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An overwhelming majority of racialized women say they feel invisible at work – unseen, unheard and largely “erased” by their white peers and bosses – according to a new study from organizational behaviour experts at University of Western Ontario’s Ivey Business School.
The study – an analysis of the work experiences of 65 such women – examined how differences in race, immigration status, age and seniority in the workplace affected how racialized women in Canada felt in their jobs. Participants in the study were mostly in white-collar office jobs and worked in predominantly white organizations.
Ninety-five per cent of those interviewed by the researchers reported experiencing “erasure” at work, meaning that they felt largely ignored or unacknowledged in their workplaces because of both race and gender. They described it as different from overt racial prejudice or hostility.
“It was almost surprising how pervasive invisibility was in the workplace,” said Barnini Bhattacharyya, lead author of the study, and an assistant professor of organizational behaviour at Ivey Business School. “Women described feeling like their opinions were largely ignored and this was particularly common amongst more junior racialized women.”
Read the full article for more on how many DEI strategies fall short when it comes to addressing the more subtle forms of discrimination faced by racialized employees.
The rules for how we talk about women at work have changed
“Last month, when CNN anchor Don Lemon remarked that 51-year-old U.S. presidential hopeful Nikki Haley was ‘past her prime,’ I was totally unsurprised,” writes Stacy Lee Kong. “Lemon (who, we must note, is six years older than Haley) was commenting on her proposal to require mental-competency tests for presidential candidates over the age of 75, an ageist suggestion that – fairly, I think – made Lemon ‘uncomfortable.’ Unfortunately, he defaulted to a little casual sexism to make his point.
“Depending on your social circles and where you hang out online, it can seem like our society has become drastically more progressive in recent years, and in some ways it has. In the business world, many companies are investing in diversity, equity and inclusion; according to a 2022 McKinsey and Company report, 53 per cent of Fortune 500 companies now have a chief diversity officer (CDO) or an equivalent role, and more than 60 of those companies hired their first-ever CDO after the so-called racial reckoning of 2020. But, the social mores that govern the way we interact at work haven’t really changed (yet), and it’s especially hard to keep up with the right language around the watercooler.”
Read more on how to spot gendered language in the workplace.
Meet the podcasters taking the shame out of menopause
Menopause has a bad rap. The natural transition marks the end of a woman’s menstrual cycles, and yet it’s still considered taboo. It’s astounding when you consider that menopause affects half the population (there are more than 10 million women over the age of 40 in Canada alone, according to a recent Statistics Canada estimate). The stage of life is vastly under-researched, with many women suffering in silence. But there’s good news on the horizon: A slew of smart and savvy podcasters are opening up the conversation around menopause and sparking change.
Knowledge is power, they say, and they’re here to educate and inform in a way that’s accessible to all. Best of all, each touts the often-overlooked benefits of menopause: increased energy, confidence and clarity.
Meet the seven podcasters here.
In case you missed it
Cybersecurity is a red-hot career choice – why aren’t more women working in this space?
How many women do you know who are cybersecurity experts? If you can only name a handful (or maybe none at all), that’s not surprising.
In 2021, women represented just 25 per cent of the global cybersecurity work force, according to an estimate from Cybersecurity Ventures, an organization that carries out research into the world cyber economy. Meanwhile, it’s an industry in great demand – that same year, there were 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs globally.
This dearth of women in the cybersecurity field is a problem that Cat Coode, a data privacy consultant based in Waterloo, Ont., has experienced first-hand.
“When we walk in a room and start to talk about cybersecurity, we are assumed to be the salespeople and not actually the people who know how to implement,” says Ms. Coode.
Still, these challenges have done little to dampen Ms. Coode’s passion for the field. In fact, she says one of the things she loves the most about cybersecurity is the diversity of opportunities available.
Read the full article.
How to run a social enterprise with an international team
A fortuitous cultural connection was the genesis of a business opportunity for Vancouver-based mother-daughter entrepreneurs Umeeda and Nareena Switlo.
While working with development organization CUSO International, Umeeda Switlo was sent to Belize to advise the government on potential economic opportunities. As a person of Indian origin, she sought out the Indian diaspora in Belize, which represents three per cent of the population in the Central American country.
Thanks to that connection with the Indo-Belizean community, Umeeda came across an unexpected agricultural product: turmeric, an integral ingredient in Indian cuisine.
“[The plant] was a beautiful colour and 10 times bigger than anything I had ever seen,” she says.
Umeeda had an “aha” moment. She would create a new product – turmeric paste – a fresh and bioavailable alternative to the standard dried and ground turmeric, and she and her daughter would export the product to Canada and beyond.
“I have always looked for resources that are underutilized,” she adds.
Read the full article.
Ask Women and Work
Question: I am a newcomer to Canada and I am currently looking for work. I had nearly 10 years of experience in my industry in my home country, but I feel like I am at a disadvantage here without Canadian experience or contacts. I have applied for a few posted positions but have had no luck so far. What can I do to improve my chances?
We asked Nidhi Khanna, vice-president, operations for Skills for Change, a not-for-profit organization that serves newcomers with employment and skills development opportunities, to tackle this question:
Welcome to Canada and thank you for reaching out about this question. At Skills for Change, we know firsthand the challenges that newcomers like yourself face in landing your first job opportunity. Many of our clients experience the challenge of what I call the ‘Mythical Canadian Experience.’ This is especially true of people like yourself, who are highly skilled jobseekers in their home country, only to arrive in Canada having to take jobs that are well below their experience level to make ends meet.
With an ever-increasing skills gap and labour shortage, employers need to rethink their EDI initiatives to truly be inclusive, and that means seeing newcomers as the highly capable, highly skilled people that they are.
But what can you do while this systemic change is in flux? Fear not, there are actions that are in your control to help you get started in your job search:
- Network: Join professional associations and attend events relevant to your industry. This will help you connect with professionals in your field and learn about job opportunities. I use platforms such as LinkedIn on a daily basis to learn about what events and opportunities for connection might exist. Also, never underestimate the power of a good old-fashioned newsletter. I recently needed to learn more about the field of sustainability and by joining a mailing list, I was able to gain access to information and expand my network quickly.
- Don’t assume hiring managers understand the impact of your work in your home country. Did you go to the top school for management in your country? Were you given a prestigious accolade? Did your achievements result in a win for your community? Then say it! Often newcomers feel uncomfortable marketing themselves, but in the Canadian context, it is important to let people know about all the great work you have done.
- Get certified: Look for certifications or courses that are relevant to your field. This will show employers that you are committed to continuous learning and improving your skills. If you are contemplating a transition to a new sector, consider what kind of upskilling or reskilling courses may be available. Skills for Change offers free upskilling programs for eligible participants.
- Find a mentor: Mentorship provides individuals with guidance and support as they navigate their career path. A mentor can offer advice, share their own experiences from when they landed in Canada and provide valuable feedback to help individuals achieve their goals. By working with a mentor, individuals can gain new perspectives on their work, build their confidence and develop new skills.
Submit your own questions to Ask Women and Work by e-mailing us at GWC@globeandmail.com.
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