Building Relationships and Influence across Difference

“Starting from a ‘standstill’ is very difficult” said Chris Pulfer, P. Eng., Principal at the Posterity Group highlighting the challenges of newcomers starting a job search in Canada without professional networks here. Musset Pierre-Jerome, Human Resources Advisor, Employment and Social Development Canada echoed this challenge from his own perspective, recounting his journey to Canada and the difficulty of understanding nuances in the Canadian system and plugging into networks.

Discussing the importance of relationship-building to her own professional journey in Canada, Tatiana Tolstsik, Recruitment and Selection Coordinator with the House of Commons, described how she would develop and foster new connections in any space she could. She shared advice with newcomers in the room, “it’s ok to ask for support and feedback” and that taking risks and getting out of one’s comfort zone can be important to building success.

Amy MacLeod, Corporate Diversity Officer and Vice President Strategic Communications at Mitel shared examples of mentorship and coaching programs and structures that can be put in place within organizations to support relationship-building, trust and opportunities. Amy emphasized the role of reciprocal or reverse mentorship programs as being particularly valuable, and can have unexpected and unintended benefits – often leading to new perspectives, opportunities and changes within organizations.

All panelists highlighted how their own perspectives and knowledge has been deepened through mentorship and relationship-building. Further, for workplaces, there was consensus that a deeper understanding of diverse experiences and the ability for individuals to be themselves at work are key to organizations being more productive and making better business decisions.

Pulfer described his experience mentoring newcomers as having been deeply influential to him and that this experience has propelled him to encourage his Canadian peers to consider mentoring newcomers. Both Pulfer and Pierre-Jerome described how sharing their own “insider perspectives” is one small and easy way to help welcome newcomers and build a more inclusive society.

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