Congratulations to the 2013 Employer Excellence Award Recipients!
The following Ottawa employers were recognized at the 2013 Employer Council of Champions Summit for their outstanding practices in the recruitment and retention of skilled immigrants in their workplaces.
Kivuto Solutions Inc. – Small-Size Employer, Recruitment Category
Kivuto Solutions Inc. (previously known as e-academy) is a global leader in complex digital distribution solutions. Its employee base reflects this global reach, with half of its employees, including the founder and CEO, born outside of Canada and many of its clients spread around the world. For Kivuto, the most important ingredient in its recruitment practice is to hire the best candidate for the job. Hiring managers at the company, who have attended HIO’s cross-cultural training workshops, evaluate prospective candidates for a position based on their skills, education and ‘fit’ with the company culture. Interview questions have been simplified to avoid misunderstanding, and acronyms and culturally based expressions are avoided if possible. Staff members from other countries are invited 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. International degrees are accepted at face value; it’s the person’s knowledge, as well as the ability to learn and adapt, and attitude — the ‘soft’ skills — that are considered to be most important. Kivuto’s “working” language is English, but other language competencies are highly valued.
The company uses a number of sources to hire its skilled talent. These include In-TAC/OCCSC (International Talent Acquisition Centre), a community organization that helps immigrants find jobs in their area of expertise. Additionally, Kivuto places ads or calls out to local community organizations that serve specific cultural/language groups (for example, Ottawa Japanese Community Association).
Kivuto recognizes that skilled immigrants have been an integral part of their business growth and success, and that diverse talent has given their company a competitive edge when it comes to serving and expanding their international client base.
“Everyone at Kivuto has been exposed to the value that immigrants bring to the table. Inclusion, openness and respect has been naturally embedded into all of the company’s human resources management and business practices since the day it was founded,” says Janet Robertson, human resources consultant.
Bridgehead – Medium-Size Employer, Retention Category
For Bridgehead, a coffeehouse and roaster business that operates in various ‘neighbourhoods’ across the city, diversity in its employee base is at the root of its growing success. Employees not only reflect the diverse neighbourhoods in which the coffeehouses are located, but also provide sustainability and resilience. Bridgehead recognizes that employees with different maturity levels, advanced skills, international experience and work ethic help to enhance service, as well as mentor and develop younger employees.
Bridgehead has taken many measures to attract and retain a diverse team. The company has built networks with community organizations serving immigrants, actively participates in community job fairs, and is commited to providing all employees with opportunities for personal and professional growth . Bridgehead promotes from within through its management apprenticeship program — paying rigorous attention to fairness and diverse representation. All staff, including entry-level employees, are offered an opportunity to become a team leader and are encouraged to build their leadership and supervisory skills. Following this, an employee can become a trainer, after which he or she may apply for a manager apprenticeship position. Once a manager, employees continue to receive encouragement and support. This can take the form of complimentary training and development (for example, by participating in the Leadership Ottawa program, attending a program through the Sprott School of Business), as well as time off and reduced work hours to enable an employee to attend a training course or program.
All new hires receive 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 is also helping to build an inclusive community, by supporting cultural events and organizations across the city, and providing employees with paid volunteer leave.
“Having a more diverse workforce and access to internationally trained workers gives us an opportunity to better understand and meet the needs of the fairly diverse clientele we serve,” says Mia Eriksson Blundell, HR Manager.