Connected Women Mentorship Program

Electricity Human Resources Canada’s (EHRC) Connected Women is a national mentorship program designed for women and funded by Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE) and it supports women in the electricity sector who are either already working in technical or trades occupations or are preparing to enter the 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.

Of the workers that make up Canada’s electricity industry, women represent a minority. Approximately 26% of the electricity workforce is female and less than 5% of those are employed in trades occupations. While the proportion of women in the industry is rising, it remains well below the average for the Canadian workforce and EHRC is committed to bringing up the proportion of women in the electricity and renewable sector to the national standard (of 48%).

Connected Women aims address not only the under-representation of women in the sector, but also developing tools to advance gender equality and opportunities between men and women in the sector. EHRC has received feedback from industry stakeholders emphasizing the significant role that mentors and sponsors play in the successful attraction and retention of female workers in the sector. 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.

Ensuring Program Success

EHRC believes everyone can benefit from professional advice and encouragement, no matter where they are in their career. Therefore, we encourage applicants to view this experience as a commitment to their own professional development.

It is important for mentees to understand that the Program is driven by your engagement – your level of participation will ultimately impact the success of the relationship. Take goal setting seriously! This is a formal Program with the expectation that there will be at least 4-6 meetings over a 6-month period; only those willing to commit and invest their time should apply.

Within the program, mentees will have the ability to request a specific mentor. It is important to emphasize that some mentors are highly sought after therefore it is strongly suggested that you clearly articulate the rationale for being chosen within your application form. Mentors will be basing their decisions on what you have included in this section of the application as well as the application overall.

Registration

The platform that will support you during this journey is Menteer, an open-source platform developed by EHRC which can be accessed here.

Once you have accessed the platform, select if you would like to register as a mentor or mentee. Note: You can register as both; however, you will need to use distinct emails and passwords for each type of application. Then, complete the following sections of the application:

  1. Personal information & Education: In this section you will enter all your contact information, select a password for your account and outline your education.
  2. Professional Information: In this section you will summarize your work experience.
  3. Mentor-Mentee pairing questions: In this section you will provide the information that will be used to match you with a mentor or mentee.
  4. Declaration: You will not be able to apply without ensuring you have read and agree to the Terms of the Program.

Once you have completed and submitted your application check your inbox for a welcome email. You will need to click on the link provided in this email to confirm your account.

Steering Committee

EHRC has assembled a national steering committee who guide, oversee, and provide strategic direction to the project. The Committee also provides input into any recommendations that emerge from the research/model implementation. Finally, the Committee encourages people to contribute in identifying innovative approaches to mentorship and sponsorship opportunities.

Committee Members:

  • 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 Toronto

Founding Program Partners

Hydro One
Algonquin College
Power Workers Union
Ontario Power Generation
Society of Energy Professionals
University of Toronto
Electro Federation Canada
Hydro Ottawa
Manitoba Hydro
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
Women in Nuclear Canada

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is mentorship important?

There are numerous bodies of evidence that validate the value of mentorship. But the easiest way to prove that mentorship is important is to ask yourself, “What advice do I wish someone would have given me when I … graduated from college/university … first started my career … made a significant career transition?” More than likely you have a number of ideas that come to mind. Imagine how valuable it would have been to be given helpful advice at that time of your life – that value speaks to the power of mentorship. Mentoring gives you the opportunity to share your knowledge and advice with someone who is about to embark down the same path you traveled, and this is your chance to help them along the way.

What’s the difference between coaching and mentoring?

The International Coaching Federation defines a coach as: someone who works with a client in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.  A coach is typically someone who plans an intervention “designed to improve the performance of an individual in a specific task.” Coaching is primarily about performance and the development of specific skills.

Mentoring is much more broadly based and intuitive, focusing on developing capability and often includes longer term help in career self-management. Above all Mentoring is relationship-oriented. It seeks to provide a safe environment where the mentee shares whatever issues affect his or her professional and personal success. Although specific skills or competencies may be used as a basis for creating the relationship, its focus goes beyond these areas to include things, such as work/life balance, self-confidence, self-perception, and how the personal influences the professional.

How is mentorship different from networking?

Networking is about developing professional contacts that you can call upon when you need assistance getting information or help while job hunting. Generally networking interactions are more transactional exchanges. For instance you would ask people in your network about job leads, request an informational interview, or ask to be connected to someone in their professional network (someone who is not yet in your network). The purpose of a mentor under our Program is not to offer their mentee a job. Mentorship is about a mentor developing a long-term relationship with their mentee covering multiple aspects of career and personal development.

How is mentorship different from mentoring moments?

Mentoring moments are one time conversations between two people where information is shared. A mentoring moment usually results from a meaningful interaction that leads to an “ah ha” moment for the mentee. While these interactions may be transactional, they are still important moments that can be impactful for the mentee. Mentorship, however, is about a mentor and mentee developing a longer-term relationship while covering multiple aspects of career and personal development.

Who is eligible for the Program?

To qualify as a mentor, the individual should have at least four (4) years’ experience working in the sector. This is to help ensure that the mentor has a solid grounding on what it is like working in the sector and will be able to provide advice and insight on a wide range of topics. Mentors can be female or male.

Mentees can enter the Program from two streams – those already working in the sector who are looking for support as they navigate their careers OR those studying in an electricity-related field or apprenticeship Program and would like professional guidance as they look to begin their career in the sector. Mentees must be female.

What is the time commitment for the Program?

We have purposefully designed this Program to be flexible for mentors and mentees. You and your mentor/mentee have complete control over your mentorship relationship and can decide how often you want to meet at the onset of your relationship.

Once matched, we ask the mentor and mentee to discuss how much time they can commit to the relationship and the duration of their relationship. Our suggestion is one to two hours per month for a period of six months. The first meeting will usually be about two hour’s duration as the mentee and mentor get to know one another.

The most important objective is to achieve the goals set for the mentee; for some matches this will take several months, for others it will be shorter. Ultimately it is up to the mentor and mentee to decide together what works best for them.

How are mentors and mentees matched?

This Program is a mentee-driven Program, meaning mentees can search for and request the mentor they’d like to work with. After the mentee enters their mentor preferences into the platform (industry, career interests, skills development and location, etc.), the platform generates a list of matches sorted by how closely the mentor matches the mentee’s criteria. Mentees can then request a potential mentor from this list. The requested mentor has the opportunity to either accept or decline the request from the mentee.

It is important to emphasize, that some mentors are highly sought after therefore it is strongly suggested that you clearly articulate the rationale for being chosen within your application form. Mentors will be basing their decisions on what you have included in this section of the application as well as the application overall.

Why do I need to provide my location?

Listing your current location is important. Mentors and Mentees are interested in your location as some may prefer to meet in person, if possible.

Why am I being asked about my gender in my profile?

We’ve received strong feedback that mentees want to be able to choose a mentor who is female or male. Mentees will use this information as they search for a possible mentor.

How long should a mentoring relationship last?

Mentors and mentees participating in the EHRC Connected Women Program will participate in a formalized and structured Program for 6 months. However, these relationships can last much longer in cases where the mentoring pairs set new goals and continue after they reach the end of the initially agreed period. At the end of the Program both participants will be asked to provide feedback on the Program and at that time if they wish to stay in contact informally.

How long should a mentoring session last?

Between one and two hours, typically. The first meeting will usually be about two hour’s duration as the mentee and mentor get to know one another.

How frequently should we meet?

Every 2 weeks for Phase I and II.  Every 4 – 6 weeks, typically for Phase III and IV.

Where should our mentorship meetings take place?

Mentor/Mentee meetings may take place face to face, over the phone or via skype, depending on location and the preference of the mentor.

I just completed my profile and submitted it and I was stopped from entering the platform. Why?

Once you have completed and submitted your application check your inbox for a welcome email. You will need to click on the link provided in this email to confirm your account.

For Mentees: Why was I declined?

There may be a variety of reasons why your requested mentor might have declined you, most of which likely have nothing to do with you personally. It may be an especially busy time for them or they simply do not think it would be a good fit. Do not get discouraged. Log back into the platform and search for and request another mentor. In addition, more and more mentors will enter the Program over time. Therefore, if you are not matched right away, or a match is not shown, please check back periodically.

I’ve signed up as a mentor. Why haven’t I been requested yet?

We are grateful for your willingness to help. After you register for the Program, it could take some time before you are matched with a mentee, since this is a mentee-driven Program. Mentees are able to search for mentors in our database using select search criteria. It is important, therefore, to make your profile as complete as possible and to update it regularly. There is a possibility that you may not be selected or that being selected could take a number of weeks or months, so prepare yourself for that possibility.

Will I be bombarded by mentees requesting to speak with me?

Initially, you may receive a number of requests for mentorship. Once you have accepted a relationship with a mentee through the platform (i.e. “been matched”), you will no longer be available to other mentees in the database until that relationship has been ended.

I forgot my password. Help!

If you forgot your password, click the link that says “forgot password?” under login. You will be prompted to provide the email you use to sign in to Menteer and we’ll help you get your password back.