Arlene Walkes receives Human Resources Professionals Association Member Award.
By Sarah Racioppa
"I gave myself five years to make things change, so it's nice to see I've already made a good impact," says Arlene Walkes. She has been working at the Durham District School Board in Human Resource Services as the Recruitment Manager for the past four years.
DDSB Chairperson and Trustee of Oshawa Michael Barrett, Recruitment Manager
Arlene Walkes with her Excellence Award, and Director of Education Lisa Millar.
This past May, Walkes was awarded the Member of Excellence Award for her "firm but fair" work ethic by the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) in Durham.
When Walkes sent in her application for the award, she also sent in two key endorsement letters. One was from her Superintendent, Camille Taylor, and the other was from the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO). The ETFO wrote about how Walkes has positively changed the interaction with occasional teachers, who are their biggest group. When HRPA presented Walkes with the award, they noted that having an endorsement from a teachers' union is what set her apart from everyone else.
Walkes has been in the HR field for 20 years and has worked in various industries such as: retail, finance, insurance, and pharmaceutical. Working for the DDSB marks her first public sector government position, and she couldn't be happier about it. She states, "Even though I've been in HR for a long time, the type of work and the impact that I've been able to do during these past four years have been the highlight of my career."
Making a difference
Customer service is the main focus for Walkes and her team. They support principals, occasional teachers, and anyone going through the hiring process within the DDSB. They communicate with both elementary and secondary teachers' unions to ensure the needs of teachers are being met.
Walkes has made some impactful changes since joining the DDSB in 2014. She changed the organization of her team to a "family of schools" model to better service schools. Every recruitment consultant has a family of schools and deals with all the positions within each of those schools. This way, the principals now have one point of contact for all their questions, which makes for a much simpler customer service process.
The biggest change Walkes brought to the DDSB is the Equitable Recruitment Framework. This is a hiring policy that ensures a fair and equitable hiring process in all departments. Before Walkes came to the DDSB there was no policy regarding equitable hiring, other than what was in the collective agreements. Now principals and the senior team use the policy as a go-to checklist.
Walkes is also actively involved in community events. She is a member of Durham Black Educators Network (DBEN) and has helped with their Elementary Student Conference for the past three years. "To reach into the community, to give back, and connect with the students and the parents has been really great."