Recognized as one of National Capital Region's Top Employers (2018)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jan 30, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation / CMHC was selected as one of National Capital Region's Top Employers (2018):
- CMHC's head office is situated on a 10-acre campus in the heart of Ottawa's east end and features a quiet room for meditation and religious observance, an onsite cafeteria, and subsidized access to an onsite fitness facility -- and established a Future of Working program to examine the evolving nature of work as well as different work styles
- In order to create a pipeline of new talent, CMHC manages a Graduate Rotation Program for recent master's and doctorate graduates -- the program includes three 6-month rotations in the policy, research and market analysis departments, and provides opportunities to meet and network with senior management
- After extensive consultation, CMHC created a unified defined benefit pension plan for all employees and encourages employees to plan for the future with retirement planning assistance
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."