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Award Winning Cultural Diversity Practices

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Award Winning Cultural Diversity Practices

The country's most culturally diverse companies know that success depends on innovative but simple initiatives. We've reviewed the best practices of local and national cultural diversity award winners to create a list of examples that your organization might adopt. Winners of these awards included small, medium and large sized companies. To ease review, the practices and activities have been organized into categories. Consider the potential of immigrants with international credentials. Learn the most effective ways to hire and retain newcomers. Help boost workplace loyalty and productivity by adopt a few of these practices and activities.

Click the following for more information on 2014-2015 award winning cultural diversity practices:

  1. Establish a Diversity Committee or Council
  2. Develop and Review Diversity Strategies and Policies
  3. Access Internationally Trained Professional "Talent Pool"
  4. Provide Work Experience Opportunities for Internationally Trained Professionals
  5. Hiring to Ensure Equity and Reflection of their Communities
  6. Recognize International Work Experience and Foreign Credentials
  7. Support Immigrant Employees to Obtain Professional Licensure
  8. Offer Extensive Onboarding Process to Ensure Smooth Transition
  9. Help New Immigrant Employees Adjust to Canadian Workplace
  10. Establish or Engage in Mentoring or Cultural Buddy Programs
  11. Support New Immigrant Employees to Develop Professional Skills
  12. Promote and Celebrate Cultural Diversity
  13. Maintain Affiliation Groups to Support Diverse Workforce
  14. Engage Senior Management
  15. Offer Diversity Training to Managers and Human Resource Professionals
  16. Promote Diversity to the Business Community

Establish a Diversity Committee or CouncilTop

  • Maintains a diversity and inclusivity committee comprised of representatives from all employee groups and BCIT's Student Association, and recently created an internal awards program to recognize employee efforts to champion diversity and inclusion within the workplace (BCIT)
  • Established a diversity council to provide transition assistance to newcomers, as well as an employment equity committee, which provides consultative advice and works with third party organizations to promote diversity and inclusion (Cargill Ltd.)
  • Operates employee-led diversity committees across five regions and at the national office -- the committees facilitate diversity-related programs including diversity awareness, promotion, and other learning initiatives (CMHC)
  • Maintains a national employment equity and diversity council, employment equity and diversity advisory committees, and diversity champions within the bank's global operations and recruitment teams (CIBC)
  • Established a diversity and inclusion working group with dedicated personnel who are responsible for expanding diversity and inclusion initiatives within the public services (Government of Manitoba)
  • Maintains a national diversity committee, which meets monthly and is responsible for the creation of the firm's diversity initiatives and strategies as well as overseeing its implementation (McCarthy Tétrault LLP)

Develop and Review Diversity Strategies and Policies Top

  • Recently launched a global diversity survey to assess employee perceptions of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and created a diversity and inclusion website to educate employees on a wide range of topics including the business case for diversity, issues of gender and culture, Aboriginal relations, employment equity, and the inter-generational workforce (Xerox Canada Inc.)
  • Maintains an employment equity plan and diversity and inclusion strategy, which is reviewed on an annual basis, as well as a diversity and health equity strategy group, which meets quarterly and is comprised of employees from all levels of the organization (CAMH)
  • Created a cultural diversity plan as part of its annual report to the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission, and developed a diversity and accessibility intranet site to help educate employees on the benefits of hiring a diverse workforce (Corus Entertainment Inc.)
  • Established a 3-year employment equity and diversity strategy to improve workforce diversity throughout the organization as well as a dedicated diversity and inclusion team (Enbridge Inc.)
  • Established a formal Internationally Educated Professionals (IEP) committee and IEP strategy, which includes internship opportunities, mentoring programs and participation in career fairs (Mount Sinai Hospital)
  • Includes diversity goals as a mandatory component of performance reviews (CAMH)

Access Internationally Trained Professional "Talent Pool" Top

  • Developed a workshop entitled "Opening Doors to Employment in Libraries" to introduce new Canadians to various entry-level positions in the library environment; in partnership with Progressive Intercultural Community Services, Options Community Services Society, S.U.C.C.E.S.S. and DIVERSEcity, hosted settlement services and recreation services training for front-line employees  (City of Surrey)
  • Works with a variety of community organizations to promote diversity and inclusion in the broader community including, Immigrant Services Society of British Columbia, Vancouver Pride Society and the Open Door Group, to name a few (BCIT and TD Bank)  
  • Manages a variety of career access programs to provide employment opportunities for new Canadians (CIBC)
  • Participates in a variety of multicultural and diversity-themed career fairs, events and programs to help new Canadian job-seekers, and also works with them to deliver information sessions on employment in Canada (Rogers, Cameco Corporation, Cargill Ltd., and City of Edmonton)
  • Takes part in targeted recruitment events to break down barriers to employment through face-to-face meetings with new Canadians (Epocal)
  • Increases access to an internationally trained talent pool through engagement with community organizations; notifies immigrant serving organizations about employment opportunities (Pythian and Bridgehead)

Provide Work Experience Opportunities for Internationally Trained ProfessionalsTop

  • Works with non-profit organizations to help new Canadians gain work experience through paid internship opportunities (Procter & Gamble Inc., Rogers and Enbridge Inc.)
  • Provides work placement and internship opportunities to members of new Canadians (Saskatchewan Government Insurance)
  • Offers work placement opportunities to new Canadians through partnerships with community organizations such as YWCA, and hosts employment information sessions in partnership with MOSAIC and Immigrant Services Society of British Columbia (Shaw)
  • Participates in a co-op placement program to provide new Canadians with an opportunity to gain work experience (Sodexo Canada Ltd.)
  • Provides the opportunity for a first job in Canada. For example, the Board has more than 150 part-time instructors in the International Languages program at 11 locations (Ottawa Catholic School Board)

Hiring to Ensure Equity and Reflection of their CommunitiesTop

  • Uses Census data and internal surveys to identify gaps in employee/population representation (City of Ottawa)
  • Undertakes a voluntary diversity Census of RBC staff which is used to measure progress on representativeness within all levels of the business; uses Census data in combination with the employee language skill list to identify language gaps in service roles; uses the information, resources, and networks provided by community immigrant serving organizations to properly place new employees according to the specific demographics of clients in the community (RBC)
  • Encourages managers to hire skilled newcomers at junior-level positions and provides a defined career advancement plan, which includes timelines for performance and development reviews (BC Hydro)
  • Improves recruiters’ diversity awareness and equal recruitment skills by training, and providing toolkits and guides, such as how to advertise job openings in plain English, how job candidates from other cultures may answer interview questions differently, etc. (Vancity Group)
  • Selects candidates with the most relevant education and work experience - regardless of where it was obtained (i 3 DVR International Inc.)
  • Provides as much visual information as possible before an interview, including facility tours, and holds to a standardized interview methodology; evaluates candidates based on their merits and observed behaviours. (Epocal)
  • Simplifies interview questions to avoid misunderstanding; invites staff members from other countries to participate in the interview process to assess the candidate’s foreign language skills and to provide guidance on rephrasing interview questions that a candidate may be unfamiliar with (Kivuto Solutions Inc.)

Recognize International Work Experience and Foreign Credentials Top

  • Hires internationally trained professionals in positions commensurate with their home country education and experience (Business Development Bank of Canada and Providence Health Care)
  • Does not require Canadian experience or credentials in the hiring and selection process (Pythian)
  • Recognizes foreign credentials and experience and has them evaluated by World Evaluation Services (WES), a third-party credential assessor (MDS Nordion Inc. and Humber College)
  • Developed an in-house guide to foreign credential evaluation process, and utilizes World Education Services, a third-party credential assessment service, to determine the qualifications of internationally trained professionals (Regional Municipality of York)

Support Immigrant Employees to Obtain Professional Licensure Top

  • Partners with post-secondary institutions to help internationally educated professionals become accredited in Canada, and provide work placement opportunities for newcomers (CIBC, ERCB, Manitoba Hydro, McCarthy Tétrault LLP and WorleyParsons Canada Services Ltd.)
  • Recognizes provisional membership to regulatory bodies such as the Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists, and Geophysicists of Alberta (APEGGA) and supports new Canadian employees through the membership process  (BC Hydro)
  • In partnership with the Chinese Professionals Association of Canada (CPAC), hosted an information fair that consisted of workshops, seminars and information booths on topics such as how to help new Canadians return to their profession, the Canadian labour market, and job opportunities at the bank (RBC)
  • Allows employees who are new to Canada to attend school during business hours to ensure they receive professional accreditation (New Flyer Industries Canada)
  • Provides internationally educated applicants with information on having foreign credentials recognized by third-party credential assessment services (Providence Health Care)
  • Supports hires who are new to Canada by providing assistance with the registration and licensing process for professional associations and offering relocation consulting, which includes finding schools for children of employees (Provincial Health Services Authority)
  • Once hired, skilled immigrants in financial positions can take advantage of free training programs to help them gain required certifications or licenses. Tuition assistance is also provided for employees who want to upgrade their knowledge and skills through work-related courses(TD Bank)

Offer Extensive Onboarding Process to Ensure Smooth TransitionTop

  • Developed an extensive onboarding process to ensure new Canadians make a successful transition to its team, with coaching and six months of in-class and on-the-job training (Business Development Bank of Canada)
  • On-the-job training for new hires, and one-on-one feedback and evaluations by “people managers” support this informal process. Regular orientation sessions focus on Epocal’s history, culture, employee resources and support programs, expectations of employee behaviours and performance, and safety training (Epocal)
  • Offers all new hires an extensive orientation, including a component to address expectations regarding communications with colleagues and customers. For new hires, Bridgehead’s buddy system has proven to be a real success. New hires are matched with current employees who have the same cultural or linguistic background — making it that much easier for newcomers to adjust to their work environment. (Bridgehead)
  • Offers comprehensive on-boarding process for all new hires, including presentations with all functional departments, “coffee with the CEO”, and a new hire mentor program (Pythian)

Help New Immigrant Employees Adjust to Canadian WorkplaceTop 

  • Hosts  lectures and workshops to help new Canadian employees (and their spouses) adjust to Canadian work culture (BC Hydro)
  • Offers one-on-one coaching to help international new hires integrate more quickly into their new jobs and life in Canada (BMO, Ernst & Young LLP IS Award and Wardrop Engineering Inc.)
  • Accommodates employees’ cultural or religious through adjusted schedules and onsite facilities such as prayer rooms. Various cultural holidays are observed and recognized through staff events and newsletters.. Various cultural holidays are observed and recognized through staff events and newsletters  (Epocal, Business Development Bank of Canada and Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Centre)
  • Provides employees with the flexibility to dress according to their customs and beliefs, and observe their holidays on the days of their choice, while a variety of cultural and religious traditions are celebrated in the workplace itself (Ottawa Catholic School Board)
  • Operates a unique web-based Cultural Navigator Program, a self-assessment tool that familiarized skilled immigrant employees on Canadian workplace culture (Deloitte & Touche LLP)
  • Offers support to employees from all walks of life through in-house employee resource networks, including networks for women, employees of African heritage and younger employees (Shell)
  • Recently launched an Immigrant Employee Support Network to encourage communication between internationally educated professionals -- the network also hosts workshops for career development, emotional health and cultural diversity (University of Victoria)  

Establish or Engage in Mentoring or Cultural Buddy ProgramsTop

  • Maintains an in-house multicultural society as well as a cultural buddy program to provide support to employees from all walks of life (BC Hydro)
  • Introduced a collaborative mentoring program called "Mosaic Mentorship Program", across all affinity groups to match employees with members of different networks for a six-month period (CIBC)
  • Has been involved in the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council's (TRIEC) Mentoring Partnership for over seven years and regional offices have since partnered with their respective regional councils to offer similar programs (Mentorat Montréal, Edmonton Region Immigrant Employment Council and the Calgary Region Immigrant Employment Council) (KPMG)
  • Supports the immigrant service providers mentoring or buddy programs, that match employees with internationally trained job-seekers for networking opportunities (Cameco Corporation, National Bank of Canada, and Jazz Aviation LP)
  • Offers mentoring opportunities and internships to new Canadians, and the company's Toronto-based radio stations aim to ensure that 30 percent of their interns are from diverse backgrounds (Rogers)
  • Informal mentoring and buddy systems naturally occur throughout the organization due to its multicultural nature (Epocal)

Support New Immigrant Employees to Develop Professional SkillsTop

  • Provides onsite ESL training language instruction ranged from perfecting basic greetings to improving oral presentations (BC Hydro, Bell Aliant Regional Communications, and BMO)
  • Supports career development by sponsoring memberships to professional associations (Energy Resources Conservation Board)
  • Provides financial support for immigrants’ career development, such as reimbursement of the cost of Chartered Accountant equivalency courses and assessments for new Canadian employees writing the CA reciprocity exam (BMO, CIBC, and Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP)
  • Provides employees access to a variety of online diversity training modules through a dedicated intranet website, which include topics such as the generational workforce, stereotypes and diversity action plan training workshops for business or function leadership teams that are interested in customizing diversity plans to fit their current business realities (Cargill)
  • Recently created a 12-month diverse development program for existing employees who demonstrate leadership potential and self declare as visible minority, Aboriginal, or person with disability -- employees receive customized training and development opportunities, including job rotations and assignments related to specific career goals (Government of Manitoba)
  • Recently developed a personalized training program for visible minority employees who are identified as potential succession candidates to help ensure they are ready for senior-level roles (National Bank of Canada)

Promote and Celebrate Cultural DiversityTop

  • Publishes in-house newsletters that focus on cultural diversity issues / events; shares best practices on the creation of diverse and inclusive workplace through in-house publications and their intranets (Shaw, Shell, University Health Network, National Bank of Canada and Business Development Bank of Canada)
  • Introduced diversity awards to recognize employee contributions to promote awareness of workplace diversity (Shell, Cargill Ltd, Jazz Aviation LP, and Dalhousie University)
  • Organizes annual celebration of diversity and inclusion across all operations and honours  individual and group efforts that contributed to diversity and inclusion through internal diversity awards (CIBC and Health Canada)
  • Hosts a variety of diversity-related events throughout the year including conferences, forums, lunch and learn sessions, and celebration events  (SaskPower, William Osler Health System, and TD Bank)
  • Conducts regular employment system reviews to assess whether diversity and equity goals are being met; shares and / or distributes the results with all employees (Canada Post Corporation , Saskatchewan Government Insurance, and Telus Corporation)
  • Hangs a map of the world and encourages employees to pin their names to their places of origin. The company takes pride in the fact that there are pins from one end of the world to the other. (Epocal)
  • Maintains a Canadian Asian Professional Network (APN) to advocate for equal workforce representation and raise awareness of the challenges faced by Asian employees -- the network organizes a variety of events (Procter & Gamble Inc.)

Maintain Affiliation Groups to Support Diverse WorkforceTop

  • Maintains professional network program / affinity groups within the organization to support designate employee groups (Ontario Public Service and National Bank Financial Group )
  • Maintains several employee resource groups including the women's alliance, black caucus group, and "Galaxe", for gay and lesbian employees, and created a formal mentoring program with a focus on pairing mentors and mentees of various diverse backgrounds (Xerox Canada Inc.)
  • Maintains a "Community Building Fund" to provide financial assistance to faculty, students and staff for projects that focus on enhancing equity, diversity and inclusion across campus -- the Provost is also developing an award to recognize individuals or groups who have demonstrated advocacy or activism related to social equity (University of Victoria)
  • Established employee resource groups for diversity groups (TD Bank)
  • Maintains a number of affinity groups that work in conjunction with the organization's national committee to plan awareness sessions and events as well as meetings with local organizations and associations -- the groups also function as consultative bodies and advise on internal policy and programs (BDC / Business Development Bank of Canada)
  • Manages several employee support groups including a Black Professional Network, Latin Professional Network and most recently a Network for Europe and Central Asia employees (NECA) -- these groups provide forums for employees to network as well as offer support for professional development (Procter & Gamble Inc.)
  • The Calgary office recently hosted workshops entitled "Succeeding in Canada" for new Canadians and launched a "new to Canada" network to provide employees who are new to the country with opportunities to meet and network (Ernst & Young LLP)  

Engage Senior ManagementTop

  • Appointed a Chief Inclusiveness Officer (CIO) as well as a Leader of Inclusiveness to manage and develop diversity programs and policies -- the CIO visits offices across the country to speak to employees directly about the meaning of diversity and human equity (Ernst & Young LLP)
  • Appointed a Diversity Champion to ensure diversity issues remain a priority amongst senior management (CMHC)
  • Manages an inclusion council, which is responsible for developing the company's inclusion strategy and providing updates to the President -- the council meets twice a year to provide updates on related programs and initiatives, and was recently restructured to include a new role of Management Board Chair, who reports directly to the President (Loblaw Companies Limited)
  • Created a Diversity@Work initiative, which is led by a steering committee comprised of senior-level employees from across the organization (Newalta Corporation)
  • Maintains an executive diversity committee, comprised of vice presidents from across the organization, a national diversity task force, and a Shaw Media diversity task force, which focuses on complying with the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission requirements (Shaw)
  • Hosts diversity and social inclusion learning forums offsite for senior leaders, and also offers leadership training for supervisory personnel (YMCA of Greater Toronto)

Offer Diversity Training to Managers and Human Resource ProfessionalsTop

  • Offers training on a variety of diversity-related topics including inter-cultural communication, bias-free selection training, gender awareness, inclusive communication skills and strategies, and the experience of new Canadians (City of Surrey, BCIT, Xerox Canada Inc. and Dalhousie University)
  • Organizes bi-annual diversity and inclusion training workshops and publishes a quarterly newsletter to share related activities and information with employees (City of Edmonton)
  • Offers diversity awareness training as well as mandatory training on bias-free selection (Health Canada)
  • Provides diversity training for vice presidents, managers, and other human resource personnel on topics such as communication and intercultural skills, inter-generational relations, and leadership styles of men and women (National Bank of Canada)
  • Provides mandatory diversity and inclusion training to help employees recognize unconscious bias and stereotypes, and created mental health awareness and inclusion training, which has been offered to over 2,000 employees. All managers are mandated to take part in cross-cultural training, diversity, and interviewing and hiring workshops to guard against hiring bias (TD Bank)
  • Works with local immigrant agencies, and provides diversity training for its staff to ensure cultural misunderstandings do not impact the recruitment process. (Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Centre) 

Promote Diversity to the Business CommunityTop

  • Maintains support for minority and female-owned businesses through a supplier diversity program that includes partnerships with groups such as the Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council and WEConnect (Hewlett-Packard Canada Co.)
  • Created a diverse supplier development program, an 18-month program that partners Accenture executives with certified minority and woman-owned business enterprises, and provides them with opportunities for mentoring and professional development. (Accenture Inc.)
  • Shares best practices on the recruitment and retention with other organizations (ENMAX Corporation)
  • Helps build an inclusive community, by supporting cultural events and organizations across the city, and providing employees with paid volunteer leave (Bridgehead)