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Increasing opportunities for Aboriginal people in the workplace: the business community must play a lead role

Diverse perspectives lead to innovation and improved results for individuals, businesses and Canada

Toronto, April 10, 2013 — Aboriginal people under the age of 30 represent the fastest-growing segment of Canada’s labour force. Deloitte has released a report with recommendations on how Canadian companies and the Aboriginal community can create stronger connections, improve relations and launch the careers of thousands of people.

Widening the circle: Increasing opportunities for Aboriginal people in the workplace underscores the importance of a long-term commitment to building relationships between Aboriginal people and business. It also highlights the need for greater collaboration, improved education and skills training, accommodation and cultural understanding.

“Creating inclusive workplaces is a responsibility we all share,” says Jane Allen, Partner and Chief Diversity Officer at Deloitte. “We hope our report inspires conversations, but more importantly, inspires action from Canadian companies that will provide Aboriginal people with access to a wide range of careers and meaningful advancement opportunities.”

Addressing educational and hiring issues
According to the report, significant gaps in the education system make it hard to complete the formal education required by employers. There are limited opportunities to learn about careers beyond those traditionally aspired to in Aboriginal communities, and there is little support available to navigate corporate systems. Once hired, Aboriginal people can experience isolation and unfamiliarity with cultural norms. The absence of Aboriginal colleagues and Aboriginal role models in senior positions can contribute to retention challenges.

On the employer side, inflexible company hiring practices make it difficult to consider a wider range of qualifications and experience, while limited resources may be making it difficult to foster inclusive hiring and training practices. Misconceptions and old myths persist. At every opportunity, these attitudes must be dispelled through education and dialogue.

This report follows a series of roundtable sessions called Dialogues on Diversity held in nine cities across Canada last year. Each session included representatives from the business community, educational institutes, community-based Aboriginal organizations and Deloitte professionals. Participants brought firsthand perspectives and many were of Aboriginal heritage.

“Through our dialogues, we heard about the challenges and explored solutions for creating closer and more effective ties between Aboriginal people and business,” said Allen. “We hope to change the conversation so that a new story about Aboriginal people in the workplace can be written — one full of ideas and opportunities for a bright future.”

Increasing opportunities with 10 best practices
Here are Deloitte’s top 10 best practices for increasing opportunities for Aboriginal people in the workplace:

  1. Partner with high schools, colleges and universities.
  2. Provide students with internships to give them training/experience.
  3. Question standard job requirements.
  4. Review screening/hiring/advancement practices to recognize unconventional talent and cultural differences.
  5. Conduct company-wide cultural training.
  6. Hire more than one Aboriginal person.
  7. Promote Aboriginal people to senior roles.
  8. Assess business/employment practices that could provide barriers to Aboriginal people.
  9. Develop an Aboriginal hiring and retention strategy.
  10. Communicate and celebrate successes.

About Deloitte
Deloitte, one of Canada's leading professional services firms, provides audit, tax, consulting, and financial advisory services.  Deloitte LLP, an Ontario limited liability partnership, is the Canadian member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited. Deloitte operates in Quebec as Deloitte s.e.n.c.r.l., a Quebec limited liability partnership.

Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, a UK private company limited by guarantee, and its network of member firms, each of which is a legally separate and independent entity. Please see www.deloitte.com/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited and its member firms.

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