Friesens Corporation continues to see the diversity of its employee-owners, and company as whole, grow as it aims to foster an environment of inclusion across all aspects of the business. Creating an environment of inclusion, its importance to Friesens Corporation's success and how the company's diversity will continue to grow were the focus of the latest episode of Industry Leaders in the Pembina Valley. You can listen to the program, below, hosted by CFAM Radio 950 Morning Show Co-Host Chris Sumner.

Odia Reimer is Vice President of People and Culture at the Altona based business.

"We're really concerned about inclusion across the board," she shared. "We really want to make sure that people, when they come into Friesens, they feel welcome, they feel included, they feel like they belong."

She explained that process begins over the course of the first full year of employment, working with new hires to help establish in their minds what it means to be an employee-owner.

"No matter where you're from, or who you are, whether you're from Altona or another country, we really try and walk you through what it means to be an employee owner," Reimer said. "After that, then you're an employee owner. Let's see where you want to work, where do you belong in the company? Do you have career goals? Do you have any aspirations? Now, let's talk about that."

Friesens has hired a significant number of newcomers over the last couple of years.

"I think it's actually totaling around 24 people we've brought in ourselves, and then we've actually hired about 22 people from Ukraine as more of that refugee status, where we've been helping them come into the company," she said. "To date, we're sitting at around 39.8% of people at Friesens we're not born in Canada, so it's a high percentage of people who are from another culture, from another country, and we're creating this company that really is inclusive to all the people we've brought in."

According to Reimer, currently, about twenty-five cultures are represented within the employee-owners of Friesens.

"We really want to make sure people feel welcome, and they know we are a place they can work and feel, hopefully, safe and respected," she added. "We're really looking forward to this next year, because we're starting to develop different training programs to ensure people are comfortable with English, and with the culture, as well as some employability skills that may be not the same in our culture versus their culture. We're really wanting to make sure they feel they know what it means to be at Friesens, and to work in Canada, because for some people that's a really big jump. So, how to make that transition, and really focus on understanding what it means to be in Canada and working here, and the different nuances that come with that."

On top of all the business positives, Reimer noted it's simply fun to have different culture coming together with different perspective, visions, values and inspirations.

"There's a lot of different things that happen when you have different cultures coming together, and I think we're creating a place that is good for everybody to come and have a voice," she said. "That's fun when you're sitting in a room, and there's a lot of different perspectives. We just really enjoy that."

Friesens employees pose with completed booksSupplied photo. Taken by David Lipnowski Photography.

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