About four years ago, Michael Bach approached KPMG Canada’s head of human resources about creating a full-time position responsible for diversity.
Bach, who was a manager in the professional services firm’s IT consulting practice at the time, wrote a business case for bringing the company’s diversity practices under one umbrella and making it a company-wide priority.
Shortly thereafter, Bach became KPMG’s director of diversity, equity and inclusion. He now has a team of two-and-a-half and reports directly to the chief HR officer and CEO. He has developed a spectrum of initiatives and programs to attract and develop diverse talent, including skilled immigrants.
Bach created an open recruiting process for skilled immigrants, introduced diversity training for all new hires and cultural competence training for managers.
“There was a lot of education, making sure that people got that being educated and working outside of Canada is not a bad thing,” said Bach.
Now 15 per cent of the firm’s workforce in the Toronto area is foreign-trained and nearly 40 per cent were born outside of Canada.
“It’s very much become integrated into all of our hiring processes and our people management processes,” said Bach. “I think it’s really important to have it be part of everyone’s responsibility – all of the recruiters, all of the hiring managers. We make sure that everyone understands the benefits that skilled immigrants can bring to the workplace.”
For his work, Bach received the Canadian HR Reporter Individual Achievement award as part of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council’s (TRIEC’s) fourth annual Immigrant Success (IS) Awards, which recognize innovation and leadership in integrating skilled immigrants into the workplace.
“It’s very humbling to be acknowledged for the work I’ve done personally,” said Bach. “It means I’m on the right path.”
Other initiatives Bach has spearheaded include reaching out to immigrant communities through career fairs to identify professional candidates and participating in the Internationally Educated Professionals conference.
But Bach is most proud of the fact KPMG helps immigrants with foreign accounting accreditation attain their Canadian designation, be it a Certified Accountant (CA) or Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designation.
“Sometimes it can be quite daunting. There’s a lot to go through,” he said.
The firm has advocated on behalf of several employees to help the designation-granting bodies understand a CA from India is just as valid as a Canadian one, said Bach. KPMG has also worked with the regulatory bodies to sign more reciprocal recognition agreements with other countries, such as India, and is now working to have a similar agreement with China.
“We’re helping people to work in their chosen field as opposed to driving a cab,” said Bach.
New immigrant employment is critical to the economy, especially as more and more top talent will be coming from outside Canada’s borders, said Zabeen Hirji, chief human resources officer at RBC and co-chair of TRIEC.
The IS Awards, which honoured four organizations and one individual this year, profile best practices for hiring new immigrants and integrating them into the workplace. All organizations must do this if Canada is to become the destination of choice for foreign-trained professionals, said Hirji.
“By sharing these best practices, the hope is that other companies can adopt them and also benefit from the advantages of bringing skilled immigrants into the workplace,” she said.
Since the awards were founded four years ago, Hirji has seen more innovative approaches to recruiting skilled immigrants and developing them once they’re in the workplace.
To really be effective, HR needs to understand the strong business case behind doing so, she said.
“Yes, it’s the right thing to do, it’s good for the immigrant. But, more importantly, it’s good for business as well,” she said.
Skilled immigrants bring so much to the work KPMG does, said Bach.
“The diversity of thought alone helps us to provide better services to our clients,” he said.
To be successful as a global business, mail and document mailstream technology company Pitney Bowes needs employees who understand the cultures of North America and the countries where it does business, such as China and India, said Deepak Chopra, president of Pitney Bowes Canada and Latin America.
As part of the company’s commitment to diversity, Pitney Bowes developed a talent and inclusion plan three years ago, which is one of the reasons the company won the RBC Immigrant Advantage award at the IS Awards this year.
Every year, the company looks at succession planning throughout the entire organization and identifies any skills gaps. Pitney Bowes then identifies the candidates who, with the right training, can move to the next level in the next six months to three years, said Chopra.
“That gives us a chance to develop a development plan for those who we consider high potential. What we also look at in that is: ‘Does the team makeup for each of our key functions and key businesses represent a degree of diversity?’ which allows the businesses to maximize their results,” he said.
Leaders then look at diversity gaps and turn that into an annual talent and inclusion plan which becomes part of the objectives for managers and directors. This formal plan could include having their teams work with TRIEC to mentor new Canadians and identify high-potential, diverse candidates.
Skilled immigrants have thrived at Pitney Bowes, with many of the winners of the sales awards being new Canadians, said Chopra.
“That shows not only are they eager, they are enthusiastic, but they are producing real results and winning their spot on the company’s sales organization purely due to their skill set that they’re bringing on day one,” he said.
And the winners are…
Winners of IS Awards
Canadian HR Reporter Individual Achievement Award:
Michael Bach, national director of diversity, equity and inclusion at KPMG Canada
RBC Immigrant Advantage Award:
RBC Immigrant Advantage Award:
Toronto Star Award for Excellence in Workplace Integration:
St. Michael’s Hospital
CBC Toronto Vision Award for Immigrant Inclusion:
Fraser Milner Casgrain
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Reference: Canadian HR Reporter