What You Need To Know

A diverse workforce is important and can help provide different ways of thinking that help to improve an organization’s ability to deliver goods and services. Diversity adds value and long-term competitive benefits.

A diverse workforce better reflects your customers and the community in which you provide your goods and services.

The workforce in Prince Edward Island is changing. The overall population is aging, for example, and as people leave the workforce more jobs become vacant. To fill these vacancies, employers must cast a wider net. This may include recruiting from a broader, and more diverse, pool of applicants. Businesses benefit if they understand the needs of managing a diverse workforce, overcome real or perceived challenges, and confront stereotypes.

Newcomers, international workers, temporary foreign workers, and international students are eager to obtain Canadian work experience. Hiring these individuals is not as complicated as you may think.

As permanent residents of Canada, they are legally entitled to work here. If they live in the province, no special processes are required. They represent a large pool of well- educated working-age individuals. Temporary foreign workers may be hired to fill temporary labour shortages, however, you will first need to show that there are no Canadians available to do the work. Hiring temporary foreign workers must not negatively affect our labour market.

You also need to be aware that how people communicate may differ between cultures. For example, avoiding eye contact is a sign of respect in some cultures.

Did you know?

3 Canadians in 10 will identify as a visible minority over the next two decades.

Source: Statistics Canada, Projections of the Diversity of the Canadian Population 2006-2031

Why You Need To Know

Having employees from different backgrounds can be a valuable asset. Newcomers and international workers will help you gain insights into other countries and cultures. They may help you enter new markets for your products and services. They will help you understand different cultural practices that are essential for business success.

You will need to address differences in expectations in the workplace. For example, in some cultures, a self-managed career is not common. You will need to consider strategies to help them understand Canadian work culture.

Communication is particularly important when the work has specialized terms. Even everyday English terms may not be understood clearly. For example, “raining cats and dogs,” “freezing to death,” “piece of cake,” “costs an arm and a leg,” “let the cat out of the bag,” “when pigs fly,” and “hit the nail on the head” are very common phrases in Canadian English. These idioms can be confusing to persons who do not have complete fluency in English.

Remember, discrimination on the basis of culture or place of origin is illegal under the Canadian Human Rights Act.

What You Need To Do

Make diversity a company goal. Build a diverse workplace culture and hire people who are open to diversity. Start at the top and set an example for your employees.

A buddy system or peer mentoring can help newcomers or international workers fit into your work culture. It can also help break down barriers between your current workforce and newcomers or international workers.

You may also need to consider language training courses for newcomer or international workers. This is particularly true if the work involves specialized terms.

Consider cultural competency training for you and your employees. This proactive approach will prevent problems down the road.

Connect with services and agencies that provide employment support, for example, the PEI Association for Newcomers to Canada and RDÉE Prince Edward Island.