Join us in celebrating TRIEC's 10th Anniversary. Our region has grown and changed over the last 10 years and now 48% of people in in the GTA are born abroad. Read about TRIEC's journey over the last 10 years. Share your story about working in this diverse community. Learn about how you can help build more immigrant-inclusive workplace. And then take the next step to help realize the great potential of our region.
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10 keys to an
immigrant- inclusive workplace
KEY1View cultural diversity as a potential business driver
Over 46 per cent of the GTA’s population is born outside of Canada. Building an immigrant inclusive workplace is not just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do. A culturally diverse workforce helps you connect with diverse local and international markets and is also proven to be more innovative.
Ask yourself: How can I leverage our culturally diverse local economy to benefit my business? How can my team help me reach new markets, locally or globally, and be more innovative?
- Review your current workforce and market. Understanding how well your current workforce reflects your current market is the first step to identifying how you can leverage your workforce’s diversity to benefit your business.
- Consider where you want to be. Do you want to be more innovative, improve your customer service, or reach new markets locally or overseas?
- Identify how a culturally diverse workforce can help you reach your goals. Consider whether you have the necessary talent to find innovative solutions, to better serve customers locally or overseas, or to access new markets.
See it in action: SMTC, a global electronics manufacturing services provider, attributes its global success to its culturally diverse workforce in Markham. The diverse GTA workforce gives SMTC talent with the skills it needs to be innovative, to communicate with international clients and to build its business. Read SMTC’s story.
- Hear from business leaders: It’s just smart business
KEY2Learn how cultural differences can affect individual and team effectiveness
Cultural differences affect how cohesively teams work together, and can result in challenges when not addressed. Learning to identify how cultural differences are manifesting in your workplace can help you make those differences an asset rather than an obstacle.
Ask yourself: How are cultural differences manifesting in my workplace and in my interpersonal interactions? What benefits have I seen when different cultural perspectives are brought to bear on a business problem?
- Develop your self-awareness. Understand your own biases and how they might influence your behaviour and interactions in the workplace.
- Understand different cultural perspectives. Learn to stop and reflect when faced with a challenging situation, and identify if cultural differences may be playing a role.
- Adapt your approach. If a workplace situation makes you feel uncomfortable, avoid passing judgement on your colleagues. Approach the situation from a place of cultural understanding, and address it in a professional manner.
See it in action: St. Michael’s Hospital recognized that both Canadian-born employees and internationally educated professionals can struggle with the nuanced differences between Canadian corporate culture and what’s unique to St. Michael’s. The hospital initiated a training program to help employees understand how cultural differences can affect their perceptions and their teams. Read St. Michael’s story.
Develop your cultural competency through the following e-learning modules:
- Culture and Workplace Interactions
- Understanding Cultural Competence
- Cross-Cultural Communication in the Workplace
KEY3Search for the best local talent
Where you source your talent plays a major role in who you hire. Finding the best talent is integral to your team’s success. If you only cast a narrow net, you will miss a wide range of talent. Make sure that you reach all of the GTA’s highly educated and skilled local workforce, including skilled immigrants.
Ask yourself: Am I hiring the best from our highly educated and skilled workforce? Am I reviewing candidates’ work experience and education without bias towards where it was obtained?
- Identify the core competencies you need. Make sure you have identified the skills and experience required to tap into today’s diverse and global marketplace.
- Widen your search. Make sure you post your job ads through a variety of avenues, including immigrant serving agencies and professional immigrant networks.
- Recognize foreign credentials. Access foreign credential recognition services and develop a process for evaluating candidates’ foreign credentials.
See it in action: The Regional Municipality of York wanted to be inclusive to all applicants, including skilled immigrants who possess foreign credentials and experience. It developed a foreign credential assessment tool to promote an effective hiring process that leads to hiring decisions based on merit and is inclusive of all candidates. Read York Region’s story.
Watch the York Region: Toronto Star Award for Excellence in Workplace Integration video
- Learn about foreign credential recognition tools available from WES
- Take the e-learning module on the TRIEC Campus: Unconscious Bias in Resume Screening
- Contact TRIEC to post your jobs with a wide range of immigrant serving agencies and professional immigrant networks
KEY4Review your hiring practices to make sure you hire the best
You may be using standardized hiring practices that have been in place since before cultural diversity was such a big factor in the GTA. Now cultural diversity is a fact, and you need to review your hiring practices to make sure that you do not exclude high-quality candidates due to unintentional barriers and biases.
Ask yourself: Is my interview process helping me identify the best people for the job? Have I updated my interview process to be bias-free?
- Review your job descriptions to remove vague language. For example, ‘excellent communication skills’ can be a catch-all for the more specific skills you are looking for, such as the ability to “write concise research reports” or “respond to customer inquiries professionally.” Be more precise with your requirements, and candidates will be able to demonstrate that they possess them.
- Review your interview questions for clarity regardless of the candidate’s cultural background. Develop questions specific to the information you seek. For example, a question like “Tell me about your work style and preference” may result in answers you do not expect. Remember that communication styles and leadership attributes considered ‘desirable’ vary across cultures. Instead, consider asking, “What type of reporting structure are you looking for?”
See it in action: Zuleika Sgro, Manager, Talent Management Services and HR Business Partner at Questrade, embedded bias-free recruitment practices in the company’s policies and procedures, and supported hiring managers to recruit skilled immigrants into Questrade’s diverse workplace. Read her story.
Watch Zuleika Sgro: Canadian HR Reporter Award for Individual Achievement video
- Access the resource: Developing Cross-Cultural Behaviour Based Interview Questions
- Take the TRIEC Campus e-learning module, Inclusive Interviewing
- Watch the Finding Talent video series and use the discussion guide to apply the lessons to your hiring practices
KEY5Make sure your new hires start off on the right foot
You invested in the hiring process, so protect that investment by having a comprehensive onboarding program. Learning the unwritten rules of a new organization can be a challenging process no matter where you are from, but can be particularly difficult if it is your first job in Canada. Support your new hires so they can become more productive.
Ask yourself: Am I empowering new hires to become productive quickly? Am I explicit about the rules and norms of our work culture? Do I make my performance expectations clear?
- Pair new hires with a buddy or mentor. A buddy can help your new hire learn the unwritten rules of your team and organization. Make sure to also support the buddy or mentor to develop a broad cultural understanding to be able to support the new hire.
- Support new immigrant hires as they acclimatize to the Canadian work culture. The TRIEC Campus has free resources that can support new immigrant hires, such as the learning path Achieving Success in the Canadian Workplace.
- Make constructive feedback part of the onboarding process. Provide honest and constructive feedback throughout the onboarding process so that your new hire can learn and develop in order to succeed.
See it in action: Maxxam Analytics has a comprehensive training and onboarding program that pairs new hires with a buddy and ensures they get the necessary hard and soft skills training. Read Maxxam Analytics’ story.
Watch Maxxam Analytics: Toronto Star Award for Excellence in Workplace Integration video
- Take the TRIEC Campus e-learning module, Inclusive Employee Onboarding
- Watch the Integrating Talent video series and use the discussion guide to apply the lessons to your hiring practices
- Orientation and onboarding resources on Hireimmigrants.ca
KEY6Help your diverse team build the skills they need to achieve their business goals
Today in the GTA, diversity in the workplace is inevitable and will change the dynamics of your team. Developing the cultural competency of your team is key to success in the global marketplace. Provide your team with the training and support they need to form a cohesive team and work together to succeed.
Ask yourself: Can my culturally diverse team work together effectively? Can they manage conflict and communicate well to get the job done?
- Provide cultural competency training to your team. Many cultural competency resources exist, such as the TRIEC Campus (hyperlinked). It provides free e-learning modules as well as resources to help you lead team discussions on cultural competency.
- Develop the means to share knowledge. Members of your team all have different backgrounds and experiences. Foster formal and informal communities to help team members share their expertise with each other.
- Provide opportunities to develop cultural awareness. Encourage your team to take advantage of cross-cultural learning opportunities. By mentoring skilled immigrants, your team members can learn more about cultural differences while practising their cross-cultural communication skills.
See it in action: When Amex Canada started to actively recruit skilled immigrants, it wanted to make sure that increased diversity would benefit the company. Its strategy involved providing cross-cultural and leadership training for its managers. Read Amex Canada’s story.
- Take the TRIEC Campus e-learning module, Bridging Cultural Differences in Diverse Teams – video series/e-learning
- Watch the Cross-Cultural Teamwork video and use the discussion guide to apply the lessons to your hiring practices
- Check out The Mentoring Partnership as a professional development opportunity for your team
KEY7Identify high potentials in your diverse workforce
There is a significant cost when tenured employees grow disengaged or leave the company. Identifying your high-potential talent and providing them with the opportunity to grow and develop is important to the success of your business. Yet, cultural differences in expectations of leadership can mean that you are missing high-potential talent who could play a much bigger role in your workplace.
Ask yourself: How do I define and identify high-potential talent? How might my cultural expectations of leadership affect how I identify high-potential talent?
- Define what you mean by high-potential. Cultural differences can come into play when defining leadership and other core values in your business. Make sure you are clear on what you are looking for in your organization’s future leaders.
- Communicate the organization’s values clearly to your team. Make sure that there is a common understanding of those values and the behaviours expected of your team to reflect them.
- Grow mentoring skills within your organization. Develop the mentoring skills of your team to provide them with opportunities for further development.
See it in action: The Region of Peel specifically included removing “barriers that exclude participation of under-represented groups of Regional employees in succession planning” into their Diversity and Inclusion strategy. The goal is to have Leaders reflect diverse backgrounds and interests. Learn more.
- Take the TRIEC Campus e-learning modules Performance Management and Cultural Influences on Leadership
- Watch the Cultural Perceptions of Change and Leadership video to see examples of this challenge in action
KEY8Have a strategy to become inclusive
By 2031, Stats Canada predicts that 1 in 3 workers will be foreign-born. This is already the case in the GTA. Diversity is a reality for our workforce, and the goal is to make it an asset. This requires a strategy.
Ask yourself: What business goals do I want to achieve with an immigrant inclusive workplace? What it will look like when I get there?
- Review your policies. Identify policies that may be posing a barrier to immigrant hires, and opportunities to create supportive policies.
- Consider your procedures. Review procedures that could be hindering the development of an immigrant inclusive workplace. Identify solutions to create procedures that support your diversity and inclusion objectives.
- Be a champion. Having the right policies and procedures can help, but they must be supported by action from your organization’s leaders, from the CEO to frontline managers.
See it in action: RBC has a well-defined diversity and inclusion strategy that incorporates policies, procedures and leadership action. Not all businesses will need something as in-depth, but RBC’s strategy provides great ideas for how you can implement your own. Check it out.
- The TRIEC Organizational Checklist can help you assess where you are and the steps you can take to build a more inclusive workplace
- Connect with TRIEC to learn what resources are available to help you develop your diversity and inclusion strategy (link to form).
KEY9You cannot build an inclusive workplace on your own
By definition, inclusion means considering different perspectives. Building an immigrant inclusive workplace is no different; you need multiple perspectives to move forward. Obtaining input from others and learning from it will strengthen your inclusion efforts.
Ask yourself: How am I empowering team members to lead and participate in diversity initiatives?
- Understand where another perspective is needed. Identify challenges that you cannot address alone or that would benefit from further input.
- Identify resources in your organization. Every organization has individuals who bring different perspectives. Identify those in your organization who can contribute to your diversity and inclusion strategy.
- Identify resources outside your organization. You can learn a lot from the promising practices other employers have implemented. Leverage resources from organizations like TRIEC to help you on your way.
See it in action: Scotiabank brings many different perspectives to its diversity and inclusion work. Internally, it has established internal resource groups to support its inclusion initiatives; externally, it partners with TRIEC, professional immigrant networks and others to forward its diversity goals. Read more.
• Connect with TRIEC to learn what resources are available to help you build an immigrant inclusive workplace.
KEY10Know where you’re going – Identify what success looks like and the indicators to measure progress
Diversity and inclusion are not things you pursue just to feel good; they are a business driver that will help you achieve your objectives. But they only work when done right, and it takes time and commitment to make your workforce immigrant inclusive. Hold yourself and your team accountable for meeting your diversity and inclusion objectives.
Ask yourself: How do I hold myself and my team accountable for implementing these 10 keys? What business results will we achieve?
- Be clear about what needs to change. Identify how you can measure that change.
- Identify who is responsible. Make sure that the team understands who needs to do what to accomplish your diversity and inclusion goals.
- Make sure you have the right tools in place. Consider what policies and procedures you need to track your progress. For some, this could be something in your performance management matrix; for others, it might be quarterly review sessions.
See it in action: As part of the performance management program at Deloitte Canada, staff is asked to report on what they do to promote diversity in the firm, which helps the organization measure progress against its own goals as well as measure the success of individual staff. Hear Deloitte Canada’s story.
- “What gets measured gets done,” a report from the Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion (CIDI)
- “Measuring change: Are your diversity efforts paying off?” a webinar from hireimmigrants.ca.
TRIEC and our partners have had 10 years of amazing success. Yet, skilled immigrants still face barriers to employment in the Greater Toronto Region. What is more, often they find themselves in roles that do not use their skills fully with little opportunity for growth.
For TRIEC to have another 10 years of meaningful success, we need to rethink what we are doing and how we are doing it. After consulting with our stakeholders, we have developed a strategic plan with three goals focused on our desired outcomes. Through a focused collaborative approach, TRIEC aims to help build our better future.
Goal 1: Lead Employer Culture Change
We know that employer engagement is a key pillar for immigrant integration. Employer engagement, specifically with the focus of shifting employer culture towards more inclusion, will continue to be central to TRIEC’s work as we seek to identify new opportunities to engage partners in advancing employer culture change.
Goal 2: Reach and Empower More Skilled Immigrants
TRIEC’s solutions to improve the working life of skilled immigrants are powerful—yet they could be even more so if we could reach even more individuals.While supporting The Mentoring Partnership and the Professional Immigrant Networks initiative,TRIEC will continue to work through partnerships to expand our ability to reach and empower immigrant talent.
Goal 3: Be an Outstanding Organization for Today and Tomorrow
In order to deliver on our goals, TRIEC needs to be an effective and sustainable non-profit organization. Looking forward, we aim to build our sustainability by diversifying our revenue sources, strengthening our staff, IT infrastructure and governance processes, while also developing our brand and implementing measurement and evaluation strategies.
The ultimate aim, as it has always been, is to build a better future for our region by fully engaging the contributions of skilled immigrants. We hope that you will continue to work with us towards this goal.