Looking back at the 2019 HRPA Conference

The 2019 Human Resources Professional Association conference in Toronto gave HR professionals in attendance a reason to look back and look ahead.

In a rousing keynote address and panel discussion, Tarana Burke, a civil rights activist from The Bronx, took a relatively unused slogan she co-founded may years ago, METOO, and discussed its unique moment in today’s culture. “What does your company believe in?” she asked. “You have to start with values of the company and make sure that both men and women can identify with those values.” Burke emphasised how organizational culture is more important than people, and that a solid culture and value system has to be in place from the bottom to the top of the organization.

Looking ahead, conference attendees got a glimpse at the world of Artificial Intelligence or AI. Presenters gave their take on how AI is changing the dynamics of the workplace. Speakers from EY, for example, discussed how their new chatbot “Goldie” is helping with the recruitment process by looking at people’s job skills and matching them with the right job offerings. It also acts as a first screen before recruiters get into the picture, but in an efficient and very targeted way.

Besides the many discussions on coaching, leadership, immigration law and emotional intelligence in the workplace, attendees had a change to learn about the stresses that finance can place on workers and how best to deal with them. As Stacy Yanchuk-Olexi, director of education and community awareness with the Credit Counselling Society, told conference goers, “Money is not just money. It has to do with history, beliefs, feelings, triggers and goals.”

Rounding off the conference was a talk by Afdhel Aziz, inspirational speaker, who spoke of how businesses can be a force for good by balancing profit with the needs of their consumers and communities.

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