“Canada’s diversity and global connections represent a significant global advantage, but one that not all Canadians have fully recognized or leveraged”

In this Diversity Dividend: Canada’s Global Advantage report, supported by the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, a series of recommendations are provided for government, business and organizations engaged in supporting diversity and inclusion (D&I).

To build an inclusive nation where everyone benefits, leadership and policies need to be in place to promote and support D&I goals. It is the #TimeofTheCentury opportunity to help Canada’s diversity become its global advantage.

Read full report Diversity Dividend: Canada’s Global Advantage

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Summary of Recommendations

Author: Bessma Momani; Jillian Stirk

1. Unlock talent: promote inclusive hiring

To attract and retain a talented workforce, employers need to adopt more inclusive hiring practices, such as blind recruitment, training to uncover unconscious bias, using diverse recruitment teams and eliminating Canadian experience requirements. Scaling up projects that link immigrants with professional associations and networks will improve access and opportunity.

Business strategies for more inclusive hiring:
→ Train managers and human resources staff to uncover and address unconscious bias.
→ Implement blind screening of resumes, especially in larger organizations.
→ Use diverse recruitment teams to recruit and better assess diverse candidates and their qualifications.
→ Streamline and eliminate Canadian experience requirements.

Actions for governments and settlement agencies:
→ Scale up projects that link immigrants and other minorities with professional associations and networks.

2. Passport to employment: recognizing foreign education, credentials and experience

The underemployment of new immigrants presents a significant opportunity cost to the economy. Governments, regulatory bodies, business and educational institutions must tackle the barriers to recognizing foreign credentials and develop clear pathways to certification.

Actions for governments:
→ Establish clear roles and responsibilities for federal and provincial authorities and regulatory bodies, and mechanisms to address areas of shared jurisdiction.
→ Eliminate, wherever possible, inter-provincial barriers and establish national standards.
→ Provide support to colleges and universities for programs to upgrade foreign credentials.
→ Expand bilateral reciprocal agreements to countries with comparable standards, for example, the Quebec-France Mutual Recognition Agreement covering more than 50 trades and professions.
→ Include labour mobility clauses in new free trade agreements and update existing agreements to include new industries.

Actions for industry and regulatory bodies:
→ Establish clear and timely pathways to certification with professional and trade associations.
→ Create internships that lead to certification.

3. More than just words: invest in language training

Lack of fluency in English or French is one of the most often cited reasons for not hiring immigrants. It is time to reinvest in workplace-directed language training and to consider allocating more points in the immigration selection process for demonstrated professional fluency.

Actions for governments:
→ Reinvest in higher-level language training programs for new immigrants.
→ Raise the bar for language requirements and allocate more points for demonstrated professional or workplace fluency.

Actions for industry:
→ Work with the education sector to develop and implement workplace-relevant language training that can be delivered on-site.

4. Measuring diversity and inclusion: what gets measured gets done

Indicators and benchmarks help employers understand their workforce, measure results and demonstrate to clients and staff their commitment to diversity and inclusion. Industry-led voluntary principles would improve performance and accountability to shareholders and consumers.

Actions for industry:
→ Gather data on workforce composition, rates of promotion, career paths and retention.
→ Review criteria for promotion, how partners are selected, how a firm defines potential and identify barriers.
→ Establish and publicize industry-specific voluntary principles on diversity and inclusion so that shareholders and consumers can hold firms accountable.

5. Procurement policies: leadership to drive innovation

Governments and business should include diversity and inclusion as one factor to be assessed in procurement processes. A combination of government legislation and industry-led certification mechanisms would provide a powerful incentive for diverse hiring and boost innovation.

Actions for government:
→ Introduce legislation that requires government procurement to consider employment equity principles as a factor in assessing competing bids.

Actions for industry:
→ Work with organizations such as the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion and the Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council to develop a system of third-party certification, whereby firms can demonstrate how their policies and practices contribute to an inclusive workplace.

6. Corporate culture: moving beyond numbers

Inclusive organizations have leaders who put a high value on fairness, merit and equitable treatment. They prioritize inclusion over diversity, values over numbers and they address myths. Leaders need to integrate diversity and inclusion into an organization’s identity and core operations.

Actions for industry:
→ Integrate diversity and inclusion objectives into core processes, operations and decision making.
→ Make commitments to inclusion a leadership competency and ensure middle management reflects and implements corporate goals.
→ Implement practices based on fairness, merit and equitable treatment.
→ Address fears and tensions in a transparent manner.

7. Understanding the story: the data deficit

Reliable data is key to understanding demographics and addressing barriers. The federal government should reinstate and expand the WES to capture fundamental changes in the Canadian economy. Job banks that match skills, employers and potential employees would create opportunities for all Canadians.

Actions for government:
→ Reinstate and expand the WES to capture all second-generation Canadians, ethnic origin, visible minorities, disabilities and LGBTQ+.
→ Add questions that assess inclusion indicators and employer and employee perceptions of inclusion.
→ Work with industry to create and scale-up skillsbased job banks that show labour market trends and link employers with potential employees.

8. Connecting to the world: Canada’s global advantage

Canada should be advocating the benefits of diversity and the circulation of talent. Business needs to recognize and reward international experience to drive innovation and build bridges beyond North America. Canada should use Group of Seven and Group of Twenty summits to champion diversity and showcase the diversity dividend.

Actions for industry:
→ Recognize and reward international experience to drive innovation and build bridges that will take business beyond North America.
→ Make international experience a factor to be assessed in hiring and promotion.
→ Working with the education sector, design and promote recognized international studywork opportunities, and leverage youth mobility programs to create international internships for young Canadians.

Actions for government:
→ Work with bilateral partners to create an academic mobility program modelled on the EU Erasmus program that will give Canadians international experience and increase the number of foreign students coming to Canada.
→ Continue to increase immigration in order to maintain and grow the economy.
→ Use the Canada-hosted Group of Seven or Group of Twenty summits to champion initiatives such as international third-party certification of indicators and benchmarks, and to showcase the diversity dividend.