Business Development Bank of Canada celebrates diversity with Carifiesta Theme
“There’s a misconception that, to be equal, we must all be the same. However, in my experience, having people from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives can truly enrich a business.”
Those were the words of Vanessa Shields, Diversity Committee member at the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) during a June 11 event held by the organization to celebrate diversity in the workplace.
The event, hosted at BDC’s headquarters in downtown Montreal, focused on new Canadian citizens with an emphasis on Montreal’s Caribbean community and its contribution to the city’s business landscape. The BDC diversity team is made up of approximately 20 employees representing various communities. As a new member to the team, Shields cited how passion for her mixed Caribbean heritage was part of the inspiration behind this year’s Carifiesta theme.
In true Carifiesta fashion, the room was alive with vibrant colours, jeweled and feathered accents and featured flags representing Caribbean nations as well as a display of past masquerade costumes. Employees also got to learn more about upcoming Caribbean community events.
BDC, a financial institution that offers loans, consulting services, growth and transition capital, securitization and venture capital to entrepreneurs, has ranked as one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers for the past six years. With over 30,000 clients and more than 2,000 employees, the Bank knows from experience that employing people of different cultures, ages, gender and physical abilities helps foster mutual understanding, acceptance, teamwork and productivity.
Featured speaker Montreal Community Contact editor Egbert Gaye agrees. “While some may take a ‘tourist’ approach to learning about a new culture through sights, sounds and flavours, it’s crucial that we get to know our neighbours by immersing ourselves in their culture and interacting with one another on a regular basis,” he said before an audience of close to 200 BDC employees. “Only then will we really understand each other’s needs, challenges and the opportunities they present us with.”
Of course, the event wouldn’t be complete without the services of Caribbean business owners who helped make it a success. Caribbean Paradise Restaurant, Saveur Soleil Traiteur and baker Sandra Paul catered the event, while DJ Production Sounds (Milton Junior Primus) provided the music. Participants enjoyed a taste of the Caribbean with dishes from Barbados, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Here’s BDC’s take on diversity and new Canadians in the workplace
Diversity: It’s good for business
When your workforce reflects the community it serves, your business won’t miss out on the chance to break into new and growing markets, both locally and globally. Nowadays, diversity simply makes good business sense.
A key benefit of a sound diversity strategy is that it improves a company’s capacity to compete globally and get closer to foreign markets. Moreover, hiring new Canadians is especially important for entrepreneurs seeking to tap into international opportunities.
Employees of diverse backgrounds bring knowledge of their markets and cultures to a company. A firm that hires within the Caribbean community, for instance, may get easier access to certain market segments as it becomes known that the firm has employees with this background.
Business owners should be sure to include recruitment strategies that pinpoint specific communities. Long gone are the days when companies simply ran ads and hoped for the best. Recruiting has become increasingly specialized. Diverse communities can be targeted through business associations and networks.
Adjust your training
Entrepreneurs who hire from culturally diverse groups need to be sure their training is customized to meet specific needs. For example, skilled new Canadians who are less fluent in English or French than other employees may need specially adapted training materials, while young employees are always more attracted to motivating and visually compelling content.