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George Brown College supports lifelong learning with funding for employees to pursue credentials and discounts on its continuing education programs.Provided

Michael Herrera says he is proud that George Brown College is making a difference in the community and in the lives of its students. The college offers 225 programs, from preprograms through to degrees and postgraduate certificates.

“We have a downtown campus and are very much part of the fabric of the city. We have some beautiful buildings on the waterfront juxtaposed with some of the need you see in the city,” says Herrera, senior vice-president, institutional planning and chief financial officer.

“We are so fortunate to see our students, some of whom are the first in their family going to postsecondary school, succeed in the learning community we have built at the college. How could you not love coming to work when you are seeing lives transformed?”

George Brown also shows excellence in the support it offers its own employees, says Abha Trivedi, an information technology services portfolio lead. “My team and my manager have always been extremely supportive and accommodating both in my work and in my personal life – for example, if I have a personal situation during the workday.”

To support lifelong learning, the college provides a lifetime maximum of $20,000 to full-time employees and $5,000 to part-time support staff to gain new credentials, as well as an employee discount on George Brown continuing education programs. Full-time employees can also apply for a paid professional development sabbatical every six years.

The college is taking a multi-faceted approach to equity, diversity, inclusion and indigenization and has recently launched training in inclusive hiring practices, accessibility, anti-racism and LGBTQ+ fundamentals.

“We’ve been evolving over the years and have undertaken some deep consultation work to develop our anti-racism and Indigenous education plans, which are now guiding important work across the college,” Herrera says. “It is great to be part of an organization that takes a thoughtful approach and is acknowledging the challenges and figuring how we can authentically learn and then take a role that is action-based.

“For example, as we begin each meeting, instead of merely reciting the land acknowledgment, employees are encouraged to pause to consider its deeper implications and provide their own reflection on what truth and reconciliation means to them.”

During Pride month, Herrera sat on a panel where senior leadership talked about strategies for creating a more inclusive workplace culture. “We talked about our journey and our lived experiences,” Herrera says. “It provided staff a chance to look at us, not only as our position, but as people and members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. Through our vulnerable stories, it was a call to action about how people can be better allies to one another and to our diverse student community.”

Trivedi appreciates the working atmosphere of the college, including opportunities to connect with others. “You need your voice to be heard and to have the peace of mind that if something is concerning, you can speak about it,” she says. “It is important for employees to feel part of the organization. Without this, you can’t progress as an individual or as an organization.”

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