Corporate and community leaders gathered Wednesday at the National Arts Centre to celebrate the local and national businesses that are leading the way in workplace diversity.
The Hire Immigrants Ottawa’s annual Employer Council of Champions Summit and Awards event aims to highlight the importance of working with new Canadians and calls attention to the organizations that are excelling in the area.
Leading up to this year’s awards, guests were treated to a keynote address by Tej Singh Hazra, a diversity, inclusion and belonging expert, as well as an immigrant to Canada. Hazra shared his emotional journey with the audience: from facing racism in the United Kingdom, to immigrating to Canada in the 1990s, to working in the diversity and inclusion sector after adopting his son, who has a disability.
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“Many of us have experienced being an outsider, desperately looking for that insider to help,” said Hazra, explaining how many newcomers struggle to find a way to integrate into Canada’s society and workforce. “I’m here to ask you all to be cognizant and look for that outsider in your personal and professional life. Look for the outsider who has fought incredible odds to be sitting across the table from you in that interview room.”
Hosted by the CBC’s Adrian Harewood, this year’s theme of “building influence for change” saw the event honour Ottawa’s Cuso International, Lim Geomatics and The Ottawa Hospital with the Employer Excellence Award.
A not-for-profit organization working to end poverty and inequality on a global scale, Cuso International was recognized for training its staff to relate inter-culturally, helping non-native English speakers develop their skills with templates and being accommodating towards language and geographical barriers during the interview process.
Lim Geomatics, a geospatial technology firm, was also recognized for its recruitment of immigrant workers, as well as its ability to support employees working internationally and its efforts to utilize workers’ existing overseas academic and professional credentials.
“We look for a passion for learning, a passion for the work we do and a passion to improve the company you’re working in,” said company director Nick Gralewicz, who accepted the award for Lim Geomatics. “This, rather than where a person is from, has always served us well as we continue to grow our team and create a strong diverse and inclusive culture.”
The Ottawa Hospital was also awarded for its work in employing new Canadians and ensuring that they are embraced in the workplace. By working with local immigrant service agencies and attending job fairs to meet with and understand the limitations immigrant workers face, the various hospital campuses earned the honour as examples of inclusivity in the community.
“Having a staff population which reflects the diverse community that we serve is critical to enabling our vision of providing world class care and treating every patient as a loved one,” said director Jen Osseni, who accepted the award for the Ottawa Hospital.
Hire Immigrants Ottawa also recognized RBC, Friesens Corporation and the College Nordique Francophone for their accommodation of immigrant workers in other parts of Canada.
The second half of the event focused on attendees sharing their experiences of hiring and working alongside new Canadians, as well as a panel discussing how to build diverse and inclusive relationships in the workplace.