Women are expected to make up more than half of the immigrant population, and nearly 30% of Canada’s total female population, by 20311. At the same time, the demand for tech talent in Canada is growing, and is expected to reach 305,000 people by 20232. While the employment rate for immigrant women has increased, it’s still lower than the rate for Canadian-born women3. ACCES Employment, a United Way Greater Toronto partner agency, is working to close this gap by connecting employers with qualified employees from diverse backgrounds.
“Professional networks help newcomer jobseekers learn about their sector, gain insights into their profession and access job opportunities which may not be posted,” said Anita Carroll, VP, Corporate Engagement and Resource Development at ACCES Employment. “For women new to Canada, mentoring provides all of these benefits as well as a way for them to build confidence in their communication style, share their skills and, sometimes, to mentor with other women working in their fields.”
In celebration of International Women’s Day, Interac and ACCES employment connected 25 new Canadian women with 30+ Interac leaders to transfer knowledge, practice interviewing and share tips on breaking into Toronto’s tech industry. Gender and gender identity are one of the eight dimensions of diversity recognized by the Diversity and Inclusion Program at Interac.
The benefits of long-term mentorship continue well into a person’s career. Studies have shown that mentored employees receive higher compensation, a greater number of promotions, feel more satisfied with and committed to their careers, and are more likely to believe they will advance in their profession4.
But the benefits of a mentorship relationship don’t end there. Mentors have reported to have greater job satisfaction and organizational commitment, greater career success and increased work-related fulfillment5.
We spoke to seven Interac mentors to learn why they chose to participate and what the International Women’s Day mentorship event meant to them.
“I think it is important to pay it forward. After graduating from University, I had a tough time landing my first job, but I was fortunate enough to have a network of strong women supporting me. New Canadians do not always have the same network of family and friends to guide them through the process.”
— Tasha Cherian, Senior Manager, Technology Delivery
“I am a passionate supporter of mentorship; having benefitted from being mentored by some truly inspirational women, I know first-hand, how impactful a little bit of guidance can be. It’s important for women to continue to get involved with mentorship opportunities, both as a mentor and mentee. This is how sustainable female leadership is built.”
— Isabel Lee, Head of Enterprise Compliance
“Every one of us, no matter what stage of our career, needs a circle of champions around us. These people encourage us when we’re down, cheer us on when we’re tired, lift us up when we lose sight of what’s important and remind us that none of us are on the journey alone! If you’ve ever been helped along the way, it’s your responsibility to give it back. What good are our struggles if we don’t share what we’ve learned with each other?”
— Lilian Abu Halaga, Head, Enterprise Project Management Office
“It’s important to have female mentorship opportunities because it allows women to advocate, empower and learn from other women, all of which are essential to help grow female leadership. I chose to get involved because only another woman can truly understand the hurdles and perceptions we have throughout our careers because of our shared experience in trying to overcome them. It’s important to pay this knowledge forward to keep lifting each other up.”
— Olivia Akins, Manager, Marketing
“I encourage anyone asked to participate in mentorship events as it is our responsibility to assist each other and, in doing so, we will collectively promote the betterment of Canadian companies.”
— Shenela Tavarayan, Retail Commerce, Senior Manager
“It’s imperative to provide mentorship opportunities to women as it opens a window often unseen in the work force. Individuals need to feel empowered from across all facets of their profession.”
— Leo Bailey, Senior Manager, Risk Management
“I recognize the importance of capitalizing on the opportunity to mentor other women. I am grateful for the opportunity to share my career experience, but more than that, to let other women know that if I can do it – you can do it too. I speak heart to heart and discuss not only their resumes and qualifications, but their hopes, dreams and fears. I let each woman know that I believe in them and that they will succeed.”
— Colette Stewart, Senior Legal Counsel