Introducing our SheMentors Program

As part of our new strategic plan, we’re thrilled to announce the launch of our very first mentorship program: SheMentors. A program tailored to meet the needs of its community of young professional women across the Greater Toronto Area.


The Why

We, as humans, are not always wired to be in growth mode. We get tired and burned out. We get often distracted by other life responsibilities piling on our shoulders. We set goals and fall short, and on top of all this, due to socially and politically constructed beliefs, we as women continue to face barriers to our personal and professional growth.

This is why we’re launching our first mentorship program, to help YOU, our community to re-focus, and continue down the path towards a growth mindset.

The What

SheMentors is a 6-month mentorship program tailored to meet the needs of YWiB Toronto community members including the Newcomer; the Entrepreneur, and the Seeker.

Our aim is to provide every young woman with an inclusive opportunity to leverage their professional and personal growth through mentorship, and also to provide other well-established women with the opportunity to give back to the community through knowledge-sharing and mentorship.

We believe that once each one of us finds a mentor experienced in the areas we are truly passionate about, those growth moments will present themselves, and success will be inevitable!

The How

Learn more about this program here.

Ready to Dive in?

Fill out the forms below:

Event recap: Learning to Unlearn: Self Management for Personal and Professional Success

The YWiB Toronto Team and Workshop Facilitators

The YWiB Toronto Team and Workshop Facilitators

How many times have you set up a goal, only to watch yourself backtrack within a few days? Goals are key catalysts for change and growth, and act as road maps to guide us towards what is meaningful to us. Yet so many of us find ourselves struggling to pursue these goals or find ourselves overwhelmed by the plethora of obstacles that come in the way.

It is here that mobilizing one’s energy, and organizing available resources comes into play. Despite our best intentions and readily available tools, we often find ourselves in situations where we can’t seem to get unstuck because of learned behaviour in the past. This was the theme of the highly informative and inspirational workshop by our facilitators.

Regardless of how much time you spend on Netflix, there is rarely anyone completely unaware of the phenomenon of Marie Kondo. A revolutionary approach to home organization, that has taken up the society and social media landscape by storm. But what if there was a way to “spark joy” in terms of your goals? What if you could throw out harmful habits and keep the ones that bring you happiness?

Effy Nicopoulos

Effy Nicopoulos

Our first facilitator and Certified KonMari Consultant, Effy Nicopoulos, introduced us to a novel way of organizing our goals, and analyzing our motivations. Are all goals equally important? Through guided questions and exercises, participants were given more insight into accessing the valence of their goals, and to asses which goals were worth keeping.

A memorable line from the workshop was “Don’t commit to anything in a year, if you wouldn’t feel like doing it tomorrow” (sic). In a society where we are being told to prioritize so many competing goals and aspirations, this way of thinking can help salvage the few goals that in fact matter to us personally and save us from the turmoil of should’s and shouldn’ts.

Yvonne Ruke Akpoveta

Yvonne Ruke Akpoveta

After getting equipped with the tools to filter the goals that matter, the participants were given resources to reach those meaningful goals by our second facilitator, Yvonne Ruke Akpoveta. As a Change Management Strategist, Yvonne brought with her tools that can help one break free from barriers and constraints and achieve great success.

An extraordinarily powerful approach was performing a SWOT Analysis on oneself. For the uninitiated, A SWOT Analysis is a tool used by business management to access the company’s strengths, weaknesses, external opportunities, as well as external threats. Participants were given a chance to perform their own SWOT analysis and were encouraged to share with the audience. By hearing women share their personal struggles and strengths was empowering and a powerful learning experience.

Yvonne also spoke about the importance of mindset. Every situation can be dichotomously considered a threat or an opportunity, depending on one’s state of mind. She also provided the participants with a framework for change, and strategies to make effective changes. Perhaps the most powerful was Yvonne’s openness to sharing her own story and encouraging the women in the room to create positive encouraging relationships that help them grow.

With summer upon us, this is a great time to dust off those goals, discard the ones that don’t serve you, and strategically pursue the ones that do. And if staying cool this summer is a goal, then nothing better than ice cream to spark a little joy!

Written by Aashima Makol


Additional Resources

The YWiB team created a great workbook with resources and links to help you in your journey to achieve your goals. Check it out here -> Resources Handbook.

Also, check out Yvonne’s article for YWiB where she answers why change management is an essential skill and why how you view yourself affects your career. Check it out here —>


Getting Involved with YWiB

Thank you for attending our event. We hope that we have provided a  meaningful workshop and facilitated new connections today. Please consider joining our community!

If you want to chat about Sponsorship opportunities, or a Custom Corporate Program for your organization, contact us directly at

Learning to Unlearn: Yvonne Ruke Akpoveta

Our first event of the year is just over a week away and we here at YWiB Toronto are more than excited to share this great opportunity with you. In anticipation for all the wonderful advice that will be shared at the workshop, we asked Speaker, Change Management Strategist, Author, and one of our amazing facilitators Yvonne Ruke Akpoveta why change management is an essential skill and why how you view yourself affects your career.


For those who don’t know, what is change management and how does this play a role in one’s career?

Change Management can be seen as both a role and skill in a professional setting or organization, and in a personal setting, it can be seen as both an ability and skill.

 As a profession, you have Organizational Change “Management” and “Manager” roles that are often responsible for managing the people side of changes in technology, regulatory or business initiatives taking place within an organization.

This is also becoming a critical skill for professionals as we now work within a fast-paced business environment that is constantly changing. Now more than ever professionals are required to lead and drive these changes as part of their day to day jobs or on behalf of their organization.

As well, it is also an ability necessary for us to more effectively facilitate the changes in our lives to help us achieve our personal, professional or family related goals. How we go about making the needed changes is a process that needs to be managed with some level of effort. Because we also live in an environment that is constantly changing, we need to have the ability to evolve to either stay relevant in our professions or remain stagnant and lose out on living our best lives. 

Our members are made up of a diverse group of women, but a lot of them are young, having recently graduated from college/university. A lot of them might not be thinking about the long-term and instead are focused on their immediate need to find a job. In that case, what advice would you give to those more concerned with finding a job than necessarily building a career?

In reality, there are bills to be paid, and finding a job as a means to an end is definitely worth considering. Getting to our long-term job goals does not often take a linear approach, there will be twists and turns. Should you choose to take a detour along the way such as getting any ‘job’, be sure to not get completely distracted that you lose sight of your long-term game and goals; don’t stop working towards your ideal career path. Where possible, be strategic in finding any ‘job’ (i.e. getting a non-ideal job, but in an organization that you would like to work in someday, thereby providing you a leg in).

Also do your best on that job, because you never know how what you may be learning on the job becomes valuable in the future or who you will meet in the process. I remember my first job out of university, it was not my ideal job, something I would not even think to put on my resume long term, but it was the job that ended up getting me an ‘ideal’ and high paying job down the line. So never despise small beginnings.

Many of our members have expressed their interest in changing careers within the next year. What advice would you give those looking to try something new?

  • Be clear on what you want, and if you are not clear on what you want, research the various areas that potentially interest you, and speak to people in those roles or a get a coach to help you gain clarity.

  • If you are clear on want you want, then your next step is to determine what is expected of the role in terms of skills and experience. You can do this by looking at job postings for the types of role you are interested in, as well as speaking to people in a similar career.

  •  Networking at professional events related to your area of interest is also a good way to learn about what is happening in that industry, as well as connecting with peers and like-minded professionals. Note, I did not say use networking as means for meeting people to help you get a job; that is not what networking is about. Networking is about forming relationships, and it is through these relationships you can learn about needed skills, opportunities and even get referred for jobs.

  • Look for opportunities within your existing organization, most especially when you are looking to change careers and you have limited experience. Internal transfers are more accommodating of limited or no experience, and willing to train you to help support your professional development.

For more information on transitioning careers or taking it to the next level, I recommend this workbook I developed from my experience with coaching clients and delivering career development workshops.

 In your experience, what has been the biggest challenge for individuals when it comes to change whether personally or professionally?

Mindset. This includes self-limiting beliefs that hold us back. When you are able to train and focus your mind on how you think and view things, this has significant impact on being able to drive the types of changes you desire. With both my clients and myself, I have seen that for every personal or professional goal we have achieved or not, it often comes down to mindset. Your attitude (mindset) will determine your altitude. It also comes down to desire, how much do you really want it and how much work are you willing to put in relation to the change you want to see in your life.

Click  here  to get Yvonne’s book: The Change You Want! Change Your Mindset and Change Your Life

Click here to get Yvonne’s book: The Change You Want! Change Your Mindset and Change Your Life

Particularly when it comes to women in the workforce, how have you seen mindset play a role in professional success?

One would be Self-belief. The ability to believe (or not believe) in ourselves is huge. We have to be willing to step out of our comfort zone and away from the age old nurturing trope that has the potential to limit women in the workplace. For instance “not being forward”, waiting to be given or chosen for an opportunity, and not asking for that job, role, responsibility or promotion that we want, believing that we have to be perfect or fully ready before we go after that role, or not being bold enough to lean in, step forward and let our voices (work and expertise) be heard.

As a woman of colour yourself, what kind of challenges have you faced throughout your career and how has changing your mindset helped with overcoming them?

Whatever challenges I have faced in my career, be it one of colour or otherwise, I have intentionally chosen to turn a blind eye to it in order not to give it ‘life’ and allow to take shape in my mind. I see whatever challenges I may have faced the same as every other challenge; focusing on what I can do to overcome it, and choosing not to personalize it. Where your focus is, is where your energy will flow. I choose to be positively focused.

Since our focus for this event is on both personal and professional growth, how do you see the two interacting in your own life?  Have you had trouble balancing the two in the past? If so, how did you overcome that?

To me, both personal and professional growth are strongly aligned. I’m tempted to say the same actually depending on how you define personal goals. You cannot grow professionally if you are not growing personally. Also, when your personal goals are congruent to your professional goals, I believe this creates more harmony and a sense of balance internally. For example, if one of your personal goals is health and wellbeing, what you achieve in this area such as your mental and physical health will help you be more effective and successful as a professional. Or if your personal goals are financial, chances are that what you do professionally is tied to this goal. Or if your personal goals are family, what you do professionally will impact your family goals.

If you would like to learn more about Yvonne and Change Management please visit:

Celebrating Women in Leadership

Celebrating Women in Leadership - YWiB Toronto

Why celebrating Women in Leadership?

We have dedicated this week’s theme to celebrate Women in Leadership. We do so because we know that women should support each other in attaining leadership roles and build alliances with decision-makers at the workplace. Thus, with celebration also comes an appreciation of women’s persistent efforts to achieve change and to remove the “im” from “impossible.”

When we reflected on the four waves of feminism, we realized that even though 2018 was coined as the year of women with movements such as the #MeToo and #TimesUp, we still have a long way ahead of us. There is still a lot of disparity at the workplace, where women are not being equally treated nor equally paid, especially at senior levels such as the C-Suite and board levels.

We also believe that some organizations look at gender diversity as a way to reach a certain quota or as an act of tokenism, rather than thinking strategically about the real impact of their contributions. We know that women’s leadership attributes are maximized not only when they're given access to the boardroom, but also when they're included in decision making. Their high level of emotional intelligence, creativity, and innovation, contribute largely to the success of an organization, its sustainability, and impact.

Women in leadership positions in Canada - What impedes women from being in leadership roles?

The 2018 Rosenzweig report examines the top 100 largest publicly-traded corporations in Canada, based on revenue, and how many top leadership roles are held by women. Their report examined 540 Named Executive Officers (NEOs) at Canada’s 100 largest corporations. NEOs are the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs), Chief Financial Officers (CFOs), and other C-level executives named in a corporation’s management circulars. Their research found that of 540 executives, 51 are women and 489 are men. This year’s progression indicates that female participation is at a new high of merely 9.44%, up from 9.02% the previous year.

The report also notes that more than 60% of university graduates are women, and social movements such as #TimesUp and #MeToo have gained widespread support on social media and in pop culture. These numbers and movements have brought renewed importance to the call for wider female participation in leadership roles.

If we look at the reason behind the low rates of female representation in leadership roles, we can see a troubling trend. Due to socially-constructed beliefs and often complex circumstances, women take on the responsibility to care for their family & children, and this is even today, considered as the primary role for women. Therefore, getting back or being in the paid workplace is considered an ‘additional’ or ‘side’ responsibility only. This makes it even more difficult for women to move forward with their careers. These false beliefs, among others, contribute largely to the gender disparities at the workplace.

In the corporate world, C-suite or senior management level positions are predominantly occupied by men. Lack of representation translates into lack of awareness of the positive impact of female In the corporate world, C-suite or senior management level positions are predominantly occupied by men. Lack of representation translates into lack of awareness of the positive impact of female leadership. Lack of awareness translates into a lack of visibility and future consideration. Women have to break through the ‘glass ceiling’ to be able to move up the corporate ladder. And even if they do get a seat at the table, this is often seen as an anomaly rather than the ideal norm. All of these and many other complex reasons translate into organizations believing that women are simply not suited for the C-suite when the truth is a lot more complex and nuanced.

What are we hoping for?

We hope for things to change, and this can happen through:

  • Adopting policies that support women in leadership roles, and promote gender diversity and inclusion on boards and C-Suite levels. Organizations also need to adopt policies that support working moms and all types of women.

  • Publically celebrate and recognize companies and organizations that support their own female employees and female senior-level leaders.

  • Women need to support each other instead of competing for one seat at the table. Doing so reinforces the “it’s an anomaly” perception and further cement the glass ceiling. Advocating and championing for more women to be included and heard not only benefits the organization but helps everyone's professional and personal growth.

  • Organizations need to adapt to the changing workplace. Millennials are now dominating a lot of industries and they have different mindsets. They thrive on diversity, inclusiveness, and true equity. Organizations would need to put new strategies in place that respond to the new culture brought by Millennials. A culture that fosters ethical decision making throughout the organizations, and rejects inequality in all its forms.

  • Women striving for more management responsibilities, often feel pulled in multiple directions between personal and professional lives, and this creates ‘confidence crisis.’ By reinvigorating mentoring, coaching and development programs, companies can help women build a path to achieve their leadership goals. Change comes from within and cultivates in a supportive and nurturing environment.

Join us in celebrating women in leadership this week, they are the role models, trailblazers and an inspiration for many others. Only if we stand together, shall we succeed together.

By Lara El Shawa & Daisy Gao




Celebrating Unsung Heroines

Celebrating Unsung Heroines - YWiB Toronto

One of the theme’s for our #CelebratingUs month was Unsung Heroines - this theme is quite close to our hearts, as it is dedicated to celebrating the unnoticed, unpraised and unsung efforts and achievements of great heroines. These heroines regardless of their industry, field, specializations, engaged in struggles and realized that a better world is possible - if not for them, for generations to come.

Join us in #Celebrating unsung heroines in the Civil Rights Movement:

Many women played important roles in the Civil Rights Movement, from leading local civil rights organizations to serving as lawyers on school segregation lawsuits. Their efforts to lead the movement were often overshadowed by men, who got and still get more attention and credit for its successes in popular historical narratives and commemorations.

One of the many women who led the Civil Rights Movements, her name is Ella Baker. Ella Baker was an outstanding African-American civil right and human rights activist in the United States. Her career spanned more than five decades. She was highly respected for her “behind the scenes” advising, supporting, and mentoring greats like WEB Dubois, Thurgood Marshall, Martin Luther King Jr, and Rosa Parks. Baker is known for her critiques not only of racism within American culture but also the sexism and classism within the civil rights movement.

“You didn't see me on television, you didn't see news stories about me. The kind of role that I tried to play was to pick up pieces or put together pieces out of which I hoped organization might come. My theory is, strong people don't need strong leaders.”

-Ella Baker

Join us in #Celebrating unsung heroines in STEM

The history of science is usually portrayed as the history of male scientists. But women have also played crucial roles in science from the world's first chemist more than 3,000 years ago to a 2018 physics Nobel laureate. Women remain underrepresented in the science and engineering workforce, although to a lesser degree than in the past, with the greatest disparities occurring in engineering, computer science, and the physical sciences. Unfortunately, the underrepresentation of women in these crucial decision-making fields has had a wider impact than you may realize.

Although women, we still have a long way to go to earn our fair share in the STEM field, we are still blessed to have many trailblazers, who created the space for us and many generations to come to forge ahead.

Katherine Johnson is an unsung heroine. As an African-American NASA Space Scientist,  she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015 for a lifetime of work as a pioneering physicist, mathematician, and space scientist. She and her colleagues, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson did the calculations that guided NASA’s 1962 Friendship 7 Mission. A teacher and research mathematician, she co-authored over 25 scientific papers.  About as unique as an African American woman scientist at NASA in the 1950s. She was both—making her the rarest of the rare!

“Girls are capable of doing everything men are capable of doing. Sometimes they have more imagination than men”

-Katherine Johnson

Join us in #Celebrating unsung heroines in war zones

The UN has unveiled a campaign to highlight the role of women in peace-building and conflict resolution — hoping that their largely unsung work in Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Libya, and Palestine will inspire others.

Studies show that women have a highly influential role to play when it comes to standing up to violent extremism or pushing for reconciliation: negotiated peace agreements have a 25 percent to 50 percent likelihood of failing when women are not involved in political processes and peace talks. Without involving women in peacebuilding, we cannot lay the foundations for lasting peace. And without peace, there can be no sustainable development.

Shirin Ebadi is an unsung heroine. She is an Iranian Lawyer, a former judge, and human rights activist, and founder of Defenders of Human Rights Centre in Iran. On 10 October 2003, Ebadi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her significant and pioneering efforts for democracy and human rights, especially women’s, children’s, and refugees’ right. She was the first Iranian and the first Muslim woman to receive the prize. In 2004, she was listed by Forbes magazine as one of the "100 most powerful women in the world".She is also included in a published list of the "100 most influential women of all time."

“ Women are the victims of this patriarchal culture, but they are also its carriers. Let us keep in mind that every oppressive man was raised in the confines of his mother’s home.”

-Shirin Ebadi

Apart from peacebuilders, we also want to take the time to celebrate displaced persons and women refugees, who are not only suffering from post-trauma conditions but also have become the main breadwinners to support their families & children because their men are either in prison/fighting or missing. Their sacrifices will never be forgotten.

Join us in #Celebrating unsung heroines in Canadian History

When it comes to Canadian history, we cannot but admire the great efforts & appreciate the struggles of indigenous women, immigrants, domestic workers, and human rights activists. All these sung and unsung heroines played an important role in writing the Canadian history.

One of the unsung heroines we’d like to highlight is Ruth Gorman. Born in Calgary in 1914, she charted a course that society might not have expected of a debutante. She earned a law degree, became one of the very few female lawyers in the province in the 1940s, and played a largely unheralded role in the fight for Indigenous rights in Alberta and Canada over the decades to come. Her lifelong mission is to correct the injustices in Canada’s treatment of Indigenous People. She deeply believed that Canadian society was not living up to their treaty obligations and at no time, believed that she was engaged in “uplifting” the Aboriginal condition. Until her death in 2002. Gorman worked passionately throughout her life to right injustices that she saw in our community in order to make it a better place.

Join us in #Celebrating unsung heroines in domestic work

Join us in celebrating domestic workers, who despite the low income and “sometimes” hazardous working conditions, still worked in white women’s kitchens, nursed their children and raised many generations. Your sweats, tears, efforts, smiles and time are of great value to all the generations you’ve raised & cared for, and to us all.

Join us in #Celebrating unsung heroines that are often recognized as volunteers

Think of all the volunteer heroines around you. From firefighters to patrons of the art, to social workers, to nurses, all these volunteer heroines have greatly impacted our lives. Their valuable efforts and time made our lives easier, healthier, happier and for this, we’re forever thankful and grateful.

Join us in Celebrating YOU!

Yes, you’re all unsung heroines in all the different roles you play.

Celebrating Newcomers

“Each of us is carving a stone, erecting a column, or cutting a piece of stained glass in the construction of something much bigger than ourselves.” - The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson

“Each of us is carving a stone, erecting a column, or cutting a piece of stained glass in the construction of something much bigger than ourselves.” - The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson

This weekend, I saw one of my best friends get the biggest news of her life so far when she got a letter from the Canadian Government offering her permanent residency in Canada. Born in Jamaica to middle-income parents, she has spent the last two years struggling with finding a job, a place to stay and working her way through the bureaucracy of citizenship, all while facing the emotional roller-coaster of leaving her home and parents behind. It is not a easy task to uplift your life in the way she did, and I commend anyone that has accomplished such a feat. That is why we are choosing to celebrate the newcomers to Canada. In the face of growing adversity, we see a population ready and willing to chase the Canadian Dream.

Celebrating newcomers for keeping Canada growing

Immigrants play a vital role in keeping our population alive and thriving. As it stands, immigrants make up 22% of the Canadian population and are responsible for 71% of the population growth. With an ageing population and low fertility rates, immigrants have become vital to maintaining the Canadian population and its workforce, which is estimated to need another 350,000 annually to meet workforce needs. Immigrants bring with them diversity in both culture and knowledge, and have a tendency to be motivated, innovative and entrepreneurial, helping to drive business and trade between Canada and origin countries. Not only do immigrants play a vital role in Canada’s identity, but our acceptance of newcomers on humanitarian grounds demonstrates Canada’s compassion and leadership on the world stage and enhance our global standing.  

Celebrating newcomer innovation

Immigrants play a huge role in boosting Canada’s performance in the realm of innovation. According to the Conference Board of Canada, Canada’s innovation performance ranks 14th out of 17 industrial counties in their How Canada Performs Innovation report card. Acting as a source of diverse knowledge,  The report suggests that at least 35% of Canada Research Chairs are foreign born even though immigrants only make up one fifth of the population. However, immigrants, especially women still face challenges in their ability to display their genius in the workforce. However research continues to show that matching an organization's workforce to its clientele.

Celebrating newcomer women

The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson is one of Canada’s most well-known immigrants, having served as the 26th Governor General of Canada as well as spending years as a CBC journalist. Known for having brought a new energy to the position, Clarkson was dedicated in her passion for the arts and sports, having created the Clarkson Cup for women’s hockey in September 2005.

However, immigrant women are still at a disadvantage to both immigrant-men and Canada-born women, even the immigration process itself is biased. By focusing on economic criteria, education, professional experience and official language ability, the application process disproportionately benefits men, especially from countries where women have less access. When women do immigrate to Canada, many of them do so under the “family class” which impacts their social and economic position in Canada. When the do get to Canada, immigrant women are often paid less and more likely to have their education discounted. According to Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada, visible minority newcomer women have one of the lowest annual incomes of a minority population making only $26,624, compared to visible minority newcomer men who make $35,574.

In 2018, the Liberal government earmarked $31.8 million for a pilot program to support newcomer women entering and staying in the workforce, but there is still more we can all do to help our fellow women:

  • Employment is key to successful integration in a new country, however many newcomer women report feeling denied opportunities because of their skin colour or accent. Management and human resource professionals should work to diversify hiring practices to include newcomer women.

  • Employers should allow for domestic/sexual violence leave as these are issues disproportionately faced by newcomer and racialized women. Companies need to value both physical and mental health in their workers.

  • Government should address precarious working conditions as newcomer women often take up the lowest paying jobs (i.e. retail, cleaning services, etc.). Newcomer women are already at an economic disadvantage due to the immigration process and so need higher paying jobs to establish economic independence.

In the face of growing tensions regarding immigration in countries like the US and even in some parts Canada, it is important for us to remember that almost all of us are ourselves immigrants or descendants of ones. We have no greater claim to this land than someone born in Syria, we were just lucky enough to be born here.

Introducing: #CelebratingUs

Success doesn’t happen overnight, nor in isolation. Each of us had mentors, champions, friends, family members,and advocates. Those that, at one point or another inspired us, propelled us, and helped us move forward. We have also played that role for others. We have lent a sympathetic ear, have helped others in tough times. We have assisted & motivated each other as we work in the long path of becoming the best version of ourselves.

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