June 2013

Manitoba Chamber of Commerce

Issue link: http://publications.winnipegfreepress.com/i/141831

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WALKING THE WALK COMMIT TO RECRUITING ABORIGINAL WORKERS By Pat St. Germain W e all support diversity in theory, but do you put your money where your mouth is? Business leaders in every industry are concerned about a looming labour shortage as baby boomers retire in increasing numbers. Meanwhile, aboriginal youth represent the fastest-growing population segment in the country — and they also have the highest rates of unemployment. "There's a logical fit between those two things," says CIBC director of diversity strategies Gene Jamieson. So how do we close the gap? Deloitte report Widening the Circle: Increasing Opportunities for Aboriginal People in the Workplace offers 10 strategies, all of which CIBC has already embraced. Jamieson says employers must cultivate sincere relationships in the aboriginal community. CIBC has an Aboriginal Employee Circle that facilitates networking and cultural celebrations, as well as an onboarding program that matches new hires with aboriginal employees who can help them navigate through their first months on the job. Recently, CIBC hosted an education, experience and exposure program for First Nations, Metis and Inuit people in Toronto. It included a networking session and workshops on interview skills and self-marketing. Participants had mock job interviews with CIBC recruiters who provided feedback. And those recruiters had training to put the interviews in cultural context. For example, they were told that some — not all — aboriginal people might avoid eye contact. "If this particular person doesn't look at you when they answer the question, it doesn't mean they're not confident. They may just be — out of respect — not staring you down," Jamieson says. By the same token, if someone is silent during a meeting, it doesn't mean they have nothing to contribute. Deloitte partner and chief diversity officer Jane Allen says that person may just want to avoid coming off as a blowhard. Companies doing business in Japan or China would educate employees about cultural differences, and we should accord aboriginal Canadians the same respect. "The aboriginal culture is different and it is one that non-aboriginals should get to know and understand if they really want to make a difference in creating stronger connections and increasing employment," she says. More than half of the aboriginal population lives in urban centres, close to the business action. In remote areas, some employers — such as mining companies — fly workers in rather than court local workers who are already familiar with the landscape. "If you're not taking advantage of the talent pool that you've got right near your operation then there's a big gap in your thinking," Allen says. "Why wouldn't you look at the pool of people close to you geographically and how you can employ them, even if it involves providing more education and training?" Young people have to be made aware of the career opportunities that are available to them, and they need access to education so they can pursue those opportunities. And companies have to make longterm commitments to sustainable training, hiring and retention programs that grow and have real impact. DELOITTE'S 10 BEST PRACTICES FOR INCREASING OPPORTUNITIES FOR ABORIGINAL PEOPLE IN THE WORKPLACE. >> Partner with high schools, colleges and universities. >> Provide students with internships to give them training/experience. >> Question standard job requirements. >> Review screening/hiring/advancement practices to recognize unconventional talent and cultural differences. >> Conduct companywide cultural training. >> Hire more than one aboriginal person. >> Promote aboriginal people to senior roles. >> Assess business/employment practices that could provide barriers to aboriginal people. >> Develop an aboriginal hiring and retention strategy. >> Communicate and celebrate successes. www.deloitte.com SUMMER 2013 MBiz June 2013_final.indd Sec2:w 'peg BIZ | 23 6/21/13 4:48:45 PM

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