Diversify Your Workforce


HR Council cites these as key reasons why diversity is vital to organizational effectiveness. It will help you:

  • Support recruitment challenges and skills shortages
  • Improve employee satisfaction and retention
  • Provide better client service
  • Broaden community engagement
  • Foster innovation and problem-solving skills
  • Promote organizational values more fully


A diverse workplace has a strong mix of people who can bring their unique life experiences and perspectives to the table. You should consider recruitment strategies focused on the following groups to ensure that you have a diverse mix of people:

  • Aboriginals
  • Experienced Workers
  • Gender (i.e., women in a traditionally male area and vice versa)
  • Immigrants and Newcomers
  • Persons with Disabilities
  • Visible Minorities
  • Youth


A key step in creating a diverse workplace is to ensure that you are attracting and recruiting a broad range of candidates. Positive outreach and recruitment efforts that purposefully focus on increasing diversity can support an organization to achieve its business goals.

HR Council for the Nonprofit Sector highlights the following key components of proactively broadening your outreach and recruitment efforts which are excerpted here.

  • Get the word out
  • Build relationships with cultural groups and organizations that work with diverse communities
  • Promote the organization as a viable place to work
  • Connect with the volunteer base

Get the word out. Going through regular channels and contacting usual suspects may feel safer, easier or faster for busy managers, but it won’t bring new or increasingly diverse talent into organizations. Positions should be advertised in a wide variety of places, including community boards, settlement service agencies, employment service centres, cultural community groups, local community centres, local ethnic and community newsletters or newspapers, associations and organizations that serve ethnic communities and language schools. Efforts should extend beyond standard online and sector specific job boards.

Build relationships with cultural groups and organizations that work with diverse communities. Contact local immigrant serving agencies that provide employment advice and services to learn more about their programs (see Ottawa resources below). This raises an organization’s profile amongst new Canadians and those working with new Canadians. In addition, organizations can take advantage of programs such as temporary foreign worker programs, post-graduation work permits for international students and hire immigrants programs. In OttawaHire Immigrants Ottawa plays a key role in working with employers to hire immigrants.

Promote the organization as a viable place to work. Individuals may not be considering your sector as a viable possible employer; e.g., in some countries, paid employment in the not-for-profit sector is not common or desirable. Partnering similar organizations to increase the sector’s profile and attending job fairs and networking events increases an organization’s visibility in the community and challenges misperceptions about employment in specific sectors.

Connect with the volunteer base. Individuals will volunteer as a way to gain experience, build networks and find work. Volunteers should be made aware of any positions an organization is advertising, as some may be interested in applying.


Hire Immigrants Ottawa cites this article by Peter Fragale from Diversity Executive. The first five of these tips focus on attraction and recruitment, but all are important to consider to ensure the workplace to which you are trying to attract people is truly diverse.

  1. Embrace diversity: A diverse workforce is a true competitive advantage. Promoting a culture that values employees for unique skills, experiences and perspectives distinguishes an organization as all-inclusive, relevant and truly understanding of what customers want and need. In essence, it is a treasure trove of customer and business intelligence.
  1. Create a visual of your team: Keep ethnicity and gender data on hand so that hiring managers can create a visual picture of the individuals on each team. When numbers and percentages fail, this mental image of who is on the team can help senior leadership see where diverse populations are underrepresented or underutilized and especially compare them to the customer population.
  1. Build a hit list of superstars: Ask existing staff to refer potential recruits, since great employees usually associate with one another or can easily spot a top performer. Not hiring immediately? Collect and build a list of superstars to hire in the future. Keep in touch with them in the meantime.
  1. Network with diverse organizations: Develop relationships with ethnically diverse professional associations and organizations, as well as local community boards and civic associations. Also, connect with vendors and suppliers who share a value for diversity and alert them to job openings for which they may have a candidate.
  1. Set diversity expectations with recruiters: When using outside recruiters, ask for a diverse set of candidates and examples of high-caliber recruits they have recently placed.
  1. Invite staff into the inner circle: Create an environment of inclusion where all staff members feel valued, embrace the company’s mission, feel part of its vision and are fully tuned in with the organization’s business strategy.
  1. Let your employees shine: Acknowledge — and celebrate — your staff’s accomplishments and set them up for success. Give opportunities for employees to demonstrate excellence. In this recognition, make a point to celebrate them as a diverse individual, not just their work.
  1. Mentor and shadow: The best learning happens in the field, so develop a mentoring and shadowing program that pairs hiring managers with employees of different cultural or ethnic backgrounds or genders.
  1. Achieve employees’ dreams: Encourage leaders to know the career desires of the staff who report to them so that they will know when a promotional opportunity might be the best fit. It also gives the opportunity to challenge employees with new assignments that broaden their skills.
  1. Over-communicate: Relationships matter, and they are only built with repeated communication. This could mean deliberately initiating a conversation with an employee, listening to what they say, providing feedback and acknowledging their work. It should also take the form of an internal communications plan that tells employees what positions are open, how to apply, updates from HR, etc.



  • Employing a Diverse Workforce: Making It Work– This comprehensive ALIS publication provides examples from Alberta employers on how to retain and engage a highly motivated and diverse workforce.
  • Inclusion and Diversity: Self Assessment– Direct link to an interactive tool provided in the ALIS workbook to assess current standing.
  • Embracing Diversity– SaskNetWork’s Hiring Strategies module includes a section on Embracing Diversity which focuses on hiring Persons with Disabilities, Aboriginal Peoples, Foreign Workers, Older Workers and Youth.
  • Diversity at Work– HR Council’s HR Toolkit provides tips and guidelines for creating a diverse workplace, including recruitment, including links to additional resources.


  • Kagita Mikam Aboriginal Training & Services– Extends employment and training services, including employment counselling, access to computers and a job board, to all eligible Aboriginal peoples in their catchment area – between Ottawa and Oshawa.
  • Métis Nation of Ontario Education and Training (MNOET)– An HRSDC ASET Agreement Holder, provides a full range of employment training programs and supports for the educational success of all Métis across Ontario.
  • Minwaashin Lodge Employment & Training Readiness Program– Offers a traditional, Aboriginal readiness program for women to find meaningful work and/or training,  modeled on the teachings of the Medicine Wheel.
  • Tungasuvvingat Inuit (TI) Employment Support Program– An HRSDC ASET Agreement Holder, TI’s Employment and Learning Centre offers assistance with finding financial assistance for education, résumé writing, developing cover letters, and practising interview; also assists in removal of barriers to long-term employment success.
  • Aboriginal Job Centre (AJC)– Aboriginal job seekers can search for employment opportunities, whether it is by location, job sector or keywords; employers can publish job opportunities that are targeted towards the Aboriginal workforce.
  • Indspire (formerly National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation) – Distributes bursaries and scholarships and recognizes Canada’s Indigenous achievers; also provides a job board that connects employers with one of the fastest growing demographics in Canada.



  • Hire immigrants– This website explains why it is important to diversity your workplace and provides 10 ways to diversify the workplace.
  • Employers Guide to Integrating Immigrants into the Workplace– This guide developed by Hire Immigrants Ottawa and the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce includes information on the benefits of hiring immigrants, assessing and providing training for improving language skills, working with cultural differences and preparing your current workplace for the integration.
  • LASI World Skills– Connects internationally trained individuals (ITIs) with Ottawa employers through free services, including: access to a pool of pre-screened, employment-ready newcomers, recruitment and screening, consulting services from diversity management experts, access to cross-cultural training, and coaching and mentoring services and programs, post-recruitment support, and recognition for and promotion of your best practices.
  • LASI World Skills Cross-Cultural Workplace Training– World Skills offers customized cross-cultural training for both internationally trained workers and employers. The program provides participants with a foundation of cultural understanding along with the necessary tools for cross-cultural competence and success in the workplace.
  • The Ottawa Chinese Community Service Centre– Provides a range of employment support services to newcomers at no charge, including Enhanced Language Training for Accounting Professionals (ELT) and a bridge-to-work program for internationally educated ICT professionals.
  • MAPLE 2.0 – Mentorship in Action– A national project that brings together employers with internationally educated professionals (IEPs) through internship placements to create employment opportunities for new immigrants and help employers enhance their intercultural understanding; managed by the International Talent Acquisition Centre (In-TAC) at the Ottawa Chinese Community Services Centre (OCCSC).
  • Canadian Technology Immigration Network– This website explains how immigrants bring a number of skills and experience that can benefit your business and the society.
  • Le programmeEmploi-CESOC– A program that helps Francophone newcomers with their job search.
  • La Bonne affaire (Opportunities for All)– Works closely with SME clients, newcomers in search of new job opportunities, and newcomer entrepreneurs.


  • The Canadian Hearing Society  – Ottawa Regional Office– Employer services include consultations  around hiring individuals with hearing loss,  help in identifying human resource skill requirements, matching of position/workplace needs to participants’ skills, capabilities, interests and experience, and on-the-job support for success and retention.
  • Causeway Work Centre – Programs & Services for Employers– Works with employers to tap into a large pool of job-ready candidates with developmental disabilities; the ESP and Job Quest programs serve a wide range of workers in a variety of industries.
  • Employment Accessibility Resource Network (EARN) Ottawa– United Way-led community initiative that brings together employers and service providers with a goal of increasing opportunities for meaningful employment for people with disabilities. Click here to go directly to their brochure.
  • ODSP Employment Support– Services to help people with disabilities get ready for work and find a job, or start up their own business.
  • ODSP Employment Support Service Providers– Find an ODSP employment supports service provider in your area who offers helpful employment services to employers and can help you your next talented hire.
  • Canadian Abilities Foundation Job Site– A web site for job seekers provides exposure to employers who are committed to diverse work places. It also serves as  a place for employers to recruit and hire people with disabilities cross Canada.


Explore this comprehensive ALIS publication:

Employing a Diverse Workforce: Making It Work