Of the workers that make up Canada’s electricity industry, women represent only a minority. Less than one quarter of the electricity workforce is female and less than 5% of those are actually in trades occupations.
While the proportion of women in the industry is rising, it remains well below the average for the Canadian workforce and reflects the general importance of attracting women to critical occupations such as engineers, engineering technicians, technologists, and other skilled trades.
Funded by Status of Women Canada, the Connected Women project will develop and implement a national mentorship program designed for women looking to enter the electricity industry. Program partners include Hydro One, Ontario Power Generation, Hydro Ottawa, and Manitoba Hydro, and the first cohort of mentors will be graduates of Algonquin College’s Women in Electrical Engineering Technology (WEET) program.
(From L to R) Michelle Branigan – EHRC, Samantha Evelyn – Hydro Ottawa, Minister Kellie Leitch – Minister of Labour and Status of Women, Jenna Van Vliet – Hydro Ottawa, Lana Hughes – Hydro Ottawa, Claude Brulé – Senior Vice President Academic for Algonquin College, MP Joan Crackett – Calgary Centre, and Lyne Parent-Garvey – Chief Human Resources Officer of Hydro Ottawa
This project will address not only the underrepresentation of women in the sector, but develop research and tools that will support the action that will advance equality and opportunity between men and women in this sector.
Feedback to EHRC from industry stakeholders has emphasized the significant role that mentors and sponsors can play in the successful attraction and retention of female workers in the sector. Mentors who take new workers “under their wing” provide support to gain familiarity with corporate processes and policies, provide guidance and reassurance when it is required and pass on their knowledge and expertise to the next generation of workers.
Defined networking and mentoring processes (both within and among employers within the sector) help to ensure that female workers have extra support and guidance, particularly when transitioning into the sector. This support is particularly key when entering a sector that has been traditionally populated by men and continues to see low numbers of women in the trades and/or STEM occupations.
“Our industry partners have emphasized the critical role that mentors play in the successful attraction and retention of female workers in the sector. This program will lead to a sustainable mentorship model that can be transferred to a wide range of organizations in the electricity sector.” – Norm Fraser, Chair of Electricity Hunan Resources Canada and COO Hydro Ottawa
Michelle Branigan, CEO, Electricity Human Resources Canada
EHRC has stabled a national steering committee who will guide the project and provide strategic direction and oversight, as well as input into any recommendations that emerge as a result of the research/model implementation. Committee members will act as project champions by identifying and encouraging people to contribute to the dialogue that will identify innovative approaches to mentorship and sponsorship.
- Nirav Patel, Manager – Recruitment & Diversity, Talent & Business Change, Ontario Power Generation (Project Chair)
- Michelle Branigan, CEO, Electricity Human Resources Canada (Project Manager)
- Germaine Chazou-Essindi, Senior Program Officer, Women’s Program, Status of Women Canada
- Daniele Fleming, Staff Officer, Power Workers’ Union
- Norm Fraser, COO, Hydro Ottawa (EHRC Chair)
- Michelle Johnston, Executive Vice President, Society of Energy Professionals
- Dana Knoll, Employment Evaluation Specialist, Manitoba Hydro
- Andrea McQuillan, Local Assistant Business Manager, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
- Christy Morrison, Supplier Relations Manager Canada, Electrofederation/WESCO
- Louise Reid, Manager, Talent Attraction & Acquisition, Hydro Ottawa
- Kathryn Reilander, Coordinator, Electrical Technician and Technology Programs, Algonquin College
- Alice Sahazizian, Diversity Consultant, Hydro One
- Joy Shikaze, Executive Director, Women in Nuclear-Canada
- Amena Zafar, Work Experience & Mentoring Coordinator, Licensing International Engineers into the Profession, School of Continuing Studies, University of Toront
About the Electricity Industry Mentorship Pilot Program
- The program will result in research and tools that advances opportunities and support for women in the electricity sector
- It will provide women the opportunity to receive guidance and advice from women working in the electricity sector. Defined networking and mentoring processes will help to ensure that female workers have extra support, particularly when transitioning into the sector.
- The project will focus on models built for women, along with sustainability challenges and solutions. It will identify the most innovative and successful best practices, and apply the learnings from those programs to the development of the electricity model.
- Initial industry partners include Hydro One, Manitoba Hydro, Ontario Power Generation and Hydro Ottawa. Utility companies across the country, as well as women who would like to be considered as mentors, are encouraged to participate by contacting EHRC.
Webinars for Connected Women Mentors
On December 16th, EHRC conducted training sessions for (pilot) program participants. If you have questions in relation to the program, please contact Michelle Branigan: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Training Session Webinar for Mentors: