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DEI as a Young Professional

The world has changed significantly. Not just in the last two centuries or the last two decades but even in the last two years. One of the hot topics of discussion has been diversity, equity and inclusion. Sometimes referred to as DEI. Or you might have seen D&I or EDI, or other acronyms. 

You’ll be able to find a lot of material online on “what is DEI,” why it is important, plus how organizations and leaders can create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace. Though a young professional recently pointed out to me that there isn’t as much out there related to what a young professional, recent grad or student intern could do.

“Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance” -Verna Myers

When I ask a young professional, recent grad or student intern about DEI, they often don’t have much of a reaction. On occasion, there are a few that have been on the receiving end of some sort of discrimination. Perhaps it’s anecdotally a good sign of the times that youth are not as afflicted. 

Many entry-level roles at companies abound with folks from different genders, racism ethnicities, physical & mental capabilities, etc. It seems like youth are anecdotally being invited to the party and being asked to dance. DEI seems to be a concern for senior leadership. Though, as these young folks advance in their career, DEI will likely be more of a concern. Conversations are starting on what can be done to get ahead of the challenge.  

Speaking to some DEI-minded folks, The following were collectively brainstormed (though not exhaustive by any means):

  1. Awareness
  2. Understanding
  3. Practice
  4. Improvement

Awareness 

“Awareness is the greatest agent for change” -Eckhart Tolle

Have you ever thought of the people you work with? How are they similar to you, and how are they different from you? Have you thought about your workplace from a DEI lens?

A youth in a group I was chatting with was wondering if I could even ask these types of questions. I said, “are we now so sensitive that we can’t even talk about it?”

Let’s bring the challenge into the light so they can be acknowledged and addressed. That doesn’t make the process easy. When our unconscious biases are acknowledged, the process can hurt. 

I recall a recent interaction where someone felt I was discriminating against them. The issue escalated. When I finally had a chance to acknowledge the alleged hurtful remark, I realized that “having no intention to hurt them” wasn’t necessarily good enough. The issue was eventually resolved with separate previously unknown trauma at play, and it led me on a journey to an awareness that I am very much thankful for.

Reading this article may very well be your first step to awareness. The next step is to learn more to gain some understanding.

How? Get involved in your company’s DEI groups. 

Doesn’t exist? Start one. 

Perhaps find a community organization or a trusted DEI ally to help. 

As a young professional, recent grad or student intern, you can make a difference.

You don’t have to wait to be in senior leadership. Though building a relationship with an executive sponsor could be a good step to make your DEI initiatives sustainable.

Understanding

With some newfound awareness, the next step is to gain some understanding. Perhaps connecting with a DEI professional, talking to a learned friend, researching a bit of history, or learning additional points of awareness to be noted.

While the process can be quite awkward and nerve-wracking, approaching understanding from a perspective of curiosity can be very helpful.

Asking questions is a great way of gaining understanding.

A few good questions to ask:

  • What is your definition of diversity? Equity? Inclusion? If we’re gonna be aware and understand it, we might as well get on the same page regarding what it means to us as an organization. DEI is not just gender or race and can include physical/mental abilities, religions, cultures and age. While you can start with a dictionary definition, each organization will often have to pick their own interpretations and prioritizations. 
  • Why is DEI important to us? Benefits are plentiful, and choose the ones that resonate with your organization. Whether it’s improved innovation, enhanced employee engagement, reaching broader markets, or others, align them with your organization’s values. 
  • How do we know that we’ve been successful with our DEI initiatives? Initiatives could start with a few awareness emails, continue with various workshops and learning and hopefully carry on with a thriving community. The start and end state will be up to you. 

There are plenty more questions to ask, though you can start by progressing your close colleagues to awareness and then understanding. Extend to broader departments and groups based on which are receptive and open. Then see what other parts of the company would be willing to take part. You might need senior leadership buy-in to help that happen. Or may choose to make it a grassroots effort. Think progress vs perfection. 

Again, a young professional, recent grad or student intern can make a difference. You don’t have to be an expert. You just need to be willing to put in the effort to move the initiatives forward. Though you will eventually need some senior leadership support in order to really help DEI initiatives thrive in your organization. 

At the end of the day, prioritizing and making the time is an important step to allow understanding to happen.

How? I allocate a few hours of your month, an hour of your week, or even a few minutes daily to DEI initiatives. Promote awareness. Have conversations. Improve your understanding. That time consistently over time can easily turn awareness into understanding. 

Practice 

“Consistent action creates consistent results” – Christine Kane

DEI it’s not a “one-and-done activity.” It’s something that needs to be practised consistently and often in order to be effective.

Yes, you may have had a workshop and felt great about your new DEI knowledge. You might have completed some DEI training and implemented the initiative so that it was successful. But what about next month? Or next year? Or the year after next?

How often will it be up to you and your organization? Those earlier on the path to awareness, understanding and developing it into regular practice will need more time. Eventually, if you can embed DEI into the culture of your organization, then last time is likely because the time you do spend will be habitual. 

That may sound daunting for a young professional, recent grad or student intern, though hopefully, you’ve already realized that you can make a difference. 

How? Find your “tribe” of DEI allies within your organization or community who can help the understanding turn into a regular practice.

Improvement 

If you’re at this stage on your DEI journey, then your high-achieving self will likely want to make things even better.

Perhaps you can share your successes with other departments or even other organizations and join the broader DEI community. Perhaps you can bring in folks from other organizations and learn from them. Maybe even secure executive support for a DEI audit to see how effective your initiatives have really been.

And what you’ll eventually realize is that you ARE making a difference. That is, once you realize that even as a young professional, recent grad or student intern, you can make a difference!

Exclusive Insights Live from our 2022 #TEAwards Surveys

Over 80 recruiters and industry professionals attended our 2022 TalentEgg Awards and Conference to celebrate the best recruitment practices among students and recent grads. During the virtual event, we conducted several surveys to uncover exclusive insights into the future of recruitment and the workplace.

EMPLOYEES ARE HAPPY WITH HYBRID AND REMOTE WORKPLACES

We asked recruiters and industry professionals questions: “What kind of workplace do you have?” and “What is the best part of your new workplace model?” 5% responded “In Office”, 36% responded “Remote”, while 59% responded “Hybrid”. Regarding the best part of their new workplace model, most respondents are happy about the comfort of working from home while still being able to connect with colleagues. In the post-pandemic aftermath, hybrid workplaces are the newest trend that will become the new normal.

Insights

SOFT SKILLS ARE THE NEW CRITICAL SKILLS

In our Guide to Recruitment 2022, we empathize the importance of soft skills for the career success of students and new graduates. We asked our awards and conference attendees to tell us if they think “soft skills are critical for young talents in the workplace?” All respondents said “Yes.” When we asked them if they believe their company should invest in Soft Skills Training, all respondents said “Yes” too.

Students’ hard skills are learned in the classroom, whereas soft skills come from experiences, group projects, and daily interactions, which people must go out of their way to develop. Soft skills make for a healthy working environment, drive positive change, help solve problems more efficiently, increase sales and help improve employee retention.

Before the pandemic, students and grads expressed their need for additional training before entering the workforce and continued learning opportunities. Therefore at TalentEgg, we are egg-cited to excited to announce the launch of our E-Learning Platform. TalentEgg’s eLearning Academy offers courses that teach introductory workplace soft skills for students and grads and intermediate soft skills to advance careers. These courses support Canada’s top talent’s school-to-work transition and early career development. To learn more about our eLearning Academy and Soft Skills, download our Guide to Recruitment 2022.

THE DEMAND FOR TAKING ACTION ON DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION IN THE WORKPLACE

It is now a habit for students, recent graduates, and working professionals to research each company’s diversity, equity, and inclusion policies before applying. We asked attendees, “What is the most important DEI initiative in your workplace?” Among the answers were “having appropriate hiring practices in place,” “accessible website,” “ERG,” and “inclusive recruitment strategies,” to name a few. If you are a recruiter or HR professional, sit down with your company leaders and discuss practical ways to integrate diversity and inclusion into the workplace.

Social media, blogs, and websites are great for promoting your DEI initiatives, but it can sometimes be hard to target those initiatives to the audience you intend to promote. That’s why coming soon to TalentEgg; we will be offering DEI eblasts. These eblasts will be targeted and sent to DEI clubs in over 30+ universities and colleges across Canada.

If you’re unsure of what implementing diversity and inclusion initiatives or training in the workplace may look like, we at TalentEgg are here to help you take that first step. We have a whole chapter on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the workplace, in our Guide to Recruitment 2022. 

NEW TRENDS FOR THE FUTURE OF CAMPUS RECRUITMENT

Due to the many options for recruiters, it can be challenging to choose where to put your campus recruitment efforts. When we asked attendees: “Do you think your campus recruitment strategies were up to date and effective in attracting young talent?” 57% of respondents answered with a “Yes” while 43% answered with a “No.” When we asked them, “Do you think your company should invest in new strategies to attract young talent?” all respondents agreed that their organizations should implement new strategies.

For many employers, a meaningful way to showcase their employer brand and capture students and recent grad’s attention is through events. Workplaces increasingly shifted to digital events during the pandemic, and this is a trend we believe is here to stay. Having your employer brand online is also critical to capture the attention of students and new grads.

Students and new grads overwhelmingly look for jobs on job board websites. Centralizing your organization’s recruitment efforts on job boards like TalentEgg is essential to developing and growing your employer brand beyond your career website to meet job seekers where they are. TalentEgg is not just a job board; we are also an employer branding platform to help you build and amplify your brand with hundreds of thousands of new grads and students.

But besides job boards, social media is by far the best way to engage students and new grads. Due to the rise of TikTok as the new preeminent platform, the digital landscape has dramatically changed. Successfully reaching students and recent grads on social media platforms requires a lot of work and time. Therefore, TalentEgg has invested heavily in the past year on Instagram and TikTok to enable our clients to use our TalentEgg platforms to access a broad audience of students and recent grads.

We are happy to announce that TalentEgg now offers TikTok Takeovers. During these TikToks, your organization can access TalentEgg’s TikTok account for one week, helping showcase your employer brand.

In addition, we are also launching TalentEgg Shorts, a video series showcasing your employer brand to help you grab students’ and new grads’ attention. With the fast pace and engaging graphics and music of our TalentEgg Shorts, the videos will be jam-packed with information while keeping them tight, concise and compelling. To learn more about our TikTok Takeovers and TalentEgg Shorts, download our Guide to Recruitment 2022.

THE CONTINUING IMPORTANCE OF MENTAL HEALTH IN THE WORKPLACE

Finally, mental health initiatives and awareness have gone a long way in the past few years, but much work still needs to be done. We asked our awards and conference attendees to tell us, “Do you think your employer provides sufficient mental health and wellness support?” The most common answer was “Yes.” We asked them, “Do you think your leadership would benefit from more training in supporting mental health and wellness of their employees?” 100% of respondents said “Yes.”

Workplaces can play a crucial part in mandating positive mental health for their workers. Furthermore, students and graduates report that mental health support at work is an essential factor in deciding where they want to work.

Here at TalentEgg, we realize that mental health training is in high demand amongst students, new grads and working professionals. We also know that as employers, schools and career centers, you want to continue to grow your mental health initiatives and create a safe and welcoming environment for all students, new grads and working professionals.

That’s why we created our new Mental Health & Psychological Safety In The Workplace Master Certificate Program on our TalentEgg eLearning Academy site. With these courses designed for managers and team leaders, you can build a psychologically safe workplace where employee mental health is a high priority.

For more trends on recruitment, the new digital recruitment word, and a glimpse of the future of the post-pandemic workplace, check out our Guide to Recruitment 2022 package, brought to you by our team at TalentEgg.

CIBC’s Strategies to Create Inclusive Career Paths

Having received diversity and inclusion awards for over a decade, CIBC is internationally recognized as a global leader for its initiatives. To get an understanding of how CIBC’s strategies create meaningful and inclusive career paths for students and new grads we spoke with Shalise Goffe, a Senior Manager of Campus Strategy and Recruitment at CIBC. 

Shalise Goffe Headshot

Shalise joined CIBC because of the great things she heard about the culture and people. After seven months with CIBC, she can say that it is all true! 

“The people are open, inviting and supportive. The culture is one of transparency, empowerment, and growth and it really does feel like a family because everyone wants to see you win!”

Student and New Graduate Initiatives

As one of Canada’s largest banks, CIBC knows the importance of bridging the gap between post-secondary education and the workforce. That is why they have set up dedicated initiatives for students and new grads to successfully hatch their careers

We asked Shalise how CIBC’s Student Leadership Academy (SLA) enables students to succeed in the workplace. “It allows students the chance to grow both professionally and personally by pursuing their interests and passions in addition to their work term. Our students have access to workshops that help them gain new skills or simply refine their existing set. Through our workshops, leadership connections, and other SLA activities our students get to explore life at CIBC and their future careers. Providing them with a supportive environment, learning opportunities and the ability to showcase their leadership skills enable them to succeed in the workplace.”

CIBC also runs a co-op program for students and new grads. This program “encourages our co-op students to bring new, creative, and innovative ideas to CIBC. Selected summer students are challenged to work on a real CIBC business problem in a team with other students, along with the support of an Executive Sponsor and Project Lead. It’s an opportunity for them to push themselves by thinking outside the box and collaborating with others to come up with solutions.”

“It’s important to be a student of life and that means the learning doesn’t stop once you’ve left school.”

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategies at CIBC

Diversity, equity, and inclusion have come to the forefront of recruitment and internal dialogue over the last few years as their necessity has risen to attention. With 10 groups throughout CIBC focussing on like-minded individuals coming together with shared interests or backgrounds, there is a place for everyone at CIBC.

We wanted to dive deeper into CIBC’s initiatives, so we asked Shalise to describe why diversity, equity, and inclusion are important at CIBC. “At CIBC we want you to feel a sense of belonging. We want you to come into work each and every day truly believing that you can be your authentic self without hiding or covering who you truly are and that you will be accepted for it. Only then will you feel like it’s a safe space that’s open for you to bring your whole self to work.”

When it comes to the CIBC’s internal strategies and the future of recruitment, Shalise had this to say: “Candidates are interested in a company’s diversity and inclusion strategy and how they fit into it. Going back to the belonging piece, people want to join a company that they feel safe in, that they feel cares about them and that are making commitments to be inclusive and equitable. It’s important that we are hiring diverse candidates so we can be reflective of the communities we serve.

Final Thoughts

CIBC has built an array of initiatives to foster an inclusive and diverse workplace for students, new grads, and experienced professionals alike. It is a workplace where everyone is welcome and CIBC is constantly evolving to stay at the forefront of critical initiatives. 

“We want you to grow both personally and professionally and there are a number of ways to do that at CIBC.”

To learn more about CIBC’s student and new graduate programs check out their employer profile on TalentEgg!

The Modern Workplace and Hiring in the Pandemic World with SNC-Lavalin

SNC-Lavalin is a Montreal-based company focused on engineering, procurement, and construction services. Boasting over 50,000 employees worldwide, SNC-Lavalin is one of Canada’s biggest companies. Their teams are agile, collaborative, and driven by possibilities. By employing anti-discrimination hiring practices, SNC-Lavalin has built itself a diverse employee roster. They believe diverse groups make better decisions – which in turn, leads to better business. They put resources into each and every one of their employees, creating a structure of support and training. This helps them develop their employees, giving each one the power to enhance their performance in positive, impactful ways. The digital, modern workplace has been accelerated due to the pandemic. However, SNC-Lavalin had already adopted many of these practices well before Covid-19  began, allowing them to lead the transition for Canadian companies.

Career Opportunities

SNC-Lavalin provides many career paths for students and graduates within their organization.  The most obvious example is the vast opportunities available in a wide and international company like SNC-Lavalin. Their vast resources allow employees to work on a diverse range of projects across industries. In many large companies, a person can become lost in the sea of employees. SNC-Lavalin avoids this by providing mentorships throughout their company and a graduate development program that allows its employees to further their knowledge and refine their skills.

Being such a large and important company, SNC-Lavalin had to adjust quickly when the pandemic hit. Luckily, they already had the necessary online and virtual tools in place to continue business as usual. They were able to continue focusing their priorities on ensuring the safety and wellbeing of their people and candidates. The new workplace model the pandemic has brought requires employers to help students and new grads transition. When asked about this, Ariane Lamy, a Campus & Diversity Recruitment Manager, replied, “We’re a company that drives innovation, so we’re committed to the next generation of original thinkers, wherever you are in Canada. You’ll work on our major projects in Canada, where we will provide you with excellent mentoring and learning support. Great team spirit and collaboration define our culture. And guided by our transformative leadership, we’re always improving our workplace for all, with the necessary online and virtual tools in place.”

Anti-Discriminatory Hiring

At any organization, it is essential to keep hiring processes fair and anti-discriminatory. SNC-Lavalin approaches this topic seriously. Each job description is reviewed with a gender decoder tool to reduce subtle biases in job postings. This increases the chances of candidates from less common gender demographics, particularly in industries dominated by one. Their next two approaches focus on blind hiring. Resumes are often stripped of names and headshots to ensure personal prejudices are not factored into the hiring process. Secondly, they employ skill scorecards to examine each employee based on their practical knowledge rather than aspects of their personality or appearance. By engaging in these practices, SNC-Lavalin reduces the chances of any discriminatory hiring practices occurring, keeping the hiring process fair and leading to a much more diverse workplace.

Hiring and the Modern Workplace

As this new workplace model continues to develop, recruitment and hiring trends will continue to be impacted. Unlike many organizations, SNC-Lavalin’s recruitment process wasn’t affected during the pandemic as they were able to adapt rapidly and implement the necessary tools to develop a virtual recruitment process. However, they do believe they will see changes in major hiring trends in the future.

For a company like SNC-Lavalin that predominantly hires employees with professional designations, campus programs will continue to be a significant source of potential candidates. Next, the team at SNC-Lavalin believes that worldwide team collaboration will also increase. As the pandemic has accelerated remote work, the ability to work internationally and collaborate with teams across the globe will undoubtedly rise. Their final few thoughts all focus on an increasingly digital workplace. As documents become digitalized, SNC-Lavalin believes they will see a rise in no-resume hiring and video introductions for their candidates. The team here at TalentEgg thinks the same thing, which is why we have developed our Candidate Video Showcase, which allows candidates and employers to facilitate video applications and interviews. The modern workplace and hiring processes are undoubtedly becoming much more digital. Being aware and staying at the forefront of this transition period allows companies like SNC-Lavalin to succeed.

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