2016 Employer Council of Champions Summit and Awards


The Honourable John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

“To fully leverage the benefits of diversity, we must be aware of how our unconscious biases can affect our perceptions and the decisions we make” said Frank Bilodeau, Vice-President, Scotiabank and co-chair of HIO’s Employer Council of Champions in his opening remarks at the 2016 Summit.

This was the stage-setting message for the ninth annual HIO Employer’s Summit, held March 8 and 9, at the Shaw Centre in Ottawa. The two-day event brought more than 150 leaders from business, government and NGOs to learn about unconscious bias and how it can undermine organizations’ and leaders’ best intentions and efforts to foster diverse and inclusive workplaces.

In their remarks to participants, the co-chairs of the Employer Council of Champions (ECC), Frank Bilodeau and Gaye Moffet, Founder, GEM Healthcare Services Inc., reiterated the important role of employers and businesses in fostering effective labour market outcomes for newcomers by addressing systemic challenges in the workplace. They also highlighted some achievements of the HIO initiative over the past three years.

The Honourable John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada gave an update on Canada’s resettlement of Syrian refugees, announcing that the government had met its target of receiving 25,000 refugees by the end of February timeline, and he encouraged employers to support the labour market integration of all newcomers. Deputy Mayor Mark Taylor provided greetings from the City of Ottawa and spoke about the benefits and strengths of a diverse population.


Vandana Juneja, Catalyst

The Keynote Address – From Unconscious Bias to Inclusive Leadership – was delivered by Vandana Juneja, Senior Director, Catalyst Canada, a non-profit organization that raises awareness about how workplace inclusion benefits today’s global businesses. Ms. Juneja talked about the visible and invisible diversities within the workforce, and how inclusive workplaces can leverage those diversities to improve an organization’s financial performance, market reputation, employee productivity and group performance.

A fundamental step in achieving these positive outcomes is to address unconscious biases, which can cascade throughout an organization to become systemic. Read the Keynote Highlights…

Four employers, Export Development Canada, Hydro Ottawa, La Coccinelle d’Orléans, and OZ Optics received HIO’s 2016 Employer Excellence Awards, which recognize Ottawa employers who have demonstrated outstanding practices in recruiting and retaining newcomer talent. Read the Award Winner’s Stories…

Three organizations, Cinnaroll Bakeries Ltd, Calgary; Highline Mushrooms, Leamington Ontario, and; Prince George Hotel, Halifax also received Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada’s 2016 Employer Awards for Refugee Employment.

An important part of each year’s Summit is the Learning Exchange. Annahid Dashtgard, Senior Partner at Anima Leadership Inc. led participants through an afternoon of small group discussion, personal reflection and shared story-telling as a means of uncovering bias and blind spots. Annahid provided useful tips for reducing personal biases and strategies to reduce bias within organizations. Read Workshop Highlights…

Heidi Hauver, Vice President, Human Resources at Pythian, shared her experiences working with internationally trained professionals at the highly successful global IT company. Heidi recommended a number of promising practices for employers looking to enhance their practices around hiring and integrating newcomers into the workplace. Read the Success Story highlights…

Following the Learning Exchange, local employers came together with skilled immigrant job seekers for an evening of informal professional networking.

Upcoming Events

1:00 pm Intercultural Problem-Solving St...
Intercultural Problem-Solving St...
Aug 28 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Most intercultural conflict is related to perceptual differences. In this session we will discuss: developing strategies to identify and address communication style differences; learning when and how to address non-verbal issues of concern; using a ... Read More
1:00 pm Effective Cultural Adaptation St...
Effective Cultural Adaptation St...
Sep 10 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Through research, we can now describe the profile of the person who adapts inter-culturally (both to culture and to workplace) most effectively. In this session we will focus on: exploring the adaptation process and the ... Read More
1:00 pm Dimensions of Inclusiveness
Dimensions of Inclusiveness
Sep 19 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Our facilitator will be joined by a panel of New Canadians in this interactive session focused on creating dialogue among new internationally educated professionals (IEPs) and current teams in your workplace. We will explore and ... Read More
1:00 pm Culturally Competent Interviewin...
Culturally Competent Interviewin...
Sep 26 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
In this interactive learning session we will explore how the sending and receiving of messages during the interview can lead to misinterpretations and misconceptions. We will use a paradigm to build skills that are interpreted ... Read More
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