by Jeanne Martinson
Published by Wood Dragons Books
Reviewed by Ben Charles
$21.99 ISBN 9780995334212
From Away: Immigration To Effective Workplace Integration, written by Jeanne Martinson and published by Wood Dragons Books, can be best described as a concise yet effective tool for employers and managers to navigate an increasingly diverse team. For better or for worse, Canada’s economy is significantly driven by a workforce that is largely comprised of immigrant employees and entrepreneurs. Although this increased manpower reduces stress on employers and the economy, it also presents unique challenges, misunderstandings, language barriers, and cultural differences that may be difficult for an average Canadian to understand. A gesture or saying that may be completely innocent to us may also be highly offensive through the lens of another culture, or vice versa.
Martinson’s book is a fantastic place to begin as a Canadian who may not understand all of the intricacies, values, and mannerisms that various cultures from around the globe maintain. The book creates a useful framework for the reader to begin with by a brief introduction, statistical figures of Canada’s immigration history, and a crash course on the modality of Western culture. Following this, Martinson provides a detailed history and current status of common migrant groups in Canada. These include: China, India and Pakistan, and the Philippines. I had always been aware that Canada’s history in terms of race relations has not always been squeaky-clean to make an understatement, but these chapters highly detailed the lengths that the Canadian government went to in order to maintain an exclusive population of Caucasian Europeans. It is an unfortunate truth, but one that a person must recognize in order to understand current social dynamics in Canada in regards to immigration. As one could argue that the values held by modern cultures are rooted in their respective religions, Martinson also provides the reader with incisive chapters on the history and key values of the major religions that new immigrants to Canada may practice, including Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism, Hinduism, and Catholicism.
Once the reader has the context of these topics understood, the following chapters can be utilized as an effective tool for managers and human resource specialists to navigate a diverse team in a melting-pot workforce. The tools in these chapters give insight on how an individual may give or receive feedback, handle time management, and negotiate conflict despite language barriers or cultural differences.
Ultimately, business teams and managers that maintain a “this is the way we’ve always done it” mentality and a refusal to adapt will eventually fail. Whether your opinion on immigration in Canada is positive or negative, an effective leader needs to set personal biases aside to survive in an endlessly changing cultural climate. From Away: Immigration To Effective Workplace Integration is an essential guide for professionals in any field to stay ahead of the curve and help maintain the welcoming, diverse culture that we as modern Canadians can be proud of.
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