Recognized as one of National Capital Region's Top Employers (2017)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Apr 12, 2017)
Here are some of the reasons why Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation / CMHC was selected as one of National Capital Region's Top Employers (2017):
- CMHC offers exceptional family-friendly benefits including a full year of paid leave for mothers and parental leave top-up payments for fathers and adoptive parents (up to 37 weeks) -- employees also have access to a generous subsidy for in vitro fertilization (IVF) if needed (to $20,000) and can extend parental leave into an unpaid leave of absence
- In order to create a pipeline of new graduate talent, CMHC recently launched a graduate rotation program for Masters-level graduates interested in policy development, market analysis or research
- CMHC implemented a mental health initiative to help ensure employees are healthy and successful in the workplace and hosted a wellness fair as part of the organization's Wellness Month activities -- the fair featured a cholesterol and blood-glucose screening clinic, local health practitioners and information on topics related to physical and mental health
Recognized as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2017)
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Mar 27, 2017)
Here are some of the reasons why Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation / CMHC was selected as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2017):
- As part of the organization's inclusive workplace strategy, CMHC launched a mental health initiative to ensure employee health and success remain priorities in the workplace -- the initiative includes a range of educational, awareness, training and communications activities to help employees improve their mental health as well as that of their colleagues
- CMHC also maintains a national, employee-led committee on mental health and wellness, which is currently working to adopt and implement the National Psychological Standard on Mental Heath, and increased the maximum amount of health coverage available for employees utilizing psychological services
- CMHC established a unique Special Needs program for individuals with Down syndrome in 1993, providing mentoring, skills development and work experience
CMHC mines a diverse workforce for innovation
Luisa Daruka says teaming up with other employees she did not know, or barely knew, to develop a better workplace environment idea made her a "better person" - and demonstrated the innovative power of diversity, passion and team work. Daruka, a Montreal-based training specialist with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), was part of a 10-person team last year that won a corporate-wide innovation competition for its far-reaching proposal to transform the way employees work. It presented a workplace environment that offers employees more autonomy in their work, while making them accountable for results.
"No way could I have come up with this plan on my own," Daruka says. "The team's engagement was phenomenal and every team member contributed passionately. We really felt we were making a difference for the entire organization. Collaborating with others from different backgrounds and experiences expanded my horizons. It shows how diversity through employee engagement can produce real innovation."
The winning effort, both from a vote by many of the Crown corporation's 1,895 employees and from a Dragons' Den competition in front of senior management, is called Work Your Way. The team's plan is based on the view that, "our current beliefs about work are outdated" and proposes a work environment based on results only where employees are given more leeway in setting out how they will achieve their business goals, including designing their own work day, while being accountable for results. For a true focus on results and not just outputs, employees would receive near-immediate feedback and coaching by their managers, which should provide a greater sense of purpose and a higher degree of mastery.
Emily Bashir, CMHC's Manager of Innovation and Change Management, says the proposal is now being prototyped, and the corporation hopes to start implementing it this year. Bashir's position, created only about a year ago, is a sign of CMHC's commitment to innovation through diversity by leveraging the diversity within its workforce.
"Management recognizes that we can't stand pat," Bashir explains. "We have to be fearless in the face of change, or we are going to be left behind. And if we don't create an environment that is receptive to new ideas and that challenges the way we work, we won't be able to attract and retain the people we need to thrive."
The innovation-through-diversity process began in earnest last year with the launch of Ideopolis, a virtual environment that encourages employeees to put forward and comment on ideas designed to improve efficiency at CMHC that, among other things, helps Canadians meet their housing needs. Individuals and employee groups across the country put forward 137 Ideopolis submissions that were narrowed down eventually to three teams competing in the Dragons' Den.
Along the way, groups were combined to stimulate further innovation. Says Bashir: "We wanted to break down silos and encourage ideas from all levels and experiences - we wanted to unleash the inner entrepreneur in all of us."
For Carla Staresina, CMHC's National Diversity and Inclusion Champion and Vice-President, Affordable Housing, the innovation-through-diversity equation is very simple. "Our goal is to remain a high-performance organization," she explains. "To do that you need to be innovative.
"And to stimulate innovation, you need a diversity of ideas, which means listening to employees at all levels. And to get that diversity of ideas, you need a diverse workforce."
One of CMHC's much-vaunted corporate values is, "Believe in each other: we are better together." Staresina says that means: "Different ideas come when we have different people. Clearly, there is a richer fabric for decision-making when you have a workforce reflecting different backgrounds, ages and genders."
It is this openness to change at the top that Daruka says made her team's winning bid possible. "Along the way we were coached by managers and executives who believed in us," she says. "And we are now all more comfortable in bringing forward other new 'outside of the box' ideas to advance business goals, because we truly believe that we have exceptional leaders who are open to innovation, diversity of thought and inclusion."