Talking to Torontonians about the importance of immigrants to the labour market isn’t enough for The City of Toronto – the organization is leading by example as an employer partner with The Mentoring Partnership.

“The Mentoring Partnership supports Toronto’s economic and social development success,” said then City Manager Joseph P. Pennachetti in November, 2013. “It also supports two of our strategic actions – enhancing the City’s capacity to service Toronto’s diverse communities and supporting the development and implementation of our workforce plan.”

The City of Toronto is one of the leading contributors of mentors to The Mentoring Partnership and the first public sector partner to reach the 1,000 mentoring matches milestone since the program began in 2004. The program has proven its popularity: many City staff are repeat mentors with over 15 having mentored more then 10 skilled immigrants each. Initially the program began with 29 mentors representing accounting, engineering and IT. Today the program has spread to include 16 professions across the organization, resulting in more mentoring opportunities for more skilled immigrants.

One of those immigrants was Maggie Chen, a PhD in economics, who was paired with Senior Policy Advisor, Susan Brown. By accompanying Susan to workplace meetings, Maggie recognized differences between the Chinese and Canadian workplaces. “Taking initiative is a common expectation here,” says Maggie. “Coming from a much more formal workplace culture, I learned that I had to adapt. I know I fully understand the different approach because my mentor gave me the opportunity to learn by doing.” Senior management at The City champion the program and push for the organization to open the workplace to skilled immigrant mentees.

Mentors are encouraged to invite their mentees to attend professional development sessions with them, adding value to the experience for the mentees. The City hosts an annual recognition event, as well as networking sessions to further enhance the mentor and mentee experiences.