Cuso International

A Values-Driven Approach that Works

Cuso International is a not-for-profit, development organization with a vision and mission to eradicate poverty and inequality through the efforts of highly skilled volunteers, collaborative partnerships and compassionate donors. Cuso International’s values are reflected not only in the development work overseas, but also in ensuring that the organization itself lives these values by creating a welcoming, supportive and empowering workplace for all.

As an organization with projects in 17 different countries across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, when recruiting Cuso International encourages applications from candidates with diverse language profiles, as well as those with significant work experience outside of Canada. Cuso International seeks candidates with flexibility and adaptability and recognizes that immigrants often possess large reserves of those capabilities.

In order to recruit diverse talent, Cuso International not only posts extensively online to reach a wide audience, but also uses unique forums such as the OneWorld Film Festival to profile the organization and opportunities available. Cuso International also participates in coaching sessions for new immigrants, providing a chance to profile the organization and opportunities within the charitable sector, as well as to support newcomer candidates with interview preparation and resume review.

Cuso International assembles diverse hiring panels in terms of age, gender, ethnicity and language skills and offers Skype interviews to accommodate the different geographic locations of candidates and to bring in overseas colleagues in the interview process. In recognition of the fact that many candidates are not interviewing in their native language, Cuso International uses a variety of assessment methods – such as written assignments, presentations and reference checks – to help ensure that candidates have a range of different ways to showcase their skills and experience.

Cuso International places a strong emphasis on training and onboarding for staff and volunteers. All employees go through a comprehensive onboarding process that is spread over a two-week period that includes meetings with key contacts inside and outside the organization and on-the-job training including shadowing with an experienced colleague. There is a buddy system to provide support to new employees in the first few months. Where new immigrant employees have good verbal language skills but may benefit from additional support with the written language skills required for their role, Cuso International has created communication templates and enables team-member buddies to assist with email proof-reading or the crafting of more complex communication.

All Cuso International volunteers selected for overseas placements participate in a 5-day in-house training course that explores many aspects of inter-cultural effectiveness including power, disadvantage, communication, and conflict resolution. Most Ottawa-based staff have also participated in this training in recognition that the same skills that allow Canadians to be successful overseas are also critical to working in a cross-cultural environment in Ottawa. In addition, many Cuso International staff have participated in Hire Immigrants Ottawa’s Cross Cultural Competency training.

Immigrant employees and volunteers have benefited from Cuso International’s open and inclusive values-driven approach. Diversity and inclusion at Cuso International are allowing the organization to gain new skills, build capacity, and strengthen innovative ideas in addressing poverty and injustice.

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