New Canadian Media
Thursday, 09 March 2017 21:34

Looking Beyond the Name on a Resumé

Commentary by Vivian Li in Toronto

In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare gave us the famous line “What is in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” While he was stating, with a noble intention, that it’s not the name of a person but their content and character that truly matters, we know that in 2017 our relationship with our own names and how they’re perceived by others isn’t so simple.

Names matter. For many people they’re a major reflection of our identities, origins, family histories, and the expectations and wishes of our parents symbolized onto us by the very word we use to not only personally identify with but also to introduce ourselves to the world.

When it comes to employment, recent research has shown that names definitely do have an impact on how people are perceived and unfortunately this can manifest in a negative way.

A newly released joint University of Toronto and Ryerson study shows discrimination and hiring bias are present when it comes to applicants with Asian (defined in the study as Indian, Pakistani or Chinese) names. In a study of data from a 2011 Canadian employment audit, researchers analyzed nearly 13,000 job applications for over 3000 job postings in Toronto and Montreal.

Even when all qualifications were equal and the individual was Canadian in origin, the study found that applicants with an Asian name were 28 per cent less likely to get called for an interview compared to applicants with a more traditional Anglo-based name. The callback rate for an interview deteriorates even further when the applicant’s education or work experience was from outside of Canada.

Small vs. Big organizations

The study also shows that smaller companies exhibit even worse discrimination than larger organizations, likely due to lack of resources and internal diversity awareness programs. In companies with fewer than 500 employees, the chance of an applicant with an Asian name and of Canadian origin getting a call for an interview was 42% less, and this drops to a staggering 68% less when the applicant’s education and work history was international.

Following the release of the study, RBC and Ryerson University co-sponsored a panel discussion event moderated by Ratna Omidvar, Senator and Visiting Professor, Global Diversity Exchange at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University. The goal was to explore the challenges discovered by the research and identify ways to eliminate these types of persisting hiring biases.

Hiring from the community

As an Asian Canadian and one of the RBCers who were invited to the event and discussion, my feelings were hopeful but also bittersweet. On the one hand, I continue to be very proud of working for a company like RBC where 33 per cent of our workforce is made up of visible minorities, surpassing the Canadians average of 25 per cent by a sizable margin.

In my role as Senior Manager, Inclusive Recruitment, I know from a wide range of personal experiences that hiring from the community to serve the community has always been one of our most effective and rewarding guiding principles. We’ve passionately built a suite of forward-thinking programs designed to help immigrants and new Canadians build their career at RBC, including ourCareer Edge internship and TRIEC mentoring programs, and RBC volunteers also actively participate in various speed-mentoring events with newcomers to help us look beyond a resume and meet the person behind the name.

Visible minorities are also highly represented in our own recruitment team, which helps us build the cultural competency needed to truly understand the nuanced needs of new Canadians and leads us to address unconscious bias when it comes to screening resumes.

On the other hand, if the study indicates that society in general still interprets minority status negatively then it unavoidably has a potentially negative impact in organizations all across Canada.

Hiring biases

Canada is an immigrant country and by 2035, almost 100 per cent of the Canadian population growth will depend on immigration. Hiring bias against minorities will hugely impact our ability to build competitive advantage both as a company and a country.

So what can we do differently?

We often talk about how diversity is the mix and inclusion is how we make the mix work well together. The bottom line is that in order to make the mix work well together, each one of us needs to look within and examine our own conscious or unconscious bias. It is human nature to favour people who are most like us and view people who are in our own groups as being more favourable than “the others.” A lot of the time, addressing unconscious is about asking ourselves uncomfortable questions (see graphic alongside).

With that in mind, my challenge to everyone is this: the next time you’re looking at a resume and decide to put it aside, pause for a moment and ask yourself why you are doing it… and then look at the name.


Vivian Li is a Senior Manager responsible for inclusive recruitment at the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC). Prior to her experience in RBC, Vivian worked as an HR professional with Bell Canada.

Published in Economy

by Shan Qiao in Toronto   

Hiring multi-language speaking staff, creating real-time interpretation apps, even launching an ethnic bank to serve primarily immigrants, Canadian banking business operators are getting fiercely competitive to woo business from immigrants.

Aiming to “become a preferred bank for the Chinese community in Canada”, Wealth One Bank of Canada (WOBC) has begun operations in Vancouver and Toronto. It is the very first Chinese-founded and -invested bank in Canada, a federally chartered Schedule I Bank under the Bank Act and regulated by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions.

The man behind it, the founder and also the Vice Chair of the WOBC Board, Shenglin Xian, says from his Vancouver office that there are only 28 such foreign banks in Canada. “It is a historic moment for the Chinese community.”

Shenglin Xian, who is a well-known Chinese community financial advisor, has his own company Shenglin Financial Group Inc. located in North York, Toronto. He got into financial consultancy after he immigrated to Canada in 1990.

Same language, better understanding

“Currently, we will focus on serving the Chinese Canadians from the Great Vancouver Area and the Great Toronto Area. We will hire Mandarin and Cantonese speaking employees. Our service slogan is ‘same language, better understanding (translation)’,” he continues, explaining what he envisions as a respect for Chinese values and culture.

“Although all five major banks in Canada provide Chinese language service, the banking system is still operated under mainstream preference. We want to favour our Chinese clients with a tailored and Asian-styled service,” he continues.

“Although all five major banks in Canada provide Chinese language service, the banking system is still operated under mainstream preference. We want to favour our Chinese clients with a tailored and Asian-styled service,” he continues.

Ming Gu, a senior news producer from Toronto, also a Chinese immigrant who came to Canada in early 90's like Shenglin, has worked on a couple of translation projects for one of the five major banks for their Chinese language website.

He completely agrees with the fact that providing ethnic language service is not quite the same as bridging two different banking systems: Canada’s and the immigrant source country's.

“China’s (banking system) is even more different. The policy and products are very much in the different zones as well. Service literally translated into Chinese language might not be helpful for immigrants to understand the meaning behind. For example, credit rating in Canada is very critical for banks to determine whether or not applicants can apply for line of credit and how much they can get. One SIN number check will bring up a very detailed credit history of the applicant. However, it doesn’t really exist in China’s banking system, letting along for Chinese newcomers to understand the importance of credit rating,” Ming explains.

Maggie Yuan works at a public relations firm which provides multi-language translation services for corporate Canada's ethnic marketing needs in the Chinese and South Asian markets. 

“For economic reasons, mainstream comapnies can’t afford to overlook the needs of immigrant communities. For big corporate accounts, I have been dealing with, especially in bank, insurance, public service, entertainment industry, the needs to have Chinese language translation have always been increasing. Companies strategically promote their investment in diversity to gain positive image in immigrant community. It’s quite political, but it’s also about business,” she says.

Overcoming language, culture barriers

The major Canadian banks are also stepping up, developing faster and more convenient tools to woo immigrant clients who face a language barrier. Just last month, Royal Bank of Canada, which already has a Chinese version of its website besides the official English and French language, introduced a new app – the first of its kind in North America – that provides clients with real-time video access to qualified interpreters.

Christine Shisler, RBC's Senior Director of Cultural Markets, explains why such a language app makes business sense.

“Regardless of which RBC branch a client visits, we’ll be able to offer service in the language of choice. This is critical in helping our client – especially newcomers – understand how banking works in Canada.”

Shisler stresses out that RBC wants to be the bank that newcomers turn to for all of the important firsts – from first bank account to first home purchase. That means a lot of tailored service in language and cultural senses.

Going further, the bank’s Beijing staff, for example, will help students and family initiate their financial transition even before they arrive in Canada, a more aggressive business approach similar to what Wealth One Bank of Canada is doing in the reverse direction. 

Published in Economy

AS Canada’s big banks release their quarterly financial results, new data from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) shows significant shifts in which banks Canada’s small- and medium-sized firms are using.

While Royal Bank still has the largest share of small and medium business customers, the landscape is changing.

 

Indo-Canadian Voice

Read Full Article

Published in Economy
Wednesday, 24 February 2016 16:55

"Diversity Without Inclusion Has No Meaning"

by Shan Qiao in Toronto

Employers and participants at the 2016 Diversity@Work Conference learned that creating diverse workplaces is about more than just hiring more newcomers.

“Inclusion is a state of being valued, respected and supported. It’s about focusing on the needs of every individual and ensuring the right conditions are in place for each person to achieve his or her full potential,” said keynote speaker Zanita DiSalle, who is Royal Bank of Canada’s (RBC) regional vice president for West Brampton.

She explained that diversity reaches should include all those traditionally “excluded” groups such as women, visible minorities, LGBT, aboriginal and indigenous people, persons with disabilities and millennials.

“Diversity without inclusion has no meaning. Without inclusive practice, there is no respect to people’s difference,” DiSalle continues. 

The role of the conference

About 150 participants, including job seekers, employers, human resources professionals, diversity consultants, lawyers and students attended the conference, held on Feb. 19 at Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management.

The conference organizer and executive director of Skills for Change, Surranna Sandy, expressed how important she feels the conference, now in its seventh year, is.

“We want employers to particularly understand the value and the role immigrants can play to make their businesses very successful. We look at different things, for example, how diversity helps you [business] make more money, helps you gain more customers, helps you retain your staff. This year, we look at the future for diversity, what strategies and tools you need to have,” Sandy added. 

“Inclusion is a state of being valued, respected and supported."

One speaker, filmmaker Ian Sun, explored how the technological revolution changed workplace diversity. Ontario Human Rights Commission’s chief commissioner Renu Mandhane was also present to discuss perspectives on human rights and diversity. 

Workshops during the day focused on different approaches to diversity and inclusion, such as how to create inclusive workspaces; understanding and minimizing unconscious bias in hiring; the gender identity and expression toolkit to create authentic workplaces; and best practices for workspaces with multiple generations. 

Experiences of diversity and inclusion

In her keynote, DiSalle explained that when she came from Jamaica to start her new life in Canada, she immediately realized the difference between her and her classmates after dressing in her traditional bandana shirt to go to kindergarten.

“I heard one lovely little girl tell her friend, ‘Don’t touch her, or you will become brown,’” she said. “Do we have diversity? Yes. Is it inclusive? No.”

“Do we have diversity? Yes. Is it inclusive? No.”

To further illustrate how our physical differences are only skin-deep, DiSalle played a video created by the Ad Council titled “Love Has No Labels”. It features people on the street watching as pairs of skeletons on a screen talk, kiss and hug. 

When the pairs come out from behind the screen, it’s revealed that among the skeleton pairings are are same-sex couples, interracial couples, seniors and people with disabilities. This is meant to demonstrate that love takes many forms, but at its core, it looks the same.

Diversity in the workplace

Part of the day’s discussion addressed whether applicants’ foreign-sounding names, accents and credentials could be barriers during the interview process. 

Employers also discussed how they could help newcomers develop social and language skills in the workplace so that they can fully integrate into the organization.

When asked about how to foster diversity while hiring to fit job requirements, DiSalle answered: “For our hiring process, we found objectivity is essential rather than subjectivity.

“Because [of] this objective process we have, we ensure that we have different stages of interview process that are based on objective measures and objective questions. Depending on how people do in different stages, we determine whether or not they move to the next stage.” 

Employers also discussed how they could help newcomers develop social and language skills in the workplace.

While affirmative action in job and university recruitment continues to be a subject of debate, DiSalle stressed that an objective approach to hiring aims to recognize all the skills employees bring to the company.

“Inclusion is looking at a person as a whole — not just their education, physical characteristics, cultural background or work experience, but how all the elements work together, ” said DiSalle.

To help businesses in Canada integrate newcomers into their workplaces, RBC partners with organizations like Maytree Foundation to provide online tools and resources on sites like Hire Immigrants.

Including the millennial generation

The conference also heard from young people who are eager to participate in the job market.

“We just started a diversity consulting firm, specifically for attention of the millennials and diversity in workplace,” said Shanthiya Baheerathan, a fellow at Studio Y experimental consulting firm at MaRS Discovery District, Canada’s largest innovation hub located in downtown Toronto. 

In our education and workplace system, we start to realize that diversity is representation, rather than inclusion, “ Shanthiya explained.

She explained that representation is just having people in the room, as opposed to having people in the room who are meaningfully involved in the workplace. 

“This is not just race and gender or ability. It's a wide range of things, which includes age, especially as 20 per cent of the population and 40 per cent of the workforce will become the representative of the millennials.” 

“I think workplaces should really move towards to making themselves more inclusive,” she concluded. 

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

 

Published in Top Stories
Tuesday, 05 August 2014 09:35

How I’m Coming to Terms with Rejection

by Zoran Vidić in Toronto

It's been exactly a year since job hunting became my full-time job. 

“Send out 300 résumés, get 10 interviews and one job” read the golden rule of job hunting featured in the “101 – Intro to Canada for Immigrants” booklet, which I read religiously while getting ready to finally start a “better life” in a “better country,” famous for its spirit of acceptance and famously polite people.

Many months and years have passed me by …  I am currently completing my 14th spin around the Sun while in Canada and I still think Canadians are extremely nice people. However, I am beginning to doubt Canadian employers’ spirit of acceptance when it comes to hiring a communications specialist with a foreign background and accent (well, I guess British or Australian don’t count since they are perceived as “sought after”).  

Staggering numbers

In the past 12 months, I have sent several 1,000 job applications (close to 3,000 by my rough count). I received a few hundred “thank you for your applying” letters, spiced up with polite-yet-utterly-soulless phrases such as “… but we have decided to pursue other candidates” and ”… please keep visiting our career section.” I almost prefer being sent a rejection letter full of expletives and insults. It would at least feel like I’ve been rejected by a person and not by some cutting-edge software.

I did land one face-to-face interview with RBC’s (Royal Bank of Canada's) communications manager and five or six telephone (screening) interviews, one of them with IBM. Every single time, while preparing for the interview, I could see myself as a rising star in the company, being the creative force behind their success and finally gaining respect and appreciation for my knowledge and skill.

I almost prefer being sent a rejection letter full of expletives and insults. It would at least feel like I’ve been rejected by a person and not by some cutting-edge software.

Alas, as soon as the overly polite and full-of-praise recruiters started interviewing me, I could almost visualize their enthusiasm jumping on to a passing train of thoughts and fading away into misty nothingness.

 

Fairly intelligent guy

Hey, after all, I like to think of myself as being an educated, informed and fairly intelligent guy, with more good than bad personality traits (well, at least I hope).

Math was never my strongest suit (that’s one of the reasons I studied journalism), but it doesn’t really take Stephen Hawking to realize the improbability of this statistical outcome: a dude at the apex of his career, with a Master of Journalism degree from a reputable Canadian university and many years of experience (most of it Canadian), cannot find a job in his field of expertise in the city where some 65% of Canadian media industry is found. And I’ve been sending résumés day in and day out. I can enter all my personal information into the “register your profile” fields blindfolded.

Three thousand résumés, six interviews. One year.

Nada, zero, zilch, null, no jobs!!!

50% my fault

There must be something else at play here. Either that or I should consider visiting that black-magic curse removal parlour in my neighbourhood that used to make me chuckle every time I passed by. Perhaps that Haitian old woman who tied some sort of hairy string around my wrist had something to do with my unemployment situation?

Call me crazy, but I prefer to think it’s only 50% my fault. I have read more career advice articles than I can remember. I tried every single approach, from “shotgun” to “sniper” distribution. I polished my résumé to the point where it can be used as a mirror for the latest generation of space telescopes. I networked (as much as possible when on a low budget), learned new skills (even started learning Mandarin), and even took classes on public speaking at Ryerson. The only thing I didn’t do was to beg. I don’t do begging.

I’ve seen people much less skilled and educated making it up the corporate ladder by skipping several steps in one go.

It is not hard to imagine why this happens. People are, in general, hard-wired to distrust strangers. Of course, no one likes to admit it because it goes against the official policy of inclusiveness and feeling of self-righteousness, but modern corporate language is sophisticated and meaningless enough to convey all the ambiguities one can come up with. So, please, feel free to apply for any job, because they have thousands of extremely polite ways to reject you: “Although your qualifications were impressive, we regret to inform you that you have not been selected for an interview” means: “I don’t think you can do this job as well as someone born and raised in Canada.”

This is a vicious circle and self-fulfilling prophecy, because the people who don’t get opportunities cannot gain experience, and without experience they cannot get a job. Without a job, people lose self-confidence and become desperate or bitter. And no one likes to work with the bitter desperados.

Invisible force field

It is also a part of the deep-seated subconscious defensive mechanism that insiders in every human society (yes, it does include Canada, too) use to protect their status and privileges. I am certainly not the first nor the last person to experience this invisible force field, and much ink has been spilled over this phenomenon, but this problem persists in being the major hurdle for immigrants in Canada.

Surely, people can be more useful to Canadian society than sending out countless CV's.

People are, in general, hard-wired to distrust strangers.

I am aware of the contemporary mantra that “It takes only seven seconds to make a first impression,” which is deeply ingrained in the neural patterns of Human Resources (HR) folks. I also know that 90% of all candidates are automatically eliminated by the screening software. I am not completely oblivious to the fact that cutthroat competition and return-on-investment rules do not tolerate risk and mistakes, making everyone in the business, including HR people, fear for their jobs more than “Game of Thrones” actors.

What boggles my mind is the fact that members of the general public would rather “Ooooh” and “Aaaah” about a “cute puppy” story than take a minute to think about how much knowledge, education, hard work and invaluable potential is wasted by judging immigrants superficially. We are all biased in one or another way, but for the sake of this country’s future, don’t listen to how I speak. Listen to what I am saying.

Zoran Vidić is a communications expert and journalist. He began his career in 1997 as a reporter for a major daily in Belgrade, Serbia, and moved to Ottawa, Canada in 2001. Upon completion of his Master of Journalism degree at Carleton University, he worked as a communications officer for the Métis National Council, and completed various contracts for the governments of Canada and Ontario. Since 2012, he has been based in Toronto and can be reached at vizor3@gmail.com.

Read also: Zoran's review of Josip Novakovich's Shopping for a Better Country, Dzanc Books, 2012

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Commentary
Thursday, 27 February 2014 14:17

Old boundaries no longer hold in marketing

by Robin Brown

Royal Bank of Canada advertisements in the early 20th century told newcomers, “When you arrive in Canada … it will be in your best interests to visit the nearest branch of this Bank as early as possible and deposit your spare cash.” For as long as there has been mass migration to Canada, there has been marketing aimed at newcomers.

Banks and other businesses continue to court migrants energetically. Today’s migrants, of course, are not just the European farmers targeted by the Royal Bank ad but people from all over the world — especially Asian countries like India, China, and the Philippines. Migrants are tremendously diverse in language and culture, so it is perhaps not surprising that in recent decades those marketing to new Canadians have been preoccupied with cultural differences. A starting point for multicultural marketers has often been the question of just how “ethnic” their target groups were. That is, how different were they from the Canadian mainstream?

One problem with this strong focus on cultural difference is that it assumes boundaries that no longer exist. What is the Canadian mainstream? Are the 39 per cent of Canadians who are immigrants or the children of immigrants really outside that mainstream? The 1.6 million Canadians of South Asian origin or the 1.3 million Canadians of Chinese origin could each form a city larger than Calgary or Ottawa; are these groups best understood as “niche groups,” “minorities”? It is absolutely true that the millions of migrants who make Canada their home are changed by their life here. But they also change Canada. There is “acculturation,” but it is mutual.

The reality of contemporary Canada is that the old boundaries between mainstream and minority no longer hold.

A second problem with the old cultural-difference approach to “ethnic marketing” is that there is much more to migrants’ outlooks than their ethnic culture. Creating relevant products, services, and messages demands more than an acknowledgement of migrants’ backgrounds. It demands an understanding of the expectations and preferences they have developed as consumers in their countries of origin. It also helps to understand how their needs and priorities evolve as they undergo the settlement process in Canada.

Our research with migrants — both newcomers and more settled people — suggests that migrants see the Canadian marketplace through a Cultural Lens that is coloured by three elements:

1. ethnic culture

2. pre-migration consumer experiences

3. their settlement journey

Only by understanding each of these three elements can we develop a truly meaningful picture of how migrants view products, services, and messages in Canada.

ETHNIC CULTURE: We all have an ethnic culture that we absorb from our society and especially our families. It is composed of things like language, religion, and deep-seated values. Everyone has an ethnic culture — not just migrants. Still, moving into a different society can make people more conscious of their distinct cultural outlooks. (Those who encounter little social difference may remain unaware of the role their ethnic culture plays in shaping their preferences.) For marketers, it is important to remember that the influence of ethnic culture in consumer choices may be strong or weak depending on the product category.

Food is heavily cultural; a mobile phone plan is not.

PRE-MIGRATION CONSUMER EXPERIENCES: Much of migrant consumer behaviour, perceptions and brand relationships are formed outside of Canada.

Despite the globalization of many aspects of consumer culture, different markets continue to have distinct qualities — not only in their offerings, but in the rhythms and conventions of the customer experience. These provide the frame of reference when they are evaluating the products and services offered in Canada.

This can lead to differing reactions from new Canadian consumers. In some cases, adapting to a new consumer environment is positive. For example, many Indian newcomers report that they prefer Canadian-style supermarkets to typical grocery retail experiences in India. Other adaptations are frustrating. Filipinos, the world’s most prolific text messagers, are astonished to find that some Canadian mobile plans actually charge them for every single text.

From brands to retail environments to the conventions of customer service, migrants are navigating a new world as they go about their daily lives. Businesses operating in Canada should understand how migrants’ expectations have been shaped by other commercial environments.

SETTLEMENT JOURNEY: The journey of migration and settlement is far bigger than a flight across an ocean. It usually unfolds over about a decade as individuals develop new habits and make choices about how to live in their new society.

The influence of one’s ethnic culture evolves during this period, but not in a straightforward way—with one’s heritage culture gradually replaced by “Canadian” culture. Rather, it ebbs and flows depending on the phase of settlement. We find migrants usually experience four main phases in their settlement journeys:

Disorientation: This stressful phase is a scramble for the basics: finding groceries, connecting phones, getting bank accounts. Convenience and simplicity are top priorities. Ethnic culture matters relatively little at this time.

Orientation:The basics are established and some stress subsides. The Orientation phase is often a fun period, when newcomers take pleasure in exploring their new context in a more relaxed way—and seeing if they can track down those favourite foods from home.

Settlement: A year or two into their Canadian experience, the novelty is gone and things begin to feel normal — for better and worse. On the upside, people feel more established. On the downside, the fantasy of a new life in Canada has given way to reality. It’s a difficult psychological transition, even if the reality is fine. This is a time of refining arrangements ("Did I get suckered on this mobile plan when I arrived?" "Is this the right neighbourhood for me?") and making more deliberate choices.

Belonging: Migration is a profound experience that echoes throughout one’s life. In practical terms, however, the Belonging phase is the end of the settlement journey. Migrants are settled both practically and culturally. Depending on the individual, this may mean a diverse social group, strong Canadian identity, strong ties to their own language and cultural group, frequent visits “back home,” or any combination of these. Belonging looks different for different people; but when migrants reach the Belonging phase they have reached the final destination that feels right to them.

Each of the three elements of the Cultural Lens changes over time, but all three persist. And it is important to keep in mind that although the settlement journey is especially intense for migrants, they are not the only ones who are changed by their settlement process. Influence flows in multiple directions among Canadian-born and foreign-born, as trends like K-Pop and karaoke, ramen and Russell Peters, bangra and bubble tea swirl through cities and where multicultural means mainstream.

Robin Brown (@RobinBrown) is Senior Vice President at Environics Research Group and co-author of the upcoming book “Migration Nation: A Practical Guide to Doing Business in Globalized Canada.

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Commentary

 

NBA All-Star and philanthropist Steve Nash and activist Izzeldin Abuelaish are among the winners of the awards, presented by Canadian Immigrant Magazine

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Canadian Immigrant

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Published in National
Saturday, 13 April 2013 16:13

Diversity amid Adversity

 

Tough times bring out the best in people – or the worst. The recent brouhaha over the hiring practices of the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) should surely tell us that we are just as parochial as everybody else, although we like to be known as an open nation, with our largest city being the multicultural capital of the world. RBC’s travail is even more ironic because its CEO and president Gordon Nixon is the toast of this country’s multicultural industry, with his bank having won the “best diversity employer” award many times over.

Let’s be clear: this storm was not about offshoring or high unemployment or even the lingering effects of the global recession in Canada. It was raw emotion. The RBC employee who blew the whistle must be given credit for identifying a storyline that resonated with Canadians from coast to coast: She or he was upset because they were being asked to train their replacements, who happened to be from India. For most Canadians, that was inhumane and insensitive, although it would have been hardly the first time a large corporation resorted to this sort of phased transition.

And, look at the fallout. Canada’s corporate champion for diversity was forced to climb down after initially defending his bank: “The question for many people is not about doing only what the rules require – it’s about doing what employees, shareholders and Canadians expect of RBC.” Nowhere does the letter make clear how exactly the bank fell short of expectations, but by then it was no longer a rational discourse; it was laden with emotion.

Here’s a typical example of the sort of venting that was directed at the RBC: “M____ and I, and our four sons, have been having serious discussions about this story almost daily. This story will, in some ways, change the course of our dealings with RBC … [Your] hiring/layoffs approach has tainted/damaged the reputation of the Royal Bank of CANADA (emphasis in original)! Not very Canadian, in my view!”

National outburst

By all accounts, the reaction was both visceral and unanimous. Virtually nobody dared stand up and say, “This happens all the time; why are we making such a big deal? As a small trading nation, don’t we need to compete globally for goods and services?”

Why does this happen? Why can’t we pause and think rationally in the midst of these manufactured crises?

Part of the answer is happenstance. Many different elements just happened to come together to cook up what we in the media refer to as a “perfect storm.” A large bank which made $7.5 billion in profits last year was retrenching 45 employees using a ‘backdoor route’ to hire a smaller number of foreign workers through an Indian company that seemed to be a bit too cozy with the Canadian bank. The RBC employees were in the middle of training the very same “foreigners” who were rendering them jobless. It didn’t matter that Indians have developed something of a global reputation as the world’s favourite backroom office and that their IT professionals have been deployed to virtually every nation on earth. India has also consistently ranked No. 2 on the list of immigrant source nations for Canada.

We are optimistic that something good will come of this national outburst. Nixon’s full-court apology in an “Open Letter to Canadians” should cool things for the bank. Similarly, a long-overdue review of the Temporary Worker Program should bring down the number of short-term foreign labour from the insanely-high figure of 300,000. Clearly, this program has been abused if Tim Hortons is hiring abroad, at a time when there are about 1.4 million jobless Canadians. The government should be more rigorous when companies claim they can’t find Canadians to fill jobs and there is no excuse to allow a 15 per cent difference in what will be paid to foreign workers: there should be pay parity.

Above all, we need more creative HR professionals who are willing to groom and train the next generation of Canadian workers, whether they be native-born or immigrant. Our immigration policy is based on meeting the future demands of the Canadian workplace. Corporate hiring managers should be expected to do more than finding round pegs to fill round holes. We should never again have a situation when there are 1.4 million unemployed and 300,000 temporary foreign workers in Canada. - New Canadian Media

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Commentary

Poll Question

Do you agree with the new immigration levels for 2017?

Yes - 30.8%
No - 46.2%
Don't know - 23.1%
The voting for this poll has ended on: %05 %b %2016 - %21:%Dec

Featured Quote

The honest truth is there is still reluctance around immigration policy... When we want to talk about immigration and we say we want to bring more immigrants in because it's good for the economy, we still get pushback.

-- Canada's economic development minister Navdeep Bains at a Public Policy Forum economic summit

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Bottom Wrapper

Background Color
Modules Title
Text Color
Link Color
Background Image
Background Color
Modules Title
Text Color
Link Color
Background Image