Thursday, November 3, 2011

Employers failing to put diversity into practice


Many Canadian employers are finding it easy to put diversity and inclusiveness into a mission statement but difficult to put them into practice, according to a white paper by Deloitte based on roundtable discussions in eight cities across Canada with representatives of business, community-based diversity and immigrant organizations, and Deloitte professionals.
Often, organizations are clinging to outdated notions, such as requiring employment experience in Canada, said Welcome to Canada. Now what? Unlocking the Potential of Immigrants for Business Growth and Innovation. The dreams of educated newcomers are being eroded by unrecognized credentials, no Canadian experience, a lack of support for networking and lingering biases in recruitment.
“Canada does have one of the best immigration processes globally but there is a broken promise because we tell people that their skill-set is going to be recognized and then they can’t get a job and they end up driving taxis,” said one participant.
A lack of fit or acceptance was another issue raised by the white paper, which said companies have much to gain by broadening their thinking.
“Only by taking calculated risks and being open to learning from the experiences of immigrants will Canadian companies fully capitalize on the potential for innovation and growth that comes with their hiring,” said Jane Allen, a partner and chief diversity officer at Deloitte.
It’s time to put the theory of diversity into action — more proactive steps must be taken to quickly enable skilled foreign-born workers to contribute to Canada’s economy and achieve their own dreams, said the white paper. Various provinces offer programs through community organizations and government ministries — these and other initiatives provide a solid base of best practices for employers across Canada.
“Often, organizations don’t see the systemic barriers to integration and acceptance that have been created within their workplaces. Considering Canada’s global reputation for welcoming immigrants, it doesn’t make sense that they exist. By erecting barriers to employment for foreign-born workers, we’re actually blocking our own potential for innovation and growth,” said Allen in Welcome to Canada.
What we discovered is that the specific challenges and success stories differ from province to province, but the call to action was consistent: Canada needs to do a better job of integrating skilled, foreign-trained workers into our workforce by identifying the barriers to integration and breaking them down.”