The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) is on a mission to help its employees become stronger leaders. Benefits Canada spoke with Mary Karamanos, senior vice-president of HR at BDC, about the role of diversity in the organization’s success.

Why is diversity a key organizational focus at BDC?
We believe we’re enriched with our diversity, and our employees also see it that way. We see it as a key differentiator, in terms of success for the organization and our ability to connect with the communities that we serve and support. Diversity is also part of the fabric of our country, and I think, as a crown corporation, it’s important that we are aligned with the culture of this country.

How does BDC foster diversity in recruiting and hiring?
We partner with various organizations that help us connect with diverse populations that we may not have a lot of knowledge about. One organization in Toronto helps us identify individuals with foreign credentials and backgrounds in finance and administration. We also work with partners in Aboriginal communities where we recruit and hire.

How does BDC measure international work experience and education credentials for immigrant hires?
We get a large number of applications from new Canadians, and we recognize foreign education and experience. We use pre-employment testing to evaluate knowledge, skills and abilities. We also use a third-party firm to conduct reference checks on education programs that candidates have completed [outside of Canada].

What does the organization do to ensure an inclusive workplace for all employees?
In 2003, we created a national diversity action committee. This team looks at ways we can promote understanding and acceptance through education and events. It’s leveraging the differences we all have to create an environment where people feel welcome and can contribute, learn and grow. It’s an evolutionary process. The way we looked at diversity 10 years ago is different than today. We have to constantly be discussing how we can meet the needs of our clients, who are increasingly diverse.

Neil Faba is associate editor of Benefits Canada.

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Copyright © 2020 Transcontinental Media G.P. This article first appeared in Benefits Canada.

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