Hiring Newcomers and Creating Inclusive Canadian Workplaces

ACCES has more than 35 years of experience support a wide variety of employers to find skilled, qualified talent. Here are some benefits of hiring newcomers that we share with our employer partners.

Benefits of Hiring Newcomers

  • Newcomers bring a diversity of perspectives to Canada.  Newcomers have worked in international contexts and bring cultural, linguistic and market knowledge to businesses.
  • Newcomers will help Canada meet its labour needs and shortages in the coming years: Newcomers will continue to play an increasingly significant role in Canada’s labour force and is a key reason for Canada’s investment in attracting skilled workers from other countries.
  • Employer/Business Competitiveness: Internationally trained newcomers have the skills and talent to help employers compete in an increasingly global marketplace.  Reflecting your diverse client base with a diverse staff team is critical.
  • Developing new markets: Newcomer jobseekers have valuable cultural knowledge to help develop new local and global markets for businesses looking to expand.
  • Workplace innovation: Internationally trained professionals bring fresh perspectives into Canadian organizations, helping with ideation, new thinking, and introducing different business methods  
  • Expanded Networks and Connections: Newcomer talent can often bring valuable connections to other potential employees from their communities and they can bring connections to potentially useful national or international organizations for business.

Build a Culture of Inclusion

In order to hire newcomers and cultivate their success, businesses must look to create a culture of inclusion within their organization. Here are some tips on how to build a culture of inclusion:

1. Develop an ‘Inclusion Orientation’ among leaders. It should be a given that leaders know their own roles and that they know how their function helps the business to run smoothly and profitably, but in their career development they may not have always focused on diversity and inclusion. Human Resources staff can help leaders learn about inclusion and provide them with ways to incorporate strategies for building inclusion into the DNA of the company. Everything from hiring practices, organizational opportunities, and company events, to daily work habits and meetings should be infused with an air of inclusion, respect and diversity. If leadership understands this, it will flow to the rest of the organization.  

2. Create an Inclusion Working Group. By having a working group or committee within the organization whose operating priority is to enhance and safeguard inclusion, inclusion practices will continually develop and any inclusion issues that need to be addressed will be dealt with swiftly. The working group should consist of a cross-section of employees and roles, from the ‘C-suite’ to staff. The working group will also operate as a channel for communication on inclusion issues.

3. Celebrate Differences. There should be visible demonstrations to employees that their backgrounds are respected and celebrated. All employees should be invited to share cultural traditions in the workplace, if they are comfortable doing so, which will promote inclusiveness. Many companies now provide a meditation or prayer room for employees to reflect. For individuals whose beliefs involve praying at different times of the day, this practice promotes full inclusion and can help employees feel fully acknowledged as individuals. 

4. Frequent Listening. Every organization should seek to consistently listen to the concerns of all employees and develop methods for doing so. Company-wide surveys, large and small focus groups and company culture interviews can help an organization deeply understand inclusion issues and come up with new ways to approach these issues. Also, it is important for a company to understand it’s own demographics and use this understanding to promote inclusiveness.

5. Inclusive daily work habits. Perhaps the most important reflection of an organization’s inclusion orientation is the way daily activities are carried out. All company work process should be conducted so that people’s differences do not hinder their ability to perform their role. Here are a few examples:

  • Make meetings productive and well-organized. Circulate an agenda and materials beforehand, which will help employees who may have differences such as English-as-a-second-language.
  • Make sure all meetings and company events and materials meet accessibility standards. ​
  • Include telecommuters. Make sure they have the right technology for virtual meetings. Introduce them to meeting participants and include them in the conversation. Be sure to pause to give them time to speak and participate.
  • Make sure good ideas are publicly acknowledged. Create a culture of giving credit where it is due and honouring good work at any level of the organization.
  • Always try to be aware of communication styles. Create an atmosphere of inclusion by allowing all styles to participate. Often meetings can be dominated by ‘extroverts.’ Help introverts get their ideas out by giving pause and soliciting the ideas of all attendees.
  • Great work happens when there is active debate. Promote a culture of respect and courtesy where different ideas can be articulated and everyone actively listens and respects one another. If interruptions occur, highlight the importance of everyone being heard.

Inclusive Hiring Practices

An important element to creating an inclusive workplace and attracting newcomers and diverse jobseekers is to implement inclusive hiring practices and avoid unconscious bias in hiring. This is often an important part of the education of HR professsionals in Canada today, but here are a few tips for implementing more inclusive hiring and recruiting practices:

  • With job postings, try not to use language that might be considered gender-specific so as to avoid discouraging certain applicants. Words like “ninja,” “guru” or “rockstar” have been found to deter women from applying to certain roles.
  • Be mindful of where you place your job ads. Using the ‘targeting’ capabilities of today’s social media platforms can be helpful in attracting the right candidate to a role, but such techniques can also be seen as exclusionary where certain roles are prevented from showing up in older workers’ feeds, as well as those of visible minorities and women. Obviously, such situations should be carefully avoided.
  • Keep job descriptions direct, concise, and simple. Asking for too much in a job posting can reduce the diversity and number of applicants to a given role. Using phrases such as “advanced degree preferred” instead of “MBA required” encourages a wider range of applicants.
  • Explicitly state in your ad and on your website that your company welcomes applications from a wide range of candidates. Showing that your business values diversity and inclusion will make all kinds of jobseekers feel welcome.
  • During interviews, use prepared questions. Asking everyone the same set of questions rather than just going with the ‘feel’ of an interview, will help reduce automatic and unconscious bias.
  • Actively reach out to agencies who help diverse jobseekers find employment.
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