By actively seeking to bridge cultural differences, organizations can foster an inclusive culture that benefits everyone, enhancing cultural understanding and satisfaction and promoting collaboration, communication, creativity, productivity and a sense of belonging in the workplace.

Each company’s journey is unique, allowing them to identify initiatives that align with their specific needs and goals.

Building professional confidence

Consider the following.

Empower through open communication, coaching and mentorship opportunities

Communication is key. Employers interviewed mentioned that they noticed that initially some international students and graduates may feel uncomfortable speaking up, asking for help or making a mistake.

Provide a supportive environment and create a culture where they feel it is okay to ask for help and be vulnerable and honest.

Provide mentorship within the organization. For example, pair them up with someone in a managerial position so they can practice talking to someone in a higher position of power (for example, meet every two weeks – one different person per month).

Learn management style preferences

Learn how your new international hire likes to be managed and communicated with.

International hires may experience confusion or misrepresentation regarding the style of communication managers use to provide feedback. They may be accustomed to more direct feedback, whereas North American culture often favours a polite and diluted approach.

They may also have stricter adherence to getting things approved, for example, asking for approval of their decision-making. Make those expectations clear. With time, they will feel more comfortable and empowered and start to thrive in the organization.

Career advancement opportunities

Address barriers to career advancement — it is a strong retention tool.

The initial impression of a lack of confidence among international employees may hinder their prospects for future advancement or promotion within a company.

International candidates can be viewed as entry-level and overlooked for advancement; do not underestimate the value they bring and invest in people in your organization, offer development opportunities and career progression, which are a big part of engagement and retention.

Employer Playbook: Strategies for Immigrant Inclusion in Canadian Workplaces (2021) Promoting Inclusive Workplaces Creative Equity Toolkit

Building cross-cultural understanding

Consider the following.

Intercultural training

Intercultural training is highly recommended for all employees to develop cross-cultural competency skills, which fosters interconnections among colleagues with diverse backgrounds.[1]

Check out SAIT’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Starter Pack, or contact Corporate Training to learn more.

Building inclusive workplaces and a learning organization

The best way to learn about the cultural composition of your team is to ask.

Employers increasingly recognize the importance of understanding and learning more about their employees' cultural and religious practices and needs. This can be done during the onboarding process for new employees, through surveys, one-on-one meetings, or through committees or groups your organization may have.[2]

Taking proactive steps to learn about, accommodate, and celebrate diverse cultural practices creates an environment where employees feel valued, respected, and included.

You could celebrate the diversity in your workforce in posters, newsletters and other communications as well as by hosting cultural and social events such as potlucks and cultural awareness days. You could welcome employees to engage in intercultural exchanges if they are comfortable, such as lunch and learn to share their traditions and holidays.

It is important to note that it is unfair to expect marginalized colleagues to educate others on diversity, equity and inclusion. Active engagement at the organizational and leadership level is the most effective approach to learning and practicing this work rather than placing the responsibility on marginalized colleagues to teach or do the work on behalf of others.  

Accommodating Religious Diversity in the Workplace GEDI-Hub’s EDI Resources Days of Significance 2023-2024 Strategies for Immigrant Inclusion in the Canadian Workplace

Other ways to engage with SAIT international students and alumni

SAIT students learn from instructors who come directly from the industries they teach. The curriculum is shaped by instructors’ expertise and input from industry partners. Our hands-on learning approach is designed to replicate real workplaces' expertise.

SAIT graduates are driving innovation, building communities and leading businesses worldwide.

Career Advancement Services connects industry partners with skilled SAIT students and alumni seeking valuable industry connections and work opportunities.

We offer opportunities to connect directly with current SAIT students and alumni through industry mentorship and networking.

Career Advancement Services

In this toolkit

1. Why international talent matters 2. Navigating barriers to recruitment 3. Hiring international students and graduates 4. Creating inclusive company culture
A man laughing. He is on the cover of the international talent toolkit.

Get a copy of our toolkit

Download a PDF version of our toolkit, Unlocking International Talent and Pathways to Engage with SAIT International Students and Alumni

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References

[1] Tiara-Silalahi, A., Wulandari, R., Fijar, M., Akbar R., Kristopo H. (2022). Exploring Emotional and Cultural Intelligence of Undergraduate International Students at an Indonesian Private University. Journey of International Conference Proceedings (JICP) Vol. 5 No. 5 pp. 12-21.
[2] GEDI-Hub (2023). Creating Inclusive Workplaces: Holidays and Events Handbook.