With files by Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors

Saskatoon Health Region’s efforts to create and support a diverse workforce have resulted in being named one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers for 2015.

RR-2015-04-01-diversity-2015-englishThe winners of the annual Canada’s Best Diversity Employers competition were announced March 31, recognizing the organizations that do the most to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Now entering its ninth year, the Canada’s Best Diversity Employers competition recognizes the leading organizations when it comes to creating inclusive workplaces for employees from five diverse groups: women; visible minorities; persons with disabilities; Aboriginal peoples; and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) peoples. Employers are selected by the editors at Mediacorp based on submissions to the annual Canada’s Top 100 Employers, now in its 16th year.

Saskatoon Health Region was chosen as one of the winners for a number of reasons, including the Region’s collaboration with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health and Health Canada to develop a five-year strategy to promote the retention of current and future employees who are internationally educated health care professionals (IEHP) called “Pathways: IEPH Support, Bridging and Integration.” As part of the strategy, the  Region provides financial support to IEHPs who require credential assessment services or reimbursement for fees associated with language training, qualification tests and assessments, and tuition for bridging programs.

The strategy also outlines initiatives related to employment and integration, career planning, development and employment support, group workshops and peer networking, and mentorship.

Another Saskatoon program also garnered the attention of the judges. The Region established “Awaken the Power of Change,” an organizational strategy that aims to increase the representation of employees who self-declare as First Nation, Metis, or Inuit. This plan also includes goals of improving health-care delivery to Aboriginal clients, improving the socio-economic well-being of the health community, and creating a positive working environment for all employees.

The Region also manages pre-employment programs through partnerships with Saskatoon Skills and Trades Centre and the Gabriel Dumont Technical Institute, offers scholarships to Aboriginal students, and participates in targeted career fairs and information sessions.

The Region also maintains a peer network to help Aboriginal employees connect. The network schedules regular events such as focus groups and social gatherings, and recently began organizing mentoring circles to provide casual and structured opportunities to meet with other employees in the Region.

According to the statistics gathered by the awards program, 87 per cent of the Region’s employees are women, 6.4 per cent are visible minorities, and 4.05 per cent are Aboriginals.

“We are extremely excited about this award as we recognize the importance of diversity as a critical component for our Region’s ability to innovate and adapt in an ever-changing environment where we can provide the highest quality of care to our patients, clients and residents,” states Shelley Lofstrom, Manager of Workforce Planning and Employment for Saskatoon Health Region.

“Promoting diversity and inclusiveness is one of Canada’s defining values,” says Kristina Leung, lead editor on the Canada’s Best Diversity Employers competition and Senior Editor at Mediacorp Canada Inc., which manages the project. “Employers understand that they have an important role to play in making workplaces open to Canadians from a wide variety of backgrounds – and that their organizations are stronger when workplaces reflect the diversity of Canadian society.”

“These employers make inclusiveness part of their organizational DNA,” says Richard Yerema, Managing Editor of the Canada’s Top 100 Employers competition. “They encourage employees to ‘bring their whole self’ to work, creating an environment where employees feel valued and welcome. As Canadians, we often don’t realize how much progress we have made toward an inclusive society, especially compared to many areas of the world, and these employers are showing the way.”