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Acer America
Acer America Corp. is a computer manufacturer of business and consumer PCs, notebooks, ultrabooks, projectors, servers, and storage products.

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333 West San Carlos Street
San Jose, California 95110
United States

WWW: acer.com

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Return to Diversity Focus
October 22, 2021 |

OpenText Launches Indigenous Internship Program in Canada

The new initiative is part of the company’s longstanding commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

On a “”listening tour”” last year, OpenText heard one message “”loud and clear”” from its employees, according to Susan Hailey, vice president of global talent acquisition and equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI): “”Finding and getting work is a really big topic for people from underrepresented communities.””

The response from CEO Mark J. Barrenechea and executive leadership, she says, was “”let’s create jobs, and let’s create internships.””

As a result, Waterloo, Ontario-based OpenText, in partnership with Canada’s Lakehead University, announced last month that it will be offering paid internships to Indigenous students enrolled at the university. The four-month program will allow students studying at Lakehead’s Thunder Bay and Orillia campuses to intern remotely at OpenText in the software engineering, marketing, finance, information technology, professional services, and human resources departments.

Susan Hailey

The first recruitment for the OpenText Indigenous Internship Program will take place this fall, with placements occurring during the summer of 2022.

Hailey says the program is an expansion of OpenText’s longstanding EDI efforts. “”As a tech company we had really focused on women, because not only was that an issue in tech in general, but it was a global issue and we’re in 34 countries, so it was something that made sense.””

As the company looked to expand its EDI outreach, Hailey says, it had already begun a conversation with Lakehead. Both OpenText and Lakehead University acknowledge the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada, released in 2015. The TRC provided those directly or indirectly affected by the legacy of the Indian Residential Schools system a platform to share their stories and experiences. In a class action settlement, the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA) in 2007 recognized the damage inflicted on Indigenous peoples by the residential schools, which some 150,000 Indigenous children were separated from their families and communities to attend, and established a multibillion-dollar fund to help former students in their recovery.

After OpenText’s listening tour, according to Hailey, the conversation with Lakehead moved to the next level with the formation of the internship program. “”We also were very clear that we wanted to not just provide a job, but provide experience they could put on their resume,”” she explains.

Applicants should be strong students, though not necessarily at the top academic tier, with good communications and leadership skills, and have some extracurricular activities. “”We’re looking for potential,”” Hailey says.

OpenText plans to hold a virtual Q&A session for interested students featuring company executives detailing their areas of expertise and backgrounds. “”We want to make sure there aren’t any barriers to people feeling like, ‘Gosh, none of these executives look like me. Is that going to be a place I’ll feel comfortable?'”” Three of the six internship areas have female leaders, Hailey notes.

Interns in the program will all have achievable project plans to complete. “”We want them working on real work, something you can put on your resume when you’ve accomplished it. And it’s great for us because it can add value to our business,”” Hailey says.

In addition to working with their individual hiring managers remotely as well as an on-site OpenText staff member, each intern will have a “”buddy”” they can turn to for questions like what to wear for a Zoom meeting and other workplace-related support. The buddies will be volunteers from OpenText’s employee resource groups, which they call Affinity groups, who are interested in being allies to the Indigenous community. Currently OpenText has Affinity groups for women, people of color, and LGBTQ,  and is in the process of forming an Indigenous group.

The intention is to provide the interns with all the help they need to be successful in a work environment, Hailey explains. The program with Lakehead will be an ongoing commitment to the Indigenous community, she adds, and OpenText is also discussing a similar internship program with Howard University, a historically Black college in Washington, D.C.

Initially, the 25 internship positions will be distributed between the two schools.

OpenText will continue to seek areas where it can expand its EDI efforts, Hailey says. “”It’s very important to our CEO. He’s very committed to the work we’re doing here and challenges us on a regular basis, which I love, to think bigger, think broader, think bolder.””

She acknowledges that every idea she floats doesn’t always come to fruition, “”but more often than not it does. It’s very much a testament to our CEO. He’s deeply moved by what’s happening in the world, especially in the last couple of years.””

In a blog post on Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30th, Barrenechea wrote:

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada lays out a clear call to action for businesses—build respectful relationships with Indigenous peoples, drive awareness around Indigenous history, and provide equitable access to jobs, training and education.

One of the most impactful actions we can take as companies is to create jobs.

Have a paying-it-forward or not-for-profit story to share? Email me at colleen@channelpronetwork.com.

 

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