HR pros reach ‘Summit’

Annual awards honour best, brightest in HR
By Danielle Harder
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 02/28/2012

It’s not often an industry award goes to someone outside the industry but that was the case at the 2012 Human Resources Summit Awards in Toronto.

Presented jointly by Canadian HR Reporter and the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) on Jan. 31, the awards recognize leaders in the field.

This year, the Corporate Social Responsibility Award went to Mike Bradley, mayor of Sarnia, Ont., who has pushed for the hiring of people with a disability and challenged other mayors to do the same. (His story was featured in Canadian HR Reporter on June 6, 2011.)

“(Winning) was emotional,” he said. “It’s been a long journey.”

There was initial pushback from some councillors, said Bradley, but with a supportive executive team behind him, the city has hired at least one person who has a disability into every department.

“Many communities treat this as having to drink castor oil,” he said. “But the framing is simple here. You have a chance to open up your hiring… if you can develop a culture, you’re not drinking castor oil.”

Bradley’s goal is to change the mindset about hiring people with disabilities. He wants employers to see the business case, not a charity case.

It’s an attitude he’s counting on HR professionals to bring to organizations, which is why this award means a lot to him.

“When I won the award, I realized I’m the only non-HR person in the room but I wouldn’t be in the room without HR,” he said.

Although Bradley has received many awards and accolades for his work, being recognized by HR professionals is a “breakthrough” that takes his cause to a new level, he said.

“We’ve been looking for ways to access the HR community. Now, the key is to follow up with them.”

HR Professional of the Year

Bringing people together to create excellence is also a theme for the winner of this year’s Toronto Star HR Professional of the Year Award.

Bonni Titgemeyer, managing director of the Brampton, Ont., consulting firm the Employer’s Choice, is known for her work as an “HR connector” through her creation of the
eolist.com network and blog site. She is also past president of the HRPA Peel chapter.

The website and blog have helped Titgemeyer reach her goal of bringing HR professionals together to network, find jobs and share experiences.

“It brings a far more personal side of being in the HR profession,” she said. “You’re not going to get such personal content on many industry sites and people really like that.”

The blog, open to bloggers across the profession, has been up since late 2010 and seen a steady increase in hits. It has also opened up HR to social media, said Titgemeyer.

“HR professionals need to be leaders in the social media space.”

HR Rising Star Award

The winner of this year’s Canadian HR Reporter HR Rising Star Award has been recognized for her role as a thought leader in her rural community.

Kim Killens is director of HR at the South Huron Hospital Association and Grand Bend Area Community Health Centre in Exeter, Ont. She leads both organizations in all aspects of HR and was recognized for her work on employee development and relationship-building.

Recruiting and retaining health-care staff in a rural community, while limited by budget restraints, is not easy but Killens has found ways to get employees the training and development they need to stay engaged and wear the multiple hats required in a smaller centre.

“It was about changing the mindset,” she said. “Everyone used to have specific tasks and roles. Now, we’ve brought them all together.”

Six years ago, the centre’s CEO added continuing education to the strategic plan. Killens and the HR team responded by bringing together professionals in the various disciplines to share their knowledge.

One year ago, the HR team also created an employee onboarding program that will be extended next to students and volunteers.

Other winners included:

Innovation in Employment Branding Award: Talent strategy and acquisition team at Rogers Communications

Innovation in Total Rewards Award: HR team at Longo’s

TD Insurance Meloche Monnex Corporate Governance and Strategic Leadership Award: HRaid Collaboration Initiative at Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC)

Right Management Overall Talent Management Award: Corporate human resources at TD Bank Group

Right Management HR Academic of the Year Award: Margaret Yap at Ryerson University

Employer Champion of IEP Award: IEN/ESL nurse integration project team at Hamilton Health Sciences

HR Challenge Award: Josephine DesLauriers at Leisureworld Senior Care.  

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