Leveraging immigration as a source of innovation


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On May 15 2014, at the Canadian Immigration Conference in Toronto, Canada, TRIEC Executive Director Margaret Eaton made the case for leveraging immigration as a source of innovation. This is her presentation.

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  • Thank you to the Conference Board of Canada for this research
    We’ve known that diverse teams are innovative teams, but now we have the hard data to prove it.
    Today, I’ll tell you some stories of innovation
    And I’ll comment on how we in the immigration sector can use this important research to inspire employers to act on it.
  • AT TRIEC we love to recognize employers who have championed the inclusion of immigrants in their workplace. One of the ways we do that is through our Immigrant Success Awards.
    Shine the spotlight on best practices
    Story-telling to inspire and encourage more employers
    Going to tell you about three winners who really bring the Conference Board research to life…
    Nan Zing Hu

    Here is an ad that we had prepared focusing on
  • 137 employees from over 35 countries
    28 per cent of employees graduated from university in other countries – almost half have doctorate degrees
    Centre awarded its 1000th Patent in 2006
    Top performers include three skilled immigrants – each has surpassed the 100 patent mark.
    Awarded the Immigrant Success Award in 2007

    Diversity drives innovation: More diversity = more and better ideas
    Workforce diversity is a core value and “sustained pursuit”
    at Xerox Canada.9 According to the company, “[diversity] is
    Xerox. Diversity is essential to our business. Our environment.
    Our teams. Our products. Our history.”10
    Consequently, Xerox Canada has attracted, hired, and retained
    a large percentage of immigrant employees. At the Xerox
    Research Centre of Canada alone, approximately 50 per cent of
    the staff are immigrants, hailing from 35 different countries.11
    More specifically, 28 per cent of the staff are skilled immigrants
    who earned their B.Sc., M.Sc., or PhD degrees in their native
    countries.12 This high level of diversity has garnered considerable
    recognition. In 2007, the Xerox Research Centre of Canada
    won the Canadian Immigrant Success Award in the mid-sized
    employer category from TRIEC (Toronto Region Immigrant
    Employment Council).13 More recently, in 2009, Xerox Canada
    was named one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers by
    Mediacorp Canada.14
    The Impact of Immigrants at Xerox Canada
    Xerox Canada covers the cost of immigration lawyers and
    language training for many of its immigrant employees, and
    the company reports that the return on investment has been
    significant. According to Hadi Mahabadi, Vice-President and
    Manager of the Xerox Research Centre of Canada, workforce
    diversity has advanced the centre’s innovation rate. In recent
    years, this rate reached 120–130 patentable ideas annually—
    or over one patent per scientist per year.15 The resulting
    products have included erasable paper, which made TIME
    magazine’s “Best Inventions of the Year” list in 2007.16
    Furthermore, immigrant employees have provided Xerox
    Canada with greater insight into the needs, wants, and circumstances
    of peoples around the world, enabling the company
    to better compete in the global market. To illustrate, Mahabadi
    points out that “the power goes out regularly in certain parts
    of the world, a fact that a company might not [realize] unless
    a foreign worker from there was able to share that fact . . . and
    then [Xerox can] adjust design specifications accordingly.”17
    For companies, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises
    with limited resources, such global insights can “result in a
    cost-effective, worldly design and marketing process.”18
    12 Baranyi,
  • Our next case: Trinity Tech
  • SMTC has transformed their Markham operations into a centre of innovation:
    Brings best practices from around the world, centralises them here and then disperses throughout their global network
    Allows them to better serve their customers globally through innovative solutions
  • Leveraging immigration as a source of innovation

    1. 1. TORONTO REGION IMMIGRANT EMPLOYMENT COUNCIL (TRIEC) Leveraging Immigration as a Source of Innovation Canadian Immigration Conference 2014
    2. 2. TORONTO REGION IMMIGRANT EMPLOYMENT COUNCIL (TRIEC) “If you only have people who think and act in the same way, you will be very consistent, but not very innovative or flexible.” Gord Nixon, CEO, RBC and Chair, TRIEC
    3. 3. TORONTO REGION IMMIGRANT EMPLOYMENT COUNCIL (TRIEC) What is TRIEC? Leadership council of labour market actors
    4. 4. TORONTO REGION IMMIGRANT EMPLOYMENT COUNCIL (TRIEC) TRIEC’s Vision & Mission Vision A Greater Toronto Region that prospers by fully engaging the contributions of skilled immigrants. Mission Create and champion solutions to better integrate skilled immigrants in the Greater Toronto Region labour market.
    5. 5. TORONTO REGION IMMIGRANT EMPLOYMENT COUNCIL (TRIEC) Jessica’s 3 slides Case 1: Xerox Canada
    6. 6. TORONTO REGION IMMIGRANT EMPLOYMENT COUNCIL (TRIEC) Case 1: Xerox Research Centre of Canada Mississauga, Ontario
    7. 7. TORONTO REGION IMMIGRANT EMPLOYMENT COUNCIL (TRIEC) “Our diverse workforce really helps to keep the company innovative. The diverse work environment gives us the opportunity to learn about different business practices from around the world and use this diverse experience to develop innovative solutions for our clients.” Dunstan Peter President and CEO Trinity Tech Inc.
    8. 8. TORONTO REGION IMMIGRANT EMPLOYMENT COUNCIL (TRIEC) Watch the Trinity Tech video at http://youtu.be/V4ymTGLFt3w
    9. 9. TORONTO REGION IMMIGRANT EMPLOYMENT COUNCIL (TRIEC) Case 3: SMTC A global electronics manufacturing services provider headquartered in Markham.
    10. 10. TORONTO REGION IMMIGRANT EMPLOYMENT COUNCIL (TRIEC) Watch the SMTC video at http://youtu.be/wGzWrDwsqLc
    11. 11. TORONTO REGION IMMIGRANT EMPLOYMENT COUNCIL (TRIEC) How Can We Best Use This Great Information? 1. Making the case to hire and promote immigrants: • Awards • Champions • Communications and media
    12. 12. TORONTO REGION IMMIGRANT EMPLOYMENT COUNCIL (TRIEC) How Can We Best Use This Information? 2. Supporting employers to maximize their diverse talent: • Best Practices: • Pitney Bowes’ Innovation Teams • Innovation challenge • Employer Engagement Teams • Online Materials and supports
    13. 13. RBC CHAMPION OF IMMIGRANT SUCCESS 2014 TRIEC IS AWARDS Entrepreneurship Connections
    14. 14. TORONTO REGION IMMIGRANT EMPLOYMENT COUNCIL (TRIEC) Do yourself a favour. Hire a skilled immigrant. Margaret Eaton Executive Director Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) meaton@triec.ca