Build an Inclusive Workplace for Canadian Immigrants

Posted by Jahzel Misner on

By Harmanjit Singh


Canada significantly exceeds the rest of the world when it comes to immigration - and the result is a diverse and vibrant workforce. In 2020 alone, 200,000 immigrants were welcomed into Canada, despite the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic1. Indeed, by 2032, immigrants will account for up to 80% of Canada’s population growth, such that one in four Canadians will have been born in another country. To keep up with this development, employers will need to relook at their recruitment and workplace policies.

If your workforce doesn’t reflect the community it serves, your clinic may be missing out on the chance of reaching new and growing markets. By embracing diversity in the workplace, clinics can take advantage of several benefits.


Diversity brings innovation and creativity.

A BCG study found that companies with more diverse leadership teams have 19% higher revenues due to innovation2. An American Sociological Association also discovered that companies reporting the highest levels of racial diversity brought in nearly 15 times more sales revenue on average than those with the lowest levels of racial diversity3.

Members of a diverse team see things differently, which often requires more effort to understand each other’s point of view. However, the extra work can produce excellent results. A variety of people working together to solve a problem, all looking through different lenses, results in a more comprehensive view and more effective solutions. 


Diversity brings a better understanding of different patient groups.

Welcoming employees from different backgrounds provides the opportunity to serve patients from other counties and in other languages. But it goes beyond language. By having a diverse team, you’re more likely to have employees who can empathize with patients and offer more personalized solutions.


Diversity attracts higher-quality employees.

In an increasingly competitive economy, the competition for top employees is fiercer than ever. And for every healthcare organization, holding on to its best people is crucial. A Glassdoor survey found that 67% of people consider diversity an essential factor when deciding where to work5. A Quantum Workplace report also found that 61% of employees believe diversity and inclusion strategies are beneficial, with 75% of employees thinking that more diversity is needed6. A clinic that embraces cultural diversity immediately entices a broader pool of candidates and results in workplace pride for current employees.


Diversity reduces racism.

Racism and its role in our daily lives have become top of mind for many Canadians following the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement and the discrimination felt by the Asian community due to COVID-19. By having a more diverse workforce, you expose employees to people from different cultural backgrounds. The result is that employees get to know the person behind the skin and are less likely to believe in stereotypes and racist misconceptions. 


workplace diversity


Why is there Bias?

There is undoubtedly a bias against immigrants in the hiring process. Possible reasons include the idea that they may not fit in with other employees. They may require significant training, or cultural differences and language barriers may make patient interactions challenging. However, these are often false perceptions, and the benefits outweigh any extra effort required to train or acclimatize a new Canadian employee. Bias can be conscious or unconscious, but these steps can help to remove that barrier.


Re-think your recruitment.

Even if unconscious, any bias can create an unfair field - and cause your clinic to overlook some great candidates. 

Consider language barriers when creating your job posting and description. Avoid jargon and slang, and consider translating your job posting to different languages if the position does not require a high English proficiency. 

Use Blind Recruitment: Blind recruitment strategies can help remove human bias from your hiring process. Ask your applicants to leave out information like name, gender, address, and schools attended from their resume and cover letter. Ask them instead to focus on their skills and qualifications. Consider an anonymized initial interview. Email candidates a Q&A to fill out or have a live chat to get to know your candidate.

Hire for values alignment: Those who are happiest in their work align strongly with the values held by their employer. 

Hire for life experience: Many new immigrants fought hard to get to Canada. They made a plan, invested in a serious undertaking to move to a new country. Some have endured political or economic hardships before coming, and they are stronger for it. 

Hire for attitude: You can always train someone on how to use the software. You can’t teach someone to have the right attitude and be willing to learn new things and step outside their comfort zone.  “Soft skills” will trump technical skills every time.

Review this tip sheet on how to conduct a culturally-sensitive job interview. 


Enhance your orientation process.

New immigrants may be accustomed to different workplace traditions and behaviours. Practices such as shaking hands, the use of personal names, and how personal space is addressed vary considerably worldwide. To help prepare your new employee, include information about Canadian cultural norms in your orientation.

Personal Space: Canadians value personal space and rarely touch each other in the workplace. Keeping an arm’s length away is an appropriate distance when talking with patients or another employee.

Eye Contact: Direct eye contact is important to show that you are listening. When you avoid eye contact, you may appear untrustworthy or lacking in confidence.

Speech Tempo: It is often rushed cadence that makes it difficult to understand new English speakers, not accents. A slower speech tempo will help avoid miscommunications.

Contact us to get more information on how to make a culturally-sensitive orientation process.

The Immigrant Employment Council of BC (IECBC) also recommends including your company’s mission and values, workplace policies such as anti-discrimination and teamwork and management expectations in your orientation process through a verbal and written explanation. Find more tips from IECBC here


Embrace an inclusive workplace culture.

While COVID-19 prevents us from connecting with our employees and coworkers as much as we might like, there are some virtual and in-person strategies for embracing inclusivity. Coordinated employee social events such as a zoom happy hour or company luncheons and holiday parties allow employees to foster interpersonal connections and enable new employees to practice their English casually. Your workplace can also commit to celebrating all holidays for the cultures that make up your team so that everyone can learn something new and feel more connected to their coworkers. 

The world has undergone so many changes in the past year that we’ve lost track. But planning for the future and ensuring your clinic and workforce is prepared and resilient to future changes will prime you for prosperity. Immigrant Canadians are a valuable demographic that can be embraced across all industries in Canada. Begin creating your diverse and dynamic workforce today. 






  1. Number of immigrants in Canada from 2000 to 2020 | Statista 
  2. How Diverse Leadership Teams Boost Innovation | BCG 
  3. Diversity Linked To Increased Sales Revenue And Profits, More Customers | ScienceDaily 
  4. The diversity and inclusion revolution: Eight powerful truths | Deloitte
  5. What Job Seekers Really Think About Your Diversity and Inclusion Stats | Glassdoor 
  6. Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace | Quantum Workplace 

diversity healthcare human resources healthcare leaders inclusive workplace

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