Ten tips to diversify the supply chain

This article originally appeared at DiverseCity: The Greater Toronto Leadership Project.

The supply chain includes every organization that is involved in bringing a good or service to the consumer. In this chain, companies purchase raw materials, products and professional services from other, often smaller organizations. Supplier diversity means that small and medium-sized organizations, owned or operated by diverse individuals, have equal access to these opportunities, allowing them to grow their businesses and grow the broader economy at the same time.

Getting started

1. Make a commitment to a bias-free supply chain.
The first step to creating a supplier diversity program is to make a commitment, internally and externally, to ensure that purchases are made without bias.

2. Take stock of diversity in the supply chain.
Collect demographic information about your current suppliers. Some people worry this is illegal or discriminatory – it is not. Collecting information on racial and ethnic characteristics is permitted if it is to address the underrepresentation of visible minorities and other historically under-represented groups.

3. Express the value of diversity in the supply chain.
Bringing diversity to the supply chain is not just the right thing to do. It makes good business sense, providing purchasers with more options on products and pricing. And when an organization’s leadership goes on record with a commitment to make change happen, it will.

4. Develop a supplier diversity program by learning from others
There are several organizations in Canada, including RBC, TD and YMCA, with a track record in the field. Good practices can also be found at US-based companies, particularly in the Chicago area. These practices can be studied and emulated to create a strategy.

Climbing the ladder of supplier diversity

5. Train staff on the supplier diversity program.
It is important to train both buyers and managers within organizations on the importance of diversity in the supply chain, as well as any new policies and procedures that are developed as a result of the creation of the supplier diversity program.

6. Award points in the RFP process for minorityowned/ led businesses.
Many of the best supplier programs allot points for organizations that are either owned/led by minorities or that have their own supplier diversity program in place.

7. Engage external partners to reach out to new suppliers.
Proactive efforts to identify minority suppliers are necessary for a successful supplier diversity program. Organizations such as the Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council and the Diversity Business Network can help.

8. Build the capacity of minority suppliers through mentoring.
Some minority-owned/led businesses are not yet ready to compete for large contracts. Organizations can mentor them by, for example, helping to explain the RFP process.

9. Track dollars spent with minority suppliers.
Each year billions of dollars are exchanged between businesses providing goods and services to each other. Organizations can track how much of their dollars are spent with minority suppliers to gauge the success of their supplier diversity program.

10. Report on the results of the supplier diversity program.
Publicly reporting the progress of your supplier diversity efforts, in an annual report for example, can ensure that your organization continues to progress in its efforts to meet its targets.

Temporary Foreign Workers – Two Editorials

Two editorials in the Globe and Mail make a case for bringing in more immigrants (future citizens) than temporary guest workers.

Foreign workers won’t be temporary if we make them permanent

By Doug Saunders, The Globe and Mail

We need migrant labour, but the current arrangement leaves everyone wanting. There’s no reason not to ease the path to citizenship

They are allowed into Canada to do jobs most Canadians would refuse at rates of pay most Canadians would never stand for, and then they have to leave. They are separated from their families for years. They aren’t allowed to settle, marry, bring their children over, expect a raise or change jobs. They have to live in rooms provided by their employers, and they cannot realistically quit without being forced out of the country.

Where are you most likely to encounter such temporary foreign workers? Not in a Fort McMurray tar pit or in the kitchen of a pizzeria in Weyburn, Sask., but far more likely in your neighbour’s spare bedroom – or perhaps even your own.

Our original temporary foreign worker program, launched in 1992, is the one that brings live-in nannies and caregivers into Canadians’ homes. It accounts for nearly a fifth of all “temporary” immigration.

We’d like to think of this variety of migrant labour – “Lucy, who takes care of the kids” – as somehow different. In fact, the similarities are striking, as are the deep and troubling flaws. The foreign-labour problem in our dormer rooms and kitchens tells us a lot about the foreign-labour problem in the workplace.

Read more here

Canada needs more immigrant future citizens, fewer guest workers

The Globe and Mail

The evidence is mounting that, whatever the Temporary Foreign Worker Program may be accomplishing, it is not the alleviation of temporary labour shortages, its ostensible purpose. There are no widespread labour shortages in Canada. But since the 21st century began, the number of workers in the program has nearly tripled to around half a million.

An employer that wants to hire foreign workers has to apply to the federal government for a “labour market opinion,” which is based partly on information from the employer. Allegations about McDonald’s franchisees in Victoria and Lethbridge, Alta., together with anecdotal evidence from other parts of Canada, suggest that some companies may actually prefer foreign workers because they believe them to be more willing to work longer and harder at tasks that attract little prestige, more deferential, and willing to work for less – though in some of the McDonald’s, they are actually paid slightly more than some of their Canadian co-workers.

Read more here

Guide Helps ICT Managers Create Effective HR Strategies and Programs

Companies that are fully aware of the value of their staff, invest in their development and take steps to retain skilled and diverse employees are often those that are most successful.

The Human Resources Management Guide for Canadian Information and Communications Technology Companies is a practical tool designed to expand on human resources management principles. It is primarily intended for front-line managers (immediate supervisors) in the information and communications technology (ICT) industry.

The guide helps organizations establish effective human resources management strategies, programs and mechanisms.

The guide consists of 12 chapters, called modules, with practical information on various HR topics, including diversity, hiring, retention, compensation, performance evaluation, training, time management, drafting employee manuals and occupational health and safety issues.

Each module contains downloadable tools to help managers make the most of the information. The information and tools can be used immediately or adapted to suit your organization’s requirements.

In creating the guide, the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) consulted a dozen companies in the industry to ensure it addressed their specific needs, provided concrete explanations for how to implement HR techniques and took into account industry-specific trends and language

Download the guide.

Why Hiring Immigrants Is Good for Your Business

Innovation, access to global markets, diverse languages and critical skills are among the top 10 reasons small and medium-sized enterprises should hire skilled immigrants.

ALLIES recently published a new report, Global Talent for SMEs: Building Bridges and Making Connections, highlighting the findings of a year-long study of new, innovative and promising initiatives that can help connect small and medium-sized enterprises with skilled immigrants.

The report identifies 10 reasons why hiring immigrants is good for your business:

  • Skilled immigrants boost innovation by bringing new perspectives to your business. Diverse experiences and approaches improve problem-solving and can bring fresh new ideas to your team.
  • Skilled immigrants can help you access global markets. Many immigrants speak other languages and have lived and worked outside of North America. Their knowledge of international business practices can help you do business and build relationships around the world.
  • Skilled immigrants give you insight into local ethnic markets. Nearly 1 in 5 Canadians are immigrants – in Calgary it’s almost 1 in 4, and nearly half of all Toronto residents were born outside of Canada. Skilled immigrant employees can help you serve these large – and growing – markets.
  • Skilled immigrants speak English or French and can communicate with your team and your clients. More than 90% of recent, working age immigrants speak English, French, or both.
  • Skilled immigrants are well-educated. More than 35% of recent immigrants have a Bachelor’s or higher degree.
  • Skilled immigrants can fill difficult-to-fill positions. They arrive in Canada with high levels of education and work experience. Recent immigrants make up 7% of our national workforce. In Calgary, nearly 10%, and in Toronto almost 20% of the workforce are recent immigrants.
  • Skilled immigrants are flexible and adaptable. They have recognized an opportunity for a new life in Canada and seized it. They can do the same for your business.
  • Skilled immigrants are loyal employees. Keeping good employees is a challenge for many small businesses. Employers report that when employed at the right level for their education and experience, skilled immigrant employees are very loyal.
  • Skilled immigrants are all around you, and they’re easy to hire. Contact your local immigrant employment council to find local skilled immigrants who want to work for you. Visit hireimmigrants.ca for tips and tools on hiring, integrating, and retaining top immigrant talent.
  • Having a diverse workforce enhances your business and makes you an employer of choice. Annual awards such as the national Best Employers for New Canadians, and many local awards recognize the good work that employers do to capitalize on skilled immigrant talent.

Read the full report.

SMEs Benefit From Immigrant Talent But Many Still Face Barriers to Hiring IEPs

Seven hundred resumés. That’s how many Stefan Atton sent out in hopes of landing a marketing position. But lacking Canadian work experience he finally applied for an entry-level position, a delivery job at Steam Whistle Brewing in Toronto. The small brewery didn’t have an HR department so he strategically sent his resumé to Steam Whistle’s director of marketing.

Atton’s experience was through the roof — he’d worked in Sri Lanka and India as a brand and market manager for multinationals. Instead of the delivery job, he was hired as Steam Whistle’s marketing manager in 2002.

Few internationally educated professionals are so lucky. Despite unfilled jobs, 78 per cent of small businesses did not hire immigrants between 2003 and 2006, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

Not only are the immigrants losing out, but so too are Canadian businesses. The small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that tap into this talent pool have reaped great success, says HR consultant Yogesh Shah.

For example, one Waterloo company has grown its business worldwide thanks to its 30 foreign trained employees who know 25 languages and a medical data company hires medical professionals from all over the world for the innovation they bring to the company’s research department.

In 2010, the people at Social Enterprise for Canada (SEC) sat down with representatives from SMEs in Ontario’s culturally diverse York Region to find out what’s stopping them from hiring internationally educated and trained professionals (IEPs). Their research was funded by the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

SEC heard employers’ concerns and published a report with key recommendations, which led to the launch of a new website for SMEs: Think Talent, Think Global.

Barriers to Hiring IEPs

Many employers want to hire immigrants but find it’s easier said than done. Here are some of the top barriers SMEs reported, and how the new website can help employers overcome them:

Credential recognition: Many employers don’t know whether, say, a Masters in Engineering from Singapore is equivalent to the same Masters here in Canada. The Think Talent, Think Global site devotes an entire section to resources that can help employers evaluate foreign credentials.

The problem of non-recognition goes deeper than just the common scenario of engineers driving taxis, says Kevin Kamal, client services manager at World Education Services (WES), a Washington, D.C.-based not-for-profit specializing in foreign credential recognition. “Let’s say a bank were hiring for a position that requires an MBA,” he says. “Of the six candidates who had MBAs, three of them might have an MBA from India. We encourage employers to evaluate those.”

Many foreign-trained professionals have qualifications equivalent to, or better than, their Canadian-trained counterparts. For instance, China has its own brand of Harvard, called Tsinghua University, and Indian schools have one of the toughest grading systems in the world, says Kamal. “A 60-per-cent grade there is equivalent to an A in Canada.”

Language proficiency: While working in Canada requires proficiency in English or French, the level of that proficiency matters more in some jobs than in others. The Think Talent, Think Global site devotes an entire section to the language barrier. It suggests things employers might not otherwise think of, such as paying attention to body language (and not just words) during the interview; interviewing in a culturally competent way; training the other staff on how to help integrate foreign workers; and investing in language training for the new hire.

Time and resources: Smaller businesses say they don’t have time to adopt new and complex HR strategies to hire internationally trained professionals. The Competency Assessment section of the new website offers another perspective on the time factor. Looking at what a candidate can do — rather than just his or her paper credentials — is worth the extra recruiting effort.

“Time was a deal breaker for SMEs,” says Bruce Millar, a consultant with SEC. “But if they actually took the time to deal with competency-based HR and operational systems, it would benefit them almost better than any other system I can think of.”

He suggests employers formally define the competencies they need to make their enterprise successful. Having this “competency framework” in place makes it easier to measure candidates’ ability to do the work they claim to be qualified for. It also helps evaluate staff performance, particularly at probation time.

Managing a Diverse Workforce, the HR Professional Perspective

Hiring skilled immigrants is just the start of tapping into the skills and experience of these diverse employees. As an HR professional, your role is to create talent management processes that ensure all employees are engaged and contributing to their full potential. This in turn will help your organization out-perform the competition

You also need to be aware of your responsibility to ensure all employees are treated equitably and provide accommodation as required.

Ongoing Development

Training and development is a critical component to ensuring skilled immigrants are able to perform effectively and continue to grow their skills and careers. It also helps boost employee engagement and loyalty because they feel the organization is taking an interest in their development.

Along with the regular training and development opportunities you provide employees, skilled immigrants will also benefit from specific programs that help them put their international experience into the Canadian context. Some initiatives include job-sharing as well as internal and external mentoring.

If language is the primary barrier to a skilled immigrant employee contributing more to your organization, provide specialized language training, which is a proven, successful retention strategy.

Performance Management and Promotion

Regular performance appraisals and feedback improve employees’ performance but it’s important to be aware of cultural differences to ensure skilled immigrants are getting the most out of the exchange.

Addressing poor performance gives employees opportunities for growth. Express your concerns in productive ways by providing examples and reiterating expectations. Then, outline a practical approach with dates and targets.

One of the best ways to retain employees is to show them how they can grow their careers and advance in your organization. And remember to include skilled immigrant employees when identifying high potential employees and developing succession plans for senior leaders.

While a workforce composed of employees from many different backgrounds can present its own challenges for managers, good diversity management is simply good people management.

Legal Responsibilities

Human rights acts across Canada prohibit employers from discriminating against employees on several protected grounds including race and national or ethnic origin. Employment equity is a plan or process to eliminate employment and promotion barriers members of protected groups face in the workplace.

While employers are legally obligated to ensure a discrimination-free workplace, accommodation isn’t just about meeting legal requirements — it’s also a good human resource practice that can enhance employee satisfaction and productivity.

For more information on managing a diverse workforce, visit the Managing a Diverse Workforce section of the website.

Feuille de route pour l’embaucheimmigrants.ca

Les immigrants qualifiés apportent des compétences utiles et une expertise internationale qui peuvent aider les entreprises à étendre leurs activités. Bon nombre d’employeurs, cependant, n’ont pas encore profité de ce bassin de plus en plus vaste de talents, en partie parce qu’ils ne savent pas comment ni par où commencer.

La Feuille de route pour l’embaucheimmigrants.ca peut vous aider à commencer. Il s’agit d’un guide qui décrit pas à pas les stratégies et outils détaillés servant à améliorer la planification et la gestion des ressources humaines de votre entreprise — depuis le recrutement jusqu’au maintien en poste d’immigrants qualifiés.

Grâce à cette ressource inestimable, vous peuvez plus efficacement évaluer et choisir les candidats, intégrer les nouveaux arrivants à vos activités et favoriser des relations à long terme. Vous peuvez même évaluer votre succès dans l’embauche de nouveaux Canadiens qualifiés.

Découvrez comment la Feuille de route peut aider votre entreprise en parcourant les liens ci-dessous. English version.

Adobe Flash Player est requis pour afficher la Feuille de route. Procurez-vous Adobe Flash Player ou bien visualisez la version HTML.

Why Hire Skilled Immigrants, the Business Owner Perspective

As the business owner of a small or medium-sized enterprise, your main focus is what you can do today to drive revenue, increase productivity and contain costs. Not only do you oversee your organization’s day-to-day operations, you are also responsible for all of the human resources decisions.

With so many responsibilities, hiring new employees is often pushed to the background until a new employee is absolutely necessary. And when it’s time to choose that employee, you want to ensure you have the right person, with the right skills and experiences to help you drive results.

Immigrants a Solution to Talent Shortage

You’ve heard how Canada’s labour force is changing. Baby boomers are retiring and birth rates are falling. Organizations in all sectors, from construction to information technology to retail, are facing a looming talent shortage. And small and medium-sized enterprises aren’t immune.

Across Canada, small- and medium-sized business owners, just like you, are reporting that the shortage of qualified labour is one of their fastest growing concerns. In fact, more than one-half of members of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business report they cannot find the people they need to put their products and services to market. And in a 2010 survey of 24,663 CFIB members, 41.4 per cent said the “shortage of qualified workers” was the most important issue facing their business.

Today, immigration plays a critical role in the growth of Canada’s labour market and by 2031 the country’s net population growth will be almost entirely derived from immigration, according to Statistics Canada. Not only can skilled immigrants make up the labour shortfall, but their skills and experiences can improve how your organization does business.

Canada brings in about 250,000 immigrants per year. Of these, about 60 per cent are economic-class immigrants and their families. Economic-class immigrants are those who have been selected by Canada as best equipped to meet the needs of our economy.

Immigrants Highly Educated, Skilled and Loyal

As a business owner, you don’t have the luxury of taking risks on candidates who might not have the right skills or who will leave shortly after being hired. Luckily skilled immigrants have proven themselves to be a safe bet for Canadian employers.

Immigrants are more likely to have a post-secondary education than Canadian-born workers. In 2006, 36 per cent of immigrants aged 25 to 54 had at least a bachelor’s degree compared to just 22 per cent of their Canadian-born counterparts.

They also bring new and different expertise to an organization, improving problem solving and boosting innovation. Their international skills, experience and languages can also help local companies meet global demands.

When they’re employed at the right level for their education and experience, skilled immigrants are very loyal. For example, Toronto-based Phoenix Geophysics Limited has 51 employees, 80 per cent of whom are immigrants. The geophysical manufacturing and contracting company, which does business in China and Russia, recognizes the value of skilled immigrants and has an employee retention rate of 98 per cent.

And at Thales Canada’s Toronto office, where employees build technology that allows trains to run without operators, one-half of the staff are immigrants and the company has a 95-per-cent retention rate.

Local Markets Are Changing

Even if you are only doing business locally, the international experience skilled immigrants bring can be invaluable to your organization. Immigration to major Canadian cities has increased dramatically over the past few years, outpacing Canada’s overall population growth. This means local markets are becoming increasingly diverse.

Skilled immigrants can be a valuable resource for understanding product and service needs in ethno-specific markets. They may also provide a competitive advantage by improving networks and relationships, by speaking a variety of languages and by adding diverse perspectives, experiences and skill sets to your workforce.

To learn more about the business case for hiring skilled immigrants, visit the Business Case section of the website.

Why Hire Skilled Immigrants, the Small Business Perspective

In a small business, the main focus is how to drive revenue, increase productivity and contain costs. Human resources is often seen as a drain on resources and the responsibility for hiring and managing employees often falls to the business owner who is busy overseeing the organization’s day-to-day operations.

With so many responsibilities, hiring new employees is often pushed to the background until a new employee is absolutely necessary. And when it’s time to choose that employee, it’s imperative you have the right person, with the right skills and experiences to help the business drive results.

Immigrants a solution to talent shortage

Canada’s labour force is changing. Baby boomers are retiring and birth rates are falling. Organizations in all sectors, from construction to information technology to retail, are facing a looming talent shortage. And small businesses aren’t immune.

Across Canada, small- and medium-sized business owners are reporting that the shortage of qualified labour is one of their fastest growing concerns. In fact, more than one-half of members of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business report they cannot find the people they need to put their products and services to market. And in a 2010 survey of 24,663 CFIB members, 41.4 per cent said the “shortage of qualified workers” was the most important issue facing their business.

Today, immigration plays a critical role in the growth of Canada’s labour market and Statistics Canada projects nearly all of our net population growth will be derived from immigrants by 2031. Not only can skilled immigrants make up the labour shortfall, but their skills and experiences can improve how your organization does business.

Canada brings in about 250,000 immigrants per year. Of these, about 60 per cent are economic-class immigrants and their families. Economic-class immigrants are those who have been selected by Canada as best equipped to meet the needs of our economy.

Immigrants highly educated, skilled and loyal

As a small business, you don’t have the luxury of taking risks on candidates who might not have the right skills or who will leave shortly after being hired. Luckily skilled immigrants have proven themselves to be a safe bet for Canadian employers.

Immigrants are more likely to have a post-secondary education than Canadian-born workers. In 2006, 36 per cent of immigrants aged 25 to 54 had at least a bachelor’s degree compared to just 22 per cent of their Canadian-born counterparts.

They also bring new and different expertise to an organization, improving problem solving and boosting innovation. Their international skills, experience and languages can also help local companies meet global demands.

When they’re employed at the right level for their education and experience, skilled immigrants are very loyal. For example, Toronto-based Phoenix Geophysics Limited has 51 employees, 80 per cent of whom are immigrants. The majority of the manufacturing and contracting company’s sales are international and as such it recognizes the value of skilled immigrants, which has led to an employee retention rate of 98 per cent.

Local markets are changing

Even if your business is strictly local, the international experience skilled immigrants bring can be invaluable. Immigration to major Canadian cities has increased dramatically over the past few years, outpacing Canada’s overall population growth. This means local markets are becoming increasingly diverse.

Skilled immigrants can be a valuable resource for understanding product and service needs in ethno-specific markets. They may also provide a competitive advantage by improving networks and relationships, by speaking a variety of languages and by adding diverse perspectives, experiences and skill sets to your workforce.

To learn more about the business case for hiring skilled immigrants, visit the Business Case section of the website.

Why Hire Skilled Immigrants, the Private Sector Perspective

Canada is increasingly moving towards a high-skilled, knowledge economy yet not enough Canadians are graduating from programs to meet the needs of the private sector. Not only can skilled immigrants make up the labour shortfall, but their skills and experiences can improve how your company does business at home and abroad.

Changing demographics

Canada’s labour force is changing. Baby boomers are retiring and birth rates are falling. Even with the economic downturn, large businesses in all areas of the private sector, from construction to information technology to retail, are facing a looming talent shortage.

Today, immigration plays a critical role in the growth of Canada’s labour market and Statistics Canada projects nearly all of our net population growth will be derived from immigrants by 2031.

Canada brings in about 250,000 immigrants per year. Of these, about 60 per cent are economic-class immigrants and their families. Economic-class immigrants are those who have been selected by Canada as best equipped to meet the needs of our economy.

Immigrants highly educated and skilled

By 2015, 69 per cent of the 1.7 million new non-student jobs created will require postsecondary education (university or college) or be at a management level. This is up from 60 per cent in 2005.

Immigrants are more likely to have a post-secondary education than Canadian-born workers. In 2006, 36 per cent of immigrants aged 25 to 54 had at least a bachelor’s degree compared to just 22 per cent of their Canadian-born counterparts.

Skilled immigrants also bring new and different expertise to an organization, improving problem solving and boosting innovation.

Competing on a global scale

Canadian companies no longer compete only with neighbourhood industries in local markets — they must respond to worldwide demands and source international talent. In particular, large organizations that service the needs of international trade operations will feel the pressures of the new world economy.

Skilled immigrants can contribute international skills, networks, experience, and languages to the benefit of your company and aid with its global goals.

Local markets are changing

While local companies have to compete globally, major Canadian cities have seen an influx of immigration over the past several years, with minority group populations outpacing Canada’s overall population growth. To gain access to these potential consumers at home, companies are faced with the challenge of building networks and relationships with customers of diverse cultures.

Skilled immigrants can be valuable resources for understanding product and service needs in ethno-specific markets. They may also provide a competitive advantage by improving networks and relationships, by speaking a variety of languages and by adding diverse perspectives, experiences and skills sets to the workforce.

To learn more about the business case for hiring skilled immigrants, visit the Business Case section of the website.

How to Recruit and Select Skilled Immigrants, the Business Owner Perspective

Your business is growing and you need to hire. You understand the value skilled immigrants can bring to your business but you don’t know how to go about recruiting and hiring them.

Often traditional recruitment strategies can unintentionally screen out these qualified candidates and when they are hired, poor onboarding processes can lead to them feeling dissatisfied and leaving your business.

Recruitment Strategy

When recruiting, your primary focus should be on finding candidates who have the skills needed to help you meet new and existing business goals, regardless of where those skills were developed.

In writing the job ad, clear, concise language that focuses on these essential skills will prevent you from excluding qualified skilled immigrants. And remember, Canadian experience is very rarely a requirement to do a job successfully, so don’t exclude immigrants by including that in the ad.

As a business owner, containing recruitment costs is always a priority. Professional immigrant networks, bridging programs and internships are all sources of skilled immigrant talent at little or no cost. And non-profit employment agencies that serve immigrants can also help you recruit and assess potential candidates — free of charge.

You should also consider ethnic media outlets and niche job boards targeted to immigrants.

Screening and Interviewing

You need to look past cultural differences in resumés, such as personal details, to find the essential information — the skills you know are needed to do the job and drive business results. Credential assessment services can help you evaluate international education and a strong track record, even if that experience and success is gained in another country, will likely be repeated in Canada.

As a business owner, you’re often the only one conducting interviews. Consider including other employees, especially someone who will be working with the new hire, to reduce bias and lighten your load. If the role is outward facing, consider involving an external client in the interviews — not only will this help you in making the hiring decision but it will boost client relations as it shows you value the client’s input.

To further reduce bias, ask all interview candidates the same questions and rate them using a scorecard. Also, be aware of culture-based communication differences.

For example, questions such as, “Tell me about a personal career success” or “Describe a time when you disagreed with a supervisor or manager,” are difficult for many immigrants who come from cultures that value teamwork over personal achievements, or that do not question authority figures.

Communication Skills and Human Rights

Many business owners worry about skilled immigrants’ communication and language skills. But communication skills aren’t always an essential skill for a job, especially for some highly skilled positions, such as those in information technology or science. And a candidate’s accent doesn’t mean her language skills aren’t excellent.

It’s also important to remember it’s illegal to discriminate against a candidate based on race or country of origin. You could face a human rights complaint if you turn down an immigrant who is the most qualified for the job.

Orientation

Once you’ve hired a skilled immigrant, or any employee for that matter, a thorough onboarding process will help boost employee retention. Setting expectations — from responsibilities, duties and office culture to performance monitoring and talent development — is the best way to begin your new employee relationship on the right foot.

For more information on how to recruit, hire and orient skilled immigrants, visit the Recruit and Select section of the website.

How to Recruit and Select Skilled Immigrants, the Small Business Perspective

As a small business grows, there comes a time when a new hire is essential. The business case for why a small business should consider skilled immigrants to fill that need has been made, but exactly how to recruit and hire these individuals is a mystery for many small businesses.

Often traditional recruitment strategies can unintentionally screen out these qualified candidates and when they are hired, poor onboarding processes can lead to them feeling dissatisfied and leaving your business.

Recruitment Strategy

As part of an inclusive recruitment strategy, your primary focus should be on finding candidates who have the skills needed to help you meet new and existing business goals, regardless of where those skills were developed.

In writing the job ad, clear, concise language that focuses on these essential skills will prevent you from excluding qualified skilled immigrants. And remember, Canadian experience is very rarely a requirement to do a job successfully, so don’t exclude immigrants by including that in the ad.

Highlighting the business’ commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive workplace will also encourage skilled immigrants to apply for the job.

For a small business, containing recruitment costs is always a priority. Professional immigrant networks, bridging programs and internships are all sources of skilled immigrant talent at little or no cost. And non-profit employment agencies that serve immigrants can also help you recruit and assess potential candidates — free of charge.

Screening and Interviewing

You need to look past cultural differences in resumés, such as personal details, to find the essential information — the skills you know are needed to do the job and drive business results. If you’re not familiar with international education and experience, credential assessment services can help.

In a small business, often only one person conducts interviews. But including at least one other employee can help reduce bias. If the role is outward facing, consider involving an external client in the interviews — not only will this help you in making the hiring decision but it will boost client relations as it shows you value the client’s input.

To further reduce bias, ask all interview candidates the same questions and rate them using a scorecard.

Also, be aware of culture-based communication differences. For example, questions such as, “Tell me about a personal career success” or “Describe a time when you disagreed with a supervisor or manager,” are difficult for many immigrants who come from cultures that value teamwork over personal achievements, or that do not question authority figures.

Communication Skills and Human Rights

Many small businesses worry about skilled immigrants’ communication and language skills. But communication skills aren’t always an essential skill for a job, especially for some highly skilled positions, such as those in information technology or science. And a candidate’s accent doesn’t mean her language skills aren’t excellent.

It’s also important to remember it’s illegal to discriminate against a candidate based on race or country of origin. You could face a human rights complaint if you turn down an immigrant who is the most qualified for the job.

Orientation

Once you’ve hired a skilled immigrant, or any employee for that matter, a thorough onboarding process will help boost employee retention. Setting expectations — from responsibilities, duties and office culture to performance monitoring and talent development — is best way to begin your new employee relationship on the right foot.

For more information on how to recruit, hire and orient skilled immigrants, visit the Recruit and Select section of the website.

Managing a Diverse Workforce, the Business Owner’s Perspective

Hiring skilled immigrants is just the start of tapping into the skills and experience of these diverse employees. The next step is to provide development and promotion opportunities to increase employee retention and ensure your business is maximizing their skills and experiences.

Conditions for Success

As a business owner, you’ll probably look at a new employee’s first 90 days on the job as a trial period because most employment standards legislation allows an employer to terminate an employee who has been on the job for less than 90 days, without notice or cause.

But what you may not know is, as an employer, you have a legal obligation to provide the conditions and opportunities for the new employee to succeed. These conditions for success begin with the employee orientation.

At this stage, lay out clear benchmarks of what the employee should be able to do in 30 days, 60 days and 90 days on the job, and have a plan in place to help her achieve those milestones. That could include introducing her to the right people and giving her the right training and experience.

Ongoing Development

Once your new hire has made it through the first 90 days, providing opportunities for growth, as well as development and support, will boost employee engagement and retention and ensure you are maximizing their full potential.

Along with regular training and development opportunities, skilled immigrants will benefit from specific programs, such as job shadowing and mentoring, that are geared to providing information on Canadian laws, regulations and workplace norms. This is a valuable strategic investment for your organization because it will maximize their management potential.

If language is preventing a skilled immigrant employee from contributing more to your organization, provide specialized language training, which is a proven, successful retention strategy. Immigrant-serving agencies often have language programs and are a cost-effective alternative to providing in-house training. The Local Resources section has links to help you find services in your community.

Performance Management and Promotion

As a business owner, you are always tight for time. But regular performance feedback, based on clear goals and expectations, improves an employee’s performance, which will pay off for your business. Just be aware of any cultural differences that might affect how an immigrant will interpret your feedback.

Addressing poor performance gives employees opportunities for growth. Express your concerns in productive ways by providing clear examples and reiterating expectations. Then outline a practical approach with dates and targets. When giving feedback, remember the purpose is to direct behavior, motivate employees and improve performance.

It’s also important to recognize good performance and extra effort. You don’t need to give the employee a gift card or hold a lavish recognition dinner. A simple “thank you” for a job well done will make the employee feel like you care about who she is and what she’s done and will improve retention.

One of the best ways to retain employees is to show them how they can grow their careers and advance in your organization. Be proactive and encourage skilled immigrants to apply for suitable opportunities. Show an interest in the employee’s career growth and invite more ongoing dialogue about learning needs, skill development and future career goals.

While a workforce composed of employees from many different backgrounds can present its own challenges for managers, good diversity management is simply good people management.

For more information on managing a diverse workforce, visit the Managing a Diverse Workforce section of the website.

Why Hire Skilled Immigrants, the Large Organization Perspective

Canada is increasingly moving towards a high-skilled, knowledge economy yet not enough Canadians are graduating from programs to meet employers’ needs. Not only can skilled immigrants can make up the labour shortfall, but their skills and experiences can improve how your organization does business at home and abroad.

Changing demographics

Canada’s labour force is changing. Baby boomers are retiring and birth rates are falling. Even with the economic downturn, large organizations in all sectors, from construction to information technology to retail, are facing a looming talent shortage.

Today, immigration plays a critical role in the growth of Canada’s labour market and Statistics Canada projects nearly all of our net population growth will be derived from immigrants by 2031.

Canada brings in about 250,000 immigrants per year. Of these, about 60 per cent are economic-class immigrants and their families. Economic-class immigrants are those who have been selected by Canada as best equipped to meet the needs of our economy.

Immigrants highly educated and skilled

By 2015, 69 per cent of the 1.7 million new non-student jobs created will require postsecondary education (university or college) or be at a management level. This is up from 60 per cent in 2005.

Immigrants are more likely to have a post-secondary education than Canadian-born workers. In 2006, 36 per cent of immigrants aged 25 to 54 had at least a bachelor’s degree compared to just 22 per cent of their Canadian-born counterparts.

Skilled immigrants also bring new and different expertise to an organization, improving problem solving and boosting innovation.

Competing on a global scale

Canadian companies no longer compete only with neighbourhood industries in local markets — they must respond to worldwide demands and source international talent. In particular, large organizations that service the needs of international trade operations will feel the pressures of the new world economy.

Skilled immigrants can contribute international skills, networks, experience, and languages to the benefit of your large organization and aid with its global goals.

Local markets are changing

While local companies have to compete globally, major Canadian cities have seen an influx of immigration over the past several years, with minority group populations outpacing Canada’s overall population growth. To gain access to these potential consumers at home, companies are faced with the challenge of building networks and relationships with customers of diverse cultures.

Skilled immigrants can be valuable resources for understanding product and service needs in ethno-specific markets. They may also provide a competitive advantage by improving networks and relationships, by speaking a variety of languages and by adding diverse perspectives, experiences and skills sets to the workforce.

To learn more about the business case for hiring skilled immigrants, visit the Business Case section of the website.

Managing a Diverse Workforce, the Small Business Perspective

Hiring skilled immigrants is just the start of tapping into the skills and experience of these diverse employees. The next step is to provide development and promotion opportunities to increase employee retention and ensure your small business is maximizing their skills and experiences.

Conditions for Success

Many small businesses look at a new employee’s first 90 days on the job as a trial period because most employment standards legislation allows an employer to terminate an employee who has been on the job for less than 90 days, without notice or cause.

But as an employer, you have a legal obligation to provide the conditions and opportunities for the new employee to succeed. These conditions for success begin with the employee orientation.

At this stage, lay out clear benchmarks of what the employee should be able to do in 30 days, 60 days and 90 days on the job, and have a plan in place to help her achieve those milestones. That could include introducing her to the right people and giving her the right training and experience.

Ongoing Development

Once your new hire has made it through the first 90 days, providing opportunities for growth, as well as development and support, will boost employee engagement and retention and ensure you are maximizing her full potential.

Along with regular training and development opportunities, a skilled immigrant employee will benefit from initiatives, such as job shadowing and mentoring, that are geared to providing information on Canadian laws, regulations and workplace norms. This is a valuable strategic investment for a small business because it will maximize the employee’s management potential.

If language is preventing a skilled immigrant employee from contributing more to the small business, consider specialized language training, which is a proven, successful retention strategy. Immigrant-serving agencies often have language programs and are a cost-effective alternative to providing in-house training. The Local Resources section has links to help you find services in your community.

Performance Management and Promotion

In a small business, there often isn’t time for formal performance management. But regular feedback, based on clear goals and expectations, improves the employee’s performance, which pays off for the business.

Addressing poor performance gives employees opportunities for growth. Express your concerns in productive ways by providing clear examples and reiterating expectations. Then outline a practical approach with dates and targets. When giving feedback, remember the purpose is to direct behavior, motivate employees and improve performance.

It’s also important to recognize good performance and extra effort. You don’t need to give the employee a gift card or hold a lavish recognition dinner. A simple “thank you” for a job well done will make the employee feel like you care about who she is and what she’s done and will improve retention.

One of the best ways to retain employees is to show them how they can grow their careers and advance in your organization. Be proactive and encourage skilled immigrants to apply for suitable opportunities. Show an interest in the employee’s career growth and invite more ongoing dialogue about learning needs, skill development and future career goals.

While a workforce composed of employees from many different backgrounds can present its own challenges for managers, good diversity management is simply good people management.

For more information on managing a diverse workforce, visit the Managing a Diverse Workforce section of the website.

How to Recruit and Select Skilled Immigrants, the Non-Profit Sector Perspective

You understand the benefits skilled immigrants can bring to your non-profit organization but aren’t sure how to go about recruiting and hiring them.

Often traditional recruitment strategies can unintentionally screen out qualified skilled immigrants and when they are hired, poor onboarding processes can lead to a dissatisfied employee deciding to leave your organization.

More than one-half (54 per cent) of 347 non-profits surveyed by the HR Council for the Nonprofit Sector in 2010 said they have had success in hiring and retaining new immigrants. These organizations identified several successful practices:

  • eliminating subtle biases in the hiring process
  • internships and mentoring programs
  • providing information and pre-employment training to candidates who are new immigrants and members of visible minorities

Recruitment Strategy

As part of an inclusive recruitment strategy, focus on finding candidates who have the skills your organization needs to meet new and existing goals, regardless of where those skills were developed.

Traditional job ads can exclude many qualified candidates, including skilled immigrants. To remove these barriers and increase the pool of qualified applicants, use clear, concise language that focuses on essential skills. And remember, Canadian experience is very rarely a requirement to do a job successfully, so don’t include it in the job ad.

For non-profit organizations, especially small ones, containing recruitment costs is a priority. Professional immigrant networks, bridging programs and internships are all sources of skilled immigrant talent at little or no cost. And non-profit employment agencies that serve immigrants can also help you recruit and assess potential candidates — free of charge.

Screening and Interviewing

You need to look past cultural differences in how resumés are written to find the essential information — the skills needed to do the job. While you might not be familiar with international education and experience, credential assessment services can help and a strong track record, even if that success is gained in another country, will likely be repeated in Canada.

When interviewing candidates, be aware of culture-based communication differences. And to further reduce bias, include other skilled immigrants, if possible, or employees from diverse communities on your hiring team. All candidates should be asked the same questions and scored them against a scale.

One of the biggest concerns non-profits have about recruiting skilled immigrants is around their language proficiency, according to the 2010 survey by the HR Council for the Nonprofit Sector. However, not all jobs require the same level of communication proficiency. Once the skilled immigrant has been hired, providing specialized language training will enhance their skills and increase retention.

Orientation

Once you’ve hired a skilled immigrant, it’s important to remember they’re not only new to Canada — they’re new to your organization and its unique culture. A proper orientation to your workplace will help all new employees succeed.

Setting expectations, from job responsibilities, duties and office culture to performance monitoring and talent development, is your best first way to begin your new employee relationship on the right foot.

For more information on how to recruit, hire and orient skilled immigrants, visit the Recruit and Select section of the website.

Why Hire Skilled Immigrants, the Non-Profit Sector Perspective

Because of Canada’s aging population and the scarcity of young workers, tapping into the full range of talent in the Canadian workforce — especially the currently underutilized skills of new immigrants — is an urgent priority for the non-profit sector.

A survey conducted by the HR Council for the Nonprofit Sector (HR Council) in 2008 found that that 39 per cent of the non-profit workforce is aged 45 or older and there aren’t enough young people available to replace these departing boomers.

Skilled immigrants, who have been selected by Canada as best equipped to meet the needs of our economy, can help make up the labour shortfall and their skills and experiences can help your organizations succeed.

Demographic Shift

In 2006, immigrants represented 19.8 per cent of the population and are expected to make up one-third of the workforce by 2031, at which point they will also account for all of Canada’s net population growth, according to Statistics Canada.

But non-profit organizations employ very few skilled immigrants, with just 1.8 per cent of the sector’s more than 1.2 million employees self-identifying as landed immigrants as part of the HR Council’s 2008 Labour Force Survey.

However, about 60 per cent of 347 non-profits surveyed by the HR Council in 2010 say hiring newcomers is important and 49 per cent have some kind of plan in place to do so.

Immigrants Highly Educated and Skilled

Immigrants bring many valuable skills and experiences to Canadian non-profits. For one, they are more likely to have a post-secondary education than Canadian-born workers. In 2006, 36 per cent of immigrants aged 25 to 54 had at least a bachelor’s degree compared to just 22 per cent of their Canadian-born counterparts.

Skilled immigrants also bring new and different expertise to an organization, improving problem solving and boosting innovation and creativity. Their international skills, experience and languages can also help local non-profits link to new global and domestic opportunities.

A diverse workforce that includes skilled immigrants will also make your organization more reflective of the communities you serve. They can help you better understand ethno-specific markets and develop networks and relationships with these populations because they share common languages and cultures.

To learn more about the business case for hiring skilled immigrants, visit the Business Case section of the website.

Managing a Diverse Workforce, the Non-Profit Sector Perspective

Hiring skilled immigrants is just the start of tapping into the skills and experiences of these diverse employees. You now need to invest in programs and practices to ensure skilled immigrant employees are fully integrated into your workplace so they can achieve their career goals and make the greatest possible contribution to your organization.

While these efforts will require an investment of time and money, neglecting workplace diversity will ultimately prove more costly than investing in inclusive talent management practices today.

More than one-half (54 per cent) of 347 non-profits surveyed by the HR Council for the Nonprofit Sector in 2010 said they have had success in retaining new immigrants. These organizations identified several successful practices:

  • language and communication training
  • post-hiring mentorship and training — both for employees and their managers
  • supporting employees’ professional development through career management courses for immigrants and supports for staff who manage new immigrant employees
  • promoting cultural sensitivity and awareness throughout the organization

Training and Development

Training and development is a critical component to ensuring all employees are able to perform effectively and continue to grow their skills and careers. It also helps boost employee engagement and loyalty because they feel the organization is taking an interest in their development.

Language proficiency is a strong determinant of new immigrants’ success in the workplace. The ideal communication training goes beyond language instruction to encompass a wide range of verbal and nonverbal communication skills, including eye contact, personal space and approaches to time commitments.

Immigrant-serving agencies and local colleges often have language programs and are a cost-effective alternative to providing in-house training. The Local Resources section has links to help you find services in your community.

Mentorship and other training for new immigrants and their immediate managers can help align employers’ and employees’ expectations, lay the foundation for good communication and maximize the likelihood of retention.

Skilled immigrants will also benefit from specific programs geared to providing information on Canadian laws, regulations and workplace norms.

Opportunities for Advancement

One of the best ways to retain employees is to show them how they can grow their careers and advance in your organization. Include skilled immigrant employees when identifying high potential employees and developing succession plans for senior leaders.

Effective employee performance management is essential to running a successful organization. Set goals, outline expectations and provide regular feedback to help skilled immigrant employees perform effectively and progress in their careers.

Embedding Diversity

While a workforce composed of employees from many different backgrounds can present its own challenges for managers, good diversity management is simply good people management.

You need to treat diversity as a fundamental part of the way your organization operates. Culturally sensitive HR practices — from anti-discrimination measures to organization-wide diversity training to a shared calendar that notes a range of major cultural holidays — help make inclusion and integration part of your organization’s DNA.

For more information on managing a diverse workforce, visit the Managing a Diverse Workforce section of the website.

Managing a Diverse Workforce, the Private Sector Perspective

Hiring skilled immigrants is just the start of tapping into the skills and experience of these diverse employees. Companies in the private sector that want to out-perform the competition need to create talent management processes that ensure all employees are engaged and contributing to their full potential.

Your company also has a responsibility to ensure all employees are treated equitably and provide accommodation as required.

Ongoing Development

Training and development is a critical component to ensuring skilled immigrants are able to perform effectively and continue to grow their skills and careers. It also helps boost employee engagement and loyalty because they feel the organization is taking an interest in their development.

Along with the regular training and development opportunities you provide employees, skilled immigrants will also benefit from specific programs that help them put their international experience into the Canadian context. Some initiatives include job-sharing as well as internal and external mentoring.

If language is the primary barrier to a skilled immigrant employee contributing more to your organization, provide specialized language training, which is a proven, successful retention strategy.

Performance Management and Promotion

Regular performance appraisals and feedback improve employees’ performance but it’s important to be aware of cultural differences to ensure skilled immigrants are getting the most out of the exchange.

Addressing poor performance gives employees opportunities for growth. Express your concerns in productive ways by providing examples and reiterating expectations. Then, outline a practical approach with dates and targets.

One of the best ways to retain employees is to show them how they can grow their careers and advance in your company. And remember to include skilled immigrant employees when identifying high potential employees and developing succession plans for senior leaders.

While a workforce composed of employees from many different backgrounds can present its own challenges for managers, good diversity management is simply good people management.

Legal Responsibilities

Human rights acts across Canada prohibit employers from discriminating against employees on several protected grounds including race and national or ethnic origin. Employment equity is a plan or process to eliminate employment and promotion barriers members of protected groups face in the workplace.

While employers are legally obligated to ensure a discrimination-free workplace, accommodation isn’t just about meeting legal requirements — it’s also a good human resource practice that can enhance employee satisfaction and productivity.

For more information on managing a diverse workforce, visit the Managing a Diverse Workforce section of the website.

Managing a Diverse Workforce, the Large Organization Perspective

Hiring skilled immigrants is just the start of tapping into the skills and experience of these diverse employees. Organizations that want to out-perform the competition need to create talent management processes that ensure all employees are engaged and contributing to their full potential.

Your organization also has a responsibility to ensure all employees are treated equitably and provide accommodation as required.

Ongoing Development

Training and development is a critical component to ensuring skilled immigrants are able to perform effectively and continue to grow their skills and careers. It also helps boost employee engagement and loyalty because they feel the organization is taking an interest in their development.

Along with the regular training and development opportunities you provide employees, skilled immigrants will also benefit from specific programs that help them put their international experience into the Canadian context. Some initiatives include job-sharing as well as internal and external mentoring.

If language is the primary barrier to a skilled immigrant employee contributing more to your organization, provide specialized language training, which is a proven, successful retention strategy.

Performance Management and Promotion

Regular performance appraisals and feedback improve employees’ performance but it’s important to be aware of cultural differences to ensure skilled immigrants are getting the most out of the exchange.

Addressing poor performance gives employees opportunities for growth. Express your concerns in productive ways by providing examples and reiterating expectations. Then, outline a practical approach with dates and targets.

One of the best ways to retain employees is to show them how they can grow their careers and advance in your organization. And remember to include skilled immigrant employees when identifying high potential employees and developing succession plans for senior leaders.

While a workforce composed of employees from many different backgrounds can present its own challenges for managers, good diversity management is simply good people management.

Legal Responsibilities

Human rights acts across Canada prohibit employers from discriminating against employees on several protected grounds including race and national or ethnic origin. Employment equity is a plan or process to eliminate employment and promotion barriers members of protected groups face in the workplace.

While employers are legally obligated to ensure a discrimination-free workplace, accommodation isn’t just about meeting legal requirements — it’s also a good human resource practice that can enhance employee satisfaction and productivity.

For more information on managing a diverse workforce, visit the Managing a Diverse Workforce section of the website.

How to Recruit and Select Skilled Immigrants, The HR Professional’s Perspective

As an HR professional, you understand why your organization should hire skilled immigrants but you’re still not sure how to go about finding and recruiting them.

Often traditional recruitment strategies can unintentionally screen out these qualified candidates and when they are hired, poor onboarding processes can lead to a dissatisfied employee deciding to leave your organization.

Recruitment Strategy

To attract qualified skilled immigrants, you need to create an inclusive recruitment strategy that focuses on the skills needed to meet new and existing organizational goals — regardless of where the skills were developed.

When writing the job ad, use clear, concise language that focuses on these essential skills to ensure you aren’t excluding immigrant candidates. And remember, Canadian experience is very rarely a requirement to do a job successfully.

Highlighting your business’ commitment to a diverse and inclusive organization will also help attract skilled immigrants.

Once the job ad is written, you need to market these opportunities directly to skilled immigrant communities. Professional networks, bridging programs and internships are all sources of skilled immigrant talent. Non-profit employment agencies that serve immigrants can also help you recruit and assess potential candidates.

Screening and Interviewing

You need to look past cultural differences in resumés, such as personal details, to find the essential information — the skills needed to do the job.

Credential assessment services can help you evaluate international education and experience, and a strong track record, even if that success is gained in another country, will likely be repeated in Canada.

A standardized interview process will help reduce hiring bias. As part of that process, ask all interview candidates the same questions and score them against a scale. Your interview team should include other skilled immigrants, if possible, or employees from diverse communities.

Also, culture-based communication differences may arise during the interview. For example, questions such as, “Tell me about a personal career success” or “Describe a time when you disagreed with a supervisor or manager,” are difficult for many immigrants who come from cultures that value teamwork over personal achievements, or that do not question authority figures.

Subjective ideas, such as “best cultural fit,” can unwittingly exclude qualified candidates without gaining a deeper understanding of their potential contributions to your company. Instead, focus on objective criteria, consult members of the interview team and conduct reference checks to make the best hiring decision.

Hiring and Onboarding

When offering the job, ensure the compensation is commensurate with the market and communicate the details of the package clearly. This ensures the new hire will understand the value of the offer and will increase retention.

Once you’ve hired a skilled immigrant, or any employee for that matter, a thorough onboarding process will help boost employee retention. Setting expectations — from responsibilities, duties and office culture to performance monitoring and talent development — is the best way to begin your new employee relationship on the right foot.

For more information on how to recruit, hire and orient skilled immigrants, visit the Recruit and Select section of the website.

How to Recruit and Select Skilled Immigrants, the Private Sector Perspective

You understand the value skilled immigrants can bring to your business but you don’t know how to go about recruiting and hiring them.

Often traditional recruitment strategies can unintentionally screen out these qualified candidates and when they are hired, poor onboarding processes can lead to a dissatisfied employee deciding to leave your organization.

Recruitment Strategy

To attract qualified skilled immigrants, you need to create an inclusive recruitment strategy that focuses on the skills needed to help you meet new and existing organizational goals — regardless of where the skills were developed.

When writing the job ad, use clear, concise language that focuses on these essential skills to ensure you aren’t excluding immigrant candidates. And remember, Canadian experience is very rarely a requirement to do a job successfully.

Highlighting your business’ commitment to a diverse and inclusive organization will also help attract skilled immigrants.

Once the job ad is written, you need to market these opportunities directly to skilled immigrant communities. Professional networks, bridging programs and internships are all sources of skilled immigrant talent. Non-profit employment agencies that serve immigrants can also help you recruit and assess potential candidates.

Screening and Interviewing

You need to look past cultural differences in resumés, such as personal details, to find the essential information — the skills needed to do the job.

Credential assessment services can help you evaluate international education and experience, and a strong track record, even if that success is gained in another country, will likely be repeated in Canada.

A standardized interview process will help reduce hiring bias. As part of that process, the interview team should ask all interview candidates the same questions and score them against a scale. The team should include other skilled immigrants, if possible, or employees from diverse communities.

Also, be aware of culture-based communication differences. For example, questions such as, “Tell me about a personal career success” or “Describe a time when you disagreed with a supervisor or manager,” are difficult for many immigrants who come from cultures that value teamwork over personal achievements, or that do not question authority figures.

Subjective ideas, such as “best cultural fit,” can unwittingly exclude qualified candidates without gaining a deeper understanding of their potential contributions to your company. Instead, focus on objective criteria, consult other interviewers and conduct reference checks to make the best hiring decision.

Hiring and Onboarding

When offering the job, ensure the compensation is commensurate with the market and communicate the details of the package clearly. This ensures the new hire will understand the value of the offer and will increase retention.

Once you’ve hired a skilled immigrant, or any employee for that matter, a thorough onboarding process will help boost employee retention. Setting expectations — from responsibilities, duties and office culture to performance monitoring and talent development — is the best way to begin your new employee relationship on the right foot.

For more information on how to recruit, hire and orient skilled immigrants, visit the Recruit and Select section of the website.

How to Recruit and Select Skilled Immigrants – The Large Organization Perspective

You understand the value skilled immigrants can bring to your large organization but you don’t know how to go about recruiting and hiring them.

Often traditional recruitment strategies can unintentionally screen out these qualified candidates and when they are hired, poor onboarding processes can lead to a dissatisfied employee deciding to leave your organization.

Recruitment Strategy

To attract qualified skilled immigrants, you need to create an inclusive recruitment strategy that focuses on the skills needed to help you meet new and existing organizational goals — regardless of where the skills were developed.

When writing the job ad, use clear, concise language that focuses on these essential skills to ensure you aren’t excluding immigrant candidates. And remember, Canadian experience is very rarely a requirement to do a job successfully.

Highlighting your organization’s commitment to a diverse and inclusive organization will also help attract skilled immigrants.

Once the job ad is written, you need to market these opportunities directly to skilled immigrant communities. Professional networks, bridging programs and internships are all sources of skilled immigrant talent. Non-profit employment agencies that serve immigrants can also help you recruit and assess potential candidates.

Screening and Interviewing

You need to look past cultural differences in resumés, such as personal details, to find the essential information — the skills needed to do the job.

Credential assessment services can help you evaluate international education and experience, and a strong track record, even if that success is gained in another country, will likely be repeated in Canada.

Most large organizations have a standardized interview process in place to reduce hiring bias. As part of that process, the interview team should ask all interview candidates the same questions and score them against a scale. The team should include other skilled immigrants, if possible, or employees from diverse communities.

Also, be aware of culture-based communication differences. For example, questions such as, “Tell me about a personal career success” or “Describe a time when you disagreed with a supervisor or manager,” are difficult for many immigrants who come from cultures that value teamwork over personal achievements, or that do not question authority figures.

Subjective ideas, such as “best cultural fit,” can unwittingly exclude qualified candidates without gaining a deeper understanding of their potential contributions to your organization. Instead, focus on objective criteria, consult other interviewers and conduct reference checks to make the best hiring decision.

Hiring and Onboarding

When offering the job, ensure the compensation is commensurate with the market and communicate the details of the package clearly. This ensures the new hire will understand the value of the offer and will increase retention.

Once you’ve hired a skilled immigrant, or any employee for that matter, a thorough onboarding process will help boost employee retention. Setting expectations — from responsibilities, duties and office culture to performance monitoring and talent development — is the best way to begin your new employee relationship on the right foot.

For more information on how to recruit, hire and orient skilled immigrants, visit the Recruit and Select section of the website.

Why Hire Skilled Immigrants, the HR Professional’s Perspective

As an HR professional, you are aware Canada is increasingly moving towards a high-skilled, knowledge economy yet not enough Canadians are graduating from programs to meet employers’ needs. Not only can skilled immigrants can make up the labour shortfall, but their skills and experiences can improve how your organization does business at home and abroad.

Some senior leaders may be reluctant to hire skilled immigrants, either because they see immigrants as a risk or they don’t fully realize the benefits these highly skilled individuals bring to an organization. But organizations that don’t tap into this increasingly important market will lose out in the long run.

The following facts will help you show senior leaders in your organizations exactly why they should hire and integrate skilled immigrants.

Changing Demographics

Canada’s labour force is changing. Baby boomers are retiring and birth rates are falling. Even with the economic downturn, HR professionals know all organizations and sectors, from construction to information technology to retail, are facing a looming talent shortage.

Today, immigration plays a critical role in the growth of Canada’s labour market and Statistics Canada projects nearly all of our net population growth will be derived from immigrants by 2031.

Canada brings in about 250,000 immigrants per year. Of these, about 60 per cent are economic-class immigrants and their families. Economic-class immigrants are those who have been selected by Canada as best equipped to meet the needs of our economy.

Immigrants Highly Educated and Skilled

By 2015, 69 per cent of the 1.7 million new non-student jobs created will require post-secondary education (university or college) or be at a management level. This is up from 60 per cent in 2005.

Immigrants are more likely to have a post-secondary education than Canadian-born workers. In 2006, 36 per cent of immigrants aged 25 to 54 had at least a bachelor’s degree compared to just 22 per cent of their Canadian-born counterparts.

Skilled immigrants also bring new and different expertise to an organization, improving problem solving and boosting innovation.

Competing on a Global Scale

Canadian companies no longer compete only with neighbourhood industries in local markets — they must respond to worldwide demands and source international talent. In particular, organizations that service the needs of international trade operations will feel the pressures of the new world economy.

Skilled immigrants can contribute international skills, networks, experience, and languages to the benefit of your organization and aid with its global goals.

Local Markets are Changing

While local companies have to compete globally, major Canadian cities have seen an influx of immigration over the past several years, with minority group populations outpacing Canada’s overall population growth. To gain access to these potential consumers at home, companies are faced with the challenge of building networks and relationships with customers of diverse cultures.

Skilled immigrants can be valuable resources for understanding product and service needs in ethno-specific markets. They may also provide a competitive advantage by improving networks and relationships, by speaking a variety of languages and by adding diverse perspectives, experiences and skills sets to the workforce.

To learn more about the business case for hiring skilled immigrants, visit the Business Case section of the website.

Why Hire Skilled Immigrants, the Public Sector Perspective

A diverse workforce that includes skilled immigrants strengthens public sector organizations. These talented and educated individuals will help your organization be more innovative and effective and help you better serve increasingly diverse communities.

Immigrants a Solution to Talent Shortage

Across Canada, the public sector is facing a looming talent shortage as baby boomers begin retiring and there are fewer young workers to take their place.

In 2006, there were 1.9 Canadians aged 20-34 entering the work force for every person aged 55-64 leaving it, according to Statistics Canada. This is down from 2.7 replacement workers for every retiree in 2001 and 3.7 replacement workers for every retiree in 1981.

Not only can skilled immigrants make up the labour shortfall, but their skills and experiences can improve your organization’s effectiveness.

In 2006, immigrants accounted for nearly 20 per cent of Canada’s population and by 2030, nearly all net population growth will come from immigration.

Canada brings in about 250,000 immigrants per year. Of these, about 60 per cent are economic-class immigrants and their families. Economic-class immigrants are those who have been selected by Canada as best equipped to meet the needs of our economy.

Immigrants Highly Educated and Skilled

Canada is increasingly moving towards a high-skilled, knowledge economy yet not enough Canadians are graduating from programs to meet employers’ needs.

Skilled immigrants have the skills and training to fill these highly skilled jobs. In 2006, 36 per cent of immigrants aged 25 to 54 had at least a bachelor’s degree compared to just 22 per cent of their Canadian-born counterparts, according to Statistics Canada.

Along with education and training in a variety of fields, skilled immigrants possess a global perspective. Because of these skills and experiences, they increase innovation and improve decision making. They also bring an increased understanding of new multicultural populations and international issues.

Local Communities Are Changing

Just as private sector companies need to be representative of their customers to increase service and legitimacy, so do public sector organizations.

Canadian cities have seen an influx of immigration over the past several years, with minority group populations outpacing Canada’s overall population growth. Skilled immigrants can be valuable resources for understanding the needs of culturally diverse communities.

Their shared languages and cultures can help public sector organizations, from governments to hospitals to educational institutions, build networks and relationships with these communities to improve service delivery.

To learn more about the business case for hiring skilled immigrants, visit the Business Case section of the website.