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Middle managers make or break immigrant-inclusive teams: report


TRIEC's report is the first of its kind to look at the role of middle management through the lens of immigrant inclusion. (Pixel-Shot/Adobe Stock)

The group that makes or breaks efforts to build immigrant-inclusive teams in the workplace is middle managers, according to a new report published by the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC).

While workplace inclusion starts at the top with executive leadership, it is the everyday choices and actions of middle managers that pave the way to success or failure when it comes to immigrant professionals reaching their full potential.

This group has significant influence over what happens after an immigrant is hired, whether they feel part of their team, offering the feedback they need to grow, and ultimately the extent to which they progress in the organization.

The report is the first of its kind to look at the role of middle management through the lens of immigrant inclusion, according to TRIEC.

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Through original research — including 30 key informant interviews — as well as an extensive literature review, the report shares practical actions that management can take to positively form and lead immigrant-inclusive teams, and how executives can support them.

“Middle managers are an interesting group to look at — while organizational change needs leadership from the top, they are not without power,” said Adwoa K. Buahene, CEO of TRIEC. “The beauty of this report is that it draws on the lived experience of people who understand all sides of this story — middle managers who are also immigrants, as well as experts in diversity and inclusion.”

The report also reveals:

  • Few organizations measure immigrant inclusion: Not enough workplaces measure how they’re faring in terms of hiring, retaining, and/or promoting immigrant professionals. Organizations lack data on immigrants as a distinct equity group.
  • One-off D & I trainings are not enough: Immigrant inclusion efforts by middle managers have a greater chance of success if tied to organizational strategic goals and KPIs. Executives must seek to incentivize inclusive behaviour for middle managers, whether through financial perks, prospects of promotion, or recognition.
  • Conscious and unconscious bias is a factor: Conscious and unconscious bias creates systemic barriers that prevent immigrants from entering and/or achieving their full potential in the workplace. While some employers have come a long way, preconceived ideas about international education, perceived lack of soft skills, and different accents still affect immigrants’ ability to progress.