It’s 2016. Why are So Many Companies Still Requiring “Canadian Experience?”

July 4, 2016




We’ve blogged before about the value that skilled immigrants offer to the Supply Chain field in Canada. In short, we face a deficit of Supply Chain talent in this country. The retirement of the baby boomer generation, as well as the increased prominence of Supply Chain to strategic business, means that skilled Supply Chain workers are in higher demand than they’ve ever been. And that demand is only going up, and up, and up – an issue that we beat the drum about almost every week on the Argentus blog.

The fact is, immigration is part of the solution to the squeeze on Supply Chain talent (alongside increased outreach and education) – just as it’s a big part of the solution to the demographic problems that threaten Canada’s long term competitiveness in the global economy.  

So today we wanted to chime in on the issue of companies still requiring “Canadian experience” in hiring.  We’re always hesitant to wade into political issues, because our main priority is to help our clients find the best talent they can – not to be political. But with an issue like this, it’s worth it for companies to think about how they’re potentially holding their hiring – and their competitiveness – back by making assumptions that prevent them from being as creative and forward-looking as possible.

We’re proud to represent skilled candidates that run the gamut in Supply Chain, from Procurement professionals who source product and services, to Logistics professionals who move it, to Planning professionals who anticipate a company’s needs, and beyond. We’re proud to represent individuals from Canada as well as abroad, and we make as much effort as possible not to discriminate either way. If you can do the job well, and if your experience is relevant, and you’re located in Canada, we’ll represent you for a job in Canada. That’s because our mission is to present companies with the top Supply Chain talent.

Our country is always making strides in terms of being more inclusive and accepting of international workers. It’s part of our “diversity advantage” in the global economy. And more and more companies are striking down requirements for Canadian work experience, recognizing that candidates can have highly relevant work experience coming from any country. They can also have irrelevant experience coming from any country. But the country itself doesn’t really matter in 2016 as much as some companies think.

So why are so many companies still asking for Canadian experience?

The Ontario Human Rights Commission has ruled that “a strict requirement for ‘Canadian experience’ is prima facie discrimination and can be used only in very limited circumstances.”

Our goal isn’t to weigh in with any definitive judgment of any company requiring Canadian experience in hiring. And there are, indeed, certain circumstances where candidates need to have local experience as part of their capability to do their job. But we think that companies need to keep an open mind about international experience. Not only for the legal, moral or political reasons, but for the variety of practical reasons that impact hiring (especially in Supply Chain):

  • Candidates with only international experience have often worked with multinational, global companies – companies with huge Supply Chain acumen like PepsiCo, Unilever, etc. Too often, the assumption is that international experience is far afield, but it often involves some of the most recognized companies, brands and Supply Chain practices in the world today.
  • Supply Chain is an inherently international discipline. It’s increased prominence in business is tied to rising amounts of globalization. And ability to empathize with and understand other cultures is one of the most important skills in negotiating with suppliers. Seen from this angle, international experience is a tremendous asset – and having your Supply Chain function only involve individuals with Canadian experience is possibly leaving competitive advantage on the table.
  • Newcomers to Canada are eager to contribute and land at great companies. They’re often highly-motivated, self-starting employees – just as many local candidates are. The thing to keep in mind is that people who lack Canadian experience have moved here because they’re ambitious. The top candidates are going to be proactive and engaged when it comes to bridging the gaps in cultural understanding that companies often assume will be a bigger hurdle than they actually are.  

This is obviously a complicated issue with many perspectives, and we’re interested in starting a discussion more than anything. But we want to get that discussion going whenever we can. And we want companies, as much as possible, to have an open mind when it comes to candidates without Canadian experience to see what else they can bring to the table.

We guarantee it’s a lot. logo_icon

Agree, disagree? Let us know in the comments! 


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1 Comment

  1. Ekta

    Yes I agree with you. I have personally come across consultants and companies who ask for Canadian Experience . this was when I was a newcomer with 2 months in Canada

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