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Marketing manager tells Corner Brook conference there are innovative ways to hire and manage human resources

Emily Brennan, marketing manager with Alongside, a company that facilitates online hiring, speaks at the Innovation 2.0 conference in Corner Brook Monday. Looking on to the right is Billy Newell of the Navigate Entrepreneurial Centre at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University.
Emily Brennan, marketing manager with Alongside, a company that facilitates online hiring, speaks at the Innovation 2.0 conference in Corner Brook Monday. Looking on to the right is Billy Newell of the Navigate Entrepreneurial Centre at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University. - Gary Kean

Innovation doesn’t always have to be about the product being sold or how a business operates.

The idea of being innovative can also be used when it comes to hiring or dealing with employees.

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On Monday, several dozen people took part in Innovation 2.0, a conference held at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University, that explored entrepreneurship, diversity and workforce development.

The keynote speaker was Emily Brennan, marketing manager for Alongside, a New Brunswick-based software company that bridges communication gaps in the online hiring experiences of both employers and job seekers.

Her message to conference delegates was that having a focus on diversity, inclusion and a sense of belonging can foster an innovative environment in a workplace. Failing to have that sort of emphasis can result in higher turnover rates, being negatively branded as an employer and create a disconnect between employers, their employees and possibly even their market.

“Innovation can still happen without it, but it takes it one step above, especially with the impact of having a global economy and understanding your end users,” she said. “It all sort of trickles together.”

Brennan said there is one company out there with an app that analyzes and scores job postings for their level of inclusivity or exclusivity. She said some job descriptions are unwittingly written using certain words — like some which may be considered male-centric or female-centric — which may actually deter some people from applying.

Rewriting job postings in a more neutral way could make the difference in landing the right person for the job.

“Things like that can improve your overall talent pool in terms of getting more diverse applicants coming in,” said Brennan.

The company Brennan works for is in the process of developing ways to reduce bias in terms of the screening process. One method is to remove the applicant’s name and certain other personal information in order to hone in more sharply on the person’s skills and experience.

“Companies can still ask questions based on company values and select candidates on what their values are and not their name, skin colour, disability, etc.,” she said.

Innovation could also mean changing how things are done in ways that recognize the value of people who are already part of a company’s team. For example, modifying the scope of work for an employee with a disability so they aren’t held back from making valuable contributions.

“It’s all about adaptation and focusing on the intention to make a difference,” said Brennan.

Fact box:

- Innovation 2.0 was held at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University as part of Innovation Week from May 14-18.

- The event was presented jointly by the Association for New Canadians, Grenfell Campus, the Navigate Entrepreneurship Centre at Grenfell and the Newfoundland and Labrador Workforce Innovation Centre at the College of the North Atlantic.

Source: Innovation 2.0

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