Businesses and organizations across the National Capital Region were challenged this week to do more to create welcoming and diverse workplace environments during a summit held to coincide with the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
The annual Employer Council of Champions Summit, hosted by Hire Immigrants Ottawa – an organization focused on enhancing the ability of employers to access the talents of skilled immigrants – typically attracts more than 100 senior executives and HR professionals from business, government and not-for-profit organizations.
This year’s sold-out event carried the theme of “Standing Up for Inclusion – Bold Leadership to Unlock the Potential of Diversity.”
Hadiya Roderique, a lawyer, writer, speaker and co-host of a political podcast, shared her personal experiences of exclusion in her work during her keynote address.
The daughter of two immigrant parents, Roderique had entered law school with the thought that it was a “safe place” to put her parents’ dreams for her into fruition. But when she made it to the largest law firm in Canada and was the only black woman there, she felt she didn’t fit in.
Roderique spoke of creating consistent hiring processes, noting the unfairness and exclusion that can accompany a job application. She also encouraged workers to speak out when discrimination happens in the workplace, even when it isn’t overtly noticeable.
“It takes someone to speak up,” said Roderique. “That someone could be you.”
The event also featured the 2018 Employer Excellence Awards, where local employers Assent Compliance, RBC, RealDecoy and Shopify were honoured for hiring and integrating immigrants into the workplace.
- Assent Compliance was recognized for its growing diversity and inclusion in their workplace, which includes a peer-to-peer program to help mentor new hires, particularly immigrants.
- Embedding diversity and inclusion into its culture is why RBC received its award of excellence. The group has its employees participate in diversity and inclusiveness training, working on understanding and overcoming unconscious bias.
- Business technology specialist group RealDecoy has a mentorship program to help its new immigrant employees during the onboarding processes. The group received an award for its diversity and inclusion.
- Shopify has a bootcamp program that gives immigrant software developers the opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge, teamwork and problem-solving abilities while gaining practical skills.