There is no one-size-fits-all strategy for Indigenous employee recruitment. Each organization must understand that processes and policies need to be adjusted over time to determine which strategies are the most effective. Organizations successfully recruiting and retaining Indigenous employees often partner with other organizations, such as skills development and training organizations. They also focus on providing roles that address the interests of Indigenous people and provide positive workplaces that value Indigenous culture.
1. Build trust and genuine understanding with Indigenous communities and leaders.
It is essential to build and maintain strong, mutually beneficial relationships with Indigenous communities. For example, before approaching a community to provide job opportunities, the employer should explain its needs to community leaders and learn about the community’s needs and available skill sets. This can help to ensure that both parties understand their counterpart’s situation, interests, and concerns. Then, employers can determine the types of jobs that should be offered to fit the community’s interests, and the community can find out if it has interested workers available to match the employer’s needs.
2. Partner with Indigenous communities on recruitment campaigns and to design job opportunities.
Employers can increase their visibility and improve their outreach efforts in Indigenous communities by partnering with Indigenous communities, groups, and agencies to identify potential candidates and to make candidates aware of job opportunities.
Since many Indigenous workers in remote communities may be unable to access the Internet to discover jobs themselves, or may be unaware of how to assess their skills or even apply for jobs, employers can build partnerships with Indigenous communities to make employment more accessible for their residents. Employers and Indigenous communities can also benefit from collaborating to design job opportunities. For example, the Newmont Mining Corporation hired Indigenous people in environmental services roles, which acknowledged their skill set and their cultural values, and put these to good use in the pursuit of company objectives.
3. Adjust the hiring process to meet Indigenous realities.
Employers should ensure that hiring requirements are equitable, culturally appropriate, and reasonable. Some non-essential requirements may be preventing Indigenous people from applying for jobs, even though they may be well suited for a job’s technical demands. Employers should also provide feedback to applicants who do not progress in the hiring process, particularly for those who fail criminal background checks, or drug and medical tests. This information can help applicants/employees be more successful when they re-apply for employment
4. Offer pre-employment training.
Life skills were identified as a barrier to employment for Indigenous people in Northern and remote regions. To remedy this, companies can offer pre-employment training or partner with organizations and communities to provide this training to potential employees. Training can be foundational (how to deal with difficult situations, how to obtain a driver’s licence, how to open a bank account), or can be focused on technical skills acquisition. By investing in this training, employers can ensure that Indigenous people are prepared to succeed in their roles, building confidence on the part of the employee and employer.
For this training to be successful, employers should ensure that it is delivered through culturally competent methods that respect Indigenous cultures and life experiences.
5. Identify and, where possible, address underlying barriers.
Canada’s remote Indigenous communities frequently face a host of barriers that are not as common in Southern towns and cities. Barriers can include things like access to potable water, telecommunications, and basic community infrastructure. These barriers need to be taken seriously by prospective employers and, where possible, addressed. As an example, core housing need is a significant issue for Indigenous people living across Canada’s Northern and remote regions.
Housing in Northern and remote Canada is not only costly, it is often scarce and in a state of disrepair. For this reason, companies operating in these regions should consider housing supports for Indigenous workers and provide housing options whenever relevant and feasible.
6. Partner with educational institutions.
Northern and remote employers can benefit from partnerships with regional educational institutions. Organizations can offer co-op or internship positions for summer students, or full-time positions for students upon completion of their studies. Staff at post-secondary institutions can often assist in identifying Indigenous student candidates and can connect them with employers that are the right fit for their skill set.
7. Offer youth development programs.
Companies can benefit from engaging with Indigenous youth. By making youth aware of job opportunities while ensuring their interests and aspirations are understood, in addition to offering practical experience and youth leadership programming, organizations can motivate them by providing insight into job opportunities that are available to them. Youth can also benefit from exposure to different workplace and educational environments.