access to more diverse talent pools; second, it is allowing them to more easily fill hard to fill positions; and third, it is allowing them to easily develop relationships with potential candidates and community agencies for future opportunities.

Management Capability Development Program at Morrison Hershfield

Morrison Hershfield, an employee-owned engineering with 2 offices in Alberta – Calgary & Edmonton –has increased the ethnic and gender diversity of their management team through the Management Capability Development Program.

In the early stages of the program, Morrison Hershfield wasn’t deliberately targeting women and visible minorities.  But the results of an assessment showed there were a number of women and visible minorities who were ready to move up into leadership roles.

Multi-year Approach

The Program has had a phased implementation over the last 6 years.

The first phase involved identifying potential employees for the program: existing high-performers who were at a point in their careers where they might be looking for their next promotion, such as those in senior consultant roles.

Next, they began behavioural and aptitude assessments using a science-based assessment tool called Pathfinder.  Based on 30 years of research, Pathfinder predicts the likelihood for an individual to have exceptional performance in a specific role.  They’ve determined that people who have specific characteristics and aptitudes would tend to perform well in people-management positions.

Although they want to retain high-performing employees and give them the next opportunity on their career paths, Morrison Hershfield wanted to ensure they were not putting people into roles where they were destined to fail. In many organizations, high-performers who are technically excellent individual contributors are often promoted into management roles because it is the only way to give them a promotion.  But not everyone is a good manager.

For those employees who don’t necessarily have the aptitude for people-management, Morrison Hershfield provides a technical career path that goes up to the senior director level, one level below Vice President.  This allows Morrison Hershfield to retain and promote high-performing employees without having to give them management responsibilities.

“We don’t want good employees to leave, even if they aren’t great managers,” said Zakeana Reid, Senior Manager, HR Strategic Initiatives. “It’s important for us to provide them with opportunities for advancement where they can thrive and feel like they are valued for their unique skills and contributions.”

Significant Challenges

While multiple studies have shown the benefits of having more gender diversity in leadership teams, the challenge of promoting women into management roles in the engineering field is twofold.  Few women go into engineering as a career path.  Female enrollment in undergraduate engineering programs in Canada reached a peak of 20.6 percent of total enrollment in 2001 and has fluctuated between 17 and 18 percent for the greater part of the past decade.

Further exacerbating that problem, studies have shown that many women leave the engineering field within the first five years of joining.  Since so few women join the field in the first place, and many leave within five years, the pool of management-ready women in engineering is even smaller.

“Studies have suggested that some women who join engineering may become disengaged by being in an environment where there is a majority of scientific men, many of whom tend to enjoy working individually.  Whereas, many women may feel more engaged when their workplace provides more of a sense of community,” said Reid.  “Interestingly, the types of attributes that Pathfinder has found to be characteristics of good managers happen to be aspects that some women in engineering want to have more of in their working lives.”

Training and Development for Management Roles

The third phase of the program involved training and development.  The HR team worked with identified candidates to improve their capabilities around financial management, implementing policies, HR management, and more – essentially how to be a manager at Morrison Hershfield. Developmental plans were created in the company’s talent management system, Halogen, which automatically recommends appropriate courses.

Communication

Communication to employees was about career development rather than diversity and inclusion.  “We wanted to ensure our learning management system and developmental tools were available to all employees at all levels,” said Reid.  “Removal of barriers is about ensuring all people have the same access to same tools.”

The final phase of the process was waiting for available opportunities to arise.  “Just because a bunch of people are ready for promotion, doesn’t mean 20 new management positions suddenly open up,” said Reid.  Over several years, retirements, resignations, re-organizations, and the addition of some new lines of business opened up additional management positions.  When these opportunities arose, they were prepared with promotion-ready people who could apply for those roles.

Results, Results, Results

Although the program was a talent management program, not initially intended to focus on diversity and inclusion, there have been excellent results for Morrison Hershfield’s diversity and inclusion goals.  As a Federal Contractor, Morrison Hershfield is subject to the Employment Equity Act and the requirements of the Federal Contractors Program.  Between 2006 and 2010, they tripled the representation of women in management, and more than quadrupled representation of visible minorities in management.  Also, because of increased representation in middle management, Morrison Hershfield now has a more diverse pool of high-potentials candidates when executive roles become available.

Innovative Use of Technology Yields Great Results

Acquisition, retention and development of diverse talent are essential for every organization today – especially in a talent shortage.  Sharing promising practices like these programs at Morrison Hershfield and The City of Calgary, and leveraging great ideas about the innovative approaches that are being used by some employers can help all HR and Talent Management professionals access new sources of talent and remove barriers, creating more inclusive workforces for all Albertans.

Boldly Playing the Global Talent Game

IEC-BC argues it is a critical time close the skills and labour gap by thinking differently about attracting and retaining skilled talent from around the world — seeing skilled immigrants as the solution.

By IEC-BC

As we move further into the second decade of the 21st century, the years ahead promise more than a few surprises on the human capital front due to a perfect storm of factors.

For all countries, including Canada, it’s not a matter of if we address the skills and labour shortages but how urgently we take action. Failing to act will, at best, leave our businesses, industries and communities ill-equipped to remain competitive. At worst, without actual skilled workers, employers may struggle to keep their doors open. What’s driving us to this point?

In short, demographic shifts coupled with a growing skills mismatch mean the global marketplace is headed for a perfect storm — a world where talent shortages and a lack of skilled workers are the norm, as seen already in the BC construction and trucking industries, and in BC’s northwest. There, the region is poised to gain between 6,000 and 13,000 jobs between now and 2020 due to large-scale projects such as liquefied natural gas (LNG), pipeline and marine expansion. The reality is the northwest region’s local labour force will be unable to meet the labour requirements demanded by these projects as we heard at the Northwest Regional Forums on Immigrant Employment we held in August.

At the broader provincial level, with more than one million job openings expected across BC by 2020, and not enough students expected to graduate from K–12 to fill those openings, surviving the skills shortage is about ensuring BC’s industries and businesses have the necessary skilled workers to meet demand.

As countries around the world vie for the brightest and best workers, skilled immigrants are set to become a sought after talent pool in an aggressive global recruiting competition.

Though this coming storm transcends Canada’s boundaries, our governments, industries, businesses, post-secondary institutions and other organizations such as IEC-BC must work together to take bold, decisive steps.

It starts with being far more strategic about closing the skills and labour gap by thinking differently about attracting and retaining skilled talent from around the world — seeing skilled immigrants as the solution.

We’re a country built on immigration, and Canada will always embrace new immigrants thanks to our longstanding policies of openness and welcome. The way ahead is about everyone — business, government and communities — recognizing that attracting skilled immigrants will be one of the keys to our success.

It’s also about turning dialogue into rapid action, so we can get there before others do. Our businesses and industries must be faster and more strategic at closing the gap between
what they have, what they need and the talent that’s out there.

As we navigate the coming competition for talent, it’s a real waste for us not to tap into the expertise of our skilled immigrants in BC.  Moreover, from an economic well-being perspective, now more than ever it’s critical that we do — as communities, as a province and as a country.

Expression of Interest: What Employers Need to Know about Canada’s Proposed New Immigrant Application System

The federal government will be introducing a new application management system that will aim to reduce application processing times and prevent backlogs. This system is currently being referred to as the Expression of Interest (EOI) model.

Updated: On December 10, 2013, hireimmigrants.ca hosted a webinar on the proposed Expression of Interest model. Questions # 1, 3 ,4, 6, 7, 8 and 10 in this article have been updated to reflect new information from this webinar.

By Bonnie Mah, Maytree

Background – Immigration to Canada

Immigrants come to Canada in one of three streams: economic, family reunification and humanitarian. The majority arrive through the economic stream. This stream includes the Federal Skilled Worker program, the provincial nominee program, the Canadian Experience Class and business class programs (such as programs for investors and entrepreneurs).

In the past few years, the Canadian government has made changes to all of these immigration streams. Nearly all of the programs under the economic stream have seen changes – for example, changes to the “points system” that determines who qualifies as an immigrant under the Federal Skilled Worker Program, to the size of the Canadian Experience Class as well as who is eligible to apply, and to business classes such as how applicants qualify for the entrepreneur program.

The federal government has indicated that it will also introduce a new application management system that will aim to reduce application processing times and prevent backlogs. This system is currently being referred to as the Expression of Interest (EOI) model. . Former immigration minister Jason Kenney has described the web-based system as being “like a dating site.”

1. What is the Expression of Interest (EOI) model?

The Expression of Interest model is a new immigration application management system that has been proposed by the federal government. It is a two stage model. First, a potential candidate expresses interest in immigrating, and, if qualified, is placed in a pool of qualified people. Next, federal and provincial/territorial governments will pick candidates out of this pool who will then be invited to submit a full application to immigrate.

The EOI model is not currently in effect.

2. Is EOI a new immigration stream/program or an application management system?

EOI is not an immigration stream or an immigration program. It does not replace immigration programs such as the Federal Skilled Worker program or the Provincial Nominee Program. EOI is an application management system for those who want to immigrate under an existing immigration program. For example, someone who wants to immigrate under the Federal Skilled Worker program will submit their expression of interest using the system. If they are selected and invited to apply, their application will then be assessed using the criteria of the Federal Skilled Worker program.

3. Which immigration programs will EOI affect?

The government has indicated that initially it will implement EOI for the Federal Skilled Worker program, the Federal Skilled Trades program and the Canadian Experience Class. Later, it could be used for other immigration programs (such as the Provincial Nominee Program) as well. Quebec, which has a special agreement with the federal government on selecting immigrants, will not participate in the EOI system.

4. How will EOI work?

Not much information is available yet. However, in very general terms, this is how it is expected to work (this example uses the Federal Skilled Worker program):

People who want to immigrate as a Federal Skilled Worker will submit an “Expression of Interest” with information about how they meet the Federal Skilled Worker program criteria. If they meet the criteria, they will be placed in a “selection pool” of candidates. Then, the government will select candidates out of this pool. These candidates will be issued an “Invitation to Apply” – that is, they will be invited to submit an application to immigrate.

After a specified period of time, candidates who are not chosen from this pool will be expunged from the pool.

5. What is the difference between EOI and the current way of processing applications?

Currently, people who want to immigrate submit an application to the Canadian government. The applications are placed in a queue and are processed in the order in which they are received. All complete applications must be processed and a decision made. This has resulted in long processing times and the creation of a backlog.

One aim of EOI is to speed up application and processing times and prevent backlogs. Because applicants are picked out of a pool, they can be picked in any order, not just the order in which they applied. And because candidates who are not chosen are expunged from the pool, EOI will not create a backlog.

6. Who will be able to choose immigrants out of the pool of applicants?

Few details are available at this time. However, the government has indicated that federal and provincial/territorial governments will choose immigrants out of the pool of applicants. In addition, Citizenship and Immigration Canada has indicated that employers will play an indirect role in selecting applicants from this pool.

7. What role will private employers play in the EOI model?

The government has indicated that EOI is an opportunity for employers to play a role in selecting immigrants to Canada. This could mean that employers will have more opportunity to communicate with the federal government about skill shortages and their challenges finding talent within Canada. Or, it could mean that the government facilitates or promotes ways to match employers with people who have expressed interest in immigrating to Canada. For example, in our hireimmigrants.ca webinar on December 10, Citizenship and Immigration Canada suggested that existing job-matching services, such as Job Bank, Workopolis, Monster or LinkedIn, might be used to connect EOI applicants with job openings. At this time, few details are available about how exactly this will work.

In addition, Citizenship and Immigration Canada said that employers will not have direct access to the pool of applicants.

8. When will the EOI model come into practice?

The government has indicated that the EOI system will come into effect for the Federal Skilled Worker program, the Federal Skilled Trades program and the Canadian Experience Class in early 2015. Later, the EOI might be applied to other immigration programs as well.

9. Do other countries use an EOI or selection pool model?

New Zealand and Australia use selection pool models that are similar to the one that the Canadian government proposes. Experts indicate that Canada’s proposal is part of a trend towards selection pool immigration models in Anglophone countries.

10. Where can I find more information about EOI?

Anonymous Job Applications Help Overcome Hiring Biases

Both employer and applicant win when using an anonymous job application process.

By Cities of Migration

Do hiring managers really need to know how old a job applicant is, or if she has children? What about where the applicant was born or what he looks like?

Anonymous job applications, which exclude personal information that is not related to an applicant’s qualifications or experience, are one way that leading employers are trying to focus on choosing the best person for the job.

Various forms of anonymous job application procedures have been tried in many places around the world, including in the public sector – for example, in the local governments of Helsinki (Finland) and Gothenburg (Sweden). Both Canada and Belgium prohibit the inclusion of personal information on applications for public sector jobs.  And it is a particularly welcome innovation in German cities.

In Germany, job applicants traditionally list a number of personal characteristics in their applications that are not related to their qualifications, such as place and date of birth, nationality, and marital status. In addition, it is common practice to attach a photo, which makes characteristics like race, gender and age quite obvious to potential employers.

In 2010-11, the city of Celle was one of eight public and private sector employers that took part in a pilot project initiated by the federal government’s Office Against Discrimination. The pilot project aimed to test how anonymous job application procedures could reduce biases in hiring.

Previous research conducted by the Office Against Discrimination indicated that bias in hiring was most likely to happen in the initial stages of the hiring process. Often, a brief glance at an applicant’s name, gender or age was enough for human resources staff to discard an application. In particular, these biases affected people with a migrant background, women with children, and older workers. This confirmed studies conducted in other countries showing that employers are influenced by these types of biases. The pilot therefore focused on the initial stage of hiring – the job application.

During the pilot, the participating employers tried a variety of methods to try to prevent these biases from influencing the review of applications – including blacking out personal details such as name, age, gender, and marital/family status, or using standardized application forms developed for the project. In the end, using standardized forms proved to be the most efficient method.

“The anonymous application process means that whether you will be invited for an interview depends only on your qualifications and not looks, gender, age or background,” says Christine Lüders, head of the federal government’s Office Against Discrimination.

Indeed, this pilot showed results similar to those conducted in other parts of the world – ethnic minorities and women are demonstrably more likely to be invited to an interview. “I was skeptical at first,” says Jockel Birkholz, the head of Celle’s human resources department. But he admits, “In the traditional process, I glanced at the photo, the CV, the marital status – there were biases despite all attempts at objectivity.”

Anonymous job application procedures are being credited with improving the hiring process. Mayor of Celle, Dirk-Ulrich Mende says, “We are now looking more at qualifications during the hiring process. This is the case for both leadership and apprenticeship positions. Many people who we’ve hired [with anonymous job applications] wouldn’t have been chosen before. And all of them have succeeded.”

It has been embraced by the human resources department, which finds the process more efficient. The standardized application forms make it easier for human resources staff to review the applications. “We can narrow down the candidates faster because we concentrate on a few important criteria,” explains Birkholz. This has become increasingly important as the city is often flooded with job applicants. Mayor Mende believes this is because the anonymous procedures have helped the city improve its reputation as a good employer.

The pilot was so successful that the city of Celle decided to continue using anonymous application procedures after the pilot ended. And this good idea has now spread to Göttingen, Hannover, Mainz, Mannheim, Offenbach and Nürnberg and to eight German states.

“The anonymous application process clearly leads to more transparency, objectivity, and equal chances during the decision-making phase and is an important building block towards a workplace without discrimination. We will continue with this process,” pledged Mayor Mende.

For further reading :

Connecting Talent to Opportunity

The Halifax Connector Program helps immigrants build a professional network and connects them with job opportunities to help in their settlement. The Program has now expanded across the country. (This piece was originally published in The Maytree Blog).

By Fred Morley, Executive Vice President and Chief Economist, The Greater Halifax Partnership 

Business needs talent and talent needs opportunity. Both need the Connector Program. As part of a mantra for connecting immigrant professionals to local industry professionals, the Halifax Connector Program has been running since 2010 and has already been replicated in over a dozen communities across Canada.

This spring we were fortunate to receive funding from Citizenship and Immigration Canada to lead a National Connector Program Secretariat. This project recruits, engages and supports new potential connector communities as well as build a Community of Interest among existing connector programs across Canada.

Our goal is to work with 13 new communities across Canada, coast to coast. Three of those programs will be industry specific, such as our first new connector program under the national project, the CGA/CMA Connector Program launched this summer in Calgary, Alberta. A Connector Program Portal and Learning Exchange will contribute to building this national community of connectors and connectees.

The Connector Program is a simple yet highly effective free networking program that puts newcomers directly in touch with local business people, civil servants and community leaders who volunteer as Connectors – people who are in the habit of making introductions and connecting others to opportunities. Through one-on-one meetings with several connectors who work in their field, participants:

  • Learn about the local job market;
  • Enhance their networking skills;
  • Build a professional network; and
  • Improve their job search.

Business and community leaders who volunteer as Connectors benefit from:

  • Access to local talent;
  • Increased awareness about their organization and industry;
  • Knowing they are opening doors for people and helping them succeed in Halifax; and
  • Making their communities more welcoming and diverse.

If your community is interested in adopting a Connector program, please contact Fred Morley at the Greater Halifax Partnership at (902) 490-6000 or [email protected].

Related:

End the Call for ‘Canadian Experience’

Ontario Human Rights Commission makes right move in putting onus on employers to prove it’s a bona fide occupational requirement.

By Todd Humber, HR Reporter

If your job posting calls for “Canadian experience,” it may now be discriminatory — at least in Ontario.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) unveiled its new Policy on Removing the ‘Canadian experience’ Barrier on July 15, and it came out swinging against employers who may not be giving immigrants a fair shake at job opportunities.

“The OHRC’s position is that a strict requirement for ‘Canadian experience’ is prima facie discrimination (discrimination on its face) and can only be used in very limited circumstances,” it said in the 16-page policy. “The onus will be on employers and regulatory bodies to show that a requirement for prior work experience in Canada is a bona fide requirement, based on the legal test this policy sets out.”

When I read the OHRC’s policy, I started with a cynical eye — can this really make a difference?

If an employer doesn’t want to hire a certain group of people — say, minorities — it doesn’t need to put “no minorities need apply” in the ad. It can just not hire minorities. It’s racist. It’s discriminatory. It’s illegal. But it’s hard to prove that in the absence of a smoking gun.

Same with asking for Canadian experience. You don’t need to put it in a job ad if you only want workers who have proven themselves in Canada — you can just skip the resumés that don’t have it, or perhaps even bring in a few token candidates who don’t fit your bill to help with the optics. That tactic is reminiscent of the National Football League’s Rooney rule, which requires NFL teams to interview at least one minority candidate for head coaching and other senior positions and has led to complaints among some minority candidates that they’re being brought in and used only to satisfy the rule.

Plus, employers don’t seem to be calling for Canadian experience— at least not blatantly.

An unscientific search of job board Workopolis on the morning of July 15 revealed just 59 postings with the phrase “Canadian experience.”

Then my cynicism faded and I donned my “left alone people will do the right thing” blinders. Is this even necessary in modern Canada?

While nobody would suggest every employer understands the economic benefits of hiring immigrants, that tide has certainly turned.

It’s safe to say the majority get it — and we’ve covered our share of great stories highlighted at the annual Immigrant Success (IS) Awards in Toronto, of which Canadian HR Reporter is a key sponsor and a strong believer.

But those blinders were quickly knocked off by a survey the OHRC did in 2012 on Canadian experience. It received more than 1,000 responses from jobseekers, regulatory body applicants, employers and others. It proved that newcomers face Canadian experience requirements from employers at the job search stage.

It also showed that professional regulatory bodies need to find a way to smooth the path to membership for new Canadians without Canadian experience — so there’s work for those bodies to do as well.

With all that in mind, there’s only one way to view this new OHRC policy: It’s laudable and it’s helpful to employers and jobseekers alike.

Any move that helps new Canadians find work in their fields can only be met with open arms. In nearly all cases, a call for Canadian work experience is arbitrary at its root. And in positions where it is absolutely critical, employers will still be able to call for it. They’ll just have to clear the bona fide occupational requirement hurdle, which was spelled out in the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling in Meiorin. Essentially, employers must prove the decision was:

•adopted for a purpose or goal that is rationally connected to the function being performed

•adopted in good faith, in the belief that it is needed to fulfill the purpose or goal

•reasonably necessary to accomplish its purpose or goal, because it is impossible to accommodate the candidate without undue hardship.

The Meiorin bar is a high one, so employers will need to ensure the position truly requires Canadian experience before making it a requirement.

While some may argue the real problem is a lack of jobs, not the wording chosen by employers in job postings, the fact remains that we need talented immigrants coming to Canada, en masse, in order to maintain our standard of living and grow the economy.

“If Canada is seen as a place where it is impossible to find a good job, a job in your field, or where, as an engineer or PhD graduate you are likely to end up driving a taxi, it will no longer be a desirable destination for many of the world’s most skilled immigrants,” the OHRC said in the policy. “They will simply choose to go elsewhere.”

The message from the OHRC is simple: Canada is an attractive destination for immigrants. But that shine can easily come off — and some may argue it’s already starting to fade and peel as statistics show new Canadians face higher levels of unemployment and underemployment.

We don’t want the world’s best and brightest going elsewhere. We want them here in Canada, swimming among our talent pool and the OHRC policy will help ensure the water looks inviting.

Other jurisdictions should follow suit.

Todd Humber is the managing editor of Canadian HR Reporter, the national journal of human resource management. 


Best practices

In the policy, the OHRC included a list of best practices for employers.

Employers, representatives of employers and regulatory bodies should:

Examine their organizations as a whole to identify potential barriers for newcomers; address any barriers through organizational change initiatives, such as by forming new organizational structures, removing old practices or policies that give rise to human rights concerns, using more objective, transparent processes, and focusing on more inclusive styles of leadership and decision-making.

• Review job requirements and descriptions, recruitment/hiring practices and accreditation criteria to make sure they do not present barriers for newcomer applicants. Take a flexible and individualized approach to assessing an applicant’s qualifications and skills.

• Give an applicant the opportunity to prove his/her qualifications through paid internships, short contracts or positions with probationary periods.

• Provide newcomers with on-the-job training, supports and resources that will enable them to close “skill gaps” (i.e. acquire any skills or knowledge they may be lacking).

• Use competency-based methods to assess an applicant’s skill and ability to do the job.

• Consider all relevant work experience – regardless of where it was obtained.

• Frame job qualifications or criteria in terms of competencies and job-related knowledge and skills.

• Support initiatives designed to empower newcomers inside and outside of their organizations (for example, formal mentoring arrangements, internships, networking opportunities, other types of bridging programs, language training, etc.).

• Monitor the diversity ratios of new recruits to make sure they reflect the diversity of competent applicants overall.

• Implement special programs, corrective measures or outreach initiatives to address inequity or disadvantage affecting newcomers.

• Supply newcomers and social service agencies serving newcomers with information about workplace norms, and expectations and opportunities within the organization.

• Retain outside expertise to help eliminate barriers to newcomer applicants.

• Form partnerships with other similar institutions that can help identify additional best practices.

• Provide all staff with mandatory education and training on human rights and cultural competence.

Employers, representatives of employers and regulatory bodies should not:

• Require applicants to have prior work experience in Canada to be eligible for a particular job.

• Assume that an applicant will not succeed in a particular job because he or she lacks Canadian experience.

• Discount an applicant’s foreign work experience or assign it less weight than their Canadian work experience.

• Rely on subjective notions of “fit” when considering an applicant’s ability to succeed in the workplace.

• Include a requirement for prior Canadian work experience in the job posting or ad, or a requirement for qualifications that could only be obtained by working in Canada.

• Require applicants to disclose their country of origin or the location of their work experience on the job application form.

• Ask applicants questions that may directly or indirectly reveal where their work experience was obtained.

• Ask for local references only.

York Region Ensures Effective Hiring with Foreign Credential Process Guide

The Regional Municipality of York was awarded the 2012 Toronto Star Award for Excellence in Workplace Integration as part of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council’s IS Awards. Read more on why they won the award with their innovative practice. This story was originally published by TRIEC.

The Regional Municipality of York wanted to be inclusive to all applicants, including skilled immigrants who possess foreign credentials and experience. Not able to find a tool elsewhere to help them, the Region developed one of its own – a foreign credential process guide with a flowchart, scenarios, templates and other resources.

What:

  • A foreign credential process guide with a flowchart, scenarios, templates and other resources

By the numbers:

  • 27 per cent of the Region’s employees are born outside of Canada
  • The Region’s employees speak more than 60 languages
  • Employees list ‘support for diversity’ among the Region’s top five internal strengths

Why:

To promote an effective hiring process that leads to hiring decisions based on merit and is inclusive of all candidates

What else:

The Region partners with a series of internship and bridge programs, such as the Professional Access and Integration Enhancement (PAIE) program, to recruit and integrate skilled immigrants

Profile

A major barrier to employment for new immigrants is recognition of foreign credentials and experience. Wanting to diversify the workplace, The Regional Municipality of York developed an innovative tool to help its recruiters and hiring managers overcome this barrier.

“Many new immigrants are choosing to live in York Region. As the Regional government, we need to take the lead and develop a workforce that reflects the community we serve,” says York Region Human Resources Acting Director Beverley Cassidy-Moffatt. “To support this goal, we developed the foreign credential process guide to ensure consistency in our hiring practices among both Canadian and internationally trained candidates.”

The innovative foreign credential process guide was developed following research among other Toronto region municipalities that did not have anything similar. The guide consists of a flowchart for when and how to assess foreign credentials, scenarios, templates for assessment requests and other resources. Easy to use, the guide is designed to promote an effective hiring process that leads to hiring decisions based on merit and does not exclude diverse candidates. The process is working.

York Region is seeing an increasing number of skilled immigrants within its workforce but the foreign credential process guide is only one of its initiatives to facilitate this process. In particular, the Region has targeted new immigrants for some of the hard-to-fill positions through internship and bridge programs with partner organizations. For example, the Region is a leading employer partner with the Professional Access and Integration Enhancement (PAIE) program. Through this program, the Region has first provided internships to and subsequently hired internationally-trained engineers.

“At the Region, I’ve been able to transfer some of my skills and technical background from the Philippines,” says Leany Moreno, an industrial treatment engineer who first joined York Region through the PAIE program. “There is great opportunity here for me and I am always looking forward to coming to work because of the supportive environment.”

The Region’s efforts to diversify its workforce are starting to show results. A 2011 demographic census shows that 27 per cent of the workforce was not born in Canada. Speaking even more to the impact of the human resources initiative, in a 2011 survey, employees rated support for diversity as one of the Region’s strengths.

Watch the video below to learn more about the Region of York’s efforts to implement an effective hiring process that led to hiring decisions based on merit and inclusive to all candidates.

The Top Five Ways for an Employer to Leverage International Talent

The Waterloo Immigration Partnership provides useful tips on how you can maximize immigrant talent. Check out hireimmigrants.ca local resources section to do the same in your region.

1) Provide an internship opportunity to an internationally trained professional

Through the Immigrant Internship program employers are matched with job-ready, skilled, professional immigrants. Placements offer valuable Canadian work experience to a newcomer and all candidates have been screened and assessed for English usage. Employers benefit from multi-lingual professionals who bring global experience to your company and an opportunity for increasing intercultural awareness. Placement opportunities are a minimum of four months.

For more information contact Lil Premsukh at 519.748.5220.2387 or [email protected]

2) Mentor an internationally trained professional and encourage your staff to do the same

The Mentorship for Immigrant Employment Program brings together internationally trained individuals with local mentors in their field to gain a better understanding of the job market; establish networking contacts; and learn more about sector specific language and professional practice in Canada. The volunteer commitment of no more than a couple hours a month over a 4-6 month period is a valuable opportunity to increase intercultural awareness, learn about your field from an  international perspective and support a newcomer’s efforts to become professionally established in our community.

To become a mentor, or for more information, contact:  in K/W 519.579.9622 and in Cambridge 519.621.1621.

3) Integrate Skills International.ca into your company’s recruitment practices

SkillsInternational.ca is a one-of a-kind database for employers to search for, and find internationally trained professionals to fill their recruitment needs.  Candidates are work authorized, language-ready and pre-screened by organizations who work with immigrants in Waterloo region and across Ontario. Use of this no-cost resource in your recruitment strategy will build your competitive advantage in accessing a hidden talent pool of skilled and motivated professionals.

To get started contact Marlene Meechan at 519.664.3402, [email protected]   or visit www.SkillsInternational.ca

4) Conduct mock interviews and/or resume critiques for internationally trained professionals

Internationally trained professionals, while bringing valuable skills and experiences to Canadian employers, often face barriers in getting their foot in the door.  Professional resume development and interview practice are opportunities to better prepare newcomers by building confidence, understanding behavioural and situational interviewing techniques and ensuring their resume meets employer expectations.  While employment specialists in the community assist job seekers, meeting an employer face to face and gaining their perspective can be invaluable to assisting newcomers to become professionally established in our community.

If you are interested in offering your expertise please contact Lil Premsukh at 59.748.5220.2387 or [email protected]

5) Participate in organized networking and recruitment opportunities and in employer learning seminars

The Immigration Partnership provides opportunities for international talent and employers to connect by organizing and presenting networking and recruiting events. These events provide an opportunity for employers to have a complimentary exhibit space to meet immigrants, promote job opportunities and give an overview of their business. In addition, the Immigration Partnership also presents learning seminars for employers i.e.: business owners, human resource professional and hiring managers. Such seminars (usually a lunch and learn) would cover such topics as: how to offer an inclusive workplace, cross-cultural understanding, how to interview and hire immigrants and other topics which employers may indicate as a knowledge/information.

For more information contact Nora Whittington at 519.575.4757.3173 or [email protected]

Check out the hireimmigrants  local resources section to find  immigrant talent and related programs.

Speed Career Networking: Ready, Set…Network!

Speed Career Networking builds relationships and provides informational opportunities for skilled immigrants, while at the same time Canadian professionals use their expertise to support global talent.

By ERIEC

The Speed Career Networking (SCN) event is divided into six, 15-minute sessions. Groups of two to three mentees (internationally trained professionals) are paired with a mentor (local professional) to ask questions and pick up job search and career tips. Every 15 minutes, the mentees move to a different mentor for another round of networking. An informal, open networking follows where participants continue with discussions started during the speed networking session.

The first SCN event for this fiscal year was planned for internationally trained Engineers and took place on May 16th in Matrix Hotel, Downtown Edmonton. There were 31 mentees attending the event and 14 mentors representing Enbridge, Worley Parsons, Stantec, Capital Power, Jacobs, City of Edmonton, Pentair Thermal Management and the Immigrant Access Fund (IAF).

Employers shared with the event organizers that they had “enjoyed the event not only as a networking opportunity but also as a learning experience”. One evaluation read: “The event was valuable to me as a mentor as I came to realize the expertise and potential of many people looking for work”.

One of the mentee participants wrote, ”Having helpful and nice persons like you makes Edmonton a nice place to live in. The inspiration and motivation, which you and all volunteers shined with, have reflected positively on all of us and have made Thursday one of the happiest days in my life in Canada”.

The second SCN event held this year was for internationally trained Science Professionals took place on May 23rd at the Natural Health Practitioners of Canada office building on 124th Street in Edmonton. Twelve internationally trained environmental professionals, microbiologists, chemists and geologists attended the event, and two mentors representing Paragon Soils and Environmental Consulting Inc. and The City of Edmonton participated in the event. Many of the mentors invited were not able to attend as spring is the busiest season for their staff, “everybody is out in the field” said one of the HR Managers. The event was still highly appreciated by mentees as participants had an opportunity to learn a lot about the real labour situation in their field of expertise.

These events are not intended to be a career fair or job recruitment opportunity. However, the practical information and career tips provided by professional insiders can help you build and develop your future career in Canada.

Making Connections – Halifax Regional Municipality and Greater Halifax Partnership

Business needs talent. Talent needs opportunity. A networking program completes the equation. This story was originally published by The Cities of Migration.

Most highly skilled newcomers face a common challenge when looking for work – a lack of local connections and networks. How can a city help its newcomers quickly leap over this hurdle? By keeping it simple. The Connector Program in Halifax, Nova Scotia starts from a simple premise: connect established community, business and government leaders with new talent and help them build professional networks.

For cities, the potential is obvious. Newcomers get jobs, cities get skilled residents and thriving labour markets. Recognizing that the availability of jobs is the primary factor in a newcomer’s decision to stay or leave, Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) has made workforce recruitment and retention a primary goal of past (2005-10) and current (2011-16) economic plans. To put good policy to work, HRM engaged the Greater Halifax Partnership (the Partnership), the city’s lead economic development organization, to deliver the Connector Program.

The program’s innovation lies in its simplicity. Its approach:

  • Taps into a willingness among knowledgeable business and community leaders to share their professional networks with newcomers;
  • Uses face-to-face interactions – 30 minute meetings – and networking events such as speed interviewing to facilitate connections between employers and newcomers;
  • Provides newcomers with opportunities to learn about the local job market, enhance their networking skills, build a professional network, and improve their job search

A Multiplier Effect

The Connector Program was designed to meet recruitment and retention goals by building and expanding networks between newcomers to Halifax and established members of the community.

Partnership President and CEO Paul Kent explains: “Connectors meet one-on-one with participants, at their office or for coffee, to share their knowledge about their organization or industry sector and current labour market demands. And then they give the participant referrals to three other contacts in their network.” Because Connectors are employers as well as established community members and business leaders, when the professional network of the newcomer grows, “the potential job pool for the Connector also expands” (HRM Council report).

This multiplier effect addresses local labour needs, by connecting newcomers with opportunities to contribute and settle in their new community and by enriching the talent pool available to employers. The Program has ambitious objectives: to raise awareness and change perceptions on the benefits of hiring immigrants; help newcomers establish a professional network and find employment in their field; connect local employers to skilled, employment-ready newcomers; and establish Halifax as a welcoming city and make it the destination of choice for talent.

While the challenge is complex, the program provides a simple solution. Dick Miller, a Connector from The Shaw Group, explains: “Businesses connect with immigrants to try to develop business leads for them, employment opportunities, talk to them about the benefits and to also help them develop a network. It creates an opportunity for an immigrant to engage with the business community.”

Don Sinclair of Halifax insurance company Fraser & Hoyt recently met with newcomers interested in the insurance industry and came away both impressed and committed to help: “I met a group of “ very bright, focused and keen young men and women who see a positive future for Nova Scotia. I’ll be chatting with my contacts in the local insurance industry this week.”

The low tech, high touch approach is working. Prasad Ranay, a program participant, says: “For me, being a person from outside of Halifax it makes a lot of sense for the initial touch and contact with the community. It’s expanded my network as well as expanded my skills and reach in the community.”

Success

According to the Partnership’s Paul Kent, the Connector Program illustrates the power of relationships. Over 500 local Connectors representing over 300 organizations – including all three levels of government – have already participated, working with 428 international students and newcomers. As a result, 177 new immigrants have found jobs. Given that the model is easily adapted for use with various talent pools, it’s no surprise that the program is being replicated in 14 other Canadian cities.

The Connector Program is not just growing externally, but within Halifax as well. GHP has expanded the program to young and emerging talent, adding a campaign to welcome international students studying in Halifax. A recent Speed Interviewing & Networking event using a ‘speed dating’ model brought together nineteen HR and IT professionals from Halifax’s leading digital industry companies with 40 international students and immigrants.

Even though it’s a relatively young program, past participants have already become Connectors, helping other newcomers establish themselves in Halifax. Program participants like Evgenia Tumik are thrilled at the opportunity the Connector Program offers:

“Through meetings I had while participating in the Connector Program, I was able to develop a strong network of professionals in my field. The referral process led me to apply to the position where I am currently employed. With the help of Connector program, I managed to find a position in my field right after graduation. I am so happy to be living in Halifax and hope to give back to other newcomers in the future.”

The Halifax Connector Program is funded under the Canada-Nova Scotia Labour Market Agreement. The Connector Speed Interviewing Event Series is funded by the RBC Foundation. Its work has been recognized by both the Conference Board of Canada and the International Economic Development Council.

Since the publication of this article the Connector Program also received Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s IQN Workplace Integration Award.

Dreaming of Diversity

 

New Canadians have a lot to offer a workplace; now it’s just a case of making them feel welcome with these tips you can implement in your company. This article was orginally published in the May/June 2013 edition of HR Professional

By Suzanne Bowness, HR Professional

The scene begins in an anonymous boardroom, as five co-workers gather for their first team meeting on a new project.  Three have clearly been with the company for a while and ad they enter the room where the other two are waiting, they make small talk about their weekends. As the scene progresses, their admirable ease turns somewhat exclusionary as they fail to include their co-workers already sitting across the table. Unsure about whether to break in, these new Canadians begin to talk amongst themselves about the same topics as the small talkers, making the divide even sharper.  When they finally get down to business one of the small-talkers offers his spare baseball tickets to his coworker, aiming the suggestion at his fellow small talkers and working to conceal his surprise when the woman in the hijab across the table speaks up to accept them.  After an awkward pause, the team finally settles down to work.

Although variations may play out regularly in offices across Canada, this particular scene plays out more literally on the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) e-learning platform, as a part of their Understanding Cultural Competence module.  Unlike in real life, after watching the group, the viewer is privy to individual reactions by team members, who convey them in full confession-cam manner: the team leader worries over the group’s dynamics, the new Chinese hire expresses concerns about the delay in starting the meeting, and the guy with the baseball tickets expresses surprise when they are snapped up by the woman in the hi ab.

By the end of the video, another bubbl appeared: mine. Like most Canadians I was skeptical that I’d witnessed any workplace friction, and yet a scenario liket his prompts me to realize it’s more than the often the uncomfortable silence than the overt commentary that reveals a need for cultural acculturation.  In spite of our self-perception as welcoming multicultural Canadians, ingrained assumptions and cultural friction present a challenge for employees and HR manager alike, to try to over differences.  The good news is that with all that new Canadian workers have to offer in terms of experience and expertise, it seems that embracing diversity  is definitely worth the effort.

Read the full article

Tips from our Experts on Making New Canadians Feel Welcome at Every Stage

At the job posting stage

  • Widen your talent pool by advertising where new Canadians will see your postings: possibilities include community newspapers, ethnic media, professional associations, job fairs, email lists, word of mouth.
  • Ask yourself whether “Canadian experience” is really required for the job or if you can simply outline relevant qualifications.
  • Include a diversity statement directly on job postings to spell out your policy

At the resume stage

  • Different cultures have different norms for resumes: in some countries marital status, photos, and religious affiliations might be standard so don’t let your discomfort with these inclusions deter your focus form the candidates’ actual qualifications
  • Decide on the competencies you are looking for and search through the resume for those directly.
  • Don’t discount volunteer work; often new Canadians seek this out as real experience

At the interview stage

  • If you’ve asked for particular competencies, determine objective tests to assess them.
  • Get interactive with candidates: try encouraging case studies to investigate their mindset/analytical skills rather than just relying on questions.
  • Remember certain cultures do not self-promote, so reword questions to prompt a more thorough discussion of interviewee achievements.
  • Beware of other differing cultural norms; for instance, in certain cultures a handshake or too much eye contact is not appropriate, also in some cultures silence is intended as a sign of thoughtful preparation , not disinterest.

At the onboarding stage

  • Put together a company factsheet for newcomers with frequently asked questions about the company, industry and region.
  • Consider setting up a new hire with a mentor or buddy to help them acclimatize to the workplace.
  • Provide regular feedback and communication often, not just after the three month probation.

Changes to Temporary Foreign Worker Program a Small Piece of the Big Picture

By Bonnie Mah, Maytree

On April 29, the government announced changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program and encouraged employers to “triple” their efforts to find workers in Canada. The changes follow recent controversies over temporary foreign workers and increased public scrutiny of this program. While they might address some pressing issues, they focus on a small portion of the TFW program. Many issues with the program remain.

Adding checks on employers

The government has billed the changes as ways to ensure that employers use the program only when they truly cannot find workers in Canada. Many of the proposed changes focus on the Labour Market Opinion (LMO), which approves an employer to hire a temporary foreign worker and is issued by the Canadian government.

Some of the changes are effective immediately. Others will be introduced through legislation.

The following changes are effective immediately:

  • The Accelerated LMO, which allowed certain employers to get an LMO in as little as ten business days, is suspended.
  • Employers must pay temporary foreign workers the prevailing wage for that occupation in that region. (Previously, employers could pay temporary foreign workers 5-15% less than the prevailing wage.)

Other changes will be introduced through legislation:

  • Employers will have to answer questions on the LMO application to confirm that they are not using the program to facilitate the outsourcing of Canadian jobs.
  • Employers will need to have a plan in place to transition to a Canadian workforce over time.
  • Employers may not require language skills other than English or French in their job description.
  • Employers will start paying fees for LMO applications.
  • The government will have increased authority to suspend and revoke LMOs if the program is being misused.

Interestingly, some changes target the temporary foreign workers themselves. For example:

  • Applicants will have to pay increased fees for work permits. (Unlike employers, workers have always had to pay a fee to apply.)
  • The government will have increased authority to suspend and revoke work permits if the program is being misused.

Many issues remain

About 40% of temporary foreign workers come to Canada with an LMO. The above changes focus only on these temporary foreign workers (the Seasonal Agricultural Worker program will be exempt from some of these provisions).

In other words, the changes don’t address the majority of temporary foreign workers. About 60% of temporary foreign workers come through streams that do not require an LMO. These include youth exchange programs, intra-company transfers, post-doctoral fellows, spouses of international students and temporary foreign workers, and those who come under international agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

And many issues facing our TFW program remain. For example:

  • The program continues to lack targets or caps on admission.
  • Many temporary foreign workers continue to pay taxes and contributions, but cannot access the services and benefits they pay for (such as Employment Insurance special benefits).
  • The “four-in, four-out” rule continues to require some temporary foreign workers to leave after four years and remain outside of Canada for four years before being eligible to return. Meanwhile employers can apply to hire a new temporary foreign worker right away.

Perhaps most importantly, the trend towards the temporary and away from permanent immigration will continue, untouched by these changes.

This is just one piece of Canada’s immigration system

Some level of temporary foreign workers, both with and without LMOs, is necessary and desirable. We should welcome changes that, if implemented effectively, will ensure that the TFW program fulfills specific, short-term purposes.

However, we must consider these changes as one small piece of the TFW program, which is, in turn, one small piece of Canada’s larger immigration system. Traditionally, our immigration system has been built on the foundation of permanent immigration. As we turn our attention to the TFW program, we must look beyond tweaks and towards the growing role that temporary residence is playing in our immigration system, and what this means for Canada.

Related links

RBC Career Bridge Associate Program

Program support RBC’s small and medium-sized GTA-based business clients in connecting with high-potential, internationally qualified candidates to fit their employment needs.

By Sydney Helland, Career Edge

RBC Royal Bank has further enhanced its partnership with Career Edge Organization by developing the RBC Career Bridge Associate Host Program. This unique program is designed to support RBC’s small and medium-sized GTA-based business clients in connecting with high-potential, internationally qualified candidates to fit their employment needs.

The primary benefit to RBC’s business clients is that the cost of hiring a candidate under this program is covered for the first four months entirely by RBC Royal Bank. This significant subsidy allows for small and medium-sized organizations to grow their business while realizing the benefits of hiring highly skilled, internationally qualified professionals.

Many of RBC’s business clients have already successfully leveraged this program to connect with talent. We had the chance to sit down with Aneela Zaib of emergiTEL Inc. to learn about her experience with the RBC Career Bridge Associate Host Program.

aneela_zaib

What is the story behind starting emergiTEL?
“Coming from a telecommunications and IT background, we saw a gap in technical hiring. The gap was detailed and accurate screening of candidates based on job requirements. What we saw was the “keyword-based search” on resumes, and not a lot of effort was being made by traditional recruitment companies to qualify whether the resume is a true reflection of the candidate or not.

EmergiTEL was formed based on a solid qualification process to find the right candidate fit for the job as well as the client’s job environment. The model is called Technology Strategy Productivity (TSP).”

How has the RBC-sponsored internship helped your business?

“RBC is clearly aligned with the commitment and the initiative to support newcomers. RBC provided the sponsorship for the first four months to support financially the hiring of these individuals, and EmergiTel eventually decided to offer a regular, full-time position instead of a short-term internship role, which is a great demonstration of our commitment to the longer term retention of good talent.

The subsidy that was provided by RBC has mitigated the inherent risk of a new hire as they move through the probationary period, and on top of that we had those funds that we saved that we can spend on other initiatives, for example maybe the hiring of a few more resources. For a small business like emergiTEL, this subsidy helped with some of the costs for the period when these individuals were being trained for the technical recruiter job, which otherwise would have to be absorbed by emergiTEL.”

What are some of the ways that newcomers contribute to growing Canadian businesses?

“Every year, tens of thousands of newcomers create new economic opportunities for themselves and for Canada by joining the country’s labour force. They not only bring the skills and experience, which might not otherwise be available right away, and they make themselves useful by applying their experience immediately for Canadian businesses, as well as training the rest of the workforce so that – maybe in a few years or maybe in a few months – that workforce again becomes useful for Canadian businesses. This is just one aspect.

The other aspect is that newcomers are a major portion of the technology upgrade of Canadian businesses. We all know the IT and telecommunications field is evolving constantly; it’s growing, the technology is becoming more and more complex. I cannot emphasize more than this, that this is a great channel that we have available in our country to get ourselves an upgrade in technology and knowledge transfer through the immigrant workforce.”

What kind of support does RBC and Career Edge offer small and medium businesses, like emergiTEL, through the Associate Host program? What is really the most valuable to you?

First and foremost, I would really like to thank RBC and Career Edge for being there for us, not only in terms supporting our growth, but also aligning their company’s values and initiatives to businesses like emergiTEL and mobileLIVE. Most of the small to medium-sized businesses have tight budgets, and programs like RBC Career Bridge Associate Host program provide the initial push needed to go through the ramp-up period until the new employee becomes well assimilated with the workforce. This is a very important point; this is the risk mitigation that this program has provided us, for us to be able to hire new immigrants with the peace of mind that this is not going to cost, or put a huge impact on our financial situation. This is a double-fold advantage; these newcomers that we hire prove themselves throughout that probationary period of time and become useful ultimately for the long-term retention of the company.

What value do you see in the relationship between Career Edge and emergiTEL?

As far as Career Edge is concerned, I believe that Career Edge has provided a very strong channel and platform for businesses like emergiTEL and mobileLIVE to get the talent and further place them with our clients. We see Career Edge as one of the important sources of talented newcomers and will continue to work with Career Edge and RBC to find the right place for the new talent.

People with Jobs – Jobs with People

In this article, Ratna Omidvar, comments on how the changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker program presents an opportunity and a challenge for all stakeholders involved in immigrant employment.

By Ratna Omidvar, Maytree

The recent and relentless coverage of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program has focused national attention on an issue that has silently crept up on us. The truth is that the program has grown at a rapid and exponential rate over the last few years without much public dialogue or consultation. At the same time as employers are looking overseas for talent that they believe they cannot find at home in Canada, we know that there are many thousands of immigrants, refugees and other Canadians who cannot find a job suitable to their skills and experience. As Rick Miner noted in his landmark 2010 study (PDF), it is the classic conundrum of “People Without Jobs; Jobs Without People.”

The changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker program that the federal government announced on April 29 will make it more difficult and more expensive for Canadian employers to overlook talent on the ground.

This presents both an opportunity and a challenge for the ALLIES community.

The opportunity

It calls on us, employers, community agencies, government, and post-secondary institutions, to strengthen our relationships. It calls on us to understand employers’ hiring needs and realities, to identify local talent and showcase it to employers in different ways. Minister Kenney urged employers to “triple” their efforts to find local talent. Let’s make sure we triple our own efforts in serving and connecting our local communities of employers and immigrants.

The challenge

Some habits are hard to break. The affinity for the easy route of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program may have become just such a habit. But the larger community of trainers, educators, NGOs and immigrant-serving agencies may also have fallen into some bad habits by failing to correctly identify the skills, competencies and attributes that today’s labour market demands, or to appropriately prepare, train and coach our job seekers to demonstrate these to employers. Here, too, we must triple our efforts to bridge whatever gaps exist.

Are we up to the challenge? I believe we are. ALLIES’ partners in cities across Canada have their ears to the ground and are connected with both local employers and with immigrant talent. These excellent relationships have brought us solutions such as the Internationally Educated Engineers Qualification program in Winnipeg, along with many other successful bridging programs.

Employers, too, have taken great strides in immigrant employment. Some of these leading employers have been recognized with RISE Awards in Edmonton, Immigrant Success Awards in Toronto, Employer Excellence Awards in Ottawa, and the Best Employers for New Canadiansaward among others. In addition, the hireimmigrants.ca website highlights promising practices from employers across the country.

We have the opportunity and responsibility to turn the situation around to “People with Jobs; Jobswith People.” If we continue to open the lines of communication and develop trust between us, ultimately, we will reap the results.

The Canada Job Grant: Challenges and Opportunities for Immigrant Employment

The Canada Job Grant was recently announced in the 2013 federal budget. As a new initiative, it presents both challenges and opportunities for the immigrant employment sector.

By Bonnie Mah, Maytree

The Canada Job Grant is a new initiative that the federal government announced in its 2013 Budget. It has piqued a lot of interest in the immigrant employment sector, and for good reason. The Canada Job Grant could present both challenges and opportunities for our sector. At this time, it exists as an announcement only; however, a few details in the announcement give some indications of how the program might be implemented.

The grant will provide up to $15,000 to individuals for short-term occupational training.

Employers can apply for the grant to train unemployed or underemployed workers. The maximum federal contribution of funds will be $5,000, which must be matched by $5,000 in provincial/territorial funds, and $5,000 from the employer.

The government funds will come from the federal-provincial Labour Market Agreements (LMAs). The federal government plans to negotiate implementation with provinces and territories in 2014-15, and fully implement the program by 2017-18.

Challenges

Eligibility requirements, shifts in funding, and a shift in approach to training could present challenges for immigrant employment programs and services.

We do not yet know many details about the individuals or employers who will be able to use the grant, nor about the kinds of training and organizations that will be considered eligible. The Budget document indicates that eligible training institutions will include “community colleges, career colleges and trade union training centres,” but we do not know whether programs delivered by community organizations will be eligible. If they are not, this might drive skilled immigrants and employers to programs offered by “approved” institutions.

Further, the Canada Job Grant will be funded through federal-provincial Labour Market Agreements (LMAs), which fund programs and services for people who are not eligible for Employment Insurance (EI). When fully implemented, 60% of LMA funding will go towards the Canada Job Grant, leaving only 40% for everything else that is currently funded through LMAs. This could leave proven programs – such as mentoring for skilled immigrants – vulnerable to funding cuts.

The grant also represents a shift in approach to skills training. It relies on the participation and, by extension, the direction of the employer. Some argue that employers are likely to focus on training for immediate needs, which means that broad-based training that might bring longer-term benefits to workers and the labour market could suffer. In addition, employers might tend to rely on training and institutions that they are already familiar with, which might not be targeted at the specific needs of skilled immigrants.

Others question whether employers will be willing to pay $5,000 for training a new worker in the first place, or in the case of small businesses, whether they will have the resources to do so. If employers are allowed to apply for the Canada Job Grant for training programs that they are already running, then this grant might not actually impact how employers hire or encourage them to consider under-employed workers, such as skilled immigrants.

Opportunities

Since we don’t have many details on how the Canada Job Grant will be implemented, we might have opportunities to share our ideas on how to make it most effective. The federal government has indicated that it will consult with stakeholders such as employer associations, educational institutions and labour organizations. In fact, the first consultation was held on April 19 in Brantford, Ontario. It might be possible to encourage federal and provincial/territorial governments to consider the work that we do with skilled immigrants. Perhaps this is a time to consider whether fees for community-based programs are appropriate, if individuals and employers can use the grant to pay them.

If implemented in a way that makes sense for employers, the Canada Job Grant could encourage employers to take risks on candidates who they wouldn’t normally hire. This could benefit many workers, including skilled immigrants. Targeted outreach about the grant and how it could help them hire skilled immigrant talent could nudge employers in that direction.

It is important for those of us working with skilled immigrants and employers to take part in this conversation. We must monitor and share information about the consultations and possible directions for implementation. We need to provide evidence of the success and potential of our work, and consider how to make the Canada Job Grant work for skilled immigrants and employers.

Related links

Temporary foreign workers are a concern for all Canadians

The number of temporary foreign workers living in Canada has tripled over the past decade. Reliance on these workers interferes with market forces that would otherwise improve working conditions and spur investment in training for Canadian citizens and permanent residents according to this new Maytree article. However, the recent federal budget signals that the government is reconsidering how the temporary foreign worker program works.

By Bonnie Mah, Maytree

Last year, nearly 215,000 people entered Canada as temporary foreign workers in half a dozen program streams.

In comparison, in the same year, Canada admitted a grand total of 257,500 people as permanent residents – a number that includes all immigrants and refugees, spouses and children.

Those numbers are not an anomaly. Rather, they reflect a trend that has been quietly gaining momentum. The number of temporary foreign workers living in Canada has tripled over the past decade. From 2002-2010, numbers for every temporary foreign worker stream (both high-skilled and low-skilled streams) have increased. In 2012, nearly 340,000 temporary foreign workers lived in Canada.

Temporary foreign workers influence the labour market

Unlike permanent immigration programs, temporary foreign worker programs have no targets or caps on admissions. The number of temporary foreign workers admitted each year is subject to demand from employers and people applying for work permits. Our top five source countries are: Philippines, the United States, Mexico, Australia and France. About 40% come with a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) from the Canadian government, which approves an employer to hire a temporary foreign worker. The remaining 60% do not require an LMO.

Over the past few years, the federal government has made a number of changes that make it easier for employers to hire temporary foreign workers. For example, it shortened processing times for the LMO. In addition, employers are now allowed to pay temporary foreign workers 5-15% less than the prevailing wage for that occupation in that region.

Economists argue that the use of temporary foreign workers interferes with market forces that would otherwise motivate employers to raise wages and improve working conditions. Further, relying on workers that have been educated and trained abroad removes the incentive for employers and the government to invest in training Canadian citizens and permanent residents for available jobs. Some employers even hire successive temporary foreign workers, which suggests that these jobs are not truly temporary. Why spend time and money on job training for Canadian-born workers, or on employment support for new immigrants, when you can import short-term workers and pay them less?

Temporary foreign workers also give a few unscrupulous employers the opportunity to circumvent our labour laws by maintaining sub-standard working conditions for workers who are unlikely to complain or exercise their rights. And while temporary foreign workers pay taxes and contributions, they often cannot access the government services or benefits that these taxes and contributions pay for. Some temporary foreign workers, for example, are not eligible to collect Employment Insurance (EI) special benefits (such as maternity, parental, and compassionate care benefits), even though they are required to pay EI premiums. In other words, the government collects from these temporary foreign workers without fulfilling its end of the bargain.

At the same time, changes to our immigration system, such as the introduction of the Canadian Experience Class for select temporary residents, indicate that the government increasingly sees temporary residence as the first step before permanent immigration. Compared to Canada’s tradition of direct permanent residence, this extra step can mean delaying attachment to Canada and “being Canadian,” as well as prolonged family separation.

Reconsidering the role of temporary foreign workers

The government has recently signaled that it is reconsidering how the temporary foreign worker program works. Following recent public uproar over foreign mining workers in British Columbia, the government has undertaken consultations on this program. And while the federal budget allocates $42 million to meet the growing demand of temporary resident programs, it also proposes to:

  • Introduce fees for employers applying for a Labour Market Opinion (LMO)
  • Restrict the use of non-official languages as job requirements when hiring through the temporary foreign worker process
  • Increase the requirements for employers to try to recruit workers within Canada
  • Help employers that legitimately rely on temporary foreign workers to plan to transition to a Canadian workforce over time

These proposed changes might provide a needed check to ensure that employers reconsider their use of the temporary foreign worker program. At the same time, the fees will presumably facilitate processing of LMOs and work permits.

Certainly, some temporary foreign workers are necessary and desirable. But not at this scale. Not if the system works to the detriment of citizens and permanent residents already living in Canada. And not at the expense of our successful tradition of permanent immigration and naturalization.

We cannot let more time pass without a serious discussion about what this program does to and for Canada, and to and for foreign workers and future Canadians. We need to have a national conversation about the role of temporary foreign workers in the Canadian labour market and in Canada’s immigration system.

Related:

Internships in Ontario: A Checklist for Employers

In this article, George Vuicic talks about some of the regulations which govern organizations as they plan an internship for newcomers to Canada. George is an Ottawa based partner with Hicks Morley LLP, a law firm specializing in human resources law and advocacy for employers.

By George Vuicic, Ottawa Business Journal

Internships are playing a growing role in the skills development and integration of our city’s labour market entrants.  These experiences offer advantages to job-seekers as well as host- organizations, presenting an excellent opportunity for highly skilled newcomers to gain familiarity with the Canadian workplace culture, and strengthening host-organization mentoring culture and training programs, while bolstering the talent pipeline.

In human resources lingo, internships tend to be loosely classified as ‘formal,’ ‘informal,’ ‘paid,’ and ‘unpaid’.  Organizations can sometimes be perplexed when it comes to understanding their responsibilities when entering into an internship relationship, especially with regards to compensation.

I was recently approached by Hire Immigrants Ottawa (HIO) to clarify some of the regulations which govern organizations as they plan an internship for newcomers to Canada, as well as what factors can contribute to a successful experience for both parties.

Here are some of the basics, and some resources to consult for more information.

Most employment relationships in Ontario are regulated by the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA).  Under this legislation, an internship is considered a paid employment relationship and entitles the intern to minimum wage payments unless all six of the following conditions are met:

1) The training is similar to that which is given in a vocational school.

This requirement indicates that in order for an intern not to be considered an employee, they must be learning employable skills or a caliber comparable to vocational schools – extending beyond errands and small tasks.

2) The training is for the benefit of the individual.

3) The person providing the training derives little, if any, benefit from the activity of the individual while he or she is being trained.

Requirements two and three infer that an intern who is not receiving remuneration cannot perform work which would otherwise be paid.  The intern must be taken for their own proper benefit and not for that of the employer.

4) The individual does not displace employees of the company providing the training.

The ‘unpaid’ intern cannot take the place of a current employee or act as a substitute for hiring a new employee.

5) The individual is not accorded a right to become an employee of the company providing the training.

This requirement outlines that the ‘unpaid’ internship may not automatically end with a guaranteed position.  Hiring of interns may occur on a contingent basis dependent on assessment at the end of the internship program.

6) The individual is advised that he or she will receive no remuneration for the time that he or she spends in training.

It is important to note that although a newcomer may agree to partake in an unpaid internship program, they may still qualify as an employee for the purposes of the ESA, and therefore be entitled to remuneration.

While remuneration is the final item addressed on the list of requirements above, one of the first things a host-organization should determine and communicate to a potential intern is what training will be provided and whether/how they will be remunerated.

If your organization is considering taking an intern for the first time, I would advise you to have an internship agreement in place.  This document should outline the objectives of the internship, the duties and responsibilities of both parties, and the organization’s HR policies with regards to privacy, confidentiality, intellectual property, and termination.

It is also essential to ensure compliance with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, as well as the Ontario Human Rights Code – two other pieces of legislation which have a bearing on employment in Ontario.

In 2011, HIO recognized Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) with an Employer Excellence Award for their paid Immigrant Internship Pilot Program (now called Federal Internship for Newcomers Program with Citizenship and Immigration Canada).  Janice Charette, Deputy Minister of HRSDC at the time shared that, “This pilot has created an opportunity for HRSDC to recruit and mentor Foreign Trained Professionals, not only increasing the diversity of our workplace, but providing them with a quality work experience that will help them to better integrate into the workforce.”

If you are considering bringing a newcomer intern aboard, I would encourage you to get involved with HIO for cross-cultural training and referral to organizations in Ottawa that can help your organization source candidates.

George Vuicic is an Ottawa based partner with Hicks Morley LLP, a law firm specializing in human resources law and advocacy for employers.  George thrives on helping employers to achieve their workplace objectives.

Hire Immigrants Ottawa works with local employers to help them effectively hire and integrate skilled immigrants into their workplaces.

Top 10 Canadian Immigration Stories of 2012

2012 was an exceptionally busy year in the Canadian immigration system. Below are 2 out of the top 10 immigration stories of 2012 that focus on immigrant employment issues. (This article was originally published in its entirety on February 27, 2013 in Maytree Conversations.)

By Maytree

2012 was an exceptionally busy year in the Canadian immigration system. Building on last year’s “Top 10 Canadian Immigration Stories of 2011,” a group of writers including Z Sonia Worotynec, Gregory Johannson, and Bonnie Mah present a similar top 10 list for 2012. For each story, we’ve provided a brief introduction, some background and related links and resources.

This year’s overarching theme: while 2011 was the year of consultations, 2012 was a year of change. It brought an explosive number of changes and proposed changes to the ways that Canada selects and treats immigrants, refugees and citizens as well as how we talk about immigrants and refugees. Multiple announcements and re-announcements from the Minister’s office made it challenging to figure out what changes had been made, what had been proposed only, and when changes or proposed changes would take effect.

Selection of Economic Class Immigrants

The Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), often considered the backbone of Canada’s economic immigration, was the target of many of the proposed changes. The points system is being re-configured to:

  • Increase the number of points for the first official language spoken;
  • Increase points for younger applicants;
  • Decrease points for work experience gained outside of Canada;
  • Require a credential assessment by a third party at the time of application.

While it re-tooled this program, the government stopped accepting applications to the FSWP on July 1, 2012. This program is expected to re-open on May 4, 2013.

Alongside these changes, the government also announced a new stream for skilled tradespersons, who traditionally have had a difficult time qualifying under the FSWP criteria. Like the FSWP, the trades stream will accept applications from individuals with occupations on a predetermined occupations list. The stream will be capped at 3,000 applications for 2013. It opened on January 2, 2013, and has been well-received, despite its small size.

In addition, the Canadian Experience Class, Provincial Nominee Programs, Investor Class and Entrepreneur Class all saw changes or proposed changes this year.

To deal with the long-standing backlog of applicants to the FSWP, the government proposed to return FSWP applications and fees submitted before February 27, 2008. The decision cut off 280,000 applicants, and is currently being challenged in Federal Court.

To prevent the development of future backlogs, the government proposed moving to a selection system similar to New Zealand’s Expression of Interest system. Under this system, applicants are selected from a pool – rather than from a queue – allowing unsuccessful applicants to be removed quickly. Canada’s new system is expected to be implemented in 2014.

Related Resources

Facilitating Temporary Residence and Two-Step Immigration

The trend towards temporary resident growth continued in 2012. In particular, a number of changes made it easier for employers to bring temporary foreign workers (TFWs) to Canada.

In April, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) introduced a ten-day Accelerated Labour Market Opinion (A-LMO) process to approve employers seeking to hire a TFW. At the same time, HRSDC changed the rules on pay for foreign workers. Employers can now pay TFWs in high skilled positions 15% less than the prevailing wage, and TFWs in lower skilled positions 5% less than the prevailing wage.

In July, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) expanded a pilot project that allows employers in Alberta to hire TFWs in some trades, and allows these workers to move between employers without going through the Labour Market Opinion (LMO) process.

Just as the year was about to close, the government announced it would table new rules for international students. The rules would designate educational institutions permitted to host international students and remove the requirement for international students who wish to work part-time to get an off-campus work permit. These changes are intended to be part of Canada’s efforts in attracting international students – who are “a great source of potential permanent immigrants.”

In 2012, the government again signaled the growing preference for two-step immigration – that is, permanent residence after temporary residence – by easing requirements of the Canadian Experience Class (CEC). This change means that TFWs in high-skilled jobs will require only 12 months of in-Canada work experience (down from 24 months) to apply for permanent residence through the CEC.

Read the the full list of top 10 Canadian Immigration Stories of 2012

Skilled Immigrants Give Metro Labs A Competitive Advantage

Metro Testing Laboratories uses innovative recruiting and training techniques to grow their company.

By IEC-BC

You’re hiring. Of course, you want the best fit possible. So, ideally, as a BC-based company, you want candidates with Canadian experience and fluent English. Right?

Maybe not. Metro Testing Laboratories is one company that has taken a very different approach — which has paid off handsomely for them in terms of highly successful recruitment and retention.

Metro Testing Laboratories is a 205-employee firm that provides inspection and testing for all phases of construction as well as in-house supplemental testing. They work with local contractors, engineering and architectural firms and municipal and provincial government agencies.

Metro Testing Laboratories doesn’t make Canadian experience mandatory for new hires. “We prefer to train them ourselves into our way of doing things,” says Harry Watson, President, Metro Testing Laboratories. Metro Testing Laboratories also has other techniques for recruiting skilled immigrants. “In our advertising we ask to have a second language. This prompts skilled immigrants to apply,” Harry explains. “We put on free training courses for the type of work that we do, and we also send the applicants out to shadow some of our employees. Then we will often offer them a job.”

Harry notes that his approach of actively seeking out skilled immigrants for its workforce is unusual in his field, where he says most companies tend to be somewhat “tribal” in whom they hire. At Metro Labs, however, the “tribe” is global. “To date we have brought people from 15 different cultures into the group — no small thing for a small company,” says Harry.

Harry admits that it does take some accommodation: “Give the skilled immigrants an opportunity to show they can actually do the work, be patient with them, give them a little bit longer time to adopt the culture,” he suggests. But, he says, the pay-offs are enormous. “Skilled immigrants have definitely contributed to the success of Metro, and they really do feel like a part of the company. I think they feel proud of the company.”

“As BC employers face growing skill shortages, what constitutes the “right fit” is undergoing a transformation,” says Kelly Pollack, Executive Director of the Immigrant Employment Council of British Columbia. “Employers like Harry, who have adjusted their hiring standards and recruitment techniques to include, rather than exclude, skilled immigrants from their talent pool, will have a significant competitive advantage.”

Harry was a presenter at the fall IEC-BC Leader’s’ Summit on Immigrant Employment. Click here to read the Summit Proceedings. Harry and his employee Ali Boromand are featured in an ad which ran in BC Business and in a video on the importance of integrating skilled immigrants into the BC labour force.

What Employers Want When They are Hiring

In the Canadian Immigrant series, “What employers want,” the publication speaks to the people who are instrumental in hiring talent for their companies — human resource managers, recruiters and senior managers who share their insight on what’s affecting the employment of newcomers. (This article was originally published in Canadian Immigrant, September 5, 2012)

By Baisakhi Roy

Much is said about having relevant Canadian experience when applying for a job in Canada. Newcomers also face additional challenges, namely being educated outside Canada, unfamiliarity with Canadian work culture and difficulty in communicating effectively with their colleagues and clients.

Our first interview is with Jason Winkler, chief talent officer, for Deloitte Canada, which provides audit, tax, consulting and financial advisory services through more than 56 offices, and has been recognized for its work in incorporating diversity into its workplace. Winkler speaks candidly of the importance of recruiting immigrant talent, how taking initiative lands you a job and the great Canadian compromise!

CI: What skills should foreign-trained professionals focus on when they come to Canada?

JW: Be a specialist. In Deloitte we have multiple service businesses. So we are always looking for people with well-defined technical skills. People that come in with specific skills like SAP products should make sure that their skills are very well defined.

We are also a professional services firm so we serve clients in many different industries. Therefore, we are always looking for people who are very knowledgeable in a particular industry. We have people from overseas who really understand mining or telecom, so we would actually want their industry expertise. From the perspective of the cultural setup at Deloitte, what is important for us are the candidate’s interpersonal skills — the ability to work with a range of people both with clients on the outside and within the firm. One of our core values is collaboration: with each other and our clients. Regardless of whether they are coming from overseas or not, we look for this skill. A proven record to be collaborative is an important skill.

CI: What are your thoughts on Canadian experience?

JW: All the above skills I mentioned are more important than having Canadian experience with the exception in some areas where we need to understand specific Canadian regulatory or legal requirements; we need candidates to understand that quickly. We value global experience quite a bit. I can think of a number of people that I have hired who have had no Canadian experience, but have wide international experience. It’s not essential, but is it nice to have … people who understand Canada? Sure. But we want to bring global experiences to this marketplace.

CI: What advice can you give newcomers on learning the ropes quickly?

JW: Prepare before you come to Canada. In an area like audit or tax, there are Canadian rules and regulations to be known. It’s an advantage if you can attain that knowledge before you come to Canada. The other way obviously is to get that knowledge quickly when you are on the ground [in Canada] and connect to communities that can help you gain this knowledge. If you are an accountant from another jurisdiction, there are lots of groups and associations where you can start to network and begin to understand the system.

You can also engage in self-training. I’ve met people who have told me that they have actually read the Canadian standards on a particular area. You should know what the overlaps and the differences are. If any recertification is needed, you should know what that process is.

CI: What about the all-important workplace culture? What should immigrants know?

JW: There is the matter of how Canadians are nice and polite; the great Canadian compromise. Some cultures are very direct and for people coming from such backgrounds, it might be difficult to adapt initially. Then again, from the North American perspective, there are cultures that are more indirect and subtle. We are in the middle zone culturally. It is a difficult adjustment, but we try to maintain a balance.

In Canada, we are very diverse, which if utilized properly could be a great asset to the Canadian economy. Our company is more diverse now than it has been in the past 20 years. We see people coming from other countries quickly find their communities here, more easily now. We take that further and are prompt to assign “buddies” who are not your performance manager. He explains to you about how things work here, sort of helps you find your path. For new immigrants, this is important.

 CI: What specific challenges does Deloitte face when recruiting immigrant talent?

JW: Being able to do the due diligence to actually find out if they are a strong candidate is tough. Because we rely on not just what’s on the resumé, but also doing reference checks, getting hold of people can be tricky. When a candidate is from a different place and culture, how do you actually do the assessment fully? We like a new candidate to meet at least six or eight of us so that they get a chance to find out what our firm is like. We like to get a good sense of the candidate because there are multiple people involved in the hiring process. Also, we usually need people quickly so logistics and the immigration process is another issue that we are constantly working on.

CI: What do you think are the biggest barriers that newcomers face when applying for jobs?

JW: This is not specific to Deloitte, but from what I have heard and seen, the first barrier is language. It’s crucial how you communicate and interact in that first interaction. We observe that basic communication skills are fine, but there is a problem getting to the next level — conversing convincingly. There is still a level of bias out there amongst employers who want to hire people who are “like them.” So if they don’t understand your background and where you come from and you don’t look or sound like them, they would be hesitant in hiring you. I think we can still improve on this front.

There are organizations that take the easier route: they hire people whose name is familiar to them, whose education they are familiar with, etc. The way to counter this is that we must make more effort to familiarize ourselves with foreign education and educational institutions. One of my senior colleagues is from India, so he knows all the universities there and if we get a candidate who is educated there, we go over to him to cross check. And he tells us, ”Yes, that’s a top university or not many people get in there!” We are very lucky to be well networked within our organization and so we can always check up on candidates who are educated outside Canada.

CI: Do you believe diversity in the workplace is important?

JW: Our core culture is delivery to our clients. Our clients are diverse, so if we are not diverse, we won’t match up to their needs. We don’t want our clients to face our team and go, “You don’t look like us!” We actually believe that our workplace is fun, more interesting, more valuable because we are all so different from each other. We come up with better ideas from a diverse workforce. It’s actually sound business.

CI: What are your top tips for being considered for a job at Deloitte?

JW: Assuming that they have the tactical skills and are able to demonstrate them, the first thing would be that they should show that they are willing to invest in themselves in terms of language skills — what are they doing to improve their communication skills?

Also, all of us want to work on a certain type of project and a certain type of location, in a certain way. So the willingness to work at something that is not exactly what you are looking for on your first day is a great asset. A candidate should be able to say, “This is my ideal profile, but I am willing to participate and contribute to other tasks.” It gives us the ability to say that we can give them an opportunity. Then there’s collaboration. We are ready to help people and we expect people to ask for help. The lone wolves don’t do well. People need to be strong enough to realize when they need help. When they make it known that they need help, then their colleagues are incredibly supportive.

If you don’t ask for help, almost by definition, you will not be successful. Focus on these two things: how do you make your client successful and how do you make your colleague successful? Everything else is noise. If you let these two things guide your behaviour, you will be successful.

Promoting Diversity in the Office: Tips for Bias-free Hiring

While many organizations may have the goal of creating diverse workplaces through bias-free hiring, they may not have implemented the many elements needed to achieve this goal.

By Tana Turner, Charity Village

With Canada’s increasing diversity, employers are becoming more conscious about their hiring practices and the need to reflect the population served. They are also aware of their obligations under the Human Rights Code to have non-discriminatory hiring practices.

However, women, persons with disabilities, Aboriginal peoples, and racial minorities continue to experience disadvantage in the labour market, resulting in higher rates of unemployment and underemployment – even when they have comparable levels of education and work experience.

So, while many organizations may have the goal of creating diverse workplaces through bias-free hiring, they may not have implemented the many elements needed to achieve this goal.

The challenge for many is understanding the various types of bias in the hiring process. Some agencies may not have considered that their hiring process may be biased. Others may focus on one type of bias, but neglect the others.

Read more here

10 Ways to Diversify Your Workforce

10 Ways to Diversify Your Workforce

Hiring and promoting employees whose cultural backgrounds represent the clients they serve is key for an organization to succeed .Companies seeking to do this should take the following 10 steps. (This article was originally published on April 23 2012 by Peter Fragale from Diversity Executive)

In health care, a diverse staff can provide great value in meeting the needs of patients from a wide range of cultures — a lesson that carries over to other industries.

An immense challenge lies before the nation’s health care sector: diversifying its workforce. A 2012 study by executive search firm Witt/Kieffer, “Diversity as a Business Builder in Healthcare,” found that diversity is lacking in health care leadership. This is unfortunate because industry leaders surveyed in the study believe diversity in the workplace improves patient satisfaction and clinical outcomes. This impact on the customer likely has similar effects in other industries.

A key tenet of excellent health care — like any service-oriented industry that meets a customer’s needs — is the caregiver’s ability to understand patients’ needs. This includes their diverse cultural needs — since, as the study noted, minorities account for 98 percent of the population growth in the nation’s largest metropolitan areas during the last decade.

It’s all part of knowing who you serve. Where does a patient, or customer, come from? How about their culture, values and sensitivities? Are these just as important to how we meet their needs?

Knowing all this begins with hiring — and promoting — employees whose cultural backgrounds represent the patients the organization serves. This takes a commitment both internally with employees and externally in the communities served. Companies seeking to do this should take the following 10 steps:

1. Embrace diversity: This seems basic, but it’s critical and worth noting first. A diverse workforce is a true competitive advantage. Promoting a culture that values employees for unique skills, experiences and perspectives distinguishes an organization as all-inclusive, relevant and truly understanding of what customers want and need. In essence, it is a treasure trove of customer and business intelligence.

Internally, the more leaders understand and respect their employees’ differences, the easier it will be to make seemingly difficult conversations more comfortable. This is critical when serving a religiously, culturally or otherwise diverse customer base.

2. Create a visual of your team: Keep ethnicity and gender data on hand so that hiring managers can create a visual picture of the individuals on each team. When numbers and percentages fail, this mental image of who is on the team can help senior leadership see where diverse populations are underrepresented or underutilized and especially compare them to the customer population. Of course, this comes with the need to reassure the team that only the most qualified candidates should be hired.

3. Build a hit list of superstars: Ask existing staff to refer potential recruits, since great employees usually associate with one another or can easily spot a top performer. Not hiring immediately? Collect and build a list of superstars to hire in the future. Keep in touch with them in the meantime.

4. Network with diverse organizations: Develop relationships with ethnically diverse professional associations and organizations, as well as local community boards and civic associations. Attend their conferences, speak at their functions and reciprocate by inviting them to company open houses and job fairs. Also, connect with vendors and suppliers who share a value for diversity and alert them to job openings for which they may have a candidate.

5. Set diversity expectations with recruiters: When using outside recruiters, ask for a diverse set of candidates and examples of high-caliber recruits they have recently placed. If they cannot easily rattle off a litany of names, then find another recruiter.

6. Invite staff into the inner circle: Create an environment of inclusion where all staff members feel valued, embrace the company’s mission, feel part of its vision and are fully tuned in with the organization’s business strategy. Help them understand just how important diversity is to serving customers best and that every individual is a big part of that. It’s easy to lose top performers because they feel detached, especially in large organizations.

7. Let your employees shine: Acknowledge — and celebrate — your staff’s accomplishments and set them up for success. This small step goes a long way in engaging employees and encouraging them to go the extra mile. Give opportunities for employees to demonstrate excellence. Assign them projects that suit their skills, recognize their achievement and celebrate it in a public way — either inside or outside your organization. In this recognition, make a point to celebrate them as a diverse individual, not just their work.

8. Mentor and shadow: The best learning happens in the field, so develop a mentoring and shadowing program that pairs hiring managers with employees of different cultural or ethnic backgrounds or genders. This creates a trusted, educational environment where employees can feel safe about asking questions regarding different backgrounds, and also lets them see different cultural styles at work.

9. Achieve employees’ dreams: Encourage leaders to know the career desires of the staff who report to them. This puts them in the position to always know when a promotional opportunity might be the best fit and help further their career goals. It also gives the opportunity to challenge employees with new assignments that broaden their skills and expose them to different chances for success.

10. Over-communicate: Relationships matter, and they are only built with repeated communication. This could mean deliberately initiating a conversation with an employee, listening to what they say, providing feedback and calling their attention to your follow through. Or, it can mean brief acknowledgements of their work, which add up and make a difference over time. On the other end of the spectrum, it should take the form of an internal communications plan that, from an HR perspective, tells employees what positions are open, how to apply, updates from HR, etc.

A key to all these steps is relationships — inside and out — with those already hired and targeted to join your team. No matter the industry — be it health care or another — businesses can use focused attention on recruitment of minorities as a way to build culture, morale and the strength of the entire business.

Coaching Connects Immigrants to IT Jobs and Closes Skills Gap

The Coaching to Career pilot program matches immigrants with senior executives in the IT field to help them find jobs commensurate with their skills and experiences.

Canada is falling behind in the technology sector because the demand for information technology professionals is outpacing supply.

The problem is two-fold, according to John Pickett, Principal and Chief Information Officer and Community Advocate at the IT Media Group.

First, there are not enough people going into IT programs in Canadian schools, and second, those who are don’t have the skills required for the jobs that exist, he says.

“It makes a big difference to a company’s ability to compete and to Canada’s ability to compete,” he says.

The Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) estimates that by 2016 about 106,000 ICT jobs will need to be filled in both traditional and emerging ICT industries — an annual hiring rate of nearly 17,000.

Many newcomers have the right skills for the jobs but lack the Canadian experience and networks to help them land these jobs, says Mr. Pickett.

“That, to me, is a waste,” he says.

That’s why Mr. Pickett was keen to take part in ICTC’s pilot bridging program, Coaching to Career, which launched in May 2012 in Toronto.

The program, aimed at internationally educated professionals (IEPs) in the IT sector, provides three weeks of employment training, including workplace culture, competencies and communications.

The IEPs are then matched with a senior industry executive who provides personalized coaching for six months to help them find a job that is commensurate with their skills and experiences.

Once employed, the IEPs receive extended training and support from ICTC for the first three months in their new job.

“I see the Coaching to Career program to be a positive step in closing the skills gap by helping professionally qualified new Canadians adapt culturally to the Canadian workplace and acquire the social and communication skills that will enable them to contribute fully to the Canadian workforce and economy,” says Mr. Pickett.

Industry coaches currently participating in ICTC’s pilot program have:

  • Decision-making power inside his or her organizations.
  • A strong network of colleagues to make connections for IEPs.
  • A drive to take risks and instigate change.
  • A passion for life-long learning.

As a coach, you’re helping to make a positive contribution to the Canadian economy, says Mr. Pickett. But it’s also professionally and personally rewarding.

The coaches all receive training at the beginning of the program on how to coach, a valuable skill they can apply in the professional lives, says Mr. Pickett.

The program is also an opportunity for those who have succeeded to pay something back, he says.

“These are people who have really good, solid qualifications, more so than I’d anticipated. I think it’s a crying shame if we’re not able to help and do something to get them meaningfully employed. Not just for them but for the benefit of the companies who are currently lacking those kinds of skills.

Coaching to Career is delivered in partnership with JVS Toronto and One Million Acts of Innovation and is funded by the Ontario and federal governments.

The pilot project has two more rounds in Toronto and ICTC would like to see the program go national. To become involved, contact [email protected].

Award-Winning Employers Help Newcomers Overcome Employment Barriers

Lack of Canadian work experience is one of the biggest barriers many skilled immigrants face when looking for jobs in Canada. To help newcomers overcome that hurdle, seven of the 2012 Best Employers for New Canadians have partnered with Bow Valley College in Calgary to provide newcomers with their first Canadian work experience.

AltaGas Ltd., CH2MHillTransCanada CorporationRoyal Bank of Canada, TD Bank GroupEnergy Resources Conservation Board and TELUS have all provided several six-week work experience placements to skilled newcomers through the college’s Corporate Readiness Training Program (CRTP).

The CRTP combines a 10-week classroom component, which prepares newcomers for the Canadian workplace, with a six-week work experience with employer partners. This work experience helps newcomers overcome barriers to employment in three important ways, says Katalina Bardell, the Mentoring Project Lead for the CRTP. The work placement:

  • Provides a first Canadian work experience
  • Provides a first Canadian reference
  • Builds the newcomer’s professional network

In the video below, Ms. Bardell talks about the program and the role employers play.

Tap Into the Right Markets

To ensure skilled immigrants are applying for jobs at your organization, you need to market recruitment opportunities directly to them.

One way to do so is to post employment opportunities with ethno-specific professional associations in your community, such as Professional Immigrant Networks, or with Skills International — an online database of skilled immigrant talent where you can create a free employer profile, post employment opportunities and search talent directly.

Bridging programs are another source of job-ready, pre-screened immigrant talent. These programs prepare skilled immigrants for entry into specific industries and occupations. The Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) has two programs that prepare internationally educated ICT professionals for employment in Canada: Integrated Work Experience Strategy (IWES) and Coaching to Career.

The Local Resources section has links to local services that can help you find other bridging programs in your area.

Internships are a low-risk way for employers to find out if a skilled immigrant has the right skills and experience for the job. And they have the added benefit of providing the interns with Canadian experience. The Local Resources section has links to local services that can help you find internship programs in your area.

For example, the Career Bridge paid internship program provides employers with access to a highly qualified talent pool of internationally qualified professionals who have been in Canada less than three years and have been pre-screened for the following:

  • legal entitlement to work in Canada;
  • Canadian educational equivalency; and
  • English language business communication skills.

The internships are mid-level professional positions that last four, six, nine or 12 months and are ideal for project management, contingency staffing and screening potential permanent hires.

Current employees and their networks are also a source of talent. Encourage immigrants in your organization to help you with recruitment efforts and reward them for successful hires with a referral bonus.

You can read Success Stories of how American Express Canada and Duke Energy tapped into immigrant networks to recruit and retain skilled immigrant candidates.

Additional Resources:

  • Recruitment Sources: A list of various sources of skilled immigrant talent, including community agencies, churches and schools.

Use Local Employment Agencies to get Candidates Faster

Non-profit employment service agencies provide many workforce-readiness services for skilled immigrants, including language training and assessment, orientation, career workshops and referral services.

You can also leverage their connection to the skilled immigrant community for your recruitment and assessment needs — all free of charge.

To start out, connect with a job developer at a local employment agency that serves immigrants. It’s their job to connect skilled immigrants with employment opportunities. They are constantly seeking new employer contacts. Most of their services are free.

You can provide these employment service agencies with your employment opportunities. They will then identify any qualified, pre-screened candidates from their database of immigrant clients, saving you time and money on your recruitment and assessment.

Many of these agencies also hold job fairs, which provide another avenue to connect with skilled immigrant talent.

The Local Resources section has links to local services that can help you find agencies in your area.

Create an Inclusive Recruitment Strategy

Before you start recruiting skilled immigrants, your organization must first ensure it has a recruitment strategy that is inclusive of skilled immigrants.

To do so, you need to establish a recruitment philosophy specifically focused on skills, regardless of where or how those skills were developed.

Based on that philosophy, you can create a clearly stated recruitment policy that ensures capable and qualified individuals are considered, regardless of heritage and experience. The policy should also state the organization’s commitment to creating a diverse and accepting work force

Your policy should then guide how you conduct your workforce analysis, write job descriptions, as well as where and how you advertise employment opportunities to ensure you are reaching out to the broadest possible talent pool.

Additional Resources

Know Your Needs and Your Labour Force

Once you have an inclusive recruitment philosophy and policy, the next step of your recruitment strategy is to clearly understand your hiring needs and the characteristics of your available labour force.

By doing so, your internal and external environments will guide your recruitment decisions.

Conducting a Workforce Analysis

A workforce analysis helps you understand employment needs in light of your internal strengths, thereby informing whether you need to recruit externally.

Ask yourself:

  • In what areas are you under-resourced?
  • To fill these gaps, do you intend to create a new position, fill a vacancy or add to an existing position?
  • If creating a new position, what is the role and responsibilities associated with this position?
  • What are the skills, competencies and qualifications required to perform this job successfully?
  • Can you staff the position internally?
  • What are the long-term objectives for the position?

Measuring Your Needs Against Your Organizational Objectives

If your workforce analysis requires you to tap external recruitment sources, the next step is to weigh the hiring opportunity against your organizational objectives. After all, recruiting a new employee gives your organization an opportunity to move closer towards achieving a business objective:

  • Are you looking to deepen your understanding and engagement with your diverse, multicultural local community (for example, for sales opportunities)? If so, what cultures are represented in your community?
  • Are you seeking to tap international markets for greater operational or supply chain cost-effectiveness and efficiencies? If so, which countries?
  • Does your organization wish to sell its products and services in foreign markets? If so, which markets?
  • Is the available employment opportunity positioned to give others in my organization a chance to leverage that hire’s cultural knowledge?

In asking these questions, you may also examine whether your existing employee base reflects the diversity of your local or international markets. Your next hire may give your organization a unique opportunity to gain a resource that helps meet one or more business objectives.

Once you understand your organizational needs, you can develop recruitment goals for the position.  Labour market information, such as the 2006 Community Profiles from Statistics Canada, provide demographic details that can guide those goals.

Additional Resources

  • Webinar: Listen to a diversity and human rights advisor at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital talk about how you can design and conduct a workforce census.
  • Ottawa Police Service: Read how the police service changed their recruiting goals towards greater inclusion of skilled immigrants and the benefits realized.
  • Sample Workforce Analysis: This sample analysis from Human Resources and Skills Development is designed specifically for employment equity groups. While only federally regulated employers have to follow employment equity legislation, the format is helpful for any employer looking to increase diversity among employees.

Writing a Barrier-Free Job Description

“Canadian work experience.”

It’s a phrase that excludes many skilled immigrants from working in their chosen profession.

Although there are exceptions among some professions, “Canadian work experience” is hardly a strict requirement to perform most jobs successfully. The extensive education, skills and work experience that many skilled immigrants bring to Canada are readily transferable, making many of them job-ready. Often, “Canadian work experience” appears in a job description as a result of complacency and legacy rather than a conscious reflection of an employer’s actual and current needs.

Ensuring your job description is free of barriers to skilled immigrant applicants will ensure skilled immigrants are represented in the pool of qualified candidates you consider for the job.

Job descriptions serve as central documents expressing the employee’s responsibilities, both professional and technical, providing new employees with a solid understanding of expectations for the position. They also inform how job advertisements and interview questions are developed, while providing a foundation for performance management and compensation planning.

Barrier-free job descriptions will ensure that qualified candidates are not eliminated from your recruitment process. For instance, a job description that requests simply experience (instead of Canadian work experience) will greatly increase the pool of qualified applications — giving you greater access to top talent.

You may also include language for “equivalent” Canadian education, experience and skills, giving greater clarity to all applicants — Canadian- or foreign-born. Focus on objective criteria such as education, skills, competencies and experience without making value judgments on the quality of North American credentials versus international credentials.

Use clear and concise language that describes essential professional and educational qualifications for effective and efficient job performance.

Avoid phrases that may lead to subjective interpretation. For example, stating a requirement for “excellent communication skills” without a more objective description (“experience making sales presentations,” or “experience conducting internal and external training”) may encourage unqualified candidates to apply, resulting in more work on your part to assess each applicant.

Barrier-free job description

  • Focuses on what needs to be achieved
  • Lists only education and experience vital to successful job performance
  • Differentiates essential from non-essential qualifications
  • Reads in clear, concise language
  • Highlights interesting aspects of the position, work environment and organization to attract skilled immigrants to the position (for example, describing your organization as “welcoming 30 cultures, speaking 12 languages”).

Traditional job description

  • Focuses on how a deliverable should be achieved
  • May list education and experience not vital to successful job performance
  • May confuse candidates between must-have and nice-to-have qualifications
  • Communicates in exclusionary HR or organizational lingo, North-American or sector-specific terminology
  • Includes language that excludes skilled immigrants, such as “Canadian experience required”

 Additional Resources