Thursday, 31 January 2013 09:13

Brooks businesses can qualify for diversity-friendly awards

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City of Brooks officials are hoping to see a large number of businesses show just how diversity-friendly they are through the City’s acknowledgment program. Started in 2012, there were more than 30 businesses who shared their best practices in promoting equity in the labour market.


Out of those submissions, four businesses were recognized with 2012 Diversity Friendly Business Awards including Red Basket Food Store, Minerva Employment and Career Services, TD Canada Trust and Shoppers Drug Mart.
Application forms were sent out in the yearly business licence renewal packages, but they are also available at City Hall. Business licences are due the end of January, so businesses are encouraged to submit their applications for the program at the same time.
“It’s part of our 2012-14 diversity plan,” says Jeff Gerestein, inclusion co-ordinator for the City of Brooks. “We wanted to get businesses involved in the diversity aspect, as we had already done so with the community.”
The program is a way for businesses to promote and share their diversity-friendly efforts with others in the city. A committee chooses the best entries from the submissions and those winners receive a free half-page advertisement in one of the local Brooks newspapers as well as are presented with a certificate of achievement at a City council meeting. With the large number of entries last year, it was decided to hand out one award quarterly. If there are a large number of entries this year, the same decision will be made.
“The goal is to help promote equity in the labour market and for businesses to share their best practices with each other,” says Gerestein.
The 2012 winners had solid business practices to promote equity. TD Canada Trust offers diversity training for their employees on an annual basis and is a supporter of race-diverse communities and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Association supporting their events and festivals nation-wide. The company also offers an easy-line telephone service where people can call and choose to speak to a representative in their native language, explains Gerestein.
While not a large corporation, the Red Basket Food Store owners diligently work to ensure their new employees from the Philippines are adjusting to life in Brooks and even provide them with furniture and other items to set up a household.
Minerva Employment and Career Services works specifically with people who are trying to obtain employment or those who are underemployed, while Shoppers Drug Mart is heavily involved in supporting community fundraisers and events.
Businesses who take part in the program have to explain how they are diversity friendly, what kind of recruitment practices allow equal access to all residents of Brooks such as do they place their ads in multiple languages and they should encourage their employees to be active in the community.
“It’s a good marketing tool for the business because they get a free half-page ad in the newspaper and a certificate of acknowledgment,” adds Gerestein.
The next big event Gerestein is working on is the Chinese New Year celebration set to be held Feb. 11. Actual Chinese New Year is the day before and a celebration will be held at The Well — a Brooks church.
The community celebration takes place Feb. 11 in the lobby of the Centennial Regional Arena from noon to 1 p.m.. There will be a buffet lunch and Gerestein is hoping to have some other activities.
Last year, the Chinese New Year celebration attracted more than 150 people and received positive feedback from the community.
“One of the emails I received from a participant said she was pleased to see the City getting involved and she felt included in the community,” says Gerestein.

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Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor

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