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Financial Post | 2009-02-25
Newcomers set to play critical role - expand / condense article

Workplace Reality
by Mary Teresa Bitti

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Diversity is about numbers. One in five Canadians is born on foreign soil. According to the 2006 Census, the level of immigration in recent years has been unprecedented. A walk through the streets of Toronto or Vancouver puts a face to those numbers. According to Statistics Canada, six in 10 visible minorities live in those two cities. That\'s 40% of their populations. In Montreal, one in six people is a visible minority (defined by the census-takers as persons other than Aboriginals who are non-Caucasian), representing 16.5% of the population.

Between 2001 and 2006, Canada\'s foreign-born population growth rate was four times higher than that of the Canadian-born population during the same period. The numbers continue to trend upward.

What does that mean for the workforce? A lot.

StatsCan reports that immigrants who arrived in the 1990s accounted for 70% of the net labour force growth between 1991 and 2001. By 2011 -- thanks to a shrinking population-- Canada will rely 100% on immigration for net labour market growth. By 2031, we will rely on immigration 100% for population growth. But that\'s another story.

Canadian businesses are not as good at tapping into this diverse labour pool as they should be and it\'s costing them, says Ratna Omidvar, president of the Maytree Foundation, a private non-profit in Toronto dedicated to fighting poverty and working with business to help immigrant workers put their education and experience to work. A Conference Board of Canada study quantifies the cost to the Canadian economy of not using the skills of immigrants at anywhere between $2.4-billion and $3.4-billion a year. \"Only four of 10 skilled immigrants are attaching themselves to the workforce at a requisite level that speaks to their past work experience,\" Ms. Omidvar says.

With the economy slowing and labour markets loosening up, people may argue, why should we care? \"The point is there are short-term priorities and there are long-term priorities and we have to meet them both,\" Ms. Omidvar says. \"Immigration is not the only solution to many of our national labour force issues, but it is one solution and we ignore it at our peril.\"

And let\'s not forget the looming workforce shift precipitated by the all-powerful Baby Boomers -- nine-million-plus strong in Canada -- who are preparing to retire. \"Yes, the economy is soft, but there are demographic factors that are real,\" says Anne Sado, president of George Brown College in Toronto.

\"For example, the average age of a nurse in Ontario is 47. If you don\'t start recognizing the capabilities and credentials of new immigrants coming to Canada, we are going to be hard-pressed to have the right people in place when we need them.\"

It may fall to the business leaders in our hyper-diverse cities -- Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal -- to leverage the under-utilized immigrant workforce.

Canada\'s most ethnically and racially diverse city is stepping up. DiverseCity: The Greater Toronto Leadership Project launched eight initiatives to help diversify leadership in business, the non-profit sector and on the civic stage across the greater Toronto area. The idea for DiverseCity was born during the 2007 Toronto City Summit when more than 600 Toronto leaders came together and called for a holistic effort to diversify leadership to create a more prosperous GTA.

DiverseCity is sponsored by the Maytree Foundation and the Toronto City Summit Alliance, the two co-founders of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC), which included employers in the design, delivery and implementation of initiatives to bring the skilled immigrant closer to the labour market.

Employers in the program provide internships as key partners in a mentoring initiative that has provided more than 3,000 matches in the city. They also are working with TRIEC to document their best practices in a way that is easily consumable across the GTA, creating a march of ideas. For example, Royal Bank no longer asks for place of education on its applications. What does that mean? An MBA is an MBA is an MBA. And that, says Ms. Omidvar, is huge. \"That means more of the internationally educated hiring pool gets a chance to make their case. Once they get that interview, it\'s rarely held against them. It\'s getting in the door.

\"But we are not satisfied with doing better in Toronto,\" Ms. Omidvar says. \"Together with the McConnell Family Foundation, we are taking the TRIEC initiative to other urban centres. Vancouver is starting its own response led by employers, as is Montreal.\"

There is a strong business case for diversity and performance, particularly when it comes to senior management and the director level. International studies show diversity leads to innovative thinking, which leads to improved financial performance. Without diverse leadership, companies risk group-think.

  BACK TO TOP

Financial Post | 2009-02-25
Newcomers set to play critical role - expand / condense article

Workplace Reality
by Mary Teresa Bitti

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Diversity is about numbers. One in five Canadians is born on foreign soil. According to the 2006 Census, the level of immigration in recent years has been unprecedented. A walk through the streets of Toronto or Vancouver puts a face to those numbers. According to Statistics Canada, six in 10 visible minorities live in those two cities. That\'s 40% of their populations. In Montreal, one in six people is a visible minority (defined by the census-takers as persons other than Aboriginals who are non-Caucasian), representing 16.5% of the population.

Between 2001 and 2006, Canada\'s foreign-born population growth rate was four times higher than that of the Canadian-born population during the same period. The numbers continue to trend upward.

What does that mean for the workforce? A lot.

StatsCan reports that immigrants who arrived in the 1990s accounted for 70% of the net labour force growth between 1991 and 2001. By 2011 -- thanks to a shrinking population-- Canada will rely 100% on immigration for net labour market growth. By 2031, we will rely on immigration 100% for population growth. But that\'s another story.

Canadian businesses are not as good at tapping into this diverse labour pool as they should be and it\'s costing them, says Ratna Omidvar, president of the Maytree Foundation, a private non-profit in Toronto dedicated to fighting poverty and working with business to help immigrant workers put their education and experience to work. A Conference Board of Canada study quantifies the cost to the Canadian economy of not using the skills of immigrants at anywhere between $2.4-billion and $3.4-billion a year. \"Only four of 10 skilled immigrants are attaching themselves to the workforce at a requisite level that speaks to their past work experience,\" Ms. Omidvar says.

With the economy slowing and labour markets loosening up, people may argue, why should we care? \"The point is there are short-term priorities and there are long-term priorities and we have to meet them both,\" Ms. Omidvar says. \"Immigration is not the only solution to many of our national labour force issues, but it is one solution and we ignore it at our peril.\"

And let\'s not forget the looming workforce shift precipitated by the all-powerful Baby Boomers -- nine-million-plus strong in Canada -- who are preparing to retire. \"Yes, the economy is soft, but there are demographic factors that are real,\" says Anne Sado, president of George Brown College in Toronto.

\"For example, the average age of a nurse in Ontario is 47. If you don\'t start recognizing the capabilities and credentials of new immigrants coming to Canada, we are going to be hard-pressed to have the right people in place when we need them.\"

It may fall to the business leaders in our hyper-diverse cities -- Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal -- to leverage the under-utilized immigrant workforce.

Canada\'s most ethnically and racially diverse city is stepping up. DiverseCity: The Greater Toronto Leadership Project launched eight initiatives to help diversify leadership in business, the non-profit sector and on the civic stage across the greater Toronto area. The idea for DiverseCity was born during the 2007 Toronto City Summit when more than 600 Toronto leaders came together and called for a holistic effort to diversify leadership to create a more prosperous GTA.

DiverseCity is sponsored by the Maytree Foundation and the Toronto City Summit Alliance, the two co-founders of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC), which included employers in the design, delivery and implementation of initiatives to bring the skilled immigrant closer to the labour market.

Employers in the program provide internships as key partners in a mentoring initiative that has provided more than 3,000 matches in the city. They also are working with TRIEC to document their best practices in a way that is easily consumable across the GTA, creating a march of ideas. For example, Royal Bank no longer asks for place of education on its applications. What does that mean? An MBA is an MBA is an MBA. And that, says Ms. Omidvar, is huge. \"That means more of the internationally educated hiring pool gets a chance to make their case. Once they get that interview, it\'s rarely held against them. It\'s getting in the door.

\"But we are not satisfied with doing better in Toronto,\" Ms. Omidvar says. \"Together with the McConnell Family Foundation, we are taking the TRIEC initiative to other urban centres. Vancouver is starting its own response led by employers, as is Montreal.\"

There is a strong business case for diversity and performance, particularly when it comes to senior management and the director level. International studies show diversity leads to innovative thinking, which leads to improved financial performance. Without diverse leadership, companies risk group-think.

  BACK TO TOP

Financial Post | 2009-02-25
Newcomers set to play critical role - expand / condense article

Workplace Reality
by Mary Teresa Bitti

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Diversity is about numbers. One in five Canadians is born on foreign soil. According to the 2006 Census, the level of immigration in recent years has been unprecedented. A walk through the streets of Toronto or Vancouver puts a face to those numbers. According to Statistics Canada, six in 10 visible minorities live in those two cities. That\'s 40% of their populations. In Montreal, one in six people is a visible minority (defined by the census-takers as persons other than Aboriginals who are non-Caucasian), representing 16.5% of the population.

Between 2001 and 2006, Canada\'s foreign-born population growth rate was four times higher than that of the Canadian-born population during the same period. The numbers continue to trend upward.

What does that mean for the workforce? A lot.

StatsCan reports that immigrants who arrived in the 1990s accounted for 70% of the net labour force growth between 1991 and 2001. By 2011 -- thanks to a shrinking population-- Canada will rely 100% on immigration for net labour market growth. By 2031, we will rely on immigration 100% for population growth. But that\'s another story.

Canadian businesses are not as good at tapping into this diverse labour pool as they should be and it\'s costing them, says Ratna Omidvar, president of the Maytree Foundation, a private non-profit in Toronto dedicated to fighting poverty and working with business to help immigrant workers put their education and experience to work. A Conference Board of Canada study quantifies the cost to the Canadian economy of not using the skills of immigrants at anywhere between $2.4-billion and $3.4-billion a year. \"Only four of 10 skilled immigrants are attaching themselves to the workforce at a requisite level that speaks to their past work experience,\" Ms. Omidvar says.

With the economy slowing and labour markets loosening up, people may argue, why should we care? \"The point is there are short-term priorities and there are long-term priorities and we have to meet them both,\" Ms. Omidvar says. \"Immigration is not the only solution to many of our national labour force issues, but it is one solution and we ignore it at our peril.\"

And let\'s not forget the looming workforce shift precipitated by the all-powerful Baby Boomers -- nine-million-plus strong in Canada -- who are preparing to retire. \"Yes, the economy is soft, but there are demographic factors that are real,\" says Anne Sado, president of George Brown College in Toronto.

\"For example, the average age of a nurse in Ontario is 47. If you don\'t start recognizing the capabilities and credentials of new immigrants coming to Canada, we are going to be hard-pressed to have the right people in place when we need them.\"

It may fall to the business leaders in our hyper-diverse cities -- Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal -- to leverage the under-utilized immigrant workforce.

Canada\'s most ethnically and racially diverse city is stepping up. DiverseCity: The Greater Toronto Leadership Project launched eight initiatives to help diversify leadership in business, the non-profit sector and on the civic stage across the greater Toronto area. The idea for DiverseCity was born during the 2007 Toronto City Summit when more than 600 Toronto leaders came together and called for a holistic effort to diversify leadership to create a more prosperous GTA.

DiverseCity is sponsored by the Maytree Foundation and the Toronto City Summit Alliance, the two co-founders of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC), which included employers in the design, delivery and implementation of initiatives to bring the skilled immigrant closer to the labour market.

Employers in the program provide internships as key partners in a mentoring initiative that has provided more than 3,000 matches in the city. They also are working with TRIEC to document their best practices in a way that is easily consumable across the GTA, creating a march of ideas. For example, Royal Bank no longer asks for place of education on its applications. What does that mean? An MBA is an MBA is an MBA. And that, says Ms. Omidvar, is huge. \"That means more of the internationally educated hiring pool gets a chance to make their case. Once they get that interview, it\'s rarely held against them. It\'s getting in the door.

\"But we are not satisfied with doing better in Toronto,\" Ms. Omidvar says. \"Together with the McConnell Family Foundation, we are taking the TRIEC initiative to other urban centres. Vancouver is starting its own response led by employers, as is Montreal.\"

There is a strong business case for diversity and performance, particularly when it comes to senior management and the director level. International studies show diversity leads to innovative thinking, which leads to improved financial performance. Without diverse leadership, companies risk group-think.

  BACK TO TOP

Financial Post | 2009-02-25
Newcomers set to play critical role - expand / condense article

Workplace Reality
by Mary Teresa Bitti

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Diversity is about numbers. One in five Canadians is born on foreign soil. According to the 2006 Census, the level of immigration in recent years has been unprecedented. A walk through the streets of Toronto or Vancouver puts a face to those numbers. According to Statistics Canada, six in 10 visible minorities live in those two cities. That\'s 40% of their populations. In Montreal, one in six people is a visible minority (defined by the census-takers as persons other than Aboriginals who are non-Caucasian), representing 16.5% of the population.

Between 2001 and 2006, Canada\'s foreign-born population growth rate was four times higher than that of the Canadian-born population during the same period. The numbers continue to trend upward.

What does that mean for the workforce? A lot.

StatsCan reports that immigrants who arrived in the 1990s accounted for 70% of the net labour force growth between 1991 and 2001. By 2011 -- thanks to a shrinking population-- Canada will rely 100% on immigration for net labour market growth. By 2031, we will rely on immigration 100% for population growth. But that\'s another story.

Canadian businesses are not as good at tapping into this diverse labour pool as they should be and it\'s costing them, says Ratna Omidvar, president of the Maytree Foundation, a private non-profit in Toronto dedicated to fighting poverty and working with business to help immigrant workers put their education and experience to work. A Conference Board of Canada study quantifies the cost to the Canadian economy of not using the skills of immigrants at anywhere between $2.4-billion and $3.4-billion a year. \"Only four of 10 skilled immigrants are attaching themselves to the workforce at a requisite level that speaks to their past work experience,\" Ms. Omidvar says.

With the economy slowing and labour markets loosening up, people may argue, why should we care? \"The point is there are short-term priorities and there are long-term priorities and we have to meet them both,\" Ms. Omidvar says. \"Immigration is not the only solution to many of our national labour force issues, but it is one solution and we ignore it at our peril.\"

And let\'s not forget the looming workforce shift precipitated by the all-powerful Baby Boomers -- nine-million-plus strong in Canada -- who are preparing to retire. \"Yes, the economy is soft, but there are demographic factors that are real,\" says Anne Sado, president of George Brown College in Toronto.

\"For example, the average age of a nurse in Ontario is 47. If you don\'t start recognizing the capabilities and credentials of new immigrants coming to Canada, we are going to be hard-pressed to have the right people in place when we need them.\"

It may fall to the business leaders in our hyper-diverse cities -- Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal -- to leverage the under-utilized immigrant workforce.

Canada\'s most ethnically and racially diverse city is stepping up. DiverseCity: The Greater Toronto Leadership Project launched eight initiatives to help diversify leadership in business, the non-profit sector and on the civic stage across the greater Toronto area. The idea for DiverseCity was born during the 2007 Toronto City Summit when more than 600 Toronto leaders came together and called for a holistic effort to diversify leadership to create a more prosperous GTA.

DiverseCity is sponsored by the Maytree Foundation and the Toronto City Summit Alliance, the two co-founders of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC), which included employers in the design, delivery and implementation of initiatives to bring the skilled immigrant closer to the labour market.

Employers in the program provide internships as key partners in a mentoring initiative that has provided more than 3,000 matches in the city. They also are working with TRIEC to document their best practices in a way that is easily consumable across the GTA, creating a march of ideas. For example, Royal Bank no longer asks for place of education on its applications. What does that mean? An MBA is an MBA is an MBA. And that, says Ms. Omidvar, is huge. \"That means more of the internationally educated hiring pool gets a chance to make their case. Once they get that interview, it\'s rarely held against them. It\'s getting in the door.

\"But we are not satisfied with doing better in Toronto,\" Ms. Omidvar says. \"Together with the McConnell Family Foundation, we are taking the TRIEC initiative to other urban centres. Vancouver is starting its own response led by employers, as is Montreal.\"

There is a strong business case for diversity and performance, particularly when it comes to senior management and the director level. International studies show diversity leads to innovative thinking, which leads to improved financial performance. Without diverse leadership, companies risk group-think.

  BACK TO TOP

Financial Post | 2009-02-25
Newcomers set to play critical role - expand / condense article

Workplace Reality
by Mary Teresa Bitti

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Diversity is about numbers. One in five Canadians is born on foreign soil. According to the 2006 Census, the level of immigration in recent years has been unprecedented. A walk through the streets of Toronto or Vancouver puts a face to those numbers. According to Statistics Canada, six in 10 visible minorities live in those two cities. That\'s 40% of their populations. In Montreal, one in six people is a visible minority (defined by the census-takers as persons other than Aboriginals who are non-Caucasian), representing 16.5% of the population.

Between 2001 and 2006, Canada\'s foreign-born population growth rate was four times higher than that of the Canadian-born population during the same period. The numbers continue to trend upward.

What does that mean for the workforce? A lot.

StatsCan reports that immigrants who arrived in the 1990s accounted for 70% of the net labour force growth between 1991 and 2001. By 2011 -- thanks to a shrinking population-- Canada will rely 100% on immigration for net labour market growth. By 2031, we will rely on immigration 100% for population growth. But that\'s another story.

Canadian businesses are not as good at tapping into this diverse labour pool as they should be and it\'s costing them, says Ratna Omidvar, president of the Maytree Foundation, a private non-profit in Toronto dedicated to fighting poverty and working with business to help immigrant workers put their education and experience to work. A Conference Board of Canada study quantifies the cost to the Canadian economy of not using the skills of immigrants at anywhere between $2.4-billion and $3.4-billion a year. \"Only four of 10 skilled immigrants are attaching themselves to the workforce at a requisite level that speaks to their past work experience,\" Ms. Omidvar says.

With the economy slowing and labour markets loosening up, people may argue, why should we care? \"The point is there are short-term priorities and there are long-term priorities and we have to meet them both,\" Ms. Omidvar says. \"Immigration is not the only solution to many of our national labour force issues, but it is one solution and we ignore it at our peril.\"

And let\'s not forget the looming workforce shift precipitated by the all-powerful Baby Boomers -- nine-million-plus strong in Canada -- who are preparing to retire. \"Yes, the economy is soft, but there are demographic factors that are real,\" says Anne Sado, president of George Brown College in Toronto.

\"For example, the average age of a nurse in Ontario is 47. If you don\'t start recognizing the capabilities and credentials of new immigrants coming to Canada, we are going to be hard-pressed to have the right people in place when we need them.\"

It may fall to the business leaders in our hyper-diverse cities -- Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal -- to leverage the under-utilized immigrant workforce.

Canada\'s most ethnically and racially diverse city is stepping up. DiverseCity: The Greater Toronto Leadership Project launched eight initiatives to help diversify leadership in business, the non-profit sector and on the civic stage across the greater Toronto area. The idea for DiverseCity was born during the 2007 Toronto City Summit when more than 600 Toronto leaders came together and called for a holistic effort to diversify leadership to create a more prosperous GTA.

DiverseCity is sponsored by the Maytree Foundation and the Toronto City Summit Alliance, the two co-founders of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC), which included employers in the design, delivery and implementation of initiatives to bring the skilled immigrant closer to the labour market.

Employers in the program provide internships as key partners in a mentoring initiative that has provided more than 3,000 matches in the city. They also are working with TRIEC to document their best practices in a way that is easily consumable across the GTA, creating a march of ideas. For example, Royal Bank no longer asks for place of education on its applications. What does that mean? An MBA is an MBA is an MBA. And that, says Ms. Omidvar, is huge. \"That means more of the internationally educated hiring pool gets a chance to make their case. Once they get that interview, it\'s rarely held against them. It\'s getting in the door.

\"But we are not satisfied with doing better in Toronto,\" Ms. Omidvar says. \"Together with the McConnell Family Foundation, we are taking the TRIEC initiative to other urban centres. Vancouver is starting its own response led by employers, as is Montreal.\"

There is a strong business case for diversity and performance, particularly when it comes to senior management and the director level. International studies show diversity leads to innovative thinking, which leads to improved financial performance. Without diverse leadership, companies risk group-think.

  BACK TO TOP

Financial Post | 2009-02-25
Newcomers set to play critical role - expand / condense article

Workplace Reality
by Mary Teresa Bitti

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Diversity is about numbers. One in five Canadians is born on foreign soil. According to the 2006 Census, the level of immigration in recent years has been unprecedented. A walk through the streets of Toronto or Vancouver puts a face to those numbers. According to Statistics Canada, six in 10 visible minorities live in those two cities. That\'s 40% of their populations. In Montreal, one in six people is a visible minority (defined by the census-takers as persons other than Aboriginals who are non-Caucasian), representing 16.5% of the population.

Between 2001 and 2006, Canada\'s foreign-born population growth rate was four times higher than that of the Canadian-born population during the same period. The numbers continue to trend upward.

What does that mean for the workforce? A lot.

StatsCan reports that immigrants who arrived in the 1990s accounted for 70% of the net labour force growth between 1991 and 2001. By 2011 -- thanks to a shrinking population-- Canada will rely 100% on immigration for net labour market growth. By 2031, we will rely on immigration 100% for population growth. But that\'s another story.

Canadian businesses are not as good at tapping into this diverse labour pool as they should be and it\'s costing them, says Ratna Omidvar, president of the Maytree Foundation, a private non-profit in Toronto dedicated to fighting poverty and working with business to help immigrant workers put their education and experience to work. A Conference Board of Canada study quantifies the cost to the Canadian economy of not using the skills of immigrants at anywhere between $2.4-billion and $3.4-billion a year. \"Only four of 10 skilled immigrants are attaching themselves to the workforce at a requisite level that speaks to their past work experience,\" Ms. Omidvar says.

With the economy slowing and labour markets loosening up, people may argue, why should we care? \"The point is there are short-term priorities and there are long-term priorities and we have to meet them both,\" Ms. Omidvar says. \"Immigration is not the only solution to many of our national labour force issues, but it is one solution and we ignore it at our peril.\"

And let\'s not forget the looming workforce shift precipitated by the all-powerful Baby Boomers -- nine-million-plus strong in Canada -- who are preparing to retire. \"Yes, the economy is soft, but there are demographic factors that are real,\" says Anne Sado, president of George Brown College in Toronto.

\"For example, the average age of a nurse in Ontario is 47. If you don\'t start recognizing the capabilities and credentials of new immigrants coming to Canada, we are going to be hard-pressed to have the right people in place when we need them.\"

It may fall to the business leaders in our hyper-diverse cities -- Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal -- to leverage the under-utilized immigrant workforce.

Canada\'s most ethnically and racially diverse city is stepping up. DiverseCity: The Greater Toronto Leadership Project launched eight initiatives to help diversify leadership in business, the non-profit sector and on the civic stage across the greater Toronto area. The idea for DiverseCity was born during the 2007 Toronto City Summit when more than 600 Toronto leaders came together and called for a holistic effort to diversify leadership to create a more prosperous GTA.

DiverseCity is sponsored by the Maytree Foundation and the Toronto City Summit Alliance, the two co-founders of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC), which included employers in the design, delivery and implementation of initiatives to bring the skilled immigrant closer to the labour market.

Employers in the program provide internships as key partners in a mentoring initiative that has provided more than 3,000 matches in the city. They also are working with TRIEC to document their best practices in a way that is easily consumable across the GTA, creating a march of ideas. For example, Royal Bank no longer asks for place of education on its applications. What does that mean? An MBA is an MBA is an MBA. And that, says Ms. Omidvar, is huge. \"That means more of the internationally educated hiring pool gets a chance to make their case. Once they get that interview, it\'s rarely held against them. It\'s getting in the door.

\"But we are not satisfied with doing better in Toronto,\" Ms. Omidvar says. \"Together with the McConnell Family Foundation, we are taking the TRIEC initiative to other urban centres. Vancouver is starting its own response led by employers, as is Montreal.\"

There is a strong business case for diversity and performance, particularly when it comes to senior management and the director level. International studies show diversity leads to innovative thinking, which leads to improved financial performance. Without diverse leadership, companies risk group-think.

  BACK TO TOP

Globe and Mail | 2009-01-26
Hire local, think global - expand / condense article

Assembling a work force that looks like the greater community has become a business imperative. Equally important is doing it the right way
by Terrence Belford

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Jason Colley explains it, in 2004 senior management at American Express Canada looked out the windows of the company\'s new headquarters in Markham and realized the world had changed. Geography helped sparked social change.

Markham, one of Toronto\'s northern suburbs, had become a city with an extraordinarily diverse population. No longer a farming town dominated by white Anglo Saxons, Markham was now home to expanding Chinese and South Asian communities. In most families, women worked as well as the men.

If the company was going to recruit staff locally, its hiring and retention policies would have to change. Diversity would have to become a fundamental pillar of corporate culture, says Mr. Colley, manager of talent acquisition, the man responsible since 2007 for finding ways to dip into existing pools of qualified women, ethnic minorities and those with physical disabilities.

\"At the same time, our customer base was changing,\" says Mr. Colley. \"There was a realization that there were sound business reasons to have our staff reflect the various communities we served.\"

American Express is just a case in point. Major corporations are fostering diversity in the workplace as good business sense, not only to reflect changing customer bases today, but as a strategy for the long term.

Organizations such as the Canadian Federation of Independent Business say that one of the greatest challenges for any enterprise - large or small - is recruiting and retaining workers. They predict that as baby boomers move into retirement, that challenge is certain to escalate.

At the University of Toronto\'s Rotman School of Management, associate dean Beatrix Dart says she can think of at least four sound business reasons for all enterprises to pursue diversity in the work force. Her first echoes those who point to the shrinking pool of available people following the boomer bulge.

She also says that business is increasingly international in nature and having people on staff fluent in foreign languages and cultural savvy can prove a tremendous asset. Then there is the need to have an organization reflect the communities it serves: That just makes sound branding sense, she says.

The fourth point reflects a change of perception as to who is the decision maker in households.

\"Surveys show that women have the greatest influence in 70 per cent of household purchases,\" she says. \"With new cars they are the primary influence in 60 per cent of buy decisions. It just makes sense to strengthen the female component and use their insights.\"

\"All organizations have to start looking for ways to reach deeper into the pools of available talent within their communities,\" says Jane Allen, chief diversity officer at Deloitte & Touche LLP, the international accounting and consulting company with 7,900 staff across Canada. \"It simply makes good business sense.\"

The challenge for many, however, is how to get started and then how to create internal systems and processes to ensure programs created to achieve diversity do not wither on the corporate vine.

At both Amex Canada and Deloitte, the process started with benchmarking, a complete demographic survey of just how diverse staff was, say both Mr. Colley and Ms. Allen. Deloitte even brought in an outside consultant to help structure change and advise on the process.

\"The idea is to create a baseline, which can be used to measure progress,\" says Ms. Allen.

The next step for both was creation of a company-wide diversity council. In Amex\'s case it has 12 members from across Canada. Deloitte has 18. The council acts as a central organizing group, monitoring change and reporting to both management and staff.

Step three was to create a series of task forces with each given responsibility to organize, launch and monitor specific diversity initiatives.

\"At Amex one of the top priorities was not just broadening recruitment but broadening retention programs as well,\" says Mr. Colley. \"Our goal was to have units such as our call centre and credit risk groups - those that deal directly with customers - more closely reflect our client base.

A top priority at Deloitte became increasing the number of women in management.

When Mr. Colley took over his new position in 2007 he began to reach out to non-traditional sources for recruiting, such as job sites directed toward aboriginals and specific ethnic communities.

\"We also started working with student groups, such as the aboriginal students\' organization at Ryerson University,\" he says. \"It is not so much an effort to hire X number from any group, but to ensure they are not overlooked in the process,\" he says.

Key to any diversity initiative is creating an internal structure that makes managers accountable for expanding diversity in their business unit and supporting their efforts, explains Ms. Allen.

\"That means identifying who makes the decisions or influences recruitment and retention, right from the board level down to everyday staff,\" she says. \"Then we created individual programs for each unit with set targets and a monitoring system to check on progress.\"

Those programs can indeed be broad ranging. Amex, for example, now has two dozen managers working as mentors to new Canadians trying to make the most of their training in the homeland in the Canadian workplace.

Deloitte will introduce its own mentoring program this year, but, unlike the one at Amex, it will be aimed at exposing existing staff to the challenges faced by their managers and bosses.

At Deloitte there are company-sponsored affinity groups among employees where gays, lesbians, the physically disabled, women and Canadians from a broad range of ethnic backgrounds can network, often becoming incubators for new programs and a continuing resource to tap into their own community for new corporate talent, says Ms. Allen.

At Amex, the company developed partnerships with groups such as the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council to participate in TRIEC programs designed to speed the entry of new Canadians into the work force.

At both companies diversity is still a work in progress. Evidence of its success is still chiefly anecdotal.

\"Measurement is probably still a year away,\" says Deloitte\'s Ms. Allen. \"But I can see we are seeing very encouraging results in things like performance reports and in internal discussions.\"

  BACK TO TOP

Globe and Mail | 2009-01-26
Hire local, think global - expand / condense article

Assembling a work force that looks like the greater community has become a business imperative. Equally important is doing it the right way
by Terrence Belford

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Jason Colley explains it, in 2004 senior management at American Express Canada looked out the windows of the company\'s new headquarters in Markham and realized the world had changed. Geography helped sparked social change.

Markham, one of Toronto\'s northern suburbs, had become a city with an extraordinarily diverse population. No longer a farming town dominated by white Anglo Saxons, Markham was now home to expanding Chinese and South Asian communities. In most families, women worked as well as the men.

If the company was going to recruit staff locally, its hiring and retention policies would have to change. Diversity would have to become a fundamental pillar of corporate culture, says Mr. Colley, manager of talent acquisition, the man responsible since 2007 for finding ways to dip into existing pools of qualified women, ethnic minorities and those with physical disabilities.

\"At the same time, our customer base was changing,\" says Mr. Colley. \"There was a realization that there were sound business reasons to have our staff reflect the various communities we served.\"

American Express is just a case in point. Major corporations are fostering diversity in the workplace as good business sense, not only to reflect changing customer bases today, but as a strategy for the long term.

Organizations such as the Canadian Federation of Independent Business say that one of the greatest challenges for any enterprise - large or small - is recruiting and retaining workers. They predict that as baby boomers move into retirement, that challenge is certain to escalate.

At the University of Toronto\'s Rotman School of Management, associate dean Beatrix Dart says she can think of at least four sound business reasons for all enterprises to pursue diversity in the work force. Her first echoes those who point to the shrinking pool of available people following the boomer bulge.

She also says that business is increasingly international in nature and having people on staff fluent in foreign languages and cultural savvy can prove a tremendous asset. Then there is the need to have an organization reflect the communities it serves: That just makes sound branding sense, she says.

The fourth point reflects a change of perception as to who is the decision maker in households.

\"Surveys show that women have the greatest influence in 70 per cent of household purchases,\" she says. \"With new cars they are the primary influence in 60 per cent of buy decisions. It just makes sense to strengthen the female component and use their insights.\"

\"All organizations have to start looking for ways to reach deeper into the pools of available talent within their communities,\" says Jane Allen, chief diversity officer at Deloitte & Touche LLP, the international accounting and consulting company with 7,900 staff across Canada. \"It simply makes good business sense.\"

The challenge for many, however, is how to get started and then how to create internal systems and processes to ensure programs created to achieve diversity do not wither on the corporate vine.

At both Amex Canada and Deloitte, the process started with benchmarking, a complete demographic survey of just how diverse staff was, say both Mr. Colley and Ms. Allen. Deloitte even brought in an outside consultant to help structure change and advise on the process.

\"The idea is to create a baseline, which can be used to measure progress,\" says Ms. Allen.

The next step for both was creation of a company-wide diversity council. In Amex\'s case it has 12 members from across Canada. Deloitte has 18. The council acts as a central organizing group, monitoring change and reporting to both management and staff.

Step three was to create a series of task forces with each given responsibility to organize, launch and monitor specific diversity initiatives.

\"At Amex one of the top priorities was not just broadening recruitment but broadening retention programs as well,\" says Mr. Colley. \"Our goal was to have units such as our call centre and credit risk groups - those that deal directly with customers - more closely reflect our client base.

A top priority at Deloitte became increasing the number of women in management.

When Mr. Colley took over his new position in 2007 he began to reach out to non-traditional sources for recruiting, such as job sites directed toward aboriginals and specific ethnic communities.

\"We also started working with student groups, such as the aboriginal students\' organization at Ryerson University,\" he says. \"It is not so much an effort to hire X number from any group, but to ensure they are not overlooked in the process,\" he says.

Key to any diversity initiative is creating an internal structure that makes managers accountable for expanding diversity in their business unit and supporting their efforts, explains Ms. Allen.

\"That means identifying who makes the decisions or influences recruitment and retention, right from the board level down to everyday staff,\" she says. \"Then we created individual programs for each unit with set targets and a monitoring system to check on progress.\"

Those programs can indeed be broad ranging. Amex, for example, now has two dozen managers working as mentors to new Canadians trying to make the most of their training in the homeland in the Canadian workplace.

Deloitte will introduce its own mentoring program this year, but, unlike the one at Amex, it will be aimed at exposing existing staff to the challenges faced by their managers and bosses.

At Deloitte there are company-sponsored affinity groups among employees where gays, lesbians, the physically disabled, women and Canadians from a broad range of ethnic backgrounds can network, often becoming incubators for new programs and a continuing resource to tap into their own community for new corporate talent, says Ms. Allen.

At Amex, the company developed partnerships with groups such as the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council to participate in TRIEC programs designed to speed the entry of new Canadians into the work force.

At both companies diversity is still a work in progress. Evidence of its success is still chiefly anecdotal.

\"Measurement is probably still a year away,\" says Deloitte\'s Ms. Allen. \"But I can see we are seeing very encouraging results in things like performance reports and in internal discussions.\"

  BACK TO TOP

Globe and Mail | 2009-01-26
Hire local, think global - expand / condense article

Assembling a work force that looks like the greater community has become a business imperative. Equally important is doing it the right way
by Terrence Belford

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Jason Colley explains it, in 2004 senior management at American Express Canada looked out the windows of the company\'s new headquarters in Markham and realized the world had changed. Geography helped sparked social change.

Markham, one of Toronto\'s northern suburbs, had become a city with an extraordinarily diverse population. No longer a farming town dominated by white Anglo Saxons, Markham was now home to expanding Chinese and South Asian communities. In most families, women worked as well as the men.

If the company was going to recruit staff locally, its hiring and retention policies would have to change. Diversity would have to become a fundamental pillar of corporate culture, says Mr. Colley, manager of talent acquisition, the man responsible since 2007 for finding ways to dip into existing pools of qualified women, ethnic minorities and those with physical disabilities.

\"At the same time, our customer base was changing,\" says Mr. Colley. \"There was a realization that there were sound business reasons to have our staff reflect the various communities we served.\"

American Express is just a case in point. Major corporations are fostering diversity in the workplace as good business sense, not only to reflect changing customer bases today, but as a strategy for the long term.

Organizations such as the Canadian Federation of Independent Business say that one of the greatest challenges for any enterprise - large or small - is recruiting and retaining workers. They predict that as baby boomers move into retirement, that challenge is certain to escalate.

At the University of Toronto\'s Rotman School of Management, associate dean Beatrix Dart says she can think of at least four sound business reasons for all enterprises to pursue diversity in the work force. Her first echoes those who point to the shrinking pool of available people following the boomer bulge.

She also says that business is increasingly international in nature and having people on staff fluent in foreign languages and cultural savvy can prove a tremendous asset. Then there is the need to have an organization reflect the communities it serves: That just makes sound branding sense, she says.

The fourth point reflects a change of perception as to who is the decision maker in households.

\"Surveys show that women have the greatest influence in 70 per cent of household purchases,\" she says. \"With new cars they are the primary influence in 60 per cent of buy decisions. It just makes sense to strengthen the female component and use their insights.\"

\"All organizations have to start looking for ways to reach deeper into the pools of available talent within their communities,\" says Jane Allen, chief diversity officer at Deloitte & Touche LLP, the international accounting and consulting company with 7,900 staff across Canada. \"It simply makes good business sense.\"

The challenge for many, however, is how to get started and then how to create internal systems and processes to ensure programs created to achieve diversity do not wither on the corporate vine.

At both Amex Canada and Deloitte, the process started with benchmarking, a complete demographic survey of just how diverse staff was, say both Mr. Colley and Ms. Allen. Deloitte even brought in an outside consultant to help structure change and advise on the process.

\"The idea is to create a baseline, which can be used to measure progress,\" says Ms. Allen.

The next step for both was creation of a company-wide diversity council. In Amex\'s case it has 12 members from across Canada. Deloitte has 18. The council acts as a central organizing group, monitoring change and reporting to both management and staff.

Step three was to create a series of task forces with each given responsibility to organize, launch and monitor specific diversity initiatives.

\"At Amex one of the top priorities was not just broadening recruitment but broadening retention programs as well,\" says Mr. Colley. \"Our goal was to have units such as our call centre and credit risk groups - those that deal directly with customers - more closely reflect our client base.

A top priority at Deloitte became increasing the number of women in management.

When Mr. Colley took over his new position in 2007 he began to reach out to non-traditional sources for recruiting, such as job sites directed toward aboriginals and specific ethnic communities.

\"We also started working with student groups, such as the aboriginal students\' organization at Ryerson University,\" he says. \"It is not so much an effort to hire X number from any group, but to ensure they are not overlooked in the process,\" he says.

Key to any diversity initiative is creating an internal structure that makes managers accountable for expanding diversity in their business unit and supporting their efforts, explains Ms. Allen.

\"That means identifying who makes the decisions or influences recruitment and retention, right from the board level down to everyday staff,\" she says. \"Then we created individual programs for each unit with set targets and a monitoring system to check on progress.\"

Those programs can indeed be broad ranging. Amex, for example, now has two dozen managers working as mentors to new Canadians trying to make the most of their training in the homeland in the Canadian workplace.

Deloitte will introduce its own mentoring program this year, but, unlike the one at Amex, it will be aimed at exposing existing staff to the challenges faced by their managers and bosses.

At Deloitte there are company-sponsored affinity groups among employees where gays, lesbians, the physically disabled, women and Canadians from a broad range of ethnic backgrounds can network, often becoming incubators for new programs and a continuing resource to tap into their own community for new corporate talent, says Ms. Allen.

At Amex, the company developed partnerships with groups such as the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council to participate in TRIEC programs designed to speed the entry of new Canadians into the work force.

At both companies diversity is still a work in progress. Evidence of its success is still chiefly anecdotal.

\"Measurement is probably still a year away,\" says Deloitte\'s Ms. Allen. \"But I can see we are seeing very encouraging results in things like performance reports and in internal discussions.\"

  BACK TO TOP

Globe and Mail | 2009-01-26
Hire local, think global - expand / condense article

Assembling a work force that looks like the greater community has become a business imperative. Equally important is doing it the right way
by Terrence Belford

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Jason Colley explains it, in 2004 senior management at American Express Canada looked out the windows of the company\'s new headquarters in Markham and realized the world had changed. Geography helped sparked social change.

Markham, one of Toronto\'s northern suburbs, had become a city with an extraordinarily diverse population. No longer a farming town dominated by white Anglo Saxons, Markham was now home to expanding Chinese and South Asian communities. In most families, women worked as well as the men.

If the company was going to recruit staff locally, its hiring and retention policies would have to change. Diversity would have to become a fundamental pillar of corporate culture, says Mr. Colley, manager of talent acquisition, the man responsible since 2007 for finding ways to dip into existing pools of qualified women, ethnic minorities and those with physical disabilities.

\"At the same time, our customer base was changing,\" says Mr. Colley. \"There was a realization that there were sound business reasons to have our staff reflect the various communities we served.\"

American Express is just a case in point. Major corporations are fostering diversity in the workplace as good business sense, not only to reflect changing customer bases today, but as a strategy for the long term.

Organizations such as the Canadian Federation of Independent Business say that one of the greatest challenges for any enterprise - large or small - is recruiting and retaining workers. They predict that as baby boomers move into retirement, that challenge is certain to escalate.

At the University of Toronto\'s Rotman School of Management, associate dean Beatrix Dart says she can think of at least four sound business reasons for all enterprises to pursue diversity in the work force. Her first echoes those who point to the shrinking pool of available people following the boomer bulge.

She also says that business is increasingly international in nature and having people on staff fluent in foreign languages and cultural savvy can prove a tremendous asset. Then there is the need to have an organization reflect the communities it serves: That just makes sound branding sense, she says.

The fourth point reflects a change of perception as to who is the decision maker in households.

\"Surveys show that women have the greatest influence in 70 per cent of household purchases,\" she says. \"With new cars they are the primary influence in 60 per cent of buy decisions. It just makes sense to strengthen the female component and use their insights.\"

\"All organizations have to start looking for ways to reach deeper into the pools of available talent within their communities,\" says Jane Allen, chief diversity officer at Deloitte & Touche LLP, the international accounting and consulting company with 7,900 staff across Canada. \"It simply makes good business sense.\"

The challenge for many, however, is how to get started and then how to create internal systems and processes to ensure programs created to achieve diversity do not wither on the corporate vine.

At both Amex Canada and Deloitte, the process started with benchmarking, a complete demographic survey of just how diverse staff was, say both Mr. Colley and Ms. Allen. Deloitte even brought in an outside consultant to help structure change and advise on the process.

\"The idea is to create a baseline, which can be used to measure progress,\" says Ms. Allen.

The next step for both was creation of a company-wide diversity council. In Amex\'s case it has 12 members from across Canada. Deloitte has 18. The council acts as a central organizing group, monitoring change and reporting to both management and staff.

Step three was to create a series of task forces with each given responsibility to organize, launch and monitor specific diversity initiatives.

\"At Amex one of the top priorities was not just broadening recruitment but broadening retention programs as well,\" says Mr. Colley. \"Our goal was to have units such as our call centre and credit risk groups - those that deal directly with customers - more closely reflect our client base.

A top priority at Deloitte became increasing the number of women in management.

When Mr. Colley took over his new position in 2007 he began to reach out to non-traditional sources for recruiting, such as job sites directed toward aboriginals and specific ethnic communities.

\"We also started working with student groups, such as the aboriginal students\' organization at Ryerson University,\" he says. \"It is not so much an effort to hire X number from any group, but to ensure they are not overlooked in the process,\" he says.

Key to any diversity initiative is creating an internal structure that makes managers accountable for expanding diversity in their business unit and supporting their efforts, explains Ms. Allen.

\"That means identifying who makes the decisions or influences recruitment and retention, right from the board level down to everyday staff,\" she says. \"Then we created individual programs for each unit with set targets and a monitoring system to check on progress.\"

Those programs can indeed be broad ranging. Amex, for example, now has two dozen managers working as mentors to new Canadians trying to make the most of their training in the homeland in the Canadian workplace.

Deloitte will introduce its own mentoring program this year, but, unlike the one at Amex, it will be aimed at exposing existing staff to the challenges faced by their managers and bosses.

At Deloitte there are company-sponsored affinity groups among employees where gays, lesbians, the physically disabled, women and Canadians from a broad range of ethnic backgrounds can network, often becoming incubators for new programs and a continuing resource to tap into their own community for new corporate talent, says Ms. Allen.

At Amex, the company developed partnerships with groups such as the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council to participate in TRIEC programs designed to speed the entry of new Canadians into the work force.

At both companies diversity is still a work in progress. Evidence of its success is still chiefly anecdotal.

\"Measurement is probably still a year away,\" says Deloitte\'s Ms. Allen. \"But I can see we are seeing very encouraging results in things like performance reports and in internal discussions.\"

  BACK TO TOP

Globe and Mail | 2009-01-26
Hire local, think global - expand / condense article

Assembling a work force that looks like the greater community has become a business imperative. Equally important is doing it the right way
by Terrence Belford

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Jason Colley explains it, in 2004 senior management at American Express Canada looked out the windows of the company\'s new headquarters in Markham and realized the world had changed. Geography helped sparked social change.

Markham, one of Toronto\'s northern suburbs, had become a city with an extraordinarily diverse population. No longer a farming town dominated by white Anglo Saxons, Markham was now home to expanding Chinese and South Asian communities. In most families, women worked as well as the men.

If the company was going to recruit staff locally, its hiring and retention policies would have to change. Diversity would have to become a fundamental pillar of corporate culture, says Mr. Colley, manager of talent acquisition, the man responsible since 2007 for finding ways to dip into existing pools of qualified women, ethnic minorities and those with physical disabilities.

\"At the same time, our customer base was changing,\" says Mr. Colley. \"There was a realization that there were sound business reasons to have our staff reflect the various communities we served.\"

American Express is just a case in point. Major corporations are fostering diversity in the workplace as good business sense, not only to reflect changing customer bases today, but as a strategy for the long term.

Organizations such as the Canadian Federation of Independent Business say that one of the greatest challenges for any enterprise - large or small - is recruiting and retaining workers. They predict that as baby boomers move into retirement, that challenge is certain to escalate.

At the University of Toronto\'s Rotman School of Management, associate dean Beatrix Dart says she can think of at least four sound business reasons for all enterprises to pursue diversity in the work force. Her first echoes those who point to the shrinking pool of available people following the boomer bulge.

She also says that business is increasingly international in nature and having people on staff fluent in foreign languages and cultural savvy can prove a tremendous asset. Then there is the need to have an organization reflect the communities it serves: That just makes sound branding sense, she says.

The fourth point reflects a change of perception as to who is the decision maker in households.

\"Surveys show that women have the greatest influence in 70 per cent of household purchases,\" she says. \"With new cars they are the primary influence in 60 per cent of buy decisions. It just makes sense to strengthen the female component and use their insights.\"

\"All organizations have to start looking for ways to reach deeper into the pools of available talent within their communities,\" says Jane Allen, chief diversity officer at Deloitte & Touche LLP, the international accounting and consulting company with 7,900 staff across Canada. \"It simply makes good business sense.\"

The challenge for many, however, is how to get started and then how to create internal systems and processes to ensure programs created to achieve diversity do not wither on the corporate vine.

At both Amex Canada and Deloitte, the process started with benchmarking, a complete demographic survey of just how diverse staff was, say both Mr. Colley and Ms. Allen. Deloitte even brought in an outside consultant to help structure change and advise on the process.

\"The idea is to create a baseline, which can be used to measure progress,\" says Ms. Allen.

The next step for both was creation of a company-wide diversity council. In Amex\'s case it has 12 members from across Canada. Deloitte has 18. The council acts as a central organizing group, monitoring change and reporting to both management and staff.

Step three was to create a series of task forces with each given responsibility to organize, launch and monitor specific diversity initiatives.

\"At Amex one of the top priorities was not just broadening recruitment but broadening retention programs as well,\" says Mr. Colley. \"Our goal was to have units such as our call centre and credit risk groups - those that deal directly with customers - more closely reflect our client base.

A top priority at Deloitte became increasing the number of women in management.

When Mr. Colley took over his new position in 2007 he began to reach out to non-traditional sources for recruiting, such as job sites directed toward aboriginals and specific ethnic communities.

\"We also started working with student groups, such as the aboriginal students\' organization at Ryerson University,\" he says. \"It is not so much an effort to hire X number from any group, but to ensure they are not overlooked in the process,\" he says.

Key to any diversity initiative is creating an internal structure that makes managers accountable for expanding diversity in their business unit and supporting their efforts, explains Ms. Allen.

\"That means identifying who makes the decisions or influences recruitment and retention, right from the board level down to everyday staff,\" she says. \"Then we created individual programs for each unit with set targets and a monitoring system to check on progress.\"

Those programs can indeed be broad ranging. Amex, for example, now has two dozen managers working as mentors to new Canadians trying to make the most of their training in the homeland in the Canadian workplace.

Deloitte will introduce its own mentoring program this year, but, unlike the one at Amex, it will be aimed at exposing existing staff to the challenges faced by their managers and bosses.

At Deloitte there are company-sponsored affinity groups among employees where gays, lesbians, the physically disabled, women and Canadians from a broad range of ethnic backgrounds can network, often becoming incubators for new programs and a continuing resource to tap into their own community for new corporate talent, says Ms. Allen.

At Amex, the company developed partnerships with groups such as the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council to participate in TRIEC programs designed to speed the entry of new Canadians into the work force.

At both companies diversity is still a work in progress. Evidence of its success is still chiefly anecdotal.

\"Measurement is probably still a year away,\" says Deloitte\'s Ms. Allen. \"But I can see we are seeing very encouraging results in things like performance reports and in internal discussions.\"

  BACK TO TOP

Globe and Mail | 2009-01-26
Hire local, think global - expand / condense article

Assembling a work force that looks like the greater community has become a business imperative. Equally important is doing it the right way
by Terrence Belford

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Jason Colley explains it, in 2004 senior management at American Express Canada looked out the windows of the company\'s new headquarters in Markham and realized the world had changed. Geography helped sparked social change.

Markham, one of Toronto\'s northern suburbs, had become a city with an extraordinarily diverse population. No longer a farming town dominated by white Anglo Saxons, Markham was now home to expanding Chinese and South Asian communities. In most families, women worked as well as the men.

If the company was going to recruit staff locally, its hiring and retention policies would have to change. Diversity would have to become a fundamental pillar of corporate culture, says Mr. Colley, manager of talent acquisition, the man responsible since 2007 for finding ways to dip into existing pools of qualified women, ethnic minorities and those with physical disabilities.

\"At the same time, our customer base was changing,\" says Mr. Colley. \"There was a realization that there were sound business reasons to have our staff reflect the various communities we served.\"

American Express is just a case in point. Major corporations are fostering diversity in the workplace as good business sense, not only to reflect changing customer bases today, but as a strategy for the long term.

Organizations such as the Canadian Federation of Independent Business say that one of the greatest challenges for any enterprise - large or small - is recruiting and retaining workers. They predict that as baby boomers move into retirement, that challenge is certain to escalate.

At the University of Toronto\'s Rotman School of Management, associate dean Beatrix Dart says she can think of at least four sound business reasons for all enterprises to pursue diversity in the work force. Her first echoes those who point to the shrinking pool of available people following the boomer bulge.

She also says that business is increasingly international in nature and having people on staff fluent in foreign languages and cultural savvy can prove a tremendous asset. Then there is the need to have an organization reflect the communities it serves: That just makes sound branding sense, she says.

The fourth point reflects a change of perception as to who is the decision maker in households.

\"Surveys show that women have the greatest influence in 70 per cent of household purchases,\" she says. \"With new cars they are the primary influence in 60 per cent of buy decisions. It just makes sense to strengthen the female component and use their insights.\"

\"All organizations have to start looking for ways to reach deeper into the pools of available talent within their communities,\" says Jane Allen, chief diversity officer at Deloitte & Touche LLP, the international accounting and consulting company with 7,900 staff across Canada. \"It simply makes good business sense.\"

The challenge for many, however, is how to get started and then how to create internal systems and processes to ensure programs created to achieve diversity do not wither on the corporate vine.

At both Amex Canada and Deloitte, the process started with benchmarking, a complete demographic survey of just how diverse staff was, say both Mr. Colley and Ms. Allen. Deloitte even brought in an outside consultant to help structure change and advise on the process.

\"The idea is to create a baseline, which can be used to measure progress,\" says Ms. Allen.

The next step for both was creation of a company-wide diversity council. In Amex\'s case it has 12 members from across Canada. Deloitte has 18. The council acts as a central organizing group, monitoring change and reporting to both management and staff.

Step three was to create a series of task forces with each given responsibility to organize, launch and monitor specific diversity initiatives.

\"At Amex one of the top priorities was not just broadening recruitment but broadening retention programs as well,\" says Mr. Colley. \"Our goal was to have units such as our call centre and credit risk groups - those that deal directly with customers - more closely reflect our client base.

A top priority at Deloitte became increasing the number of women in management.

When Mr. Colley took over his new position in 2007 he began to reach out to non-traditional sources for recruiting, such as job sites directed toward aboriginals and specific ethnic communities.

\"We also started working with student groups, such as the aboriginal students\' organization at Ryerson University,\" he says. \"It is not so much an effort to hire X number from any group, but to ensure they are not overlooked in the process,\" he says.

Key to any diversity initiative is creating an internal structure that makes managers accountable for expanding diversity in their business unit and supporting their efforts, explains Ms. Allen.

\"That means identifying who makes the decisions or influences recruitment and retention, right from the board level down to everyday staff,\" she says. \"Then we created individual programs for each unit with set targets and a monitoring system to check on progress.\"

Those programs can indeed be broad ranging. Amex, for example, now has two dozen managers working as mentors to new Canadians trying to make the most of their training in the homeland in the Canadian workplace.

Deloitte will introduce its own mentoring program this year, but, unlike the one at Amex, it will be aimed at exposing existing staff to the challenges faced by their managers and bosses.

At Deloitte there are company-sponsored affinity groups among employees where gays, lesbians, the physically disabled, women and Canadians from a broad range of ethnic backgrounds can network, often becoming incubators for new programs and a continuing resource to tap into their own community for new corporate talent, says Ms. Allen.

At Amex, the company developed partnerships with groups such as the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council to participate in TRIEC programs designed to speed the entry of new Canadians into the work force.

At both companies diversity is still a work in progress. Evidence of its success is still chiefly anecdotal.

\"Measurement is probably still a year away,\" says Deloitte\'s Ms. Allen. \"But I can see we are seeing very encouraging results in things like performance reports and in internal discussions.\"

  BACK TO TOP

Financial Post | 2008-11-17
How can diversity help business? - expand / condense article
by Alexandra Lopez-Pacheo

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Take a look around. According to Statistics Canada, there were more than six million people living in Canada in 2006 who were born in a foreign country. The number of new immigrants is growing and accounts for most of the country's population growth in 2008, with more than 69,200 immigrants entering between April and June alone.

What's more, cultural diversity does not end with first-generation immigrants, so the number of people in Canada who form part of the many communities we have is far greater than just the statistics on immigration reveal. These millions of people are consumers, workers, professionals and business owners. Put succinctly, having a culturally diverse workforce can help your business tap into the wealth of resources and opportunities that these communities have to offer.

"If you look at how the banks now staff their branches, they reflect the cultural diversity in the local community," says Kevin McLellan, manager for hireimmigrants.ca, a Web site of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) that provides employers with interactive tools and resources to help them though the process of finding right through to retaining immigrants. "So if businesses want to be successful in selling locally, they need to understand how to tailor their offerings to the culturally diverse communities they are selling to."

The best way to understand how to do this is through employees who are part of the local communities and understand the language and the nuances of the culture. They can connect with customers if they are frontline workers or help develop strategies and campaigns that will connect your company to multi-cultural communities if they are in the managerial team. Such employees can play a pivotal role in helping a business expand its market base locally or beyond.

"Buyers of goods and services are increasingly from a diverse background," says Jane Allen, chief diversity officer at Deloitte, a corporate partner in a new federal government initiative Assisting Local Leaders with Immigrant Employment Strategies (ALLIES), designed to help employers integrate skilled new Canadians into the workforce. [TRIEC edit - ALLIES is a program of the Maytree and McConnell Foundation, not a government initiative. Find out more here.]

The buying power of culturally diverse communities isn't restricted to major cities in the most populated provinces, which have typically attracted immigrants. These days, there are record numbers of immigrants moving to Prince Edward Island, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. "So there's a market out there, and by having diverse employees with a diverse approach to how you reach out to the marketplace, you're going to be more successful and capture more market share and maintain customer loyalty," Ms. Allen says.

"If they believe you understand their community, whatever that community might be, and that you have an appreciation for diversity because you have diverse employees, that's going to help you in the marketplace."

If you're trying to expand globally, having employees from your taraget markets can be a valuable asset. "We've seen examples where companies selling overseas benefitted from having employees from different countries and they've been able to successfully bring in contracts from those countries in part because they have people from them who know how to do business there," Mr. McLellan says.

Another way having a culturally diverse workforce can help your business: "By having employees with different and diverse perspectives, you're going to have better results in problem-solving than if you bring into a room a group of people who've all gone to the same schools, all had the same experiences growing up," Ms. Allen says. Most immigrants are highly skilled and educated -- far more so than the majority of the Canadian population. With the increasing difficulties businesses are facing in attracting top talent, companies that create a workplace that is welcoming to people from different cultures will have a competitive advantage today -- and tomorrow, when it is projected that new immigrants will be the largest source of workforce growth in the country. "If you have a culture that really embraces diversity, you can attract top talent from culturally diverse communities and keep them. All the efforts and time you spend on recruiting and promoting people will pay off," Ms. Allen says.

It's important to understand that Canada has many skilled and highly educated and talented immigrants who are currently unemployed or underemployed, Mr. McLellan says. "Employers might have to make some allowances within their company or bring in some new HR practices and policies, but in the long turn they're going to benefit."

An early step to diversify your workforce, Ms. Allen says, is to assess your working environment and identify where you may have issues or opportunities to bring in people from different backgrounds. "That starts with speaking with people in your workforce who are minorities or immigrants. Maybe form a little advisory group to recommend ways a business can be more inclusive."

Review your practices, how you manage people's performance as well as how you promote and hire. "It's very important to make sure your business does not have any built-in biases when you're looking at people's performance," Ms. Allen says. Understand that there are different ways to get a job done and done well, so be open-minded.

"People from different cultures, especially recent immigrants, aren't always attuned to the rules of getting ahead in Canada and these unwritten rules can be, for example, that you need to be outgoing, more aggressive whereas people from other cultures might believe that you should be more deferential."

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Canadian HR Reporter | 2008-11-17
Uncapping hidden talents of internationally trained professionals - expand / condense article

Communication training can remove numerous barriers
by Teresa McGill

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Employers hear the message repeatedly: The workplace is changing. Oft-quoted projections from Statistics Canada show, by 2011, immigration will account for virtually all net labour market growth.

But there’s a problem — and it’s not the stereotypical engineer driving a taxi, unable to find work in his field. It’s that many gifted, internationally trained professionals (ITPs), having secured employment in their field, eventually become frustrated with barriers to career success.

Despite their technical talents, they may find themselves assigned a narrow range of work duties, excluded from direct customer contact, leadership opportunities and normal career advancement. That’s because their language skills are often lacking and employers don’t know how to resolve this dilemma.

Not all training is suitable

While many employers have recognized both the barriers and the need for communication skills development for ITPs, not all training options fit the bill. Employers must assess which content is most crucial: Core language skills, strategic business communication skills or cultural awareness.

Core language skills: The basics — pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary — are an obvious starting place. But workplace communication performance improvements can be painfully incremental. Grammatical and linguistic skills can be measured with the 12-level Canadian Language Benchmark system, which suggests 200 hours of instruction are required to advance one single level. What workplace could afford this commitment to training, and how many professionals would tolerate the pace?

Strategic communication skills: These skills are a potential target for development, particularly in workplaces involving teamwork, customer interface or leadership roles. In navigating complex interpersonal interactions, strategic skills such as persuasion, problem solving, rapport building, concise-thought presentation and active listening are crucial. A modest amount of training in these areas can bring noticeable gains in on-the-job communication.

Unfortunately, the training often lacks the linguistic substance required by ITPs — along with ample opportunity to practise them in work-related scenarios. Training managers should assess whether the training offers an appropriate combination of linguistic training and pragmatic interpersonal depth.

Intercultural awareness: This is another essential area of development for ITPs. At play in the workplace are largely unconscious, cultural assumptions that go beyond issues of visible attributes and lifestyle such as dress, holidays and cuisine. When deeper issues — expectations about hierarchical work relationships, team roles, risk tolerance and directness of communication — are brought to the surface and demystified, the effect can be significant on career mobility, collegial rapport and customer service.

When a new employee is frustrated by her manager’s “weak leadership,” while her manager has labeled the worker as “high-need,” this is likely a culturally based role issue. When a project team meeting polarizes into two camps — blunt expressions of opinion on one side and eye-avoiding reticence on the other — cultural factors may be at play, with parties on both sides puzzling over why their leadership efforts have not been acknowledged. This interpersonal quagmire can undermine productivity and employee engagement, and increase the likelihood of driving away highly skilled and motivated employees.

So what works?

A new hybrid of training is emerging to meet the needs of a dynamic, culturally diverse work environment populated by highly educated ITPs.

Training programs should include strategic business skills such as persuasion and active listening, enriched with a context-relevant matrix of English language skills. They also offer the key to unlocking workplace interpersonal interactions by enhancing awareness of culturally based assumptions and behaviours.

For employers whose goal is to attract, develop, retain and promote top talent of international origin, hybrid communication training can be a godsend. It enables ITPs to engage as full contributors in the workplace and to progress through the expected stages of career development. Uncapping the talent of these high-level professionals pays handsome dividends in an organization’s success and growth.

Teresa McGill is president of Gandy Associates, a training company based in Mississauga, Ont., specializing in communications education. For more information, visit www.gandy.ca.

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Toronto Star | 2008-10-25
Economy will need more immigrants - expand / condense article

Report says newcomers help fuel Canada's growth, but policies should make it easier for them to stay
by Nicholas Keung, Immigration/Diversity Reporter

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Immigration levels in the country will have to go up significantly for future economic growth, the Conference Board of Canada reports.

To meet long-term domestic labour market needs and to remain competitive in the global search for talent Canada will have to increase its number of immigrants from the existing 250,000 to 360,000 annually by 2025.

The report highlights what should be done to meet the country's economic needs through immigration, including measures to allow the growing number of temporary foreign workers the option to become permanent residents. It also suggests increasing refugee intakes to maintain a well-balanced immigration system.

The study, released yesterday, came as Canada's immigration system rapidly expands the temporary foreign worker stream to fill short-term labour market needs. As the report points out, this does not meet long-term objectives. The current changes have also made the selection process more restrictive for applicants as the Immigration Minister can cherry-pick prospective temporary migrants.

Conference board associate director Douglas Watt, the report's author, said immigrant workers choose destinations best suited to their interests and should be given the option to remain in the country. This would help retain the best talent, while attracting other foreign candidates.

"Our policies are not just about what we want," Watt said in an interview. "Migrant workers and immigrants also have wants."

He did praise the government's new initiatives, including: the provincial nominee program that allows each province to independently attract immigrants; relaxation of work restrictions for foreign students; and the newly created Canadian Experience Class that allows migrants here temporarily to apply for permanent status without leaving the country.

But Watt said more has to be done for migrants with temporary status to become permanent residents.

"Transparency about how the temporary and permanent systems actually work is crucial," cautioned the report, titled Renewing Immigration: Towards a Convergence and Consolidation of Canada's Immigration Policies and Systems, which looks at the immigration system from the perspective of Canada's economic needs.

Officials have to be transparent to migrants about the selection criteria, wages and working conditions, and ensure they are aware of what social, health and community services they will have access to, the report noted. Ottawa must also help employers navigate the temporary and permanent systems to meet their labour market needs.

Last year, Canada admitted 475,965 migrants, but more than half of them were temporary workers and international students. In 2006, for the first time, Canada's temporary foreign workers outnumbered the permanent residents admitted through the "skilled immigrant" and "economic" classifications.

With the increasing numbers of skilled immigrants and temporary workers, the report states refugee admissions, which have flatlined, should also be raised to meet the country's economic needs.

Major Shifts in Immigration

• Nation-Building Immigration late 19th to early 20th century:

Countries such as Australia, Canada and the United States took in large numbers of immigrants. They were less concerned with specific skills and more oriented toward bringing in bodies to help build the new countries, though non-economic domestic considerations such as "country of origin preferences" played a role.

• Equal Opportunity and Humanitarian Immigration end of World War II:

Selection criteria based on country of origin were displaced by a new concern with "fairness" based on merit and humanitarian considerations. As the post-war skills and labour shortages gave way to labour surpluses in the 1960s and 1970s, the need for mass recruitment of immigrants waned. New immigration policies, such as Canada's, began to focus on standards of general merit and humanitarian considerations.

• Skills Immigration in the late 20th and early 21st centuries:

Fertility rates declined and populations aged in the West as countries shifted to knowledge-based economies, prompting the demand for highly skilled labour. Many countries started to restructure their immigration policies to target these workers. Australia is the leader in adopting the fine-tuned selection approach to adapt to rapid economic and labour market changes. Canada and the U.K. are heading in the same direction, while the U.S. maintains the general merit and humanitarian tradition.

Source: Conference Board of Canada study-Renewing Immigration

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Globe and Mail | 2007-09-28
Diversity on teams powers innovation, creativity, poll finds - expand / condense article

Canadian mosaic stimulates out-of-box thinking
by Wallace Immen

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It sounds like the set-up line to an old joke: What do you get when you put a European, an Asian and a Canadian on the same team?

But the answer is no laughing matter. According to a survey, 77 per cent of Canadians believe more diversity in work teams leads to more innovation, and 79 per cent of those surveyed say that Canada's cultural diversity will give companies a competitive advantage in a global economy in the future.

The poll of 1,000 employees and managers conducted by Leger Marketing for the Xerox Research Centre of Canada found that there is great consistency of opinion across the country on the value of diversity.

Ninety-six per cent of Canadians said they seek the advice of those with a different background when solving business problems and 83 per cent agreed with the statement that "interacting with others from different ethnic backgrounds is enriching." And 76 per cent agreed that tolerance of cultural differences contributes to creativity.

But 53 per cent of those polled said their company's work force has not become more diverse over the past five years, while 36 per cent said the work force is more diverse. The remainder said they didn't have enough information to answer.

The increases in diversity tended to be in larger companies. Just 27 per cent those who work in companies of fewer than 100 employees said they have seen have seen any change, while 56 per cent of those in companies with more than 500 employees said they've seen growth in diversity.

"The results show that people recognized that diversity brings together viewpoints and ideas that stimulate new ways of thinking about problems," says Scott Cho, associate vice-president of Leger in Toronto.

"And this is not just in terms of research and development but also in terms of new ideas and new ways of doing daily tasks."

And what contributes to the creativity?

Hadi Mahabadi has seen the effect clearly in project teams at the Xerox Research Centre in Mississauga, where he is the director.

"This innovation is the result of brainstorming among a group that has a wide range of different experiences. You will get a richer selection of options to choose from to come up with a solution," says Mr. Mahabadi, who was born and raised in Iran.

The centre's 90 scientists come from 35 different countries and include men and women of ranging ages.

The centre averages 220 patentable ideas per year.

"If people are all from the same background, you will get less out-of-the-box thinking," Mr. Mahabadi says.

And the diversity does not have to be just in ethnic and cultural backgrounds, he says. Diversity in gender, age and experience on working teams can also help to spur creativity.

"You have to be aware of what is going on worldwide if you want to compete in a global economy," he says.

For Mr. Cho, "overall, this is a very positive picture. It demonstrates there is broad acceptance of diversity across the country.

"There are regional differences, but they are commonsense. Workers in Ontario are most likely to say their work force is more diverse than in previous years and those in Atlantic Canada are least likely to see changes, but that is because the population in Ontario is more culturally diverse."

But it is also clear that employers could be taking more advantage of the diversity in their organizations, he adds.

Just 56 per cent of managers said they believe that Canada is making the most of its cultural diversity, which is destined to grow in the future.

According to Statistics Canada projections, with the country's fertility rate below replacement rate - at about 1.5 children per woman -immigration will represent the only source of growth in the work force within a decade.

"The survey confirms we are on the right track," Mr. Cho says. "Five years from now when we do this survey again, I'm hoping to see that the numbers are even higher."

The face of workplace diversity

A poll of 1,000 employees and managers across Canada found there is great consistency of opinion across the country on the value of diversity.

Canadians describe their workplace as more diverse.

Based on your experience, which best describes your workplace's diversity level in its employee base?

Working Canadians
Very diverse 29%
Somewhat diverse 47%
Not very diverse 19%
Not at all diverse 4%


Cultural diversity is important

How important is cultural diversity to Canada's success?

Working Canadians
Very important 38%
Somewhat important 42%
Not very important 13%
Not at all important 5%

People we work with

Does the team that you work with most of the time include..

Working Canadians
People with complementary skills 56%
People of various disciplinary backgrounds 55%
People of diverse ethnic backgrounds 44%
An even balance of men and women 32%
None of the above 10%

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The Globe and Mail | 2007-05-02
Language, experience hamper career climb - expand / condense article
by Wallace Immen

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Accountant Vince Dong says he sees all too many immigrants in his profession hit a "concrete ceiling" that traps them at entry levels because their English skills limit their ability to deal with clients and get assignments that could win promotions.

So he's launching a program that will teach immigrant accountants the language skills needed for their profession.

"I see a lot of immigrants in accounting who have passed English-language proficiency tests but are still unable to speak confidently with clients about technical issues. This relegates them to being background people," says Mr. Dong, owner of tax consulting service Ad-Vice Inc. in Toronto.

"There are professional concepts, terms, slang and idioms that people need to be able to understand and be comfortable in conversing with clients, and these are not taught in English as a second language programs," Mr. Dong says.

Mr. Dong is on the right track, according to a major study from Statistics Canada released this week which found that, even when immigrants land jobs, a lack of language skills and working experience in Canada prevents them from reaching their full potential.

But too many employers are not taking the initiative to help them get what they need to make it in their professions, experts say.

The StatsCan study found that a solid speaking knowledge of one of Canada's two official languages is vital to immigrants who want to adequately use their professional skills. It concludes that, the higher immigrants' abilities in spoken English (or French in Quebec), the more likely they are to land a high-skill job in the profession they trained for, says Owen Phillips, Ottawa-based senior methodologist for Statistics Canada who crunched the numbers.

The survey tracked 12,000 immigrants who arrived in Canada in 200l and 2002, interviewing them six months, two years and four years after their arrival, Mr. Phillips said.

Within six months, 58 per cent reported they were able to speak English "well" or "very well." Another 35 per cent said their speaking ability was only fair or poor. And 7 per cent were not able to speak either English or French at all.

But even after four years, 46 per cent said they considered themselves underemployed and were struggling to find a position more appropriate to their skills.

As well, 50 per cent said another barrier they faced was employer requirements that they have Canadian work experience before they could be hired. Their job experience in another country was ignored by employers.

The survey found just 51 per cent of immigrants aged 25 to 44 were employed six months after their arrival. The rate rose to 65 per cent for immigrants in Canada for two years and 75 per cent after four years. That compared with a national employment rate in that age group of 81.8 per cent over the four years.

Language training stands out as the major factor that increases immigrant employability, the study found. Forty-five per cent of immigrants surveyed said they had taken language training in English since coming to Canada.

This study is a message to employers that they should be much more concerned about recruiting skilled immigrants and giving them the opportunities and training they need, says Joerg Dietz, associate professor of organizational behaviour at the University of Western Ontario's Richard Ivey School of Business.

"I can only shake my head about the fact that half of these people said they were turned away by employers because they did not have Canadian experience," Prof. Dietz says.

That's "ridiculous" because, within five years, it is projected that immigrants will be the only source of growth in Canada's skilled labour force, he explains.

But employers are not taking the lead in advancing immigrant skills, particularly in language training specific to professions, says Mr. Dong, who is setting up the Language Education for Accounting Professionals program opening in Toronto this month to fill that gap, he says.

There's a waiting list for LEAP's six- and 12-week courses, which cost $400 to $735, and will be available in other cities across the country if the Toronto operation succeeds, Mr. Dong says.

He hopes employers will agree to pick up the tab.

But those in the program are willing to make the investment for their future in Canada, he says.

The StatsCan findings bear this out. Despite their difficulties, 84 per cent of the immigrants reported they are happy they decided to relocate to Canada, citing a better quality of life as the main reason.

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National Post | 2007-02-28
Government invests $2M in immigrant workplace integration - expand / condense article
by Meagan Fitzpatrick, CanWest News Service

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OTTAWA — The federal government is hoping to boost the participation of immigrants in the workforce by investing more than $2-million in a new initiative.

The program, announced Wednesday, is called Bridging the Gap: Integration of Skilled Immigrants into the Canadian Workplace, and will be administered under the government's Workplace Skills Initiative.

The University of Ottawa is leading the project and will work with small and medium-sized workplaces, skilled immigrant employees and human resources professionals to understand better the barriers to integration in Canada's workplaces.

"Ultimately, the project will not only open doors for newcomers, it will also address our labour shortage," said Monte Solberg, minister of human resources and social development, in a news release.

Once the challenges are fully understood, the program will aim to develop and implement strategies to increase the opportunities for skilled immigrants.

"Opportunities for advancement for new Canadians are critical to future economic growth, as these are the people who will be filling the management and leadership gaps," said Linda Manning, a professor at the University of Ottawa who will be the project’s director.

Roughly 11,000 people are participating in the project.

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Edmonton Sun | 2007-02-18
Barrier busters - expand / condense article

'We work long hours, but life is easier now'
by Linda Leatherdale

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Alireza and Homa Nikmanesh know the barriers to Canadian immigrants too well.

The immigrant couple struggled and worked hard to finally break through, but they still don't work in their chosen careers.

Here's their story:

Before immigrating to Canada in 1985, the Nikmanesh family lived in Iran. Ali is a mechanical engineer who graduated from Iran's prestigious Tehran University with a master's degree. His wife, a high school chemistry teacher, has a bachelor's degree in chemistry. With a dual-income, life was good for them and their two boys. .

But as their eldest approached the age of being enlisted in the army -- with the real prospect their son would never be allowed to leave Iran -- the family decided it was time to move.

"We heard Canada was a great country with lots of opportunity and a better future," recalls Ali. .

After spending a year in France, where through the Canadian Embassy they applied for a work visa, they immigrated to Canada with about $200,000 in their pockets.

They bought a condo and settled in, but the future didn't turn out as planned.

Without networking contacts and not knowing where to turn for help, a business plan never got off the ground and barriers blocked them from working in their trained professions.

So, to make ends meet, for years they worked in menial jobs.

Ali delivered bread and worked in a convenience store, while Homa worked in a bakery and cleaned offices.

Ali even spent $7,000 to take a computer course, but still couldn't find a job.

Eventually, Homa ended up with an administrative job at Hakim Optical, and that's when their luck started to change.

Ali got a job in Hakim's warehouse -- and after working hard and learning the ropes, they were encouraged to apply for the optician course at Seneca College.

But then, another roadblock. At first, Seneca would not recognize their educational degrees. But Homa was persistent and, eventually, both were enrolled.

Four years later, in 1995, they graduated with honours.

Later they resigned from Hakim and opened a small optical store. Now they own and operate three Civic Optical stores in Scarborough and Richmond Hill.

"We work long hours, but life is easier now," said Ali, who praised Seneca. "The point is, we did succeed through hard work, but the roadblocks were many."

Ontario Conservative leader John Tory says it's time to streamline a complicated immigration system that takes much too long to recognize foreign educational credentials and offer training.

IMMEDIATE ACTION

That means a long wait before badly needed skilled workers are integrated into our workforce.

"The lack of a real strategy is a real problem requiring serious and immediate action," said Tory.

His report, A Time For Change, calls for a "cutting-edge" web portal that provides information on credentials before immigrants come to Canada.

He also suggests Canadian university and colleges offer training overseas to these skilled immigrants as they wait to immigrate.

Meanwhile, provinces are pushing their educational institutions to offer more courses to help new immigrants.

In Winnipeg, for example, the University of Manitoba now offers a one-year Internationally Educated Engineers' Qualification program, which has become a benchmark in Canada for expediting credentials of foreign-trained engineers.

This program rescued immigrant Daoud Nouri from a future of low-paying jobs.

Nouri, who graduated from the University of Civil Engineering in Baku in 1999, immigrated to Canada from Afghanistan in 2002.

He recalls the tough times in the first few years when he struggled with English and ended up working as a cashier in a Toronto convenience store.

NOW EMPLOYED

Last October, Nouri graduated from the University of Manitoba's engineer's course, and now he's employed by a large structural engineering firm in Canada.

In Ontario, Dalton McGuinty's Liberals last fall gave colleges a $5 million boost for immigrant education.

Toronto's Centennial College launched a one-year certificate course which helps immigrants with undergraduate degrees get the Canadian credentials they need, plus workplace experience.

Since 2002, 11 of Ontario's 24 community colleges have piloted five programs to streamline and improve the admissions process, and standardize assessment of qualifications and language for immigrants.

HELP FOR IMMIGRANTS

- The Alliance of Credential Evaluation Services of Canada 416-962-9725 (www.canalliance.org)

- The Association of International Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (www.aipso.ca)

- World Education Services 212-966-6311. (www.wes.org)

- CARE, Centre for Internationally Educated Nurses 416-226-2800 (www.care4nurses.org)

- Career Edge 416-977-3343 (overview.careeredge.ca)

- The Cross Cultural Learning Centre in London 519-432-1133 (www.lcclc.org)

- Internationally Trained Pharmacists 416-962-4861 (www.newontariopharmacist.com)

- Maytree Foundation 416-944-2627 (www.maytree.com)

- Ontario Councils of Agencies Serving Immigrants416-322-4950 (www.ocasi.org)

- Skills for Change 416-658-3101 (www.skillsforchange.org)

- Skills International 519-663-0774 (www.skillsinternational.ca)

- TRIEC, the Toronto Regional Immigrant Employment Council 416-944-2627 (www.triec.ca)

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Toronto Star | 2006-10-06
Cracking The Visible Minority Ceiling - expand / condense article

Corporations face talent shortage Major study to target barriers
by Dana Flavelle, Business Reporter

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They helped women crack the glass ceiling in corporate Canada. Now, they want to do the same for visible minorities.

Catalyst Canada - http://www.catalyst.org/, a group that exposed the barriers to advancement for women at the highest corporate levels, announced yesterday the launch of a groundbreaking study into the problems facing talented minority employees who want to get ahead.

While not the first organization to examine this problem, the non-profit research group said it would take a deeper, broader look at an issue of emerging significance to employers, executive director Deborah Gillis said yesterday.

"What we know is Canada is facing a significant talent shortage. Many of our best-educated employees are getting ready to retire. We also know the face of Canada is changing," said Gillis.

"If you combine the retirement of boomers with the fact that in less than 10 years visible minorities are going to represent one in five members of our workforce, we know this is a fundamental issue for Canadian business."

The challenge will be even more acute in cities such as Toronto where visible minorities will make up nearly half the future workforce within a decade, according to Statistics Canada.

The Catalyst survey has the support of some of the biggest names in corporate Canada, including RBC Financial Group, IBM Canada and Deloitte & Touche, both as financial sponsors and study participants.

"Businesses have been dropping the ball when it comes to tapping the potential of visible minorities in our workplace," said Gordon Nixon, president and chief executive of lead sponsor RBC Financial Group.

"Diversity can be Canada's competitive advantage. So the challenge for corporate Canada, for each of us, is finding out exactly what barriers are preventing visible minorities from advancing in their chosen careers and then addressing them," said Nixon.

So far, companies representing nearly half a million Canadians, including more than 20,000 professionals, managers and executives, have signed on to participate, Catalyst said, and more are welcome. Initial results are expected next year.

The study is a major departure for Catalyst, which has previously focused on barriers to women's advancement in the workplace. This is Catalyst's first look at both men and women, specifically in visible minority groups.

As in the past, Catalyst is focusing on people working at the highest echelons, not rank-and-file workers. " We're looking at how to move up the ladder. How to retain, develop and advance visible minorities," Gillis said.

Because minority groups are not homogeneous, the study will be divided into 10 subgroups based on Census Canada classifications. They are Chinese, South Asian, black, Arab/West Asian, Filipino, South East Asian, Latin America, Japanese, Korean and other.

The study will compare experiences of ethnic and non-ethnic Canadians in getting ahead. Employers and employees will be asked in confidential online surveys to identify such things as barriers to career development and policies that promote advancement, Catalyst said.

Because of the size and scope of the study, Catalyst is partnering with Ryerson University's Diversity Institute in Management and Technology in the research.

"Talent transcends ethnicity. As business leaders, our job is to ensure every talented person is able to succeed and reach their full potential," said Alan MacGibbon, chief executive of Deloitte & Touche.

"I was wondering what's wrong with my qualifications and resumé," recalled Pandya, who worked as an internal auditor for a South African firm.

Despite their rising numbers, visible minorities held just 3 per cent of executive jobs and 1.7 per cent of director seats in Canada, according to similar 2004 research by the Conference Board of Canada.

"This under-representation reduces Canada's overall economic potential and risks its social cohesion," the Conference Board said.

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Toronto Star | 2005-09-30
Population report urgent wake-up call. - expand / condense article

Editorial

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Although this week's demographic report from Statistics Canada was designed primarily to provide Canadians with a detailed picture of past population trends, it also gave them a pretty good look into the future. Because past population trends tend to play such a large role in shaping the future, the StatsCan numbers contained a clear warning to Ottawa that it needs to make some dramatic policy changes — and soon.

Here is what those numbers tell us:
Canada's fertility rate of 1.5 children per woman means parents are not even "replacing" themselves. This, in turn, implies a continuing aging of the population to the point where deaths will outpace births within 20 years. As a result, the natural changes in the population will shift from increases to declines. That may happen even at current immigration levels.

So, in the coming years, immigration will become increasingly important to Canada's population growth. Indeed, by 2025 it could well be the only source of growth.

At the same time, the median age of Canadians is likely to rise from 38.7 years now to 42.5 years in 2020 and 43.6 in 2025, unless there is a dramatic increase in our immigration levels.

Prime Minister Paul Martin is well aware of the economic and social implications of this demographic arithmetic. It is a major factor in Ottawa's decision last week to boost immigration targets to 320,000 a year within five years. That's up nearly 100,000 a year from current levels. In a speech earlier this month, Martin made the case for raising Canada's immigration targets by spelling out the impacts our aging population will have on our workforce. "Within 10 short years," he said, "there will be only 3 1/2 working Canadians for every senior citizen, down from five today. By 2015, our domestic labour force will actually start to shrink, so all of the net growth will need to come from new Canadians."

While that demographic arithmetic is indisputable, Martin's recognition of the need to raise Canada's immigration targets is only one part, albeit an important one, in developing a new immigration policy. It is just as important for Ottawa to create the tools both to ensure we get the kind of immigrants we want and need, and to give them the support they require to fulfill their own aspirations and those the country has for them.

Simply put, Ottawa has failed far too many immigrants in the past — and Canada has lost out as well. Because of these failures, too many new immigrants who have brought skills and knowledge to this country have ended up driving taxis or wasting their talents in other low-paying jobs.

If this country doesn't offer all would-be immigrants the chance to realize their potential, we could well lose them in the emerging global competition that is sure to heat up. Canada is far from alone in its need to entice newcomers to the country. When the median age in Canada hits 42.5 in 2020, in Europe it will be 52, which will mean the competition for capable immigrants is going to be fierce.

To his credit, Martin has acknowledged the ways in which Ottawa has let many immigrants down. In his speech, he spoke of the imperative "to be more active in recruiting immigrants who meet Canada's evolving needs." He stressed the importance of improving the "social and economic integration of new Canadians, including language training, credentials upgrading and recognition." And he mentioned the need for providing additional federal funding, and directing it to where it is needed most.

But if there is one place where Martin must translate words into action, it is in Ontario. This province still takes in more than half of all new immigrants, and yet it cannot begin to meet their settlement and integration needs — for housing, training, upgrading, and career assistance — on the limited funding that Ottawa provides. Despite the strain the influx of newcomers put on Ontario, the province still receives roughly one-fourth as much money for immigrant settlement as Ottawa gives to Quebec.

No doubt the Statistics Canada report is a wake-up call to Ottawa. The message is that in updating its immigration quotas and policies, it must do much more than simply throw open Canada's doors.

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Financial Post | 2005-07-13
44 reasons for diversity - expand / condense article

Hiring visible minorities will help the bottom line.
by Peter Evans

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In the 1990s, the Bank of Montreal was set to launch a marketing campaign to promote its new Chinese-language telephone banking service. But then Peggy Sum noticed something few at the bank would have picked up on.

As senior vice-president of Asian Banking with BMO, and originally from Hong Kong, she saw the last two digits for the proposed phone number were 44.

"No Chinese person will ever call this number," she said, explaining that in Chinese numerology, 44 represents death. On her advice, the number was hastily changed to end in 88, a number that signifies wealth.

Anecdotes such as this are what members of the Migration Dialogue, an international group of academics who study immigration patterns and their effect on the global economy, were eager to hear at a meeting in Toronto.

According to Statistics Canada, by the year 2017, visible minorities will become the majority in Canada. Dealing with the changing face of the country is increasingly important in a competitive marketplace. Canada's shifting demographics make Canadian companies of great interest to those who study the global economy. As a major Canadian financial institution, BMO proved an ideal case study of Canadian diversity for the Migration Dialogue to analyze.

Although their formal meetings were central, group members also tried to focus on grassroots work.

"We try to spend more time outside, meeting migrants," said Philip Martin, an economics professor from the University of California. "Most people who cross borders do so for economic opportunity," he added.

Ms. Sum is in a unique position to comment on diversity issues from both ends of the corporate ladder. Members of the Migration Dialogue were interested in her view of how BMO -- and Canada -- deal with diversity.

"The Chinese market is reaching critical mass in Canada," Ms. Sum said. Both she and Dr. Martin agree BMO can benefit from this change.

The challenges Ms. Sum faced in moving to Canada are similar to those of many immigrants. Although she had extensive high-level advertising experience before coming to Canada, she found it difficult to find even low-level jobs in this country. She eventually found a home at BMO, but her experiences getting there colours everything undertaken by her Asian banking division.

"We always strive to tap into the knowledge and experience of our frontline staff," she said. But the attempt must be genuine -- hollow gestures will accomplish nothing, she warned. "Promotions and opportunities have to be based on skills and talents, not just tokenism."

In addition to providing a constant supply of new talent from within, nurturing a diverse staff can open up opportunities for expansion into new markets. Something as simple as hiring people with diverse language skills can go a long way.

"In the Chinese community, many may understand English but prefer to do their banking in Chinese," Ms. Sum said. Opening new branches in Chinese neighbourhoods, for example, made perfect sense for BMO. "Diversity, cultural sensitivity -- those words did not exist in the business lexicon 30 years ago. But today it's different. Diversity makes good economic sense."

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Toronto Star | 2005-06-21
Getting most out of our workforce - expand / condense article
Teranet partners with Gandy Associates to offer English communication training to employees.

Perceptions of immigrant workers must change: Council New website will post successful workplace strategies
by Nicholas Keung - Immigration / Diversity

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At Toronto's Teranet Inc., hiring managers are told to distinguish a skilled immigrant's formal language proficiency from softer communication skills such as accent, word usage and style - cultural differences that have no bearing on a candidate's qualifications for a job. At Etobicoke's Iris Power Engineering Inc., recruiters use technical skills-based interviews rather than conversation-based interviews to decide who get the vacant positions.

At Mississauga's NoAb BioDiscoveries, all job applicants need to have credentials verified by a government-recognized service provider before undergoing interviews by a team of managers to "eliminate unintentional biases."

These Greater Toronto companies' successful diversity workplace practices will no longer be a secret with today's launch of a new website (www.hireimmigrants.ca) by the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council, or TRIEC.

The website, which is free, provides an online self-assessment to recommend human resources professionals with specific strategies for organizations. Viewers can also learn from other employers' experiences through profiled strategies.

"It's just too expensive not to do something about (workplace diversity) because (otherwise) you lose the opportunity to take the best candidates and recruit the valuable workforce skills in the current Canadian business environment," said Marilyn Barber, human resources and development vice-president for Teranet, whose company profile is among 18 other employers showcased on the website.

TRIEC manager Elizabeth McIsaac said one of the not-for-profit organization's key objectives is to change employers' perceptions on hiring skilled immigrant workers "by doing the right thing."

Last year, TRIEC hired a consultant to survey employers to find the best practices to improve access to employment for immigrants in Greater Toronto. Of 130 companies initially examined, 40 had detailed follow-up surveys.

"I don't think we have the best practices in Canada yet, but we have some promising practices," McIssac said.

"Employers can be uncomfortable about it, but if you tell them you understand they're doing a good job and want them to share the practices with others, they are happy to do it as long as they don't feel they are being measured up to something.

"These strategies apply to big companies or small companies depending on different situations," noted McIsaac, adding that the initial survey was funded by Canada Heritage and the website Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Teranet's Barber said the e-service solutions company recognized that most skilled immigrants who have been hired have a good foundation in English, but lack the ability to communicate effectively in work-specific situations such as presentations or business writing.

Eight years ago, management offered a six-course communications program, focusing on pronunciation, conversation, idioms, presentations, business writing and leadership communication skills.

"In a country where we're trying very hard to be politically correct, some people are actually surprised that we'd bring attention to our employees who're having some difficulties in the language ... in getting understood. But they are grateful and appreciate the opportunities," explained Barber.

Teranet's 800 employees in Ontario come from 61 countries.

Because of its international clientele, Markham-based LEA Group, a consulting engineering firm, conducts businesses in different languages.

Employees familiar with a particular culture have written welcome notes in a prospective client's language and they also bring new knowledge to the workplace.

"It is great that Canada welcomes so many people from other parts of the world. Once they arrive, we have to make sure their life is productive," said LEA chair and chief executive officer John Farrow, adding that one-fifth of his 100 Canadian staff were educated and trained overseas. They speak 60 languages among them.

"We are in the business of selling expertise. Our expertise is in the head of the people we hired. We can't afford to just hire the talents in Canada. We are not doing it for charity by hiring immigrants. It just makes good business sense to hire the best talents out there."

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Toronto Star | 2004-02-18
Pathways can lead to engineering jobs - expand / condense article
Engineers benefit from Gandy Associates’ Language for Leadership training, offered as part of Pathways program.

Special day more than feel-good exercise
by WALLACE IMMEN

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It took Rakesh Shreewastav nearly three years after he immigrated to Canada from Nepal to land a job in engineering, but at least he found work in his profession.

Despite having the help of professional recruiters, only 16 of the 29 who graduated with him from an intensive program to prepare foreign-trained engineers to work in Ontario found employment.

Nevertheless, Paul Martin, a director of the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers, which ran the Pathways program, believes it was a success.
He points out that many recent Canadian engineering grads aren't able to find jobs either.

"There is a myth out there that immigrants come here and are stuck driving taxis because the bad old professional associations are preventing them from having their credentials recognized," Mr. Martin says.

But that isn't the case in engineering, he says.

"There are too many engineers out there and not enough jobs for them.

"The problem isn't with credential recognition, because 60 per cent of foreign-trained engineers can get licensed without having to write a single exam."

The statistics for just one year sum up the problem, he says. There were 8,700 engineering graduates from schools across Canada in 2001, while about 16,300 immigrants entered the country with the intention of working in engineering, according to data from the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board, and Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

About 54 per cent, roughly 8,800, of those foreign-trained engineers settled in the Toronto area, which represents only 17 per cent of the Canadian engineering job market.

"That means there were more immigrant job seekers in Toronto than Canada's entire engineering graduating class," Mr. Martin says.

For Mr. Shreewastav, the road to employment was unexpectedly potholed.

When he arrived in Toronto in the winter of 2001, with advanced training and work experience in Russia, "I had only positive expectations," he says.

However, even though his qualifications were sufficient for him to work as an engineer, he needed the Ontario designation as a professional engineer, a P. Eng., to get the job he wanted in civil engineering. "It was," he says, "a very slow and lengthy process."

Ontario and most other jurisdictions in Canada require a full year of work experience in Canada to make sure applicants have a knowledge of the local codes and standards and business practices.

That's where the Pathways program came in.

It was "a really great step towards professional designation," says Mr. Shreewastav, who has found a job with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.

The demand for the Pathways program was overwhelming and the participants were chosen from more than 2,500 applicants, Mr. Martin says. It included six weeks of intensive classroom training in Canadian workplace norms, work readiness and communication skills.
The society has stopped taking applications while the results of the first two pilots are re-evaluated by the Ontario Ministry of Labour, which financed the program.

Meanwhile, officials across the country are developing a national approach and Mr. Martin is a member of a federal task force on foreign engineering graduates that expects to report a national strategy for breaking down barriers to employment by May.

The task force, which includes representatives of government, professional associations and immigrant settlement agencies, is aiming for a co-ordinated "grassroots" approach by government and non-government groups on regulations, training, credential assessment and licensing, says Marie Lemay, CEO of the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers, whose members are the 12 provincial and territorial regulatory bodies.

The recommendations will not only be for professional associations, but also for governments, universities and colleges, Ms. Lemay says.

Mr. Shreewastav says he welcomes the advocacy and changes being made by governments and professional organizations for foreign-trained engineers. "But the result, I would say, is not significant yet."

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