For the first time, TRIEC is giving awards to employers who have provided mentors to support more than 1,500 newcomers to Canada in their employment journeys. One of those winners is the City of Toronto. Alicja Idzior, the program’s coordinator for the City, shares the secrets of their success.
- Why did the City of Toronto decide to become an employer partner in TRIEC Mentoring Partnership?
TRIEC Mentoring Partnership supports the City’s commitment to diversity and equity and various initiatives that we run in this area, including the Talent Blueprint and our volunteer at-work program. Currently we are the program’s largest contributor of mentors with the largest number of repeat mentors in the network. This demonstrates the City’s commitment to being a leader in helping newcomers to Canada find employment in their chosen professions.
- What do the City of Toronto’s employees gain from being mentors?
The chance to be a mentor gives our employees opportunities for professional development through gaining or improving their leadership and coaching skills. There is also the personal growth and satisfaction that comes with mentoring, from the feeling that they are giving back to their professional community.
- Do you think mentoring is an effective way of helping newcomers find their first job in Canada?
Having access to a mentor allows internationally trained professionals to familiarize themselves with the expectations of the Canadian workforce and also how their profession operates in Canada. It also gives them the chance to expand their professional network and gain knowledge of the job search process.
- What value do you think your highly skilled immigrant employees bring to the City of Toronto?
Hiring people from other countries diversifies the workforce, which allows the City of Toronto to meet its recruitment needs at a time of skill shortages. It has helped us fill a variety of positions that are historically difficult to fill.
- The theme of this year’s event is the Future of Mentoring. How do you think mentoring has changed since you became a partner, and how will it change in future?
The perception of diversity in the workforce has changed in recent years in part thanks to an increase in research and the rise of social media helping to raise awareness about the importance of diversity and inclusion. As a result, more organizations are waking up to the power of diversity and its positive effect on company culture and even the business bottom line. Technology gives us options when it comes to how we interact with a mentee, which extends beyond an in-person meeting to include texting, video calls and the sharing of online resources via emails, therefore making interactions flexible and fluid to fit a busy schedule. The hope is that more organizations will participate in similar mentorship programs and help further the message that there is power in diversity.
- You are one of the top two employer partners in our program with the most matches and mentors. How has the City of Toronto been able to gain such wide spread awareness and support of TRIEC Mentoring Partnership across the organization?
We provide many opportunities for the mentor to share the positive impact of their mentor-mentee partnership. We also hold recognition events to acknowledge our employees’ commitment to and participation in the program. We have secured divisional support to release employees so that they can spend time on mentoring as part of their employment here. Finally, the positive experiences that our mentors have had have resulted in them encouraging their colleagues to sign up.
- What advice would you give to organizations that have passed the 500 match milestone and are looking for strategies to increase employee participation in the program?
Make it easy for mentors to sign up – have a clear and transparent process when there is interest from someone in the program. We also recommend having a recognition event with senior leaders attending so they can express their appreciation for the program and the mentors’ involvement.
- What are the City of Toronto’s plans for getting to your next 1,000 matches?
We want to increase our use of social media to promote the program. We’re also intending to promote a call for mentors on our internal communication channels, including our “Monday Morning News” bulletin for employees, e-newsletters and internal websites. Finally, we’ll equip our existing mentees with the right information to encourage their colleagues to sign up.