best talent, they need to hire a diverse workforce. Employers who
learn how to create a workplace where people feel like they belong
and their ideas are valued will be able to best leverage this talent
and gain a competitive edge.
Numerous studies show the positive correlation between ethnic
and cultural diversity in the workplace and profitability, such
as the Centre for International Governance Innovation’s 2017
Diversity Dividend: Canada’s Global Advantage; but the key is
inclusion. If people don’t feel as though they can fully contribute
and are valued, performance and retention will be negatively
affected. In their Inclusion @ Work Index 2017–2018, Diversity
Council Australia and Suncorp showed that “even somewhat
inclusive teams” boosted team performance and employee satisfaction
and success. Employees on inclusive teams were shown to
be “10 times more likely to be highly effective than workers; nine
times more likely to innovate; and 19 times more likely to be satisfied
with their jobs”.
Jenny Okonkwo, a chartered professional accountant arrived
in Canada 12 years ago. When Okonkwo first immigrated, she
quickly landed a position in her field at a level similar to the one
she’d left back home.
“It was well documented that you’d have to take a step or two
backwards in your career to enter the job market,” Okonkwo said.
“Being aware of this situation before moving gave a me an advantage
in getting mentally prepared for the professional challenges.”
Although she was an experienced accountant, based on the information
she had received in England, she originally applied for a
junior position with an international organization. However, when
she went for the interview, the hiring manager saw her potential.
He didn’t offer her the job; instead, he invited her to apply for a
manager’s position that was on par with her experience and expertise.
In addition to applying her accounting and analytical expertise
to contribute to the firm’s success, Okonkwo used a combination
of project and relationship management, negotiation and presentation
skills in her role. She proactively took steps to go beyond
her original mandate and her manager’s expectations.
What makes Okonkwo’s story stand-out is not just that she
didn’t have to take a step back professionally, which happens to
so many immigrant professionals, but also the environment she
found herself in after being hired. She had the expertise and ability,
but also a manager who set her up for success. He helped to
create an inclusive environment, which meant Okonkwo could do
what she needed to be successful. It’s this kind of experience that
should be more common in Canadian workplaces.
WHERE TO START?
Developing a diverse and inclusive workplace is an ongoing, iterative
process. It takes reflection and commitment from leaders
and champions within an organization to acknowledge gaps and
practices in an organizational culture that contain bias or discrimination.
It takes conversations with employees at all levels to
understand everyone’s experiences and what can be done to help.
No matter what one’s role is in an organization, it’s possible to generate
meaningful change. Here are some ideas on some practical
ways to start making a positive impact:
If you’re involved in recruitment and hiring processes, take a
look at the talent you’re attracting and who is being hired. Are
you attracting a diverse group of talent? If not, you’re likely missing
highly skilled individuals. Think about where job openings
get posted and add some new options into the mix. Also, take a
closer look at the job description. Are there requirements that are
more “nice to haves” than necessary skills and expertise? If so, these
could be deterring strong potential candidates from applying. For
example, “excellent communications skills” is often included in job
kzenon / 123RF Stock Photo
WANT TO HIRE
THE BEST TALENT,
THEY NEED TO
HIRE A DIVERSE
22 ❚ JULY 2018 ❚ HR PROFESSIONAL
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