Judith Hayes, Executive Director, Manitoba StartJudith Hayes, Executive Director
Manitoba Start’s Diversity and Intercultural Training Programs provide customized diversity training for management and frontline staff to meet workplace needs and support organizations in building cultural competence.

Each year, Manitoba welcomes thousands of highly talented and skilled newcomer professionals looking to call Manitoba home. As Manitoba businesses continue to grow and our aging workforce continues to retire in record numbers, building a culturally diverse organization will be a key to business success.

With immigration high on the Provincial government’s agenda, highly talented and skilled newcomer professionals will continue to be an important source for future staffing initiatives.

Funded by the province of Manitoba and the Government of Canada to build and sustain the Manitoba labour market, Manitoba Start also assists newcomers to enter the labour market by learning how to develop a resume and understand the Canadian interviewing process. The firm has guided over 55,000 newcomers to enter the province and find meaningful work. In addition to the newcomers, the non-profit company works with over 11,150 active employers. The firm assists employers in locating foreign trained professionals, as well as set up and maintain EDI initiatives, helping them maximize the value of their workforce.

In an interview with Manage HR, Judith Hayes, Executive Director of Manitoba start, explains how the firm has assisted newcomers in the province to find jobs that are equivalent to their skills.

How does Manitoba help businesses retain skilled employees?

With a holistic understanding of the diversity that newcomers bring to a workplace, we assist businesses to demonstrate equity and take advantage of the skill set the newcomers possess. We help businesses employ highly educated workers; workers that they might not have an opportunity to access if not for Canada’s immigration policies.

We incorporate EDI to address increasing “world migration realities” because we are witnessing more migration exacerbated by the pandemic and including the Ukraine war. The impact of this war on Canada is that we are inviting Ukrainians to find refuge in Canada and we’re hoping that they will make Canada their home. We have an undersized labour force and hence, a great need for skilled workers. The goal of Manitoba Start is not just to help people find a job, but through our EDI programs to help organizations develop strategies that will ensure inclusion in the workplace. We support organizations to modify existing strategies to assist the business to be better equipped for inclusion as we move forward.

Could you talk about the training programs delivered by Manitoba Start? How do they help your clients ensure an inclusive workforce?

Our signature programs are designed to cater to the specific needs of the company we work with. Emphasis is placed on intercultural communication, refugee employee support at the workplace and team building for stronger, diverse teams among other imperative programs. Our programs are customized to include case studies that use authentic materials and information gathered from our extensive client base, to encourage a participatory approach. The case studies are developed to address the real-life concerns of our clients using sector related examples.

We also support our business clients to develop a robust EDI strategy to ensure long term gains. Our EDI strategy looks at some internal as well as external drivers that need to be addressed within each businesses development strategies. We help our clients structure their EDI goals into a business plan that they can build and promote within their organization to help people understand the value of EDI and the step-by-step approach to achieving an inclusive workforce.
  • Our staff, which is very diverse in itself, has a great understanding of diversity in every sense. We have 60 people on staff at our organization, representing 20 different countries and cultures including people with a disability

Could you share a customer success story where you’ve helped a client overcome the challenges they faced?

We worked with a large hotel and restaurant management company that wanted to build a stronger workforce and were facing roadblocks in their recruitment strategies. To assist their recruitment division as well as the banquet section, we conducted general cultural awareness training. The program, including the case studies, were aligned with the requirements of the hospitality industry. The response was tremendous as the employees enjoyed the participatory approach. “This is exactly what we were looking for. The training helped us confirm what we are doing well, and the areas for growth and development that we can work on going forward,” said one of the senior executives of the organization. The client also approached us to help them craft an EDI plan working with their senior management team to identify how inclusion initiatives could be incorporated into the current strategies being implemented. Our approach of analyzing the positives in the organization and creating stronger inclusivity through honest collaborations has set us apart from the competition.

What lies ahead for your organization?

In our location, immigration plays a critical role in the diversity aspect of businesses. Over the last couple of years, our organization has supported newcomers from 92 different countries make Manitoba their home. Our staff, which is very diverse in itself, has a great understanding of diversity in every sense. We have 60 people on staff at our organization, representing 20 different countries and cultures as well as other aspects of culture. When our business clients call us, we truly understand their concerns, as we have addressed similar situations within our organization and that is our biggest strength.

In that respect, we help businesses hire and retain a world class workforce. As we look forward, we have put together 16 video interactive case studies that will be available on our website very shortly. Using these interactive sessions, both businesses and newcomers can work through the case studies at their own pace to identify various approaches to addressing intercultural concerns. The sector-specific case studies can be used by HR departments to identify and address departmental challenges faced by the organization. At which point, we could bring them deeper and in-depth inclusion training, should they require it, but this might be a first step for them to look at and be self-directed in striving for more inclusion strategies.