March 8, 2023

International Women’s Day #EmbraceEquity

Celebrating International Women's Day 

CCRW is committed to giving women living at the intersections of race, gender, Indigeneity, sexual orientation, and disability equal access to employment by working toward equity in the workforce. CCRW is celebrating International Women’s Day by highlighting some impactful stories from individuals who have participated in their services and are excited about the 2023 theme, Embrace Equity.

International Women’s Day (IWD) 2023 campaign theme is bringing forth the discussion on equity and its impact on women worldwide. Equity is a word that often gets confused with equality. The significance of equity is that we are focusing on creating an environment where everyone has the correct tools to allow them to succeed, and this is different for all. That is what makes creating an equitable workforce, community, and world so collaborative - it requires a call to action from all members of a society, collective activism.

Spotlighting Organizations That Serve Women:

CCRW has made many local and national partners that allow us to support women identifying clients holistically with both work and life supports. In honour of International Women's Day we have listed some of these stand-out organizations below:

Dress for Success:

This organization works to empower women’s economic autonomy by providing support, and professional attire. They are found in 143 cities in 23 countries worldwide, and support 1.3 million women. Dress for Success works with local communities to treat women holistically toward their career goals. They focus on empowering women, supporting them in finding meaningful employment, financial independence, and personal success. They believe that women are affected by barriers that are beyond gender and aim to support them in their journey to thrive in employment and life.

The Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies (CAEFS):

This organization works to create communities with resources for everyone. They aim to address the ways women and gender-diverse individuals are affected by criminalization. CAEFS has many initiatives throughout their sites nationally. One of the initiatives, the Housing and Supervised Residential Options, works toward advancing research and development to support women who have been incarcerated transition back into their communities. Another initiative, Honouring Voices and Visions: Illuminating Incarcerated Indigenous Women and Gender-diverse peoples Sexual, Reproductive and Maternal-Child Health and Wellness, works to address and understand the over-incarceration of indigenous women and gender diverse people. The two listed above are part of the many initiatives CAEFS has.

CCRW Stories about Women Identifying Clients:

At CCRW we are always keeping up with our jobseekers. In honour of International Women's Day we are sharing a few success stories from some of our women-identifying job seekers in the various services that CCRW offers below.

CCRW Employment Services for Youth:

When Angel Trinh joined our Employment Services for Youth she expressed that her brain injury and the stroke-like presentation of her symptoms resulted in barriers to gaining long-term and full-time employment. Even with a strong educational background and a resume full of relevant experience, Angel experienced barriers in the application, interview, and accommodation processes. Angel has worked hard to overcome these barriers with the support of the CCRW Youth Services staff in Vancouver. Staff worked individually with Angel to assess her accommodation needs and implemented them swiftly into program delivery. Angel received multiple interviews to various jobs within the BC Government. With mock interview practice and help from staff to create strong and specific responses, Angel gained employment in a 1-year contract as a Digital Accessibility Assistant for the provincial government. Angel opted for continued support from CCRW’s Employment Services for Youth in Vancouver to aid in gaining additional work-specific accommodations such as speech-to-text and text-to-speech technology, support with email organization, and task management. Below is a quote directly from Angel about her experience being a woman identifying job seeker and how CCRW YTF Vancouver was able to support her.

CCRW was able to help me be more confident and gain more knowledge in self-care within these past 14 weeks. The employment facilitators were kind, patient and understanding throughout my journey of my search for employment. They often gave me positive feedback and were quick to respond to my needs. In the end, I was able to attain employment with the BC Public Services as an intern. CCRW as an agency has a lot to offer for persons with disabilities, they provide services such as First Aid, employment accommodations, counselling, just to name a few. I’m so glad that I was able to participate in this program.”

CCRW Skills Training Employment Program:

Jennifer Chow joined CCRW’s Skills Training Employment Services looking for extra support to reach her goal of becoming a web developer. She was a referral from our partner organization Orbital Learning. Jennifer identified as having barriers to obtaining and maintaining fulltime employment due to a developmental disorder. Although Jennifer shows strong communication skills and has relevant experience in the field, she struggles with confidence in her own abilities to reach her employment goals. CCRW staff supported Jennifer by focusing on building her confidence and advocacy skills. In addition, CCRW staff have supported the funding of a web development certification to assist Jennifer in upscaling their skills and moving them a step closer to finding fulltime employment in their field of choice. CCRW staff also connected them with the third-party organization Curiko to assist in building an individualized experience as a Web Developer for them. Curiko has shown to be a good resource for the client to practice their communication skills that they learned in our services to a real-life work setting.

Double Standards in the Workforce

When recognizing and celebrating International Women's Day it's important to take note of the current climate. There is a large disparity between men and women in the workplace and supporting women with intentionality in your actions will lead to a more inclusive environment.

The Harvard Business Review (HBR) conducted an analysis of 81,000 evaluations from a military dataset to examine the leadership attributes that were used to describe performance in the workplace. It was found that women were described with significantly more negative attributes than men. In addition, the terms that were used for feedback often had different connotations. Those used for women had undertones of common misconceptions often found when describing women, while those used for men had meanings that would be more beneficial to their advancement in their field. For men one word used was “analytical” while for women it was “compassionate”.  Although “analytical” and “compassionate” are both considered positive feedback words there is a subtext that follows along with those words. HBR noted that when used in review one would be considered more valuable and could lead to a promotion first. Another example highlights the bias that women are more emotional, with “temperamental” being frequent for women and “level-headed” for men.

It is not unknown that there are other biases that are held about women in the workforce. One of these is being a mother. There is research that shows that working mothers are considered less devoted to their work, as well as contributing to the wage gap between men and women. For every 100 men promoted, 86 women are promoted. This is a cycle termed “The Broken Rung” where we see the disconnect, as the pathway for more women promotions gets smaller with less women promoted.

These misconceptions and stigmas become even more amplified with individuals that live at the intersections of other identities, such as race, sexual orientation, and disability. All these identities cause barriers in the workforce. CCRW works to dismantle the stigma associated with disability. This will in-turn create a proper environment where disclosure and disability are discussed freely and without hesitancy, hopefully leading to a more meaningful and inclusive work environment.

What We Can Do – Allyship

How can you help bring awareness to women on International Women’s Day?

Allyship is one powerful way. Allyship is an action word, that implies movement and places the responsibility in the hands of individuals’ who have privilege. These allies need to advocate and support those who do not have that same privilege. Collective activism is what will help make the change possible and allyship through collective activism is a great step in inclusive practices that drive change. Below are some ways that you can be an ally, these are in reference to a blog on the International Women’s Day website.

One way to be an ally is by educating yourself, by learning about systemic inequality, cultures and backgrounds that can broaden your experiences allowing you to have a diverse conversation with all. Another way to be an ally is by listening/asking and not assuming. People are experts on themselves, that’s why when you ask someone how to best support them it allows you to support them without assuming. Advocating for women involves the rethinking of one’s biases and using what you actually learn to prop women up!

At CCRW we support individuals that live at the intersections of race, Indigeneity, gender, sexual orientation, and disability. These shared experiences foster a sense of community. When women are allowed to be themselves, they bring positivity to their actions and as a result an inclusive space is created.

CCRW’s Employment Services for Women

CCRW’s Employment Services for Women provides comprehensive pre-employment skill development, training and wrap around supports to female job seekers with disabilities. In addition, staff work to support employers to ensure capacity to hire inclusively and retain talent.​

Our staff are highly involved in every aspect of participation in our services, from assessing individuals job readiness through training and development to successfully transitioning to employment. ​

Job seekers are women who face barriers from the intersections of race/Indigeneity, LGBTQ2, and/or prolonged absence from the labour market.​ Contact us for more information on how we can support your job goals.


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