New immigrants to Canada face difficulties while they are trying to find employment. There can be a struggle to be accepted into specific jobs because of foreign experience, name, or education. However, there are things that you, as a recruiter, can do to make it easier for a new immigrant in the workplace.

Earlier this year, Randstad’s employee resource group for immigrants and refugees met up to discuss ways that people and organizations can come together to build a more inclusive, welcoming and safe workplaces for immigrants. In those discussions, the importance of having a supportive workplace came up repeatedly. As an employer in a diverse nation where over 22% of the workforce are immigrants, it’s critical that you carefully consider how your workplace can support immigrant employees and ensure they feel safe, welcome and supported. This article will dive into some of the key insights that emerged from our roundtable discussions and provide actionable ideas to build a stronger, more inclusive work environment.

rethink language that you use 

Does your job description contain sublet-coded language? Or are there markers within your job description that could or would put off a new immigrant from applying to the position? The language you’re using within the job posting could be coded, which may make minority groups feel excluded. For example, overly using he/him pronouns in a job description can make female candidates feel excluded from the position. Writing a job description that is inclusive to everyone is essential, not only for new immigrants but for anyone else who may be interested in working at your company. To attract new immigrants to the position, are you asking the right things in the job description? Do you absolutely need a bilingual candidate, or is it nice to have one? Can you offer them language programs or other resources to help them or other employees in similar situations? Think about what they might see while reading your job descriptions and write it with them included. Want more insights on using inclusive language at work? Check out our guide on this topic.

narrow down what you really need in job descriptions

When someone reads your job posting and sees a laundry list of qualifications and tasks, it only creates bigger barriers. This is especially true for marginalized groups. It often leads to overqualified candidates overshadowing marginalized groups from moving forward in the job market. Your job description should have the bare minimum of what you are looking for. An inclusive job description is written so that everyone would feel like they’d be included at your company and welcome to apply, regardless of their gender, ethnic background, cultural beliefs, sexual orientation, age or disability. The wording in your job posting is critical to leaving the door open for marginalized people to feel included. It’s your first impression with potential new candidates who are getting a glimpse to see what your company’s values look like. This is your opportunity to highlight what your company values in candidates.

look beyond canadian experience

No Canadian experience? No job. This is a very close-minded way of conducting business and leads to poor inclusivity within your organization. There shouldn’t be a lack of recognition for foreign education and experience within your recruitment process. Yes, certain industries need specific skills or training that can only be certified in Canada. However, if you’re not within one of those industries, try to look at their education and find out a little more information on that school and how they might have been taught or trained there. Foreign experience can be beneficial to any company. So spend some time researching foreign companies that your applicants have worked for. Don’t write them off because they’re not local or have instantly recognizable foreign names. Take some time and look into the size and scope of the new immigrant’s work experience that they’ve had in their previous country and think of how that experience can be beneficial to your company. 

avoid name discrimination

We, unfortunately, live in a prejudiced society. However, there are many ways to learn to undo the prejudices and implicit biases that have been learned over the years. There are many anti-biased training programs that you can join or get your entire team or company to partake in. Changing your recruitment processes to be more inclusive will help you find the best candidate for the position you’re trying to fill. Note: blind resume screening used to be very trendy, but it’s falling out of favour as it allows people to ignore their biases rather than confront them and work on their discriminatory behaviour. It’s also hard for people, mostly new immigrants, to hide their cultural identity as their work experience is most likely from their native country and may include a foreign name. Have conversations, educate your team, and do better when it comes to naming discrimination. 

think ‘cultural add’ rather than ‘cultural fit’ 

Consider hiring for culture add rather than culture fit. Change your thinking from will the 'fit in' with our current team to will this new candidate bring a fresh perspective to the team? Hiring for a 'cultural fit' essentially means hiring someone you believe in matching the company's DNA and fitting in with the team. However, they soon led to discriminatory hiring practices and a very homogenized group. This practice harms not only your current workers but also candidates as well. Companies lose out on meeting candidates they deem not fit within their company's DNA and are losing out on learning from different people. 

Culture and corporate values will always be critical to the success of any business. Moving from culture fit to culture add shifts your recruiting efforts from defensive to proactive, making your company culture ready for the future rather than constrained by the past.

keep up the momentum on your D&I journey

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