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Black women entrepreneurs are driving business ownership in Canada yet are less likely to have access to financing and support.NickyLloyd

Content from The Globe’s weekly Women and Work newsletter, part of The Globe’s Women’s Collective. To subscribe, click here.

In the business world, the term “hustle” has become synonymous with that relentless work ethic entrepreneurs need to achieve their goals.

When Amoye Henry and her colleagues at Pitch Better decided to create Modern Hustle Collective, a private membership network connecting Black women founders with mentors and strategic business planning, the idea was to support Black women in their hustle.

“There weren’t any real tangible workshops that were helping women of colour scale their businesses,” says Ms. Henry, co-founder of market research firm Pitch Better.

Data confirms that need. A 2021 report from the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub found that 30 per cent of self-employed Black Canadians are women and that Black entrepreneurs are less likely to have access to financing and support. Meanwhile, in the U.S., Black women are the fastest-growing demographic of entrepreneurs. Also, the 2021 FoundHers Report from Pitch Better found that 90 per cent of Canadian Black women rarely participate in professional development programs due to lack of information.

Read the full article for how Modern Hustle Collective is connecting Black women entrepreneurs across the country.

Swipe right for a job: Lessons for job searching from online dating

It was 2017 when Alexander Florio realized he was no longer enjoying his career in marketing, and started to look for a new job.

“I began getting really frustrated with how difficult it really was to look for jobs and I remember thinking to myself that there needed to be an easier way to do this,” Mr. Florio said.

During the same time, Mr. Florio was also on the dating app Tinder and he began to think: Could finding and applying to jobs be this simple?

He and his sister, Stephanie Florio, teamed up to launch Swob Inc. in 2017. It is a recruitment app that uses dating-app functionality to match job seekers with employers – specifically in high-turnover industries such as hospitality.

If you’ve ever been on a dating app, Swob works like you might expect. You can view jobs, and if you want to apply you can swipe right and your résumé and other applicable information will be sent to the employer. Or, you can swipe left if you aren’t interested.

Read the full article for what job seekers can learn from online dating.

Should you use ChatGPT when job hunting?

New artificial intelligence tools are making it easy to generate professional and personalized application materials, and recruiters encourage job seekers to use them.

Human resources professionals who spoke with The Globe and Mail believe tools like Open AI’s ChatGPT are poised to forever change how candidates construct application materials, such as cover letters, résumé points or writing samples, following some early experiments that prove their effectiveness.

In one example, the owner of a British-based communications consulting firm tested the software on his own recruitment team, using it to generate a writing sample that was required from candidates for an open position without their knowledge. The response provided by the software was good enough to be shortlisted for an interview, which was only offered to the top 20 per cent of applicants.

Social media is also filled with examples of users putting the software to the test. One Reddit user claimed they used ChatGPT to write cover letters for 10 jobs, four of which followed up within the first two weeks, and videos posted to TikTok demonstrating how to use ChatGPT to write customized cover letters have racked up millions of views.

Read the full article for the pros and cons of an AI-assisted job hunt.

In case you missed it

‘Good vibes only’: Why toxic positivity in the workplace makes you miserable

Registered social worker Sarah Ahmed commonly comes across people who are struggling or unhappy in their jobs, but can’t name or validate their experiences.

“They’re quick to negate that by saying, ‘Well, I’m grateful I have a job,’” says Ms. Ahmed, who co-founded the Toronto-based private mental health practice Wellnest.

This, she says, is a classic example of how “toxic positivity” can hamper one’s personal or career growth. When employees get the message at work that only positive feelings are acceptable, people can feel as though their only option is to look on the bright side.

But ignoring or minimizing negative realities can have consequences that extend from career choices to mental and physical health.

“It will ultimately lead to a huge detachment or disconnect within yourself,” says Ms. Ahmed. “When that happens, a lot of folks are like, ‘I don’t know, I have everything, but I’m not happy. I feel miserable, I feel irritated.’”

Read the full article.

Craving a career pivot, these women launched social enterprises

In April, 2022, on a brisk Saturday morning, Alexis Ashworth greeted a group of young boys at a farm located in Ottawa’s greenbelt. The kids, all with autism spectrum disorder, were part of a program Ms. Ashworth’s Ottawa-based company Root in Nature had created with the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO). That day, the children would get to dig and plant and learn.

And Ms. Ashworth couldn’t have been happier.

“I left the barn and I had this overwhelming feeling of joy,” she says. “This was just a dream a year ago and now it was actually happening.”

The venture represents a departure from Ms. Ashworth’s prior life boomeranging between finance, not-for-profit executive positions and getting an MBA. But she says it was a long time coming. After seven years as Ottawa CEO for Habitat for Humanity, she worked with an executive coach to see what her next professional step might be. The conversations kept leading back to gardening.

Read the full article.

Ask Women and Work

Question: I’m a senior manager at my organization and I’ve been hearing a lot about mental health first aid. I think this could be a great program for my workplace – what does this kind of training entail and what’s the best way to go about setting it up?

We asked Suraiya Kara, founder of Holistically Healthy Workplaces and a Certified Mental Health First Aid Instructor, to tackle this one.

Most organizations provide reactive-based support to mental health concerns, such as additional sick or mental health care days, EAPs or enhanced paramedical benefits. While providing benefits like these is always a great effort, it’s not a preventative or proactive approach to mental health.

Mental Health First Aid is a training program sanctioned by the Mental Health Commission of Canada which focuses on providing support to anyone who is developing a mental health problem, in the midst of a mental health crisis or experiencing worsening symptoms due to an existing mental health problem.

The topics that are covered in the training are: mental health and stigma, substance-related disorders, mood-related disorders, anxiety and trauma-related disorders and psychotic disorders. All participants will know how to recognize the signs of a mental health problem and provide early intervention support to their colleagues, loved ones or anyone else they may come across experiencing mental distress. Mental Health First Aid training equips employees with a lifelong skill set that transcends beyond any workspace or workplace. This collective experience creates bonds between colleagues across different departments and seniority levels, resulting in a deeper sense of awareness and respect for one another and their unique experiences regarding mental health.

To go about setting up this training for your employees, I would recommend searching for Certified Mental Health First Aid instructors in your region on Linkedin, or via the Mental Health Commission of Canada website.

Depending on the instructor, they may offer a virtual option as well as a face-to-face learning option. You would then need to connect with your instructor of choice to determine their availability, course rates, and to share a little about your organization, employee groups and current approach to providing mental health support.

While this course is beneficial for all employees, it is critical for individuals who support teams, have direct reports and are in leadership and executive positions.

Submit your own questions to Ask Women and Work by e-mailing us at

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