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Considerations of a Diverse Workplace

To assist you in creating and maintaining a diverse workplace, this article will help you explore some of the unique aspects and possible considerations associated with a number of underemployed groups. Keep in mind that you need to remain as open minded as possible and view all individuals as having unique skills, abilities and experiences.

Immigrants

Hiring immigrants is not the complicated process it is thought to be. There is no special process for hiring immigrants who are currently living in the province. Immigrants are permanent residents of Canada and are legally entitled to work in Canada. They represent a large pool of educated working age individuals.

Some of the unique aspects you may encounter when hiring Immigrants are:

  • Lack of Canadian work experience
  • Lack of recognition of foreign education, work experience and professional credentials by professional associations
  • Limited understanding of Canadian work culture
  • Limited understanding of the English language
  • Difficulty matching skilled immigrants into high demand positions

Points you may need to consider when hiring immigrants are:

  • Being aware that a self-managed career may be a new concept for certain cultures. Some individuals may find self-promotion and networking difficult.
  • The provision of a buddy/mentor system for newly hired immigrants may ease the transition into the workplace.
  • Strong role models in management positions will assist in helping immigrants become aware of the workplace expectations.
  • Communication can be affected by cultural factors. For example, in some cultures not making eye contact is a sign of respect.
  • Immigrants may encounter some language barriers. Arrangements may need to be made to help the immigrant worker acquire additional language courses in English. It may also be helpful to explain the meanings of some of the commonly used words and phrases that may be unique to the Prince Edward Island culture.
  • It may be beneficial for you to connect with support services and agencies that provide employment services to New Canadians.

Other Potential Sources of Foreign Workers

Other potential sources of foreign workers you may wish to consider are:

International Post- Secondary Students

International post–secondary students are individuals that were born in another country to non-Canadian parents and are currently residing and studying at an educational institute in Canada. These students are eligible to work off-campus for up to 20 hours per week during regular semesters and full time during semester breaks. They are also permitted to work full time during their work term semesters. In order to work off-campus they must apply for an Off-Campus Work Permit. Upon graduation, international post–secondary students are permitted to apply for a Post Graduate Work permit. This would allow the international student to be eligible for an open work permit valid up to three years.

Temporary Foreign Workers

The federal government allows eligible foreign workers to work in Canada on a temporary basis.

Employers must demonstrate an inability to find suitable Canadians or permanent residents to fill jobs and must show that the entry of the worker will not negatively impact the Canadian labour market. Employers from all types of businesses can recruit foreign workers to meet temporary labour shortages.

Provincial Nominees

The Prince Edward Island Provincial Nominee program seeks to recruit immigrants who have specialized occupational or entrepreneurial skills. Through an agreement with the Government of Canada, the Government of Prince Edward Island can nominate individuals, who will contribute to the economic and social goals of the province, for permanent resident status.

For more information on hiring immigrants and foreign workers please refer to one of the two following sources:

Prince Edward Island Employer Guide to Hiring Foreign Workers: www.gov.pe.ca/photos/original/ISFWBENG.pdf

Prince Edward Island Office of Immigration, Settlement, and Population: www.opportunitiespei.ca

Persons with Disabilities

An often overlooked group of potential employees are persons with disabilities. Many employers feel that they lack the knowledge or the resources to hire a person with a disability. The reality is that people with disabilities often have the abilities, skills, and education that employers are looking for and the cost of accommodating a person with a disability in the workplace may be minimal.

Some of the unique aspects you may encounter when hiring persons with disabilities are:

  • Some workplaces are not physically accessible to people who use wheelchairs, have limited vision or other disabilities.
  • Some people are uncomfortable around others who have disabilities and avoid interacting with the person.
  • People may not be aware that just because a person has a disability. It does not mean they are unable to perform to the same level as a person without a disability.

Points you may need to consider when hiring persons with disabilities are:

  • Create a flexible work situation. Examine the job. Is there potential for it to be done differently? Ask yourself these questions: Can there be a mix of responsibilities? Can the job be done in a different location? Can there be a different schedule?
  • Create an inclusive workplace.
  • It may be beneficial for you to connect with support services and agencies that provide employment services to persons with disabilities.

For more information on programs in your community related to hiring persons with disabilities please view the Links to support program section or visit

Prince Edward Island Council of People with Disabilities: www.peicod.pe.ca/

Aboriginal Peoples

In Prince Edward Island there are several recognized Aboriginal Peoples. Some of the unique aspects you may encounter when hiring aboriginal peoples are:

  • Although educational achievement among the Aboriginal population is on the rise, some aboriginal peoples have learned many skills throughout their life experiences that are transferable to the workplace.
  • Some people are uncomfortable because they have no knowledge about Aboriginal people and are fearful of saying something to offend them leaving Aboriginals feeling isolated in the workplace.

Points you may need to consider when hiring aboriginal peoples are:

  • Consider life experience in addition to educational milestones
  • Be sensitive to social issues
  • Be aware of the role of the family
  • Work on developing trusting relationships so that individuals do not feel isolated in the workplace
  • Educate staff about the history and culture of aboriginal groups.


Older Workers

People are enjoying better health and living longer; as such they may not wish to retire from the work force or they may wish to take on a part time job once they are past retirement age. Many employers are making adjustments to their workplaces to maintain their older workers.

Some of the unique aspects you may encounter when hiring older workers are:

  • Older workers may prefer more flexible work hours or reduced work schedules.
  • There are no additional health costs or lost time associated with hiring an older worker.

Points you may need to consider when hiring older workers are:

  • Ongoing benefits are particularly important for older workers.
  • Provided that older workers meet all the physical requirements for a particular position, there is no reason they cannot perform the same duties as a younger worker.
  • Older workers value training and programs that allow them to upgrade their skills.
  • Older workers appreciate opportunities to mentor new workers or younger workers.

Women

Women make up a significant number of our population yet they remain underemployed in traditionally male dominated jobs.

Some of the unique aspects you may encounter when hiring women workers are:

  • Women often experience conflict between working and having a family.
  • Adequate and affordable childcare is sometimes lacking.
  • Women often experience a lack of sensitivity with regard to their work and home life demands.
  • Women often lack supportive workplace policies and practices.

Points you may need to consider when hiring women are:

  • Offer a flexible range of work options that works for the individual staff member.
  • Be able to respond to the changing needs of individuals.
  • Ensure that supervisors are attentive to the needs of women and act as role models.
  • Ensure that women on maternity / parental leave feel connected to your organization to ensure a smoother transition upon their return. If women make the choice to not return leave the door open to ensure that they feel welcome to return when and if they choose to do so.

Youth

Youth represent the future of businesses. Employers are examining their current hiring practices to ensure that any positions they have are attractive to young people.

Some of the unique aspects you may encounter when hiring youth are:

  • Youth have many opportunities to choose from so employers need to appeal to their interests.
  • Pay may not be as important to youth as lifestyle.
  • Youth are focused more on their careers and look for ways to reach their career goals.
  • Youth are very independent and see this as an extension of their individuality.
  • Youth dislike routine and if they are placed in a routine job they can become uninterested and unfocused.

Points you may need to consider when hiring youth are:

  • Young workers bring new perspectives to the workplace.
  • Youth are more concerned with skill and knowledge based opportunities than long term job security.
  • Ongoing feedback is critical to youth.
  • Youth are technologically savvy and use technology tools as part of their work and lifestyle.
  • Youth expect their work environment to be sociable, fun and flexible.
  • Youth are very comfortable in a diverse workplace.

Additional Tips 1

Additional tips when managing a diverse multi generational workforce:

  • Create an awareness of the different attitudes towards work and flexible employment options.
  • Train leaders and managers on generational/cultural differences.
  • Implement a variety of family friendly programs or policies such as child care, eldercare services and parental leave.
  • Consider offering career development workshops that target the unique needs of each generation.
  • Give prompt and useful feedback, letting each employee know what you see as his or her individual strengths and opportunities for growth.
  • Encourage formal and informal mentoring.
  • Communicate often and in as many different ways as possible.

1 Source: How to Attract, Retain and Engage Employees, p. 12

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