About this Toolkit
Impact North Shore conducted a research project titled Rethinking Assumptions: Unpacking Canadian Work Experience. The project critically assessed the validity of employers requiring “Canadian Work Experience” and explored how the concept of Canadian Work Experience negatively affects racialized im/migrants seeking employment in their respective fields as well as employers who are unable to find talent in the tight labour market.
Building on the research results, this Toolkit was developed to equip employers with actionable resources and strategies to ensure they are able to benefit from im/migrant talent. Employers will also find workable tools to better understand the education, skills, and talents of im/migrants in the labour market. The Toolkit also provides strategies for employers to see beyond the limiting, unnecessary, and biased requirement for Canadian Work Experience and gives concrete suggestions of how employers can onboard and retain im/migrants in their workforce.
The Toolkit is divided into several sections covering the various stages of the hiring and onboarding process, with activities, reflection questions, resources, and strategies. The first section discusses unconscious bias and strategies to address prejudices throughout the recruitment phase. The second section explores equitable hiring practices in order to determine the right candidate for the role. And, finally, the last section offers strategies on how to create equitable workplaces.
Section 1: Working Through Unconscious Bias
Section 2: Hiring the Right Candidate
Section 3: Equitable and Welcoming Workplaces
In essence, the Toolkit provides a starting point for employers to critically assess how the concept of Canadian Work Experience creates bias and barriers, and offers a useful compilation of approaches that can connect employers to the im/migrant workforce.
Section 1: Working Through Unconscious Bias
Unconscious bias, also known as implicit bias, is a learned assumption, belief, or attitude that exists in the subconscious. Implicit biases are developed over time and are a product of our environment, upbringing, and education as we accumulate life experiences and get exposed to different groups of people and stereotypes. While completely eradicating implicit biases is unlikely, every effort must be taken to minimize them in hiring processes and throughout the HR lifecycle. The following are resources to support employers to understand, assess, and reflect on unconscious biases they may harbour, and to provide strategies on how to address unconscious bias during the recruitment process.
Understanding Unconscious Bias
- Inclusion Journey: Microsoft’s self-directed training program covers general social concepts like inclusion, bias, privilege, and allyship at an introductory level. Find access to audio-visual presentations that provide a foundational understanding of these concepts.
Key concepts: inclusion, bias, allyship, privilege, gender, sexual orientation
- Unconscious Bias Training: the University of California – San Francisco’s interactive unconscious bias training with short videos of experts addressing different components of unconscious bias. This resource provides a more in-depth understanding of unconscious bias and strategies to assess and address unconscious bias at an individual and institutional level.
Key concepts: bias, science on unconscious bias, Implicit Association Test
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- Are You Aware of Your Biases?: A short personal reflection in Harvard Business Review inviting you to acknowledge your biases and embrace feedback and challenges to your assumptions. This anecdotal article shows examples of how being aware of your biases can improve your leadership and maximize your team’s potential.
Key concepts: self-reflection, leadership, bias
- Implicit Association Test: A test designed by Harvard University to help identify our own implicit biases by measuring our understanding of concepts and identities, as well as attributes we might ascribe to various social groups. There are 15 tests that help uncover our automatic associations, beliefs, and attitudes about others.
Key concepts: Implicit Association Test, automatic associations, unconscious bias
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Address Unconscious Bias During the Recruitment Process
- Actively Addressing Unconscious Bias in Recruiting: An article by Harvard Business School outlining active steps organizations can take to reduce and eliminate unconscious bias. The article identifies recruitment practices that commonly embed unconscious biases and how bias may unintentionally disadvantage certain candidates.
Key concepts: unconscious bias, remote recruiting, job description, virtual interviewing, interview structure
- How to Reduce Personal Bias When Hiring: An article by Harvard Business Review provides strategies to circumvent personal bias among recruiters. It provides techniques on how to identify and disrupt biases when assessing a candidate’s suitability for a role.
Key concepts: unconscious bias, affinity bias, peer pressure, conformity bias
- Unconscious Bias in Resume Screening: Toronto Regional Immigrant Employment Council’s interactive and self-directed e-learning course explores how cultural differences and bias can affect the resume screening process and potentially exclude diverse candidates. This module includes a resume screening exercise that highlights how a lack of understanding in cultural differences can distract recruiters from recognizing valid and relevant skills and experience. (Creation of an account is required to access the interactive learning module, but once your account has been created, enrolment in the training is free.)
Key concepts: resume screening, unconscious bias, cultural awareness
- Tapping into the North Shore Immigrant Talent Pool: The North Shore Immigrant Inclusion Partnership (NSIIP’s) fact sheet on how unconscious bias may be hindering recruitment success in relation to im/migrants. This document shares the benefits of hiring im/migrant talent.
Key concepts: unconscious bias, affinity bias, marketing, job descriptions, interviews
- Managing Unconscious Bias: A whitepaper by Paradigm outlining strategies to manage bias and build more diverse and inclusive organizations. This resource provides an evaluation of the ways unconscious bias can negatively affect prospective and current employees throughout the many stages of the HR lifecycle. It offers solutions for promoting an inclusive work culture and for minimizing bias at both structural and individual levels.
Key concepts: unconscious bias, attracting, hiring, developing, retaining, career websites, job descriptions, sourcing strategies, resume review, interviews, candidate evaluations, mentorship, development opportunities, performance reviews, promotions, rewards/recognition
- Guide to Anonymizing Applicant Materials: This is University of Wisconsin-Madison’s resource on how to anonymize applications to minimize unconscious bias during the screening process. It explains the purpose of anonymizing applications and offers a step-by-step guide to those without an applicant tracking system on redacting identifiable information on applications that may unnecessarily influence hiring decisions.
Key concepts: unconscious bias, anonymizing applicant materials, redacting, personally identifiable information
Key concepts: racism, anti-racism, racial unconscious bias, recruitment, resume screening, interviews, job description, standardized evaluation forms, anonymized hiring techniques
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Section 2: Hiring the Right Candidate
When implementing strategies to hire the right candidate, employers need to adopt an intersectional lens as well as inclusive practices across all stages of the recruitment process. Hiring the right candidate requires employers to adopt intentional practices in drafting inclusive job postings and screening applicants, as well as conducting interviews in an equitable and inclusive manner. The following resources support employers to hire the right candidate.
Drafting Inclusive Job Postings and Screening Applications
(Note: While there is a difference between job postings, job descriptions and job advertisements, these terms are often used interchangeably in this Toolkit, as well as in the resources contained in this Toolkit.)
To attract the right applicants for a position, the job posting must identify the core skills needed for the role. Job postings often include a laundry list of requirements, some of which many not be essential for performing the role. Listing unnecessary “must-haves” can discourage qualified candidates from applying when they do not meet all the listed requirements. The following resources support employers to adopt inclusive hiring practices and assess the transferable skills of im/migrants.
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Writing Inclusive Job Postings
- Writing an Inclusive Job Description: An article by Vancouver Island University on how to write an inclusive job description. It discusses requirements to emphasize and to avoid in order to empower applicants of all walks of life to envision themselves as belonging in your organization.
Key concepts: inclusive language, gender decoder, job descriptions, competencies, ability vs. experience
Key concepts: job description, inclusive language, job requirements, working and physical conditions, bona fide occupational requirements (BFORs)
- Creating Barrier-Free Job Descriptions: The Immigrant Employment Council of BC (IEC-BC) resource on creating barrier-free job descriptions includes techniques and examples on what to include in job postings. It also provides a screening tool chart to assist hiring managers to rank job duties in order to identify core competencies for the job.
Key concepts: job postings, qualifications, ability, experience, credentials, language
- How to Make a Less Racist, More Inclusive Job Listing: This article by HuffPost discusses the importance of language and explores coded language and irrelevant requirements on job postings that may exclude women+ and people of colour from envisioning themselves as qualified for the role.
Key concepts: job postings, inclusion, anti-racism, people of colour, coded language, gendered language, education, experience, applicant tracking systems, affinity bias, referrals
Key concepts: inclusive job postings, experience, qualifications, gender bias, racial bias, disabilities, educational requirements, DEI statements
- Best Job Ad Examples with DEI in Mind: A blog post by JobAdder that details a range of job postings that incorporate inclusive language and emphasize the importance of equity in the hiring process.
Key concepts: inclusive job postings, DEI Statements, gender-neutral language, benefits for people needing flexibility, accommodations, non-intimidating ads
Screening Resumes & Assessing Qualifications of Im/migrant Talent
- Recruit newcomers to Canada – Job Bank: This page offers numerous tools and strategies for recruiting, hiring and retaining newcomers. It encourages reflection on the value to your organization of hiring newcomers, and offers a number of training and assessment tools for objectively testing newcomers’ qualifications. The site also provides region-specific tools and resources to support the hiring of newcomer talents.
Key concepts: value in hiring newcomers, assessing newcomers’ qualifications
- Culturally Competent Screening Tool: A chart from the Chartered Professionals of Human Resources in BC & Yukon (CPHRBC) that helps hiring managers make objective decisions when screening resumes by identifying core competencies of the role and weighting them when reviewing candidate resumes. It includes step-by-step instructions on how to utilize the chart, so that applicants are evaluated on the relevant and core skills and those with the highest scores are shortlisted for an interview.
Key concepts: screening, core competencies, duties, skills
- Tips for Screening Resumes: An article by the Immigrant Employment Council of BC (IEC-BC) that lists unproductive practices commonly utilized in the hiring process and provides alternate best practices to ensure equitable hiring. It offers advice on common challenges hiring managers face when assessing an im/migrant’s resume and provides links to additional resources on the subject.
Key concepts: screening, language proficiency, credentials, assessments, reference checks, telephone interviews
- Assessing Resumes of New Canadians: An Immigrant Employment Council of BC (IEC-BC) resource providing sample resumes of im/migrants in different professions. It provides a framework of how employers can assess resumes to understand the qualifications, experience, and abilities of im/migrants.
Key concepts: screening, skills assessment, credentials assessment
- Assessing International Experience: A resource by the Immigrant Employment Council of BC (IEC-BC) that provides hiring managers with tools on how to assess the international experience and credentials listed in resumes of im/migrant professionals. It also outlines possible solutions to common challenges when screening im/migrant resumes.
Key concepts: screening, international experience, credentials, Essential Skills
- How to Assess Skills & Negotiate Competencies: A handy tip-sheet by the Immigrant Employment Council of BC (IEC-BC) outlining various tactics to assess the skills and competencies of an international candidate across all stages of the hiring process, from resume review to reference checks.
Key concepts: interviews, overqualified applicants, credentials, references
- Tips on Hiring Immigrant Talent: This article by the Immigrant Employment Council of BC (IEC-BC) provides tips for employers when assessing im/migrant qualifications and attempts to bridge gaps that may occur during the hiring process, from resume review to job offer.
Key concepts: screening, references, job offer, plain language
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Key concepts: inclusive interviews, communication, scenario-based questions, body language
- Equity Considerations in Virtual Interviews: This resource from the Equity & Inclusion Office of the University of British Columbia outlines inclusive hiring practices with a focus on maintaining equity in the virtual space. While this article was written during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the hiring strategies that arose in response to the health restrictions, like conducting virtual interviews, have remained in practice.
Key concepts: inclusive interviews, virtual interviews, biases, accessible technology, privacy
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Linguistic Equity in the Hiring Process
Although hiring multilingual employees can serve as a competitive advantage for organizations, many employers tend to focus on the English language proficiency of racialized im/migrants as a key consideration in the hiring process, rather than recognizing the value gained from their international expertise and additional language skills. While English language proficiency can be a consideration for specific roles, employers have an opportunity to explore how to assess for specific skills and competencies that are not directly language based. Below are resources to support employers to fairly evaluate language proficiency in relation to the requirements of the role and maintain equity in the hiring process.
- Testing Performance and Skills on Key Job Criteria – Interview Stage: Based on the premise that communication and interpersonal skills are often cited as a concern when hiring im/migrants, this tool from Chartered Professionals in Human Resources of British Columbia and Yukon (CPHRBC) helps hiring personnel to determine the level of communication and interpersonal skills required for a role, as well as the associated scenario/s or test question/s to measure the performance of that skill.
Key concepts: communication, interpersonal skills, skills assessment
- Assessing Language Proficiency: A resource by the Immigrant Employment Council of BC (IECBC) with links to additional resource to assess language proficiency based on the needs of a role. It also explains common language proficiency scores that you may find on an im/migrant’s resume.
Key concepts: language proficiency, International English Language Testing System (IELTS), Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC), Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB), Canadian English Language Benchmarking Assessment for Nurses (CELBAN)
- Language Proficiency: Tips for Recruiting Skilled Immigrants: A resource by Hire Immigrants Ottawa demonstrates how to strengthen an organization’s ability to accurately define occupational language requirements, assess and support language competencies of im/migrant candidates, and navigate recruitment of a diverse talent pool.
Key concepts: language proficiency, Essential Skills, Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB)
Key concepts: inclusive questions, English Language Learners
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Section 3: Equitable and Welcoming Workplaces
In order to create a welcoming and inclusive work environment for all employees (including new employees), intentional onboarding practices as well as implementing equity-based staff engagement strategies are required.
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The goal of inclusive onboarding is to support im/migrant employees to feel welcomed and integrated into your organization. Creating mentorship programs can support the inclusion of im/migrants as they become familiar with the workplace culture. The following resources assist with onboarding im/migrants.
- Inclusive Employee Onboarding: Toronto Regional Immigrant Employment Council’s interactive and self-directed e-learning course outlines the importance of inclusive onboarding practices. Through videos and situational examples, this module equips the reader with an understanding of common onboarding challenges faced by im/migrants, strategies on how to recognize behaviours that may result in cultural misunderstandings, as well as guidance on how HR practitioners, managers, and other employees can implement and participate in culturally competent onboarding practices. (Creation of an account is required to access the interactive learning module, but once your account has been created, enrolment in the training is free.)
Key concepts: inclusive onboarding, orientation, workplace norms, values, mentoring
- On-boarding Template: This workbook by Veza Global provides a list of inclusive practices that can be implemented across the HR lifecycle in order to foster a positive, respectful employee experience.
Key concepts: inclusive onboarding, pre-arrival, first day, development, retention, separation, inclusive culture
- Onboarding Newcomers: An extensive toolkit for employers by the Immigrant Employer Council of BC (IEC-BC) for onboarding im/migrant talent. It explores the advantages of attracting im/migrants, strategies for combatting unconscious bias, the significance of the 3 Ps (people, performance, paperwork) to an effective onboarding process, and finally the importance of continual support for new and existing employees.
Key concepts: talent sourcing, unconscious bias, competency assessment, credential recognition, mentorship, family support, language support, accommodation
- Onboarding Refugees – A Toolkit for Canadian Employers: A detailed toolkit by the Immigrant Employer Council of BC (IEC-BC) offers guidelines, best practices, and tips to employers on successful onboarding practices in various workplace environments. While this resource is primarily geared towards welcoming refugees, much of the information contained can be applied to any im/migrant group.
Key concepts: inclusive onboarding, refugees, workplace culture, health and safety, mentorship, Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), accommodation, religious observances, credential recognition, language support
- Employee Onboarding Checklist: A checklist by Hire for Talent outlining the important components of inclusive onboarding processes with a focus on ensuring appropriate accommodations and supports for new hires with differing abilities.
Key concepts: inclusive onboarding, disabilities, accommodation
- Employer Playbook Strategies for Immigrant Inclusion in Canadian Workplaces: This resource was created by a coalition of im/migrant employment councils across Canada to provide employers with a comprehensive toolkit aimed at fostering inclusive strategies at the primary stages of the employment cycle, from recruitment to integration, as well as recognizing racial bias and prejudice that can arise throughout that cycle.
Key concepts: inclusion, recruitment, hiring strategies, racial bias, onboarding, inclusive workplace, interviews, job descriptions, resumes, language, cross-cultural communication, accommodation, virtual interviews, mentorship, inclusive leadership
- Mentorship programs: This detailed article by Matthew Reeves, CEO of Together, explains the essentials of what being a mentor means, the benefits and aims of having a mentorship program, and includes step-by-step guidelines on building a mentorship program, including navigating such an initiative in the virtual work space.
Key concepts: mentor, mentorship, attracting talent, career development, retention, employee engagement, inclusive culture, remote workplaces
- Peer Buddy Systems: This Indeed resource explains the buddy system, its benefits, and offers best practices on implementing a buddy system in the workplace.
Key concepts: buddy systems, onboarding, buddies vs. mentors
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Building Inclusive and Equitable Workplace Cultures
There are many approaches to building an inclusive and equitable workplace culture. Resources on creating Employee Resource Groups where employees who share a common experience and identity can share spaces of authentic allyship in the workplace are listed below. Also, there are resources on developing equity-based policies, HR practices and employee engagement tools. We have also included samples of equity and anti-racism statements.
Key concepts: employee resource groups (ERGs), inclusion, belonging, leadership, collaboration
- FAQs: Employee Resource Groups at BC Hydro: This resource offers an inside look at the provincial crown corporation’s various Employees Resource Groups with the aim of assisting other organizations to form their own.
Key concepts: employee resource groups (ERGs), inclusion, diversity, membership, privacy, self-declaration
- Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) – Structure and Guidance: A member toolkit outlining structure and guidance for creating Employees Resource Groups by Boston College’s Center for Corporate Citizenship at their Carroll School of Management. This comprehensive resource contains sample applications, charters, bylaws, and plans with basic language that can be adapted for your organization.
Key concepts: employee resource groups (ERGs), charter, bylaws, strategic plan
Key concepts: listening circle, inclusion, belonging, psychological safety
- Story Circles Toolkit: This toolkit from Oregon State University contains guidelines on how to organize a story circle. While this resource was developed for an academic environment, many of its principles and strategies are applicable in a workplace setting.
Key concepts: sharing circle, facilitators, agreements
Key concepts: inclusive language, respectful workplace, unconscious bias, cultural misappropriation, BC Human Rights, Reconciliation, misnomers, religion, political beliefs, family status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, pronouns, age
Key concepts: anti-racism, psychological safety, rules of engagement
- Inclusive Leadership Guide: Leading Inclusively to Stop Racism in the Workplace: A guide by the Canadian Centre for Diversity & Inclusion on the importance of inclusive leadership. It summarizes Deloitte University Press’s The Six Signature Traits on Inclusive Leadership: Thriving in a Diverse New World and offers suggestions on how to action each trait. The guide also provides an additional reading shortlist on race and privilege.
Key concepts: inclusive leadership, diversity lens, traits, culturally intelligent
- Building an Anti-Racist Workplace: This article from Time’s Up provides tips on how employers can end systemic racism at work. It also includes a link to their guide to equity and inclusion, which is aimed at helping leaders to incorporate EDI and root out inequities within their organizations, define inclusive values, and set up anti-racist practices.
Key concepts: systemic racism, intersectional analysis, safe spaces, empathy
- Build Workplace Inclusion with TRIEC Learning. A catalog of Toronto Regional Immigrant Employment Council’s self-directed e-learning courses and on-demand webinars that instructs on different stages of the HR lifecycle with an equity and inclusion focus. The training covers a wide range of operational activities from recruitment to communications to leadership and to creating a diversity strategy. (While the creation of an account is required to access the interactive learning module, once your account has been created, enrolment in the training is free.)
Key concepts: inclusion, equity, recruitment, onboarding, communications, leadership, employee development, diversity strategy
- Inclusive Workplace Competencies: This resource from the Toronto Regional Immigrant Employment Council aims to help HR practitioners and leaders understand and promote the knowledge, skills, and behaviours that create an inclusive workplace. The competencies are derived from a research-based framework and, in addition to expanding existing competencies frameworks, can be used to define inclusive behaviours for leaders and teams, develop training, set performance goals, and inform policies and practices.
Key concepts: inclusive competencies, inclusive behaviours, DEI training, performance goals
- How to Use Your Competency Framework to Advance Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace: This factsheet is meant to be reviewed following or in tandem with the above Inclusive Workplace Competencies resource by the Toronto Regional Immigrant Employment Council. It shares a case study of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants’ implementation of TRIEC’s Inclusive Workplace Competencies to their existing competency model to illustrate how their chosen competencies were applied at the individual, team, and organization/community level.
Key concepts: competencies, inclusion
- Workplace Policies, Practices and Decision-Making Processes and Systemic Discrimination: Ontario Human Rights Commission’s list of workplace policies, practices and decision-making processes that can lead to systemic discrimination. It identifies the systemic barriers for racialized persons, as well as others identified by the Human Rights Code as protected grounds, that may arise throughout the employment cycle and offers alternative best practices.
Key concepts: human rights, recruitment, training, advancement, retention, termination
Key concepts: human rights, employment equity, anti-discrimination policies
- Inclusive Practices Index: A survey by the Toronto Regional Immigrant Employment Council to help you assess your organization’s progress on inclusion practices in six areas: communications, talent management, employee development, leadership and accountability, and organizational support and commitment.
Key concepts: inclusive practices, diverse workplace, assessment, rating scale
- Addressing Fear & Resistance: A toolkit by the Canadian Centre for Diversity & Inclusion that provides practical suggestions and strategies for addressing fear and resistance in response to the implementation of diversity and inclusion initiatives. The toolkit identifies steps and offers best practices on how to successfully navigate each process.
Key concepts: change management, DEI strategies
Examples of Equity and Anti-Racism Statements
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