Tap into Your Recruiter’s Knowledge for In-the-trenches Compensation Intelligence

When it comes to attracting and retaining talent, having a solid understanding of salary expectations has never been more important. With the introduction of salary disclosure legislation, like Ontario’s Pay Transparency Act, compensation rates are becoming increasingly front and centre in recruiting. Effective January 2019, jobs that are advertised publicly will be required to include the expected compensation or range of compensation and off-point salary ranges can be seriously off putting to candidates. Where once a sub-par salary often didn’t factor into the recruitment equation until an offer was made, today a monetary miss can stop thousands of potential candidates in their tracks before they’re even finished reading your job ad. Fewer candidates applying means a drastically reduced chance of finding a great fit. 


To help ensure the salary they’re offering will appeal to the calibre of talent they’re trying to attract, many companies turn to compensation intelligence services. These subscription-based reports and online tools offer access to benchmarking data that has been collected and collated from a wide range of organizations. While this information can offer helpful high-level insights, many clients we talk to have told us it can lack some make-or-break nuances. 


Today’s rapidly changing economy can drive significant and speedy changes to compensation rates. Other factors including location, hiring trends and high-demand skill sets are also always at play and may not come across in high-level compensation reports. To illustrate just how quickly and dramatically compensation rates can change, look to this example from the oilfields of Alberta. When the industry was booming in 2015, safety practitioners and professionals were in high demand with the average salary in the oil and gas industry hitting more than $125,000. This was 50 per cent higher than employees working in the health-care and communications industries Canada-wide and Alberta’s average salary for these positions tracked a full 25 per cent higher than Ontario’s. As oil prices plummeted, organizations downsized and these same safety practitioners who had once been in high demand started struggling to find even entry-level jobs. Data suggests that senior positions saw up to a 50 per cent drop in pay for newly advertised positions and junior position salaries decreased by between 10 and 20 per cent. 


At Ian Martin, we have recruiters who are in constant contact with both talent and employers from across North America. These daily conversations provide invaluable and up-to-the-minute insight into a wide variety of factors that can impact compensation rates. Whether it’s an announcement of a new satellite office for a high-profile tech firm that could drive salaries up, the addition of a rail line that will create a larger pool of suburban job seekers or a change in immigration legislation that opens up opportunities to eager international talent, our in-the-know recruiters offer context that, when combined with higher-level compensation data, provides a powerful one-two punch when setting compensation rates.  


Connect with one of our Hiring Experts today for a no-obligation chat about how we can help you set competitive compensation ranges for advertised positions that will help you attract the right calibre of talent and move your business forward. 

Do Candidates Really Care About Corporate Social Responsibility?

You’ve found a strong candidate. The interview is going well. You’ve told them about your company’s impressive benefits package, highlighted the opportunities for growth and development within the position, and shared some of the things your company does to support work-life balance. As you go through your mental checklist of all the factors that could positively influence the candidate’s decision to join your team, you feel like you’ve checked all the boxes. But has your pitch included some evidence that your company is committed to improving the lives of people and the health of our planet? If not, there’s a 50% chance that great candidate is going to walk out the door at the end of the interview and never look back.

According to research, your company’s commitment to corporate responsibility has a direct tie to attracting and retaining talent that may be even stronger than you realize: 

  • 58% of candidates surveyed said they consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work. 
  • 55% said they would choose to work for a socially responsible company, even if the salary was less. 
  • 51% said they will not work for a company that doesn’t have strong social or environmental commitments.

Highlighting corporate social responsibility is even more critical if you’re trying to convince a candidate that is between the ages of 27 and 35 to join your team.  

  • 67% of this mature Millennial segment surveyed in the study said they would not work for a company that did not have strong corporate responsibility commitments.  
  • 76% of mature Millennials said they would choose to work for a socially responsible company, even if the salary would be less than at other companies. 

Ian Martin employees volunteer during our annual B Corp Day in the local community.

Convincing candidates that your company is committed to making the world a better place isn’t as simple as pointing out your recycling bins and sharing some impressive figures from your charitable donation programsToday’s candidates are wary of corporate greenwashing, so be prepared to share some hard data to prove that your company walks the walk when it comes to its social and environmental efforts. 

One way that for-profit companies can prove without a doubt that they follow rigorous standards related to their social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency is to acquire B Corp certificationWhile the certification process will involve time and effort, it will set your company apart as an organization that is not only competing to be the best IN the world, but also to be the best FOR the world. Joining the roster of over 2,400 other Certified B Corps including recognizable names like Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, and Etsy won’t hurt your recruitment efforts either! You can learn more about the additional practical business benefits that Ian Martin has experienced as a result of our own B Corp certification here. 

Since research suggests that 78% of employees want to be an active participant in helping their company improve its responsible business practices, the corporate responsibility case you present to the candidate shouldn’t focus solely on big-picture initiatives and results. Share examples of the processes and programs you have in place that allow employees to get personally involved in your company’s charitable and environmental efforts. Today, the priority that employees place on opportunities to personally support causes or issues they care about is on par with benefits like wellness programs and tuition reimbursement. If you have a community volunteering or pro bono program, share data to give candidates a better sense of how many employees currently participate. Encourage current employees to share their volunteer experiences on your company’s social media channels. This will allow candidates to see real-life examples of your commitment to your community when they are conducting pre- and post-interview research.

In today’s raging war for technical talent, employers should leave no stone unturned when it comes to convincing candidates why their company is a great place to work. Our Insider’s Guide to Technical Recruitment has some helpful tips to assist you in assessing your company like a prospective employee. If you would like to get additional insight into the types of questions that candidates may have about your company’s corporate social responsibility effortsconnect with one of our Ian Martin Hiring Consultants. 

4 Recruitment Resolutions for 2018

If the promise of a fresh new year has left you feeling eager to improve, even small changes to your recruiting strategy have the potential to make a huge impact. Here are four simple recruitment resolutions that can help you secure better talent and improve your company’s bottom line in the year ahead.

Assess Your Internal Brand

As competition for today’s best technical talent heats up, convincing potential candidates that your company is a great place to work from the get-go is key. If you’re relying too strongly on consumer marketing messaging or the nuts and bolts of specific job benefits to communicate the advantages of working with your organization, you could be missing the mark.

Do the communications from your company that a candidate encounters during the recruitment process create a sense of what it will “feel” like to work for your company? Do they paint a picture of what sets your company apart from the competition? Strive to reach employees on an emotional level that speaks to their heads and their hearts. You can find a great article here by Gallup about creating a brand that attracts star employees.

Tap into the Potential of Employee Referrals

If you’re not engaging existing employees in your company’s recruitment efforts, you’re ignoring one of the most effective and efficient ways to discover and secure new technical talent. If you’re still not convinced, take a look at some of the research:

  • According to findings from Stanford, employees hired through personal referrals have higher productivity, lower turnover, and lower screening costs.
  • Another study by researchers from Berkeley and Yale found that referred workers are 10-30% less likely to quit and have substantially higher performance on rare high-impact metrics.

If a formal, incentivized employee referral program isn’t in the cards for 2018, consider implementing some smaller changes that will equip employees to be better ambassadors for your recruiting efforts. Start with something simple, like sharing new job postings more widely internally and making it easy for employees to pass along job opportunities to their social media networks.

Leverage KPIs to Find Opportunities for Improvement

Taking a critical look at recruitment data can help reveal valuable insights that will inspire action that is tailored to your unique situation. Tracking cost-per-hire, for example, can help determine if your recruitment efforts are getting more or less efficient over time. Measuring time-to-fill can help assess if the time being invested in things like managing job postings, pre-screening candidates, and checking references is paying off. Staying on top of retention rates can help identify specific positions that may be proving harder to keep filled.

Read our Hiring Metrics Checkup as a first step. In addition to defining some of the key metrics you should be tracking, it also describes how to best measure them.

Enhance Your Passive Candidate Recruitment Strategy

Limiting your recruitment strategy to only those candidates who are currently actively scanning job boards means you may be opting for a subpar pool of talent. Many of the best candidates are not only employed, they may be quite happy in their current position and not even considering looking for a new opportunity. The best real estate agents knock on doors to find homes that aren’t currently listed for sale on their client’s dream street. Recruiters take that same approach to find excellent candidates who may not be actively looking for new work, but might be intrigued by the right opportunity with a great company.

With six decades of experience as one of Canada’s leading technical recruitment firms, Ian Martin has built an extensive database of talent. In addition to the personal networks they’ve built during their tenure as recruiters, with just a few keystrokes Ian Martin’s recruitment staff can tap into a crowdsourced network of talent that’s been built by a collection of their peers from across the globe.

Connect with an Ian Martin hiring consultant today to discuss how we can assist you in reaching your 2018 staffing goals.

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Shake the Trees: 4 Ways to Take Your Tech Talent Search Beyond the Job Board

If you’re not hearing from the type of candidates you were hoping for in your technical talent search, it may be time to cast a wider net. As the battle for technical talent continues to heat up, it’s no longer enough to just post an ad to an online job board, share it on LinkedIn and cross your fingers. Here are some additional channels to consider incorporating into your recruitment strategy.


Slack is a cloud-based team messaging and collaboration app that was initially developed as an alternative to email to help companies communicate more efficiently. It’s been so well received that there are now Slack public communities that have been created to allow people with common interests to communicate. Third party websites like slack list, Standuply and Slofile compile lists of public Slack communities to help people looking to connect with others with similar interests. These communities can be a great way to make connections with technical talent. The Ruby on Rails community, for example, has over 6000 people interested in Ruby on Rails from all over the world, including avid OSS contributors, full-stack engineers, founders of start-ups, backend engineers and students learning Ruby on Rails. Within each community, various topics are organized into subject-based channels.

Top Tip: Watch your manners. When you join a Slack community, take some time to get to know the culture of the community before you start to post and tailor what you write accordingly. When you have a good feel for the community, ensure you are posting on the most appropriate channel.


Meetup is a social networking site that connects people with similar interests and helps them organize offline group meetings. As Meetups happen in physical locations, it is very easy to search by location if you are looking for talent in a specific city. There is a great collection of technical groups. By searching Ruby On Rails, for example, within 100 miles of Toronto, you’ll find Meetup groups of Ruby developers and enthusiasts in Toronto, Kitchener and Waterloo. In addition to being able to see upcoming events, such as a Rail Pub Night, you can also search profiles of people within each group.

Top Tip: Be open and honest about who you are. As this is very much a social platform, members may not be expecting to interact with recruiters or potential employers. Review Meetup’s Usage and Content Policies as a first step before you begin to join groups.

Engage Employees as Evangelists

Employee referral programs are one of the most effective and efficient methods of recruiting technical talent. In addition to coming with a built-in reference, research shows that candidates who have been referred by employees tend to stay longer and be more productive. Equip your employees with the tools they need to communicate within their networks about open positions at your company.

Top Tip: Even if your organization doesn’t have an incentivized referral program in place, look for simple things you can do to engage more employees in your company’s recruitment efforts.

  • Ensure new job postings are shared internally with employees in a way that makes it easy for them to pass on the posting to people in their networks.
  • When employees speak at conferences or trade shows, include a slide at the end of their presentation with a call to action to those in audience to speak to them about employment opportunities with your company.

Connect with Passive Candidates

Your technical talent search shouldn’t be limited to only people who are currently looking for work. Partnering with a recruitment firm that specializes in technical positions gives your company access to a deeper network of talent that includes experienced candidates who may not even be looking at job postings.  Getting a call from a recruiter they respect about a new opportunity can often make candidates realize it might be time for them to consider making a change.

Commute is King for Today’s Young Professionals

There’s an important lesson for hiring teams to take away from housing trends in today’s hot real estate market: don’t underestimate the importance of the drive to work.

Recently, the Toronto Region Board of Trade surveyed 1,100 professionals, aged 18 to 39. Forty per cent had a household income of more than $100,000. Eighty-seven per cent had a university degree, including 44 per cent, who had a graduate degree. Ninety per cent were employed full-time and 66 per cent lived in downtown Toronto.

When asked to rank their top three considerations in where to locate, 76 per cent of respondents said their daily commute was one of their top three considerations, ranking it ahead of distance to amenities (59 per cent) and the cost of living (53 per cent).

These findings serve as a reminder to hiring teams that the daily commute to work can be a deal maker or a deal breaker for potential candidates. In today’s competitive market for technical talent, if your location offers competitive advantages when it comes to the daily commute, you should be selling them. Here are some points to consider:

  • Does your location offer convenient access to major highways?
  • Is there easy access to public transit?
  • Is your office located close to recreational trails so employees can walk or bike to work?
  • Does your office offer amenities like bike racks and showers for employees who choose to ride their bike to work?
  • Does your company have a ride sharing system in place to help co-workers find carpooling partners?
  • Does your company offer any unique incentives for carpooling, such as designated or complimentary parking?
  • Do you offer work-from-home alternatives that allow employees to take a break from the daily commute?
  • Do you have satellite office locations, so employees have some choice about their daily commute?
  • Do you offer flexible hours, so employees can schedule their work day to avoid peak traffic times?
  • Are there convenient parking options for employees?

If your company has a great getting to work story, don’t forget to tell it. Take a look at the candidate’s address on their resume before the interview and offer specific details like typical travel time to the office from that location and public transit options. You can even let them know if there are other employees within your company that also commute or carpool from that location.

If the commute to your location could be viewed by candidates as a con instead of a pro, consider taking action to implement changes that could alleviate some potential concerns. Smart Commute is a program offered in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area that helps employers explore and try out smart travel options such as walking, cycling, transit, carpooling and teleworking. Even if your company isn’t located within the program’s geographical boundaries, the Smart Commute website has company profiles and blog posts that offer great ideas for things your organization may want to consider to make its daily commute story more attractive to potential candidates.


Working out the “Why?” – Stewardship Council Update

Remember when you’d get to school after a night of doing homework, and the teacher says it’s time to take it up?  Well, that’s what happened to Ian Martin Group’s Stewardship Council members on Friday, June 28th as we met together for the second time in our Toronto office.  Our task had been to each come up with three clear sentences that described why we are pursuing Stewardship as an organization. How did we do? Well… let’s just say that we’re all trying again.

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How to Make Your Technical Recruitment More Efficient

Are you having trouble hiring technical employees for your team? You may need to speed up your hiring process. Since technical employees are in high demand, they may be interviewing with multiple companies at the same time. If your competitors make job offers before you do, you may miss out on promising candidates.

It takes an average of 42 days for companies to fill a given position, according to a 2016 survey. Posting job ads, reading resumes, interviewing candidates, and conducting background checks takes a long time.

How can you speed up your process and scoop up top talent before your competitors get to them first? Here are some tips to make your technical recruitment process more efficient.

Build a Network of Candidates

You don’t need to start from scratch every time you need to fill an open position. Posting a new job ad and sifting through a brand-new batch of resumes is inefficient. To speed up your process, build a network of candidates you can turn to when you have an opening. This network may include candidates you’ve interviewed in the past and liked, but weren’t able to hire at the time. It can also include promising candidates you’ve met at networking events or job fairs.

When you have an opening on your team, you can turn to the database of candidates you’ve built. Let the candidates know you have an opening on your team, and describe the position. Some of the people in your database may have found work elsewhere, but don’t let that deter you from reaching out.

Twenty-five percent of employed people are actively looking for new work, so candidates may be excited to hear from you. The other 75 percent aren’t actively looking for work, but they might be open to switching jobs if something interesting comes along. If the candidates in your network aren’t interested in your open position, they may be able to refer you to people who are.

Rely on Employee Referrals

An employee referral program lets you turn your technical team into recruiters. Your technical employees know other people in technical fields. They may have connections who would be the perfect fit for your team. Encourage your employees to refer candidates to you to speed up your hiring process.

Hiring through employee referrals is faster because the candidates are pre-vetted. Your current employees are in the best position to identify people who are qualified and a good fit for your team culture. When you receive employee referrals, you don’t need to spend time wading through unqualified applicants.

When candidates are referred by existing employees, they’re more likely to accept job offers. They already know someone on your team and are familiar with the culture. They’re also more likely to stay on your team long term due to cultural fit.

Outsource Hiring to a Recruiter

Not everyone has time to build a network of candidates and follow up with them as jobs open on the team. Your top employees may not know anyone who’s looking for work. In these situations, you may not know what to do. You need a guide to hiring engineers quickly.

The secret is to outsource technical recruitment to a recruiter. Recruiters handle the process of finding and vetting candidates. All you need to do is interview the pre-selected candidates they send you, and choose who to hire.

When you work with a recruiter, you can hire technical professionals more quickly. That’s because recruiters have a network of professionals they can turn to when a company needs to fill an open position. Recruiters are experts at technical recruitment.

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How to Improve Your Onboarding Process

Sometimes, it can be difficult for workers to adapt to their new jobs. Roles and expectations may be different, and it can take time for newcomers to integrate themselves into a new work culture. The pressure to fit in can overwhelm recent hires, which is why an effective onboarding process is so important for many companies.

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Q&A With Benevity Team Captain Lisa Wong

If you are new to volunteering or looking to get started, what better way than to talk to fellow employees about their volunteering experiences … so that’s what I did.

I reached out to Lisa Wong from the Winnipeg branch and Benevity team captain to get a better idea of where she volunteers – and I was very surprised by what I found out. Lisa has been with Ian Martin for almost a year, and has made a significant impact on her community just by volunteering. Read more

Stewardship Council 2014/15 inductees

Our Stewardship Council is blooming into its second year, and with that comes exciting opportunities to impact our stakeholders! Over the past 14 months, the founding Council has been hard at work – with the special dedication and leadership of 10 employees who are committed to guiding our employees as we incorporate stewardship into our daily operations.

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Pushing Beyond the Low Hanging Fruit on the B Corp Assessment

“How do you eat an Elephant? One bite at a time”.

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Volunteering success: we did it!

March was a busy month, both here at Ian Martin but more importantly beyond our doors, in our community. At the beginning of March, we launched a month long push to get our employees volunteering. As a company we’ve committed to achieving an annual goal of giving back 1860 hours; the number of hours a typical technical consultant works in a year.

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Reaching beyond and connecting in Bangalore

On December 12th 2015, a team of 16 inspired Ian Martin Group recruiters in Bangalore, India got out and gave back to their community. This day marked an eye opening and humbling event as they participated in a walkathon organized by the Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled. Caring for our communities/stewardship is very important to the Ian Martin family and although we are nearly 12,000km apart from head office in Oakville, Canada we wanted to ensure we were contributing to the overall stewardship vision.

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Measuring Our Impact

After recently wrapping up our fiscal year we stopped to take a look back at all we had accomplished and wow, we couldn’t be more proud of our colleagues and Ian Martin as a whole!

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Stewardship Council FY15/16 Inductees

The Ian Martin Group Stewardship Council exists to make real the value of stewardship among all of our company’s internal and external stakeholders.

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Our First Ever B Corp Day

B Corp Day is the day when employees of the world’s 1,307 B Corps in 41 countries volunteer in their own communities – across the globe!

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Hat Trick for IMG with Best Workplaces Award 2015

The Ian Martin Group is proud to announce that for the third year in a row, we’ve been named one of the Top 50 Best Workplaces in Canada by the Great Place to Work Institute.

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Celebrating a culture of giving

Wow, it’s already 2015! With the end of another calendar year we’re taking a look back to highlight a few things that happened before the whirlwind of the holidays.

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6 months of Volunteering at Ian Martin

You don’t have to spend much time at the Ian Martin Group to see our heart. At our core – we care. We’ve lived out our compassion in a variety of ways in past years – whether it’s been through fundraising events or food drives, we’ve always enjoyed giving back.

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Annual Softball Showdown

Those dark days of winter when your mind turns towards the sunny days of summer; the sky is blue, a slight breeze ruffles through the trees while a lawn mower hums in the distance and grass sticks to the dew on your shoes… Friday was one of those days. The only thing missing from that picture was the crack of the bat and the shouts of excited teammates as players rounded the bases.

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“We” are a great place to work



Ian Martin is proud to announce that for the second year in a row we have been named one of the Best Workplaces in Canada by The Great Place to Work Institute Inc. Their list “Best Workplaces in Canada”, which was published this morning in the Globe and Mail, is an initiative aimed to recognize organizations that are committed to a positive work environment for their employees and help these organizations create that workplace.

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Giving Back with our Time: Ian Martin Volunteering Program

Promoting and providing employees with meaningful volunteer opportunities helps to attract top talent; engage, develop, and retain employees; boost public image; and improve the bottom line.

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Best for Women. Best for Everyone.

I’m sometimes torn when it comes to awards such as the Best Workplace for Women. Are they really needed? What makes a workplace better for women?

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Building Collaboration Culture

Chemical Engineer, Administrative Assistant, Project Manager, .Net Developer, Sales Manager, Systems Analyst, Marketing Manager. What do all these roles have in common? They are jobs that we are filling on a daily basis. Up until 2012 the cornerstone to IMG’s success had been the company’s entrepreneurial approach to developing and servicing clients. A fairly ‘hands off’ model, it had proven successful but resulted in individual business units taking an “eat what you kill” approach and doing their best to fill job requirements whether it was an area of specialization or not. However in 2012 after completing a major brand refresh the challenge for IMG was to step into a new era and learn to work effectively across all five Ian Martin brands to achieve the company’s aggressive growth targets.

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7 Ways We’ve Gotten People on Board

For the last two years the Ian Martin Group has been on a mission to re-energize the company.

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Take me out to the Ballgame

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and no, I’m not talking about Christmas in July. Once a year Ian Martin employees gather for a sporting showdown, pitting usual friends against each other as bragging rights and glory hang in the balance (but really, it is a lot of fun too). This year the tournament made it’s big city debut as we met in Coronation Park downtown Toronto. In addition to the baseball there was face painting and balloon animals for the kids and a caricature artist for everyone.

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Introducing the 2013/2014 Stewardship Council

Today, I am very excited to announce the founding ‘Stewardship Council’ for the Ian Martin Group.

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Sharing the Insomnia: Starting to think like owners at IMG

Many employees, including myself, weren’t sure what to expect when Tim and John came to town with the “Ownership Thinking” roadshow. A full day conference with peers, flip charts, discussions (and of course some tasty food) wasn’t something that happened very often, so what was the purpose?

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What makes a Great Workplace?


Google’s Zurich office.

Photo courtesy of Camenzind Evolution

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"Great Place to Work" Survey Results

This year, we participated in the “Great Place to Work (GPTW)” survey to gain insight into how our employees view working at the Ian Martin Group. 139 of our 155 employees responded to the anonymous questionnaire – now, the raw data is in!

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Renewing the Foundations


“We make a living by what we get but we make a life by what we give.”
~ Winston Churchill

I love old bricks…
My wife, Kate, and I once rented an apartment in Ottawa sight-unseen simply because the landlord professed, “the living room features a beautiful three-story 19th century stonemasonry wall … and someone is scheduled to see the place this afternoon…”

I love old bricks…
Quietly walking through the streets of Cabbagetown – located in the corner of busy downtown Toronto – time slows down in the cobblestone alleys and drifts past the hand-built homes.  The frantic pace of the city fades for a moment.  Peace of mind gently settles in…

I love old bricks…
Further down Parliament Street – at the Distillery District – the richness, depth and texture in the stones tell a story.  Many seasons have deepened their pores, etched autographs speak of milestones passed and, now, imagination has breathed new life into this once forgotten place…

Protection Racket

It’s strange – bricks that have survived just a century seem rich with history in the North American landscape.  So many have been knocked down for something better, painted over by zealous landlords, and sandblasted by gentrification.  Our culture is constantly speeding towards the future, barely taking a breath to reflect on our past.

For this company, we have arrived at a moment that is all about the future.  By October this year, we will be launching our new logos and website (see the new logos here).  If you’re reading this, you’ve already found our new blog – perhaps via social media or our new quarterly newsletter.  We have a new parent brand, “The Ian Martin Group” (IMG), to carry the well-known brands in our existing family: IML (Engineering), IMIT (I.T.) and The 500 Staffing (Temp & Perm).  Furthermore, two new companies: IMT (Telecom) and Granary Inc. (Executive Search) are joining the fold to articulate expertise presently buried in other areas of the organization.  New opportunities abound for our employees – we have adapted our “org chart” to increase capacity, improve our training & development and support deeper collaboration between teams.  We even have a new face in senior leadership – Sue Hyatt has joined us as National Director of The 500 Staffing.

Recently, Rob Chorney, our IMIT branch manager in Toronto (also a new gig for him), likened all of this activity to a wedding announcement – the October launch may seem a long way off but you know the celebration is coming!  At the risk of stretching the metaphor, I’ll add this: while the ceremony is the focal point of any wedding, we know the important stuff happens before the invitation and after the festivities are over…

So, for the rest of this post, I’m going to step aside from the buzz of “new” and reflect on our roots – as Bruce Mullock (VP Client Relations – who has a deep sense of our history and, notably, has served at IML longer than I’ve been alive) often helps me to do.  Time in reflection often helps us see clearly the kind of future we want to create together.

About 12 months ago, we started working with brand-expert, Brian Rawlins, to help us more clearly understand, articulate and visualize the essential characteristics of our company.  This sparked a conversation that has been germinating throughout the organization ever since.  It begins with some basic questions:

Who are we?
Where have we been?
Where are we going?
And – especially – why?

We know the fundamentals: we have an excellent team of staff and contractors, a solid 50-year reputation in the marketplace, expertise in important verticals, long-lasting client relationships and a tradition of entrepreneurship.  But one question from Brian just continued to persist, “Is there anything that makes you truly unique – a ‘leader’ in the marketplace?”

We turned this question over for months, backwards and forwards, up and down, at all hours of the day and night – asking everyone, anyone – to make sure that we had considered every possibility.  In the end, the answer was right in front of us – in the form of an ‘old brick’:

“Fairness and integrity are the cornerstones of Ian Martin Limited.”

Once a leading, active, and unique vision in the marketplace – our cornerstones had been layered over by the explosive growth of ‘integrity’ as a buzzword in business – so over-claimed that it no longer provided any clear directive.  Yet inside, we knew that this legacy of ‘fairness and integrity’ had gifted IMG with something rare and authentic.  It was time to get out the sandblaster and rediscover its beauty.


The search for the right words continued for many months, with many contributing voices.  One comment by Marc Ang (IMIT Recruiter) about “responsibility” stands out in my own mind, along with an article that Bill Fretz (Director of Search) turned up from a 1999 “Business Builders” meeting.  That article focused on unpacking a single word – a word deeply embedded in our culture, like a buried treasure – an uncomfortable word, perhaps – awkward because it “just sounds so old-fashioned.”


Yet, suddenly that word began to embody the kind of unique, generative, authentic ‘integrity’ we’ve always known to be our cornerstone.  Practicing ‘stewardship’ would mean taking our intrinsic talents, resources and opportunities – our gifts – and applying them to create a benefit that we share with others.

This past week, John Breininger sent me a quote from Benjamin Desraeli that I think beautifully captures the spirit of Stewardship:

“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share
your riches but to reveal to him his own.”

At our best, isn’t that what we do?  The word Stewardship can certainly be applied to the basic interactions we have in the natural course of business: ‘stewarding’ the careers of our candidates, becoming ‘stewards’ of our client’s success, and practicing responsible ‘stewardship’ by giving back to the community.

The 3 traits that make IMG unique.

But Stewardship also demands that we ask some new questions that we still haven’t answered yet.  For example, at IMG, how are we ‘stewarding’ the resources of our planet – do we even know how to measure that?  As managers, do we think of ourselves as actively serving those who ‘work for us’?  How often do we talk about the productive tension between ‘stewardship’ and ‘entrepreneurship’ (another one of our traits)?   What about our time and talents – our ‘expertise’ – are we lending it back to our communities in a way that will foster growth for others?  How are we modeling ‘stewardship’ or inviting others to participate with us in the joy of giving?

These kinds of questions – though none fully answered – have actually been taking shape in this organization for many years.  Let me tell you a quick personal story…  Back in 1995, I remember being cornered one weekend by my dad, Bill Masson (President of IMG).  He had an idea (not like that was unusual) and he fully intended to draft my free time toward its execution (also, par for the course).

That year, Bill Gates had been named “Richest Person in the World”.  So, my dad had decided to write him a letter.  His idea was to convince Mr. Gates that he should give some of his fortune away (*teenager eye roll*).  My dad’s role in the project would be author, and mine editor. Despite my “lost weekend” and the “obvious futility” of the exercise, we worked hard on this project.  Looking back, I think it was a foundational exercise in articulating his vision of Stewardship – a base on which he and his team later laid the cornerstones of ‘fairness and integrity’ in 1997.

Unsurprisingly, Bill Gates never wrote us back.  But, in a way, he did respond…

In 2008 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Gates gave a speech titled: “A New Approach to Capitalism in the 21st Century”.  In it, he envisions a world where business demonstrates leadership by practicing what he calls “creative capitalism”.  Gates explains: “Such a system would have a twin mission: making profits and also improving lives of those who don’t fully benefit from today’s market forces. ”  Thirteen years removed from 1995, not only was Gates giving most of his fortune away, he was challenging us to integrate the idea of Stewardship right into our business’ day-to-day operations.  Gates concludes his speech:

“The task is open-ended. It will never be finished. But a passionate
effort to answer this challenge will help change the world.”

At IMG, we want to have the courage and perseverance to take up that kind of challenge – and to be leaders in the effort.  So, standing on our cornerstones of ‘fairness and integrity’, we’ve crafted a new statement to guide the journey – learning day-by-day to practice stewardship and entrepreneurship in balance.  At IMG, we are:

“Building authentic connections around meaningful work.”

One final word – on bricks:

The renewal of the Distillery District in Toronto was sparked by a few people who committed themselves to a gathering vision – but it has continually flourished and been given new life by the artists, retailers, architects, tourists, construction crews, residents, engineers, pub owners, festival operators, photographers and citizens who have lent their talents to ‘steward’ its transformation.

It is that kind of collective leadership – leadership by stewardship – that I hope we can model as we walk boldly into the next chapter of our story at IMG together.