On November 29, 2023, TRIEC hosted its Annual Inclusion Summit – LEVEL UP! Employer-Focused Strategies for Immigrant Success. Employers, immigrant-service providers, government, immigrant professionals, and funders, gathered early in the morning at the Toronto Reference Library in downtown Toronto.

In its recent announcement on November 1st, the Federal government announced that 485,000 new permanent residents are expected to arrive in Canada in 2024, with a further 500,000 expected in 2025. Yet the question of whether immigrants will be able find skills-appropriate employment and advance in their careers, and whether employers will be able to find the talent they seek persists.

At this event, we explored potential solutions and best practices for employers in advancing workplace immigrant inclusion and career advancement, and TRIEC’s role as a vital partner for employers seeking solutions in sourcing, retention, and advancement of immigrant talent.

Two committed employers, Salesforce and Canadian Tire shared the impact of working with TRIEC via video testimonials. Tara Tokatly, VP, Solution Engineering, at Salesforce affirmed how working with the TRIEC Mentoring Partnership (TMP) opened their employees’ minds to the skills and talent that immigrants bring with them to the Canadian workforce.  Abhishek Sarathy, Associate Vice President, Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging (DIB) – Strategy & Integration, and Maricruz Rodriguez, Senior Consultant, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (DIB) Learning Experience, shared how participating in the Career Advancement for Immigrant Professionals (CAIP) program amplified Canadian Tire’s organizational Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging strategy, and was a catalyst for sparking conversations about newcomer inclusion within the organization.

Rachel Crowe, Senior Project Manager, Career Advancement for Immigrant Professionals (CAIP), shared insights from the CAIP program and how it has unlocked the full potential of immigrant talent and building strategies for immigrant inclusion. CAIP has been instrumental in helping managers think more deeply about how the approach to career advancement may differ for immigrants as compared to Canadian workplace norms. It has encouraged managers to shift their thinking to be more inclusive of their immigrant colleagues when considering promotions and advancement. Rachel emphasised that in today’s global demand for talent, organizations that are more immigrant-inclusive and utilize the full potential of their immigrant talent are the ones that will grow and thrive in the long-term.

An interactive panel then shared their experiences on the role of employers in newcomer career advancement. Miguel Abascal, Founder, Unstopppableme.rocks, moderated the panel and featured Abhishek Sarathy, Andrea des Vignes, Director, Learning and Development, dentsu Canada, and Juliet Turpin, VP, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion & Accessibility, Randstad Canada.

Panel Discussion on Employer’s Role in Newcomer Career Advancement at the TRIEC Inclusion Summit. From left to right – Miguel Abascal, Juliet Turpin, Andrea des Vignes, and Abhishek Sarathy.

The panelists were uncommonly candid in sharing the challenges and their learnings from their experience participating in the Career Advancement for Immigrant Professionals (CAIP) and TRIEC Mentoring Partnership (TMP) programs. Insights that they shared during the panel discussion included:

  1. Accented English: Employers must be aware of the unconscious and conscious biases that exist in favouring people with English-sounding names and mainstream Canadian accents when hiring, and then work proactively to address and eliminate them within their hiring teams.
  2. Mutual benefit: Becoming a mentor to immigrant professionals is a great way to expand knowledge of the skills and talents that immigrants bring to the workplace, and employers must encourage their employees to join mentoring programs.
  3. Mindset reset: Requiring managers to deliberately expand their professional network by meeting people from diverse backgrounds outside of their own network is a great way to understand diversity of thought, eliminate biases, and change their internal way of thinking.

The panelists encouraged all employers to make workplace immigrant inclusion a critical part of their organizational strategy and work with TRIEC and other immigrant-serving organizations to learn about the immigrant talent that exists in the Canadian labour market, attract them to apply for positions within the company, and build effective retention strategies to help them grow and contribute to its long-term success.

The event was a huge success, with representatives from employers, immigrant-serving organizations, federal and provincial government, and immigrant professionals actively participating. Attendees remarked how the event was engaging and well-organized and sparked many thought-provoking conversations throughout the day. Many attendees also stayed back to meet and discuss points talked about during the networking session, which went well past the allocated time.

A collaborative approach between organizations across the sector can lead to successful outcomes for everyone, including employers and immigrant professionals, as was clearly and candidly articulated by the employers present. As the number of immigrants coming to Canada continues to grow, it’s imperative for all of us to work together and invest in the changes that are necessary for them to advance in their careers and take on roles where they can thrive and utilise the full range of their talent and abilities.

For more information about this event, or to learn more about TRIEC’s work, please email Rohit Singh at rsingh@triec.ca.