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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

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

Toronto Star | 2008-11-26
\'Diversity deficit\' lingers at top - expand / condense article
by Noor Javed

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Toronto may be the most diverse city in the world, but boardrooms across the city are not following suit. Instead, there is a \"striking\" lack of inclusiveness at the top of public, private and non-profit organizations across the city, according to a report to be released today.

\"The Value of Diverse Leadership\" was commissioned by the Toronto City Summit Alliance and the Maytree Foundation to make a business case for the importance of making diversity a priority at the board level.

The findings of the report, many of which have been known for years, serve as the impetus for the DiverseCity initiative, a plan for increasing diversity in leadership roles.

\"There is a diversity deficit in the leadership landscape of the GTA,\" said Ratna Omidvar, president of the Maytree Foundation. \"Whether you look at Bay St., or public service, who sits at board tables, or who is elected to run the city, there is a deficit in each one of these places.\"

One glaring example she cites is city council. In a city where almost 50 per cent of the population is a visible minority, only 4 of 44 city councillors are members of a visible minority.

\"That\'s unbelievable,\" she said. But it\'s not unchangeable. Over time, the demographics at the top will naturally change to reflect the community, says Omidvar. But the DiverseCity project is hoping to accelerate the change by creating networks, and offering mentoring and training opportunities.

\"We know that a lot of a lot of leadership opportunities come through networking and connections,\" said David Pecaut, chair of the Toronto City Summit Alliance. \"When we have asked people why they don\'t have more diversity on their boards, they have said we are happy to and interested, but I don\'t know where to find qualified people.

\"We have the networks to bring these people together,\" he said.

One of the initiatives called DiverseCity OnBoard was launched by the Maytree Foundation four years ago, with the goal of matching highly qualified ethnic and minority candidates with boards of public and voluntary institutions.

Since 2005, the foundation has recruited 500 candidates, and 200 diverse members have been appointed to boards across the city. Their goal is to increase the number of appointments to 500 in the next three years.

Jehad Aliweiwi, the executive director of the Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office - an agency for new immigrants and refugees - joined the board of the Ontario Science Centre through the project.

\\\"I never thought about joining on my own, or knew that I could,\\\" said Aliweiwi. \\\"I just had to volunteer, Maytree did the difficult job of making the connection for me.\\\"

In addition to launching a number of initiatives, the DiverseCity project will track its own success.

\\\"In the next three years, we want to significantly improve the diversity and leadership of this city, and region,\\\" said Pecaut, which will include monitoring the number of minority hires across institutions, companies, in government and media organizations.

The success of programs already in progress is proof enough that this project is about more than just filling certain \\\"quotas,\\\" Pecaut said.

\\\"There is a risk that people will say this is a token thing. We have to get past that,\\\" Pecaut said. \\\"This is a proven model ... and what we\\\'re trying to do is to open people\\\'s minds to the idea that this can be an incredible driver of economic growth.\\\"

Slow to get on board

16.2% - Visible minorities in Canada

5.2% - Visible minorities in senior management positions in large companies

1.6% - Visible minorities in executive management positions in public sector

8% - Visible minorities in House of Commons in 2006 (24 of 308)

46% - Visible minorities in Toronto

9% - Visible minorities on city council (4 of 44)

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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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The Globe and Mail | 2005-04-07
P&G leverages its cultural diversity - expand / condense article

Special day more than feel-good exercise
by Virginia Galt - Workplace Reporter

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TORONTO -- Procter & Gamble Co. employees in Toronto and elsewhere celebrated their diversity yesterday with jerk pork, samosas, Romanian meatballs -- and, playfully, Fruit To Go from the gay, bisexual, lesbian and transgendered employees booth.

But it was more than just a feel-good event for the 800 employees who work out of the Toronto headquarters of P & G Canada -- employees who represent more than 40 different countries and speak at least 30 different languages.

There was a bottom-line purpose as well for the world's largest consumer goods company. For one, employees are more productive in an environment that respects and accepts their differences. Also, by "leveraging that diversity," Procter & Gamble believes it can sell more soap and toothpaste.

The company today is a far cry from the staid, predominantly male, white organization that Tim Penner, president of P & G Canada, joined 27 years ago. "And we're richer for it," said Mr. Penner, adding that diversifying the work force is now a core strategic mission.

P & G's continued success in marketing its household name products -- Crest, Mr. Clean, Tide, Pampers -- to even more households rides on expanding its reach as the cultural makeup of Canada changes and new consumer markets open up around the world, employees were told.

"Have fun, learn a lot, enjoy your day and . . . increase your cultural competency," Mr. Penner told employees who were among more than 20,000 company P & G employees joining the "international celebration" in several countries around the world.

Ken Wong, a marketing professor with Queen's University, said yesterday "there's an old saying in marketing that the easiest customer to sell to is the one just like you."

Canada is one of the most diverse countries in the world -- indeed, Statistics Canada recently projected that visible minorities will form more than half of the populations of Toronto and Vancouver by 2017. And as the demographics change, said Prof. Wong, it makes sound business sense to get a more diverse group of people involved in the marketing decisions.

Alan Middleton, a marketing professor at York University's Schulich School of Business, said yesterday that diversity is now "a hot topic" with Procter & Gamble and other major employers -- although the executive ranks are still typically white and male.

Procter & Gamble said yesterday that it has made progress in diversifying the make-up of its senior ranks, although did not provide statistics. "We're not there yet," said Mr. Penner.

Mr. Middleton said P & G is moving in the right direction and can only benefit from its efforts to recruit employees from varied backgrounds.

"I'd regard it as an essential way of surviving doing business in Canada today," said Mr. Middleton, who cautioned that P & G and other companies have to guard against stereotyping in their efforts to target ethnic or cultural groups.

At P & G, said Mr. Penner, "it's not as superficial as saying someone who is black can market better to black people, or that French people can market better to French people, that women can market better to women."

But it enriches everyone in the organization to have exposure to more cultures and, ultimately, gives all P & G employees a better understanding of their customers.

He said the best and most creative decisions are made by teams drawn from a diverse cross-section of employees.

There are other major benefits, as well, to working in an environment that is open and accepting of differences, said Jeff Straker, a member of the gay, bisexual, lesbian and transgendered employees group -- one of eight official "affinity groups" at P & G Canada. The others are the Asian Professional Network, the Black Professional Network, the Latino Network, the French Canadian Network, the Women's Leadership Council, the Christian Network, the Jewish Network.

These networks exist primarily to make the employees feel more comfortable about participating fully in corporate life, but they also exist as resource groups for colleagues who might want advice on targeting a specific market sector, Mr. Straker said.

Procter & Gamble, for instance, has found a growing market in the gay community for its Crest Whitestrips tooth-whitening product. Mr. Straker is a business manager in the company's Pampers division; he was not involved in the marketing of Crest Whitestrips.

But, he said in an interview yesterday, the fact that colleagues will actively seek out others from different backgrounds signals an acceptance that is not always found in other workplaces. It was in this atmosphere of acceptance, he said, that he made the decision to "come out" after joining the company eight years ago.

"After I came out, I became incredibly more productive," he said.

With the Asian Professional Network, there is now a marketing aspect, as well as a mutual-support focus, to the group's activities, said Kavita Thekkakara, an IT employee and a member of the company's dragon boat team, which draws a large contingent of participants from Toronto's Asian community.

Among the booths at P & G's festival in Toronto yesterday, were posters displaying the size of some of the ethnic groups in Canada. "The Chinese market --409,000 Chinese in Toronto. 342,000 Chinese in Vancouver," read one.

But quite apart from the marketing aspect, said Ms. Thekkakara, an engineer whose family comes from India, there is a real benefit to having more diverse employees involved in making decisions as the company moves forward.

"There is no point in having a team when everyone has the same ideas."

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