Pandemic Prods Canadian Companies to Become More Diverse

Fresh opportunities are opening up for newcomers thanks to more inclusive hiring and work-from-home policies

The global pandemic has had a significant and lasting effect on businesses around the globe, including in Canada. It has made companies of all sizes and in all industries reevaluate how to operate in order to survive a new reality.

For some, it’s been a pivot to remote working, as businesses quickly realized that employees in some types of organizations can effectively contribute from places outside of an office. For others, it’s been a change in how they serve their customers. Situations that may have once called for in-person communications quickly shifted to online scenarios or changed to what’s now the commonplace “curbside pickup.”

Many companies are also using this time to focus on the makeup of their workforce, including a sometimes newly discovered value of diversity. 

The importance of diversity was partly brought to the forefront in 2020 as the Black Lives Matter movement gained traction and support around the world. It became a critical conversation in the news, around the dinner table, and in boardrooms.

In fact, according to some recent research by McKinsey & Company, since the George Floyd protests, many companies have made commitments to reducing racial disparities. The research shows that in a survey of top 1,000 U.S. companies, 32% made statements, 22% made external commitments, and 18% made internal commitments to reducing racial disparities.

In Canada, the Black North Initiative was established by the Canadian Council of Business Leaders Against Anti-Black Systemic Racism to end anti-Black systemic racism with a business-first mindset. To date over 300 CEOs across Canada have signed a pledge to commit to seven goals to help move Canada toward ending anti-Black systemic racism and creating opportunities for underrepresented groups.

Making commitments around diversity and inclusion is not only the right thing to do, it can also provide a competitive edge for employers. 

An article from the Harvard Business Review suggests that “leaders should foster a culture that is diverse yet consensual in order to promote both innovation and efficiency. Such a culture is composed of multicultural employees who each subscribe to a variety of norms and beliefs about how to do work. These diverse ideas help employees excel at complex tasks, such as dreaming up the next groundbreaking innovation.”

Similarly, a study from Boston Consulting Group found that companies with more diverse leadership teams actually report higher innovation revenue. It determined that companies with above-average diversity scores reported a 45% average innovation revenue compared to 26% reported by companies with below-average diversity scores.

Plus, to help improve inclusion and diversity within an organization, many companies are including the role of Chief Diversity (or sometimes Equity or Inclusion) Officer in their teams.

So, what does all of this mean for newcomers to Canada? It means that while the pandemic slowed down immigration in 2020, new opportunities may be waiting as Canada ups its immigration goals between now and 2023.

First, newcomers may have more flexibility than before in terms of choosing where to call home in Canada. As companies are exploring the benefits of remote working, newcomers may be able to consider smaller centres to live in even if they’re employed by businesses in more urban locations.

Second, as companies recognize the importance of diversity in the workplace, they may become more outspoken about their desire to hire from a broader range of applicants. This realization may open new doors for newcomers looking to settle in Canada.

To learn more about job openings in Canada, check out our Jobs page.

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