A couple of years ago, UBC conducted a study where 6,000 mock resumes were sent to employers in 20 job categories throughout the Greater Toronto Area. While resumes were tailored to the job and showed similar educational background and experience, those with English-sounding last names were 40% more likely to receive interview requests than those with non-English names.
The results are evidently concerning, not only for the candidate who may be the victim of discrimination, but also for the employer whose managers may have consciously, or unconsciously, made the decision to eliminate the candidate from employment. In a multicultural city like Greater Vancouver, it is critical that these mistakes are not repeated and the first step is identifying the stereotypes.
Stereotype 1 — The Role Requires Perfect Communication Skills While it is important to be able to communicate with coworkers, having an accent should not preclude an individual from employment. When drafting a job description, list the most important skills first — like strong technical skills, computer knowledge or accounting knowledge, and assess where communication skills fall on the list.
Stereotype 2 — Candidates Must Have a Canadian Qualification
While some roles require candidates to be certified to practice in Canada — such as jobs within the legal or medical professions (among others) — others do not. International candidates bring a wealth of experience and in some professions, including accounting, information technology and administration, certain qualifications are highly regarded and coveted by Canadian employers.
Stereotype 3 — Candidates Must Have Attended a Canadian University
While employers generally understand the education system in Canada, they should not rule out other international institutions that can offer equal and in some cases, better opportunities for study. There are several University ranking systems including The Times World University Rankings and the QS Top Universities that can help shed some light on international programs.
Stereotype 4 — Candidates Must Have Canadian Experience It is true that business customs can vary country by country. Even the working environment in England is different than that in Canada. That said, there are also a lot of consistencies and quite often, the expatriate will want to acculturate themselves into their new environment. Cultural norms and traditions can be learned and companies can really benefit by concentrating on the similarities instead of the differences.
Stereotype 5 — Other cultures and religions just wouldn’t fit in.
Vancouver is a multicultural city and most generations currently in the workforce have grown up in an environment where they have had to participate in school functions and activities where a variety of cultures and religions are observed. While employers will need to be sensitive about religious observances, maintaining an open mind and diarizing important events will help keep workplaces culturally welcoming.
To ensure you are acting neutrally in your recruitment and hiring decisions, try to remove any opportunity to consciously or unconsciously discriminate. Consider using a software program to shortlist candidates based on keywords in their resume matching those in the job description. During the interview stage, enlist the help of interdepartmental hiring managers from a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds or ask a recruiter to create a shortlist of potential candidates based on merit alone.
While most hiring managers aren’t purposely discriminating during the recruitment process, being aware of potential biases will ensure that your organization offers equal opportunities for all applicants and employees. There are many potential stereotypes, so being aware and educated about ethnic differences will help you make hiring decisions that will lead to a more inclusive and culturally-inclusive working environment
Related to Recruiting Culturally Diverse Candidates:
- Tug-of-War Over Accommodating Family Status
- Foreign credentials – tips for assessing international training
- The Importance of Corporate Culture and Fit to Employee Success