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Cultural Diversity
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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

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

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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

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

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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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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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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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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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