Mentoring key to diversifying workforce

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A mentoring program connecting recent skilled immigrants with local professionals is getting recognition, along with TD Bank Group, whose workers have mentored 1000 immigrants.

The Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council executive director Margaret Eaton said the Mentoring Partnership was key to ensuring new immigrants were ready and able to find jobs.

"The Mentoring Partnership has made over 7,000 mentoring matches and has proven to be a successful strategy to help skilled immigrants find meaningful employment," says Margaret Eaton, Executive Director, TRIEC. "TD is a corporate leader in mentoring skilled immigrants and using that experience to build the cultural competency of its employees and strengthen the inclusiveness of the workplace."

The partnership brings together recent skilled immigrants and established professionals in occupation-specific mentoring relationships with locals share job search tips, industry insights and professional contacts, as well as helping skilled immigrant mentees establish a professional network in Canada.

"At TD, mentoring skilled immigrants is a key part of our developing leaders," says Manjit Singh, Senior Vice President, Finance, TD Canada Trust and a TRIEC board member. "We are involved with The Mentoring Partnership Program because it delivers the proverbial "win-win-win". It connects newcomers with productive employment, it develops leaders and it builds understanding."

Mentors say they gain as much as they give by mentoring skilled immigrants. This year, The Mentoring Partnership recognized seven mentors who see so much value in the program that they have mentored more than ten times.

"I enjoy mentoring. It not only helps me to be a better listener, but also to be a better person and to appreciate the challenges a newcomer, which I was once, has to go through," says Sam Samanta, Senior Financial Analyst at the City of Toronto and a ten-time mentor. "I learn a lot. I learn about other countries, culture and education systems. And it's an eye-opener."

The Mentoring Partnership is also focused on recruiting former mentees to take on a mentoring role.

"My mentor was able to help me build my network in the industry here in Canada," says Tim Tabassum Iqbal, Executive Director of Blue Green Systems and a former mentee. Now a mentor, Tim is helping other new immigrants like himself. "Newcomers come with such passion for their new country and for finding success. All they need is some help channelling that passion and I knew that I could help with that."

CGI Group Inc. and Mackenzie Investments were also recognized for reaching the 100 mentoring matches milestone this year. Both companies have been dedicated employer partners and see significant benefits from their involvement in the program.

"There is no downside to being a mentor," said Michael Grahlman, Director, Business Systems Analysis at CGI and a mentor with the program. "From a business perspective CGI was able to tap into new talent pools and skillsets. And from a personal perspective, it forces you to look at the work environment and the norms, boundaries and expectations in a different way and think about the implications of these in your business."

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