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Workplace diversity: Why it’s good for business

A diverse workforce can help a company improve its recruitment, international sales and boost profits

4-minute read

If your workforce doesn’t reflect the community it serves, your business may be missing out on the chance to find great employees and break into new and growing markets, both locally and globally.

Diversity makes good business sense.

This is especially true when it comes to hiring good talent. The exiting of baby boomers from Canada’s labour force is making it harder for businesses to hire skilled workers. This means business owners need to be more creative to meet their recruitment needs.

Immigrants represent much of Canada’s population growth today. Indeed, by 2032, they will account for up to 80% of Canada’s population growth, while one in four will have been born in another country, according to a BDC study.

While successful recruiting means making your company attractive to this target group, only 6% of business leaders surveyed by BDC rely on immigrant workers to fill their skilled needs.

Get a competitive edge

A diversity strategy improves your company's capacity to compete globally. If your employees come from a part of the world where your company does business, you’re more likely to be able to get closer to these foreign markets.

The same logic applies to hiring people who speak different languages. Having a workplace with multilingual employees sharpens your competitive edge in foreign countries.

In fact, several studies have found that companies with an ethnically diverse workforce perform better financially than those with a more homogeneous staff. Research also suggests that diverse teams are more effective, produce higher quality work and have deeper engagement.

New markets and customer groups

Employees of diverse backgrounds bring knowledge of their markets and cultures to a company. A firm that hires within the East Asian community, for instance, may get easier access to that market. Word can spread that the firm’s employees share their background, while the firm’s employees will have ready insight into the needs of this group.

If you’re targeting a specific audience with advertising, you need to understand exactly what resonates with this market and find the right tone, visuals and messages.

3 strategies to build a more diverse workplace

Clearly, a winning recruitment strategy in a tight labour market will include embracing diversity in your company and reaching out to immigrant workers.

Here are three strategies to build a more diverse workplace.

1. Reach out to specific communities

Business owners should be sure their recruitment strategies pinpoint specific communities. Long gone are the days when companies simply ran ads in newspapers. Recruiting has become increasingly specialized, with specific publications and vehicles easily available for reaching just about any group.

You can start by targeting diverse communities through their networks. For example, a company that wants to hire from the Chinese community might approach a Chinese business association.

2. Adjust your training

Entrepreneurs who hire from culturally diverse groups need to be sure their training is customized to meet these groups’ needs. For example, new Canadians who are less fluent in English or French may need specially adapted training materials.

3. Rethink your recruitment process

One way to eliminate unconscious bias is to practice “blind recruitment.”

Removing the names of applicants from resumes will help ensure that the company’s opinion of potential new hires is based on work experience, skills and education.

You can also improve your hiring practices by partnering with organizations that specialize in helping new immigrants, such as ACCES Employment, WES Canada or the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council. Agencies like these can help you address any hiring barriers, expand your pool of job candidates and educate existing employees about the importance of workplace diversity.

Next step

Download our free guide Hire and Retain the Best Employees to learn more about scalable recruitment and management practices that will help you build a solid team for growth.

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