Blogs, databases aids communication

Montreal Gazette
April 18, 2009

Derek Sankey
Canwest News Service

Technology is playing an increasingly important role assisting companies eager to mentor their employees and develop their full career potential.

Jane Allen, for instance – chief diversity officer at Deloitte Canada LLP – maintains a blog about news related to the company’s many diversity initiatives. It gives new immigrant employees at the company, many of whom also have regular mentors, another helpful resource as they integrate into the Canadian business environment.

Deloitte also has a Wiki – a collaborative online database on the company’s intranet – filled with useful web links about diversity topics that aids communication with new Canadian employees.

Raj Krishnamoorthy, a partner in the Enterprise Risk group at Deloitte, leads the firm’s Canadian Asian Network and says that while face-to-face mentoring has the greatest impact on new immigrants with the firm, technology adds another dimension promoting understanding of cultural and diversity issues.

“For some of our leaders, a blog is a big thing because it’s not part of their DNA to have a blog, whereas with Gen Y, email is yesterday,” Krishnamoorthy said.

As an immigrant himself – he came to Canada in 1982 from India after spending some time in the United Kingdom – his goal is to help new Canadians overcome some of the challenges and obstacles he faced upon moving here.

“We felt there was an opportunity to enable the people that have come from these Asian countries to become more successful,” he said.

In the firm’s Vancouver office, approximately 40 per cent of employees are of Asian origin, while company-wide about 25 per cent are of Asian heritage.

“Given the increase in the people of Asian origin … our goal is to set the infrastructure appropriately to ensure that we will get the best out of that 25 per cent,” Krishnamoorthy said.

To enhance the mentorship process, this month Deloitte is rolling out a formal program that links new Canadians with senior leaders within the professional services company.

Nate Fuks, who immigrated to Canada from the UK after leaving the Ukraine, is leading the initiative. While taking his master’s of business administration at York University, he took part in a mentoring program and saw great value in it.

“It definitely helped shape my vision of my future career,” he said. “We are not only helping immigrants find jobs, but also continued dialogue and better integration of those people overall into the Canadian workforce and into the firm itself.”

Deloitte, which made it on the list of this year’s Best Employers for New Canadians as ranked by Mediacorp, relies heavily on networking by nature of its business.

“In our business, networking is the lifeblood of our organization,” Krishnamoorthy said. “We wanted to make sure people didn’t feel disadvantaged for not having the ability to network.”

Mentoring provides a human connection to offer insight about the challenges of rising through company ranks, while technology supports the efforts of new Canadians and native Canadians alike by providing additional information to help them succeed.

CIBC, also cited on Mediacorp’s best employers list, promotes the hiring of new immigrants by sharing résumés with other recruiters across the organization using an integrated online database of new-Canadian résumés.

The company also has a Web portal on its careers website with advice for new-Canadian job seekers.

To make a personal connection, it’s rolling out a two-part program in Vancouver this year in conjunction with the YMCA of Greater Vancouver to provide information seminars to newcomers and five-week job-readiness training to provide immigrants with the skills required to land a job in Canada’s financial services sector.

Felix Quartey, from Ghana, received two job offers from CIBC after completing the pilot program last fall.

“The great thing about the mentoring process is that it involves all my team members, who provide me with a vast amount of on-the-job training,” he said.

The combination of mentorship programs and technology solutions is proving highly effective, business leaders say.

Reference: Montreal Gazette