4 ways tech companies can tackle diversity

There are several key attributes that organizations that successfully retain and advance women and other underrepresented minorities in technical roles share:

  • A top-down commitment to addressing cultural bias
  • A regular, disciplined review of the numbers of women employed in all career stages, as well as comparative analysis to similar organizations
  • An explicit focus on retaining and promoting women
  • An all-hands-on-deck approach to formal training on the value of gender diversity.

Everyone benefits from having a more-inclusive work culture, and companies must acknowledge that women and underrepresented minorities cannot solve this problem alone. The companies that make measurable advances toward diversity goals do so because they have paid attention—across the entire organization—to implementing these solutions.

This is part of an article by Elizabeth Ames of Fortune magazine. For the complete story, click here.



Top 3 tips for encouraging diversity at work

Here are the top three tips for actively encouraging diversity in the workplace from the Above the Law Career Center.

  1. Assign high-profile work to minority attorneys.  Not doing this creates a lose-lose situation for the firm where clients will question if it is truly committed to diversity and the firm will end up with a dwindling talent pool.
  2. Mentor a minority attorney. If more attorneys are willing to help ensure that everyone at their firm has an equal opportunity to flourish and get the support they need, minority attorneys may be more likely to stay and move up the ranks.
  3. Leverage your background. Having an understanding of a particular culture and/or a fluency in a foreign language can help develop business relationships and ultimately build a book of business.

Top 6 tips for getting more women on boards

According to Anita Rai, an employment law partner with Taylor Vinter, there should be no glass ceiling for talent, whether male or female, and there are practical steps businesses can take to promote such diversity. Here they are:

  • grow and maintain an executive pipeline of female talent for core board posts by having aspirational and measurable targets for women at all levels, removing any barriers to their promotion and making real efforts to bridge any gender pay gap
  • review equality and diversity policies and ensure awareness is raised on all levels (although the Davies report has focused on board diversity, gender equality should filter throughout the workforce)
  • review family-friendly policies to ensure it is as easy as possible for women to remain in the workforce (hopefully the introduction of shared parental leave will encourage more men to share the responsibility of raising children, thereby enabling women to remain in the labour market and naturally progress up the career ladder)
  • provide mentors for women before and after taking time off for childcare, accommodate flexible working arrangements where possible, and allow more remote working
  • raise the external profile of the company as an employer that embraces diversity at all levels, including board level, increasing the likelihood of women gravitating towards the organisation
  • review recruitment practices to ensure any discriminatory criteria are removed and consider guaranteed interviews for under-represented groups.

SOURCE: HR-inform


Top 10 Workplace Diversity Tips

Kick start the new year with some real, solid, forward-thinking, all-inclusive changes in your workplace, courtesy of DiversityWorksNZ, formerly the Equal Employment Opportunities Trust.

1. Make diversity a core business decision to help improve productivity rather than an HR initiative.

2. Identify your company’s unconscious bias.

3. Let diversity be the deciding vote when making tough hiring decisions.

4. Measure and report your diversity progress.

5. Keep hold of employees that “don’t fit the mould”. Offer diversity and inclusion training and ask departing employees why they are leaving.

6. Keep workplace bullies in check.

7. Be flexible and focus on work efficiency rather than hours worked.

8. Focus on people’s strengths rather than getting them to “fit in”.

9. Pay attention to other organisations’ diversity policies

10. Be patient and set manageable goals


Top 6 lessons on how to improve gender diversity in the workplace

1. Be transparent

“Be transparent about everything – how you got to where you are and tell them the stories which open up the system for everybody to be able to step forward and create a more inclusive culture.” ~Kathleen Bailey-Lord, Allianz Australia

2. Make diversity a priority

“As leaders we need to be seen to be making it a priority and leading by example. We also need to make changes ourselves, so on our management and operating committees consider what the percentage of women is.” ~Simon Rothery, Goldman Sachs Australia/NewZealand

3. Review promoting practices

“Every time I sit down to look at who is going to be promoted or to fill a particular appointment, I have an advisory committee which helps me do that.” ~ David Morrison, Australian Army

4. Lead from the top

“If the women in the organisation believe there is a critical mass of women in the leadership team, they’re five times more likely to advocate for the organisation. In the war for talent that is a very compelling message.” ~Kathryn Fagg , non-executive director

5. Look for women with potential

“Women subconsciously just don’t promote themselves for a range of reasons. So you need to focus on who those talented women are and make sure they don’t leak out of the pipeline.” ~Helen Silver, Allianz Australia

6. Communicate with the women in the business

“The more you listen and debate, the more you learn what the real problems are,” ~ Giam Swiegers, Deloitte Australia

Reasonable Accommodation Includes Electronic Accessibility

Computers, mobile devices, and the Internet are integral parts of today’s workplace. Employees email, log into various systems and programs, complete employer forms, and manage their time online. Job seekers research employers and submit job applications online. For the 56.7 million Americans with disabilities, these simple tasks may be impossible unless electronic systems are accessible.

When employees are required to be online, whether to perform their usual duties, download a paystub, or change their benefits enrollment, the Americans with Disabilities Act requires the employer to make reasonable accommodations to ensure that their tools and systems are accessible.  This requirement of reasonable accommodation extends to recruiting and hiring, and protects applicants as well as employees. Images without descriptions, “click here” buttons, and certain color schemes are among the barriers that can prevent individuals with disabilities from accessing and using a website or mobile app, even if they use adaptive technology like screen readers.

To address accessibility concerns, employers need to focus on website accessibility standards.  The Web Accessibility Initiative has developed a set of standards that, when implemented,  allow most individuals with disabilities to use the Internet and mobile apps with the assistance of screen readers and other adaptive technology.  These standards are recognized by the U.S. Department of Justice when the agency enforces Title III of the ADA in the ecommerce industry. They are likely to be recognized by the EEOC and other employment law enforcement agencies as well.   When the standards (technically referred to as WCAG 2.0) are integrated into websites and systems, individuals with disabilities are much more likely to be able to access the tools necessary to apply for or successfully perform a job.

These website accessibility standards are not easy to understand.  They were created for website and software developers, and it takes expertise to review and implement them.  It’s not likely that employers will have sufficient expertise in-house, but HR professionals and corporate counsel can and should discuss accessibility standards when choosing vendors and website developers.  Compliance with accessibility requirements is ultimately the responsibility of the employer, but can be a requirement imposed on every vendor or website developer from which the employer makes purchases.

Here are the most common circumstances that can cause an employer to fall short of meeting its legal obligation to make its systems accessible:

1. Online applications.  Requiring that applicants complete application forms on an inaccessible website can keep individuals with disabilities out of the workplace.  Employers want diverse workforces, and federal contractors have 7 percent utilization goals for individuals with disabilities as a part of their affirmative action plans.  If an online application cannot be completed by individuals with disabilities, employers and prospective employees miss out.

2. Employee “self service.”  Employees may need to change their address or phone number in company records, report time or activities, elect benefits or make benefit changes, or check a paystub.  Employers are increasingly turning to self-service style programs that let employees do these tasks themselves rather than relying on human resources staff.  If the self-service system is not accessible, employees will have to forego the task or seek assistance, and may not know where or how to get help.

3. Job duties.  Many jobs require the use of multiple systems every day. If the systems and tools employees work with are not accessible (or cannot be made accessible through the use of adaptive technology), individuals with disabilities may be prevented from meeting the employer’s standards of performance.  If that results in reduced pay, discipline, or termination, the employee may utilize theADA and comparable state laws to make legal claims against the employer.

In February, Corporate Counsel called website accessibility the “next class action threat.” When individuals with disabilities are kept out of ecommerce or the workplace by inaccessible websites and electronic tools, class action and individual litigation can result. Employers’ best defense to this threat of litigation and liability is prevention through careful attention to accessibility.

This article was reprinted with the permission of its author, Kate Bischoff, Counsel, Zelle LLP. Follow her on Twitter at @k8bischHRLaw.

Six reasons why you should become a mentor in 2016

A simple, yet powerful idea: established Canadian professionals support newcomers reconnect with their careers in Canada. That is what mentoring’s all about!

While mentoring is a proven strategy – over 75% of all mentees have found employment in their field within the first year of completion of the program – we are often asked the question, “Why should I become a mentor?”

Below are six reasons from six mentors with The Mentoring Partnership (TMP), why you should resolve to mentor a skilled newcomer in 2016.

  1. Help newcomers achieve their goals
    As a mentor, you work directly with a skilled newcomer, helping them understand the Canadian workplace culture and supporting their job-search activities. As Zeshan Sagir, mentor from CIBC said, “I steer my mentees in the right direction, caution them against any pitfalls and genuinely support them in achieving their goals!”
  2. Develop your skills and advance in your career
    Helping others is great, but mentoring helps you too. Mentors with The Mentoring Partnership report that they improve their leadership and communication skills by participating in the program. Intesar Khan, mentor from Scotiabank, states it best, “I have found that the mentoring relationship often benefits not only the mentee but also the mentor.”
  3. Build your professional network
    Networking is a really important aspect of professional development (learn why). Mentoring is a great way to connect with people and build long-lasting professional relationships. “Being a mentor gives me an opportunity to make more friends,” says Yang Lin, mentor from City ofToronto.
  4. Volunteer and give back to your community
    Mentoring is a great way to volunteer your time and help make a difference in a newcomer and their families’ lives. Dan Mitta, mentor from theOntario Public Service (OPS), certainly thinks so, “I was searching for a gratifying volunteer opportunity that made the best use of my knowledge and experiences. Mentoring foreign trained professionals turned out to be that opportunity.”
  5. Embark on a new, exciting journey 
    “Being a mentor never gets stale; it’s always interesting. I hear a variety of experience from my mentees. Everyone has their own unique story. I like to hear all these stories,” stated by mentor Warren Webb. We’ll just leave it at that!
  6. Create your own legacy and leave behind a lasting impact
    To sum up, you can make a definite impact on someone’s life through mentoring. “By becoming a mentor, you create a legacy that has a lasting impact on your mentee and the profession. Not only will you gain the satisfaction of helping to develop future talent, the knowledge you foster in your mentee can inspire new ideas for generations to come.” Great words from Akhil Shah, mentor from Medtronic of Canada.


The Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) brings leaders together who are committed to helping immigrants and employers succeed. We help employers make the most of the Greater Toronto area’s culturally diverse workforce, while helping immigrants connect to employment that fully leverages their skills and talents. www.triec.ca



Top 8 Strategies for successful Aboriginal businesses

Windigo Catering. a project partner with the Windigo First Nation Council, that provides on-the-job skills development, suggests the following ‘recipe for success’ to First Nations organizations.

1. Run business ventures under separate ‘for-profit’ channels. Don’t confuse the profit and not-for-profit areas of economic development.

2. Clearly define the roles and responsibilities for all business staff and management, right up to outlining the role Directors will play.

3. Do the work necessary to first develop – and then agree on – a long-term vision for the business.

4. Hire a manager that understands and shares the organization’s vision – and can inspire the staff they are responsible for.

5. Draft a financial plan for the business. Review and revise it regularly.

6. Make sure you understand – and then are willing to fully comply with – all applicable laws, acts and regulations related to your business.

7. Reward employees – not only through competitive remuneration, but also through intelligent incentives.

8. Partner with industry to generate meaningful and lasting economic benefits for First Nations communities.

Top 4 ways to achieve leadership diversity

There are definite steps that organizations can take to improve leadership diversity, according to David Luna, past president of the National Forum for Latino Healthcare Executives. Here are the top four:

1. Mentoring: Senior leaders, who have received mentorship training, serve as mentors and each are matched with and meet on a monthly basis with a “mentee.” The mentors share their experiences, get to know the mentees and become their “ethical champions.”

2. Coaching: Bring in a professional coaching company to work with the participants and to develop short-range visions and immediate action steps.

3. Manager feedback: A formal model can help managers give regular feedback to participants.

4. Challenging assignments: These are opportunities for participants to help develop their leadership skills, strategic direction, influence without authority and work across silos on a project meant to add significant value to the organization.