When I look at the bio photos of company board members and senior managers, I see a sea of smiling faces that are remarkably similar: accomplished, intelligent and… mostly, white. So, what’s the big deal?
Immigration is a critical part of building future prosperity and reports estimate that the Canadian economy is losing billions of dollars every year because we are failing to leverage the skills and experience of immigrants.
What can businesses like yours do about this problem?
I work for Skills for Change, an organization that provides services for immigrants and refugees, but we are actually in the prosperity business. Prosperity is what our one-day conference “Diversity@Work” is all about.
We ask: “What is corporate Canada doing about diversity?” And we explore this important question by inviting human resource leaders from corporate Canada to share their strategies and discuss what’s required to build the workforce (and the boardrooms) of the future.
And, of course, social innovation plays a part. Allyson Hewitt, Director, Social Entrepreneurship at MaRS, will put a social innovation lens on the morning panel discussion.
Here are the facts that drive our agenda for change:
- Immigration will account for nearly all workforce growth and by 2013, it will account for the total population growth in Ontario. (The Conference for Internationally-Trained Professionals, November 2008)
- Without an effective, immediate push by employers and their public sector partners in government to address the issues of immigration through improved policies and practices, Canadian economic performance at the firm, city, province, and national levels will suffer severely. (The Conference Board of Canada, Immigration Knowledge Area 2010)
- Industries are facing serious labour market shortages which will impact levels of productivity. (The Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council, “Invest in Immigrant Employment for a Stronger Economy” November 2008)
- To increase productivity in assisting Canadian pension payments, the number of immigrants allowed in annually needs to be increased by 100,000 (over the current figure of 250,000). (Canada Visa News, April 2010)
- The integration of newcomers should be being viewed as more than just a social process but rather as a perspective business model that significantly impacts the economics of the region. (The Toronto Board of Trade, “Lifting All Boats: Promoting Social Cohesion and Economic Inclusion in the Toronto Region” June 2010)
Convinced yet to start thinking about diversity in your workplace?
Cheryl used to advise social entrepreneurs at MaRS. She’s interested in social, environmental and cultural initiatives and organizations, as well as ideas for promoting essential services in the digital age. See more…