Bosses Need to Step Up Diversity Programs, Say New Canadians

A new survey of internationally educated professionals finds diversity policies aren’t working, despite employers believing they have been successful.

Toronto — Despite their good intentions, Canadian employers have been slow to embrace diversity, according to a new study of internationally educated professionals.

The study, commissioned by Progress Career Planning Institute (PCPI), found more than two-thirds of employers surveyed believe their diversity programs have been successful but just one-half of the internationally educated professionals (IEPs) surveyed said they work in companies that have policies welcoming new Canadians.

“While employers recognize the value of hiring new Canadians in our global economy, we’re finding workplace diversity and recruitment policies lack the bite needed to really make a difference,” said Silma Roddau, President PCPI, in a statement.

“IEPs recognize they are responsible for learning about the Canadian workplace, but employers also need to do more to welcome new Canadians and workers from different cultures.”

The study, PROGRESS: IEPs’ Experience Matters, focuses on the experience of mid-career IEPs — those with six to 15 years experience in the workplace.

Of the 560 IEPs surveyed, 238 are employed and 322 unemployed. The study also surveyed 24 Toronto region employers in small, medium and large organizations as well as public, private and non-profit sectors.

The study found IEPs and employers have different views on how well diversity programs are working:

  • 34 per cent of working IEPs said their employers do not have the resources to address workplace cultural and new Canadian issues.
  • 49 per cent of IEPs work in companies that have policies welcoming new Canadians.
  • 71 per cent of employers say their diversity programs have been successful or very successful.
  • Only 45 per cent of employers have a method of assessing credentials, including interviews, testing, World Education Services (WES) demonstration of skills and background and reference checks.

The study also found that the more regulated the industry the more likely IEPs were to find work. For example, credentialed health care workers were twice as likely to find work in their fields compared to workers with business, finance and administration backgrounds.

The study was released at the ninth annual 2012 Internationally Educated Professionals Conference hosted by PCPI and funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. The conference is designed to bring together IEPs, regulatory bodies and associations, government, businesses, and accreditation organizations to discuss strategies and provide tips on integrating IEPs into the workforce.