When Quebec businesses tackle the international scene, they are faced with cultural diversity in economic, cultural, political and social realms. According to the Ministry of Immigration and Cultural Communities (MICC), developing skills in diversity management reduces the uncertainty linked to the globalization of their market and helps them integrate foreign markets.
Calimacil is a small Quebec company that has managed to integrate foreign markets by selling to an international niche market. The company, which manufactures foam weapons for role-playing games, now works with sales reps in France, Spain, Denmark, and Sweden. They make everything from medieval swords to modern crowbars and wrenches.
Calimacil began small. In 2003, Patrick Lessard worked in his garage to develop a new type of foam to create realistic, durable and safe toy weapons. His products have been used as props in two major films: Lloyd the Conquerer in 2011 and Wild Hunt in 2009.
Emilie-Anne Cloutier wears three different hats in the company: administrative agent, customer service, and shipping. She studied languages in cegep including Spanish and German and this makes her more comfortable dealing with diversity. Since the company sells worldwide from their web site, Emilie receives many emails in English and some in languages that she doesn’t speak at all. She uses Google Translate to try to understand the messages and then communicates back and forth until she understands what the customer wants.
It’s not just the customers who can be found overseas; although the weapons are made right in the factory on chemin North Hatley, the intricate handles are sculpted in a workshop in France.
Companies today are faced with issues related to diversity whether targeting the international market or integrating immigrants into their workforce. Jonathan Lavallee, charge of media relations for the Ministry of Immigration and Cultural Communities (MICC) says the Ministry actively helps businesses who rely on immigration by providing support with francization, job integration and diversity management.
The Ministry helps businesses located outside of Montreal recruit from the large pool of immigrants in the metropolis and provides francization on the job site.
Last November and December, representatives from the Ministry, Emploi-Quebec, and other agencies, travelled to France and Spain to recruit potential employees. Gordon Harling of Sherbrooke Innopole also took part in recruiting trips last year as part of his job bringing companies and highly qualified workers to the region.
With the recent high rates of unemployment in Spain many young people are willing to move to Quebec. The high rate of multilingualism in the Eastern Townships and the growing population of immigrants from South America are key selling points, says Harling, adding that companies are drawn to the Townships for the same reasons.