Culture shouldn’t get in way of hiring good candidates (Guest commentary)

New Canadians source of much needed talent
By Lionel Laroche
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 04/07/2009

There are almost 6.2 million foreign-born people in Canada, according to the 2006 census from Statistics Canada. This number accounted for virtually one-in-five (19.8 per cent) of the total population — the highest proportion in 75 years.

Canada’s talent pool should be large enough and more than adequately diverse to ease all talk of a labour shortage. And yet businesses find themselves unable to fill positions with qualified employees. With so many experienced and qualified foreign-born people either unemployed or underemployed, why do employers find it difficult to leverage the full range of skilled labour available in Canada’s workforce?

The problem is certainly not lack of candidates, or lack of skills. Many immigrants have more than adequate technical skills, experience and professional knowledge, yet find themselves working in minimum-wage positions or unable to achieve the full extent of their career potential. The real barrier may be subtle cultural practices and biases of Canadian employers, managers and HR.