Real Stories of Diversity and Inclusion: Mira

By Work With Us Foundation August 13, 2021

Experiencing Barriers

Job security is a rare commodity in the middle of a pandemic. In fact, if you have been fortunate enough to retain employment and avoid suffering a salary cut during the last two years most would consider you one of the lucky ones. 

By April 2020 already 3 million people had lost their jobs in Canada because of the pandemic. In such a dire economic climate, there is little in the way of hope for the unemployed. Which is what makes Mira’s decision to resign from a previous employer at the peak of COVID-19 all the more startling. 

But it was the right decision.

In fact, her ‘untimely’ choice to resign was largely motivated by something worse than unemployment in the midst of a pandemic: discrimination. 

Mira left her toxic work environment and headed into a tumultuous job market. But Mira had experienced barriers to employment long before the onset of COVID-19. Her numerous encounters with HR professionals, recruiters, and hiring managers had largely been a lesson in the breadth of discrimination job seekers can face.

After one particular experience with name-bias, Mira felt obligated to change her last name to appeal to the multitude of employers who preferred a “Western” or more “white sounding” name. Worse still, Mira recalled a time when she was not hired because a recruiter stated they “did not like her pink hair.” These experiences among others left Mira in a prolonged employment search feeling, “lost” and with “no clear direction.”

Finding Support

As her job search continued, Mira ultimately found an ad on Facebook for an employment accelerator program at YWCA. Initially, Mira was apprehensive as she did not feel confident that she could offer value as a program participant. But once accepted, the accelerator program proved Mira’s self-doubt was misplaced. 

Job mentors coached Mira through the current job market and positively reinforced her ability to succeed. She gained professional experience, attained various in-demand professional certifications and upskilled her administrative proficiency. In addition, YWCA emphasized the importance of transferable skills and reminded Mira to build on her core competencies. 

Working With Us

Despite benefiting from weeks of training, the most difficult part for graduates of any employment accelerator still remains finding a job. This shouldn’t be surprising since more often than not, as Mira’s experience proves, name-bias and appearance-based discrimination is something of an epidemic.

But if COVID-19 has taught us anything it’s that we are better when we learn to work together.

When WorkWithUs reached out to YWCA about a potential job opportunity at the Hope to Health Clinic, Mira’s resume was immediately recommended. They understood her value and recognized the professional skill-set she had worked so hard to develop. After a thorough phone screen, an interview with our team, and successfully completing several assessments, WorkWithUs endorsed Mira for the job.

Our client, BCCFE (BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS), couldn’t help but agree with our recommendation.

From the beginning, Mira was the perfect fit. Despite the position being only a “temporary” contract, Mira approached her job with incredible professionalism and enthusiasm. Soon enough, the position was extended by 2 weeks. Then a month. Mira was exceeding expectations and proving those earlier biases wrong. Not only was she projecting confidence in her ability as a receptionist but Mira was proving a willingness to step outside of her job description and handle whatever needed to be prioritized. 

BCCFE would eventually offer Mira a permanent position which she gladly accepted. She continues to feel an appreciation for her role there today:”I like how much this organization is giving back to the community and taking care of people…what I really appreciate here is the reinforcement of taking care of your mental health.”

Time to Work Together

Mira’s story should provide all the impetus our communities need to foster an economy that aims to accelerate more than profit margin. Instead, it’s time to work together for those on the margins.

At WorkWithUs, we’re committed to developing a sustainable future for people experiencing barriers to work in Canada. At the heart of our mission is connecting employers who understand the correlation between workplace inclusivity and organizational success, to incredible but undervalued talent like Mira. 

Whether you are years into surpassing diversity targets or only beginning to develop a social impact strategy, the idiom still applies, “It takes a village.” After all, despite an unprecedented increase in monetary and human capital investment under the name or title of diversity and inclusion – this movement still remains in its infancy. Time to work together to raise the child.

WorkWithUs Foundation provides sustainable employment to people experiencing barriers to work. If you are interested in partnering with us as a client, donor, employee or volunteer, we would love to hear from you! Please send us an email at info@work-with-us.org and you will be connected to the appropriate team member. Come Work With Us!

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