How do you run The Mentoring Partnership successfully in your organization? The Diversity and Inclusion team at CIBC knows a thing or two about this: they were recognized at our December 2014 awards, for matching over 500 skilled immigrants with their employees.

Matt Petersen, Senior Director, Diversity & Inclusion, CIBC Human Resources, talks about his experiences of running The Mentoring Partnership for CIBC staff.

Why did you want to start running the program in your organization?
Our employee’s participation in The Mentoring Partnership furthers our commitment to enhance the experience for newcomers to Canada. While Canada presents many opportunities for the skilled immigrants, they also present a multitude of opportunities for Canada. New Canadians are highly skilled, educated and largely untapped talent pool; not to mention a strong and powerful new consumer base.

The program is a phenomenal way to leverage our employee’s as talent scouts for the organization as well as to deepen their personal understanding of the newcomer experience- which ultimately helps us improve the climate of inclusion in our workplace.

What have you gained from being an employer partner? What has been the impact on your organization?
The program serves as a great way to educate our employees on the value of difference and the talent of the newcomer professional. CIBC understands that newcomers offer a tremendous wealth of experience in terms of skills and knowledge acquired through prior careers in their countries of origin. It is important to us that our employees and managers think about the diversity of our workforce and how different life experiences and perspectives ultimately help us improves our ability to serve our clients and communities. We want our workforce to represent our newcomer client base.

The program has also enhanced the ability to think and lead inclusively. CIBC Mentors surveyed last year indicated improvement in their knowledge and skills that would lead to increased hiring of skilled immigrant professionals and increased retention of skilled immigrants in the workforce.

An average of 96% reported a better appreciation of the talent and experience that skilled immigrants brought to the workplace; were more likely to interview and/or hire skilled immigrants; were better able to understand the cultural norms and the labour market barriers faced by this group; better able to motivate, coach and develop people, and better assist immigrant professionals in adapting to the workplace.

Can you think of any examples of great mentoring stories that really stand out?
A few years ago, a CIBC mentor networked her well-qualified mentee who was experiencing barriers in finding meaningful employment in her field. This resulted in an opportunity to join the team on Career Bridge internship as an HR Coordinator. She later joined CIBC in a permanent capacity. She is now a Senior Consultant in Health & Safety at CIBC, and along with her mentor- are paying it forward with the program.

In 2014, CIBC offered three Mentoring Partnership information sessions, and both candidly spoke shared their program experiences with other potential mentors. This employee was recognized today in the mentee-turned-mentor category, and we are very proud of her!

Why would you recommend mentoring to your employees?
The program has provided our employees with a stronger appreciation of international talent and opportunity to think with a global mindset, and enhance their leadership and coaching skills.

Access to Mentor Professional Development Series – workshops and webinars on Solution-Focused Coaching and Cultural Competencies – has been a real value-add for our employees which will undoubtedly result in better supporting the workplace integration of our newcomer employees, and deepened relationships with our newcomer clients, not to mention their personal development.

What are your top three tips for an employer who has just signed up as a partner with The Mentoring Partnership?

  • Gain the executive sponsorship and position it as corporate-sponsored program- CIBC employees were organically mentoring since the inception of the program, however it wasn’t until 2010 that CIBC Diversity & Inclusion sponsored and promoted it as a corporate program which contributed to the program’s growth.
  • Assign a dedicated Corporate Program Manager- In the last five years the program has grown by over 700%, from 50 matches in 2009 to over 500 matches currently. CIBC is proud of the accomplishments of Shemina Khimji, Senior Consultant, Diversity & Inclusion, and CIBC’s TMP Program Manager. Her passion and dedication in these last five years has contributed to CIBC’s recognition of meeting the 500 mentor matches milestone.
  • Communicate your success – personal stories carry a ripple effect and lead to program growth. At CIBC success stories are often showcased on the intranet, and the Diversity & Inclusion news updates in our various lines of business.