A Practical Approach to Hiring Indigenous Tech Talent in Canada

In recent months, our Canadian partners have repeatedly expressed their interest in increasing Indigenous representation within their companies. During a recent conversation with a talent acquisition representative from Scotiabank, they sought our advice on attracting more Indigenous applicants for their job openings. Similarly, several months ago, a representative from Tangerine bank, a part of Scotiabank, also reached out to us for guidance on the same subject. This has led us at to share our ideas for sourcing, inviting, and working with Indigenous talent at our events in Canada.

According to Ryerson University’s Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship, only 2.2 percent of the Canadian tech workforce is Indigenous. Looking for a mid-career Indigenous software engineer in Canada can feel like trying to find a parking spot at the mall during the holiday season — you might have to circle around a few times before you get lucky.

But on a more serious note, it’s hard to speak about diversity in tech without including Indigenous talent. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work because finding and hiring Indigenous tech workers is no laughing matter. There is a task at hand, and we at OutGeek have assembled a few ideas to guide our partners in their approach to this work.

Initially, it all starts with your company.

To entice and employ Indigenous tech talent, your organization must establish a conducive environment where such talent can flourish. This encompasses fundamental aspects such as work environment, company culture, remuneration, and career advancement opportunities — none of which should be beyond the realm of possibilities for any employer.

Social Media.

Use social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Instagram, or Twitter, to connect with Indigenous tech workers or organizations that support Indigenous professionals. You can also share about your team’s initiatives and job listings on these platforms to reach a wider audience. It would be beneficial to include Indigenous outreach as a component of your public image.

Connect with Indigenous organizations.

Reach out to organizations that represent and support Indigenous people in Canada, such as the Canadian Indigenous Advisory Council (AISES) or the Indigenous Professional Association of Canada (IPAC). These organizations may be able to connect you with indigenous tech workers or provide information on how to find them. If you’re in the U.S., check out Natives in Tech, a non-profit that cultivates a tech ecosystem of Native technologists.

Attend or host networking events.

Attend events that involve or cater to Indigenous professionals in the tech industry. These events provide opportunities to network with Indigenous tech workers and learn more about their needs. If you’re hosting an event, include a meaningful Land Acknowledgment to your program.

A Land Acknowledgment is a formal statement that recognizes and respects Indigenous peoples as traditional stewards of their land and honors their historic relationship with the land.
Sara Fromstein, Director of Belonging at DECIEM delivers Land Acknowledgment at DNI.Toronto, 2023

Post job listings on Indigenous job boards.

Consider posting job listings on Indigenous-focused job boards, such as the Aboriginal Job Centre or Indigenous Works. Naturally, these platforms will never beat LinkedIn, but they are designed to help connect Indigenous job seekers with potential employers, and from what we hear, they’re worth it.

As society progresses, we recognize the importance of working with greater intentionality. It’s no longer sufficient to simply fill job openings, rather, we must do so purposefully and with the long-term success of the company in mind. At OutGeek, we make a deliberate effort to work with greater intentionality and establish connections with local organizations that specialize in supporting women or minorities in tech every time we host an event. If your organization falls under this category and is interested in partnering with us, please feel free to connect with us. We welcome the opportunity to collaborate with you.

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