Empowering young women with skills to break down barriers

Helping to break down barriers for young women

PwC Canada is playing a leading role in an initiative aimed at helping to empower young women with the skills and support to break down barriers and reach their personal upskilling aspirations.

Reducing socioeconomic barriers to allow more women to thrive

More than five years ago, what started as an audit engagement has now flourished into a far more holistic and impactful collaboration between PwC Canada and Girls E-Mentorship (GEM). GEM has a vision that all young women should have the opportunity to succeed. PwC Canada has been working with GEM to provide one-on-one mentorship, utilising PwC Canada staff skills, experience and support. Women at the firm have volunteered to empower young women in the programme, supporting their upskilling and future career pathways. Furthermore, PwC Canada has hosted various enrichment opportunities for mentees at the firm as well as friendraiser events to further raise awareness for GEM’s mission.

PwC Canada is committed to helping communities develop the skills they need to thrive. In particular PwC’s global programme, New world. New skills is underpinned by the belief that everyone should be able to live, learn, work and participate in the digital world. This provides a foundation for programmes like GEM that PwC supports all around the world. More can be explored here.

Empowering young women with skills to break down barriers picture

Lauren Wainer, Assurance, Manager, PwC Canada has been a volunteer mentor with GEM for four years. She’s now looking to explore other ways to get involved with GEM as her commitment to empower women has come full circle. In 2023, Lauren was selected to participate in PwC Canada’s Women in Leadership programme as a mentee. She shares her experience with us and tells us more about why she feels expanding one’s network and putting oneself out there is key for meaningful growth.

  • Question: What benefits have you seen to your own personal growth being a mentor?
  • Answer: Being a mentor has made me a stronger manager. I’ve been able to build on my skills such as patience and agility. Mentoring has helped me reframe my mindset, grow as a person and remain positive in times when it can be hard to find perspective. I definitely have found a positive ‘shift’ in the way I will approach situations since becoming a mentor.
  • Question: What have you found challenging in this mentorship journey?
  • Answer: My mentees have helped me become more accountable to my own advice, i.e. staying true to my non-negotiables to strive for a healthy work-life balance such as working out more, taking time to read, and silencing notifications over the weekend.
  • Question: What do you like about GEM as a programme?
  • Answer: GEM provides great resources and tools to support you as a mentor, to help guide you and your mentee on the journey ahead and along the way.
  • Question: You’ve mentored four young women, do you keep in touch with your mentees?
  • Answer: I’ve offered to stay in touch with all my mentees if they wish to. I’m pleased to say that all my past mentees have gone on to pursue their education dreams and are studying at university in areas such as computer engineering and biomedical science with one entering her last year of high school feeling more prepared. To me this is wonderful because even when I was at school, areas of study like this were not promoted to women.
  • Question: What’s a common piece of advice you give your mentees?
  • Answer: Aim high, shoot for the stars and see what happens.

Giving time to empower young women provides value for both the volunteer and mentee

The impact we’ve made at PwC Canada:

  • Five PwC Canada staff have taken up a volunteer role committing to mentoring a young woman for the full school year. PwC Canada would like to see the programme grow to 20 PwC staff in the next year.
  • Played a leading role in supporting GEM, an important initiative in the business community.
  • 250 senior women leaders have volunteered to be mentors. GEM would like to see those numbers grow to 300 next year. 

"PwC Canada has been a valued partner with GEM in uplifting high school girls facing socioeconomic barriers. Together, we've helped hundreds of young women achieve their goals by building their skills, confidence, and networks."

Wendy Sung-Aad,GEM Executive Director
Follow us

Contact us

Bethan Grillo

Managing Director, Global Corporate Sustainability, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0) 20 7804 5746