Attendee Spotlight: Monique Ashpole - Lean in Canada

Name: Monique Ashpole, CHRP
Position: Talent Acquisition Specialist
Company: GWL Realty Advisors
Industry: Real Estate

Tell us a bit about what you do, and what do you enjoy most about it?
I am a Talent Acquisition Specialist for a leading Canadian real estate investment advisory organization. I source, recruit, qualify and hire candidates for available positions within my organization. I manage the full recruitment cycle from vacancy to the selected candidates’ onboarding.

At GWL Realty Advisors, I am responsible for facilitating the efficient operation of the hiring process for the national organization. I act as the primary interface for staffing matters, partnering with hiring managers to develop strategies for recruiting and retaining top talent. On a day-to-day basis, I apply different techniques to source applicants and interview potential candidates for vacancies across the firm. By attracting and selecting candidates from different and diverse backgrounds, the organization can benefit from various knowledge bases, skill sets, ideas and approaches to doing work. The future of our employee population and the diversity of our talent starts with me. I am very conscious of that fact.

What attracted you to Lean In Canada?
I have been an advocate of Lean In Canada since its inception. My good friend Christina Rupsingh, one of the co-founders of the group, introduced me to the community and invited me to attend the events. I of course was initially called to participate in support of my friend, but after having attended my first event, I continued to show up because I was truly impressed with the concept. In my work, I often express to others the value behind networking as a means of pursuing targeted career opportunities but there are so many other rich benefits associated with this practice.

These women have really tapped into what it means to network. I have made great relationships as a result of attending Lean In Canada sessions. I’ve developed a greater understanding of issues concerning women at all levels in their career with different personal priorities and responsibilities. No matter who you are, or what you do, you can benefit from this group in one area or another. I think women in Toronto have been longing for a group like this for some time now and I am honoured to be a part of the group’s journey. The opportunity that Lean In Canada provides its membership to learn and network on a regular monthly basis is unparalleled.

What was one thing that most resonated with you at our last event?
The October gender diversity event led by Noelle Richardson was transformative. The format – world café style – brought together participants in small groups settings to explore our personal stories surrounding gender inequality at work. It was an interactive evening full of rich dialogue and social exchange. One of my favourite quotes from the night was from Richardson herself. “Stand tall in your stilettos!” she exclaimed. Noelle addressed the need for women to be bold and embrace our individual womanhood. There are obvious differences among the genders but as women, we are far more likely to undervalue ourselves at work in an effort to belong. I found myself identifying with these qualities, as many others did. After the event, I was filled with a great sense of purpose and excitement for the work I do. Noelle helped me to realize that my talent is not in spite of being of a woman, but as Dr. Maya Angelou put it, phenomenal because I am one.

If you were to recommend Lean In Canada to anyone, what would you say?
I often describe this group as a community of women that leads by inspiration, so no matter what your background or status, you can benefit from being amongst this company. If you are a proponent of learning, growth and opportunity, then Lean In is for you. Sheryl Sandberg wrote the book, but we need all women to put her work to action. The most profound teachings from the novel encourage us to get together, share our experiences and provide support for one other in all aspects our lives; at home and at work. These ladies have been able to accomplish just that. I am a better person; recruiter, colleague and individual, for having been exposed to this environment. I would encourage every woman to go out and find their own Lean In communities to experience such personal growth.

How are you leaning in?
As a Recruiter, people are my business. It is the nature of my work to make connections and foster relationships inside and outside of my organization. Whether I am facilitating an interview for an available position with my company, attending professional development events or interacting in a social setting outside of work, I always have networking on my mind. It fascinates me to learn about people – who they are, what they do and what they experience in their day to day lives. I have learned over time that the more you learn about people, the more you learn – PERIOD! With that being said, I have made it my personal commitment to introduce one new person every month to the Lean In Canada society. It’s a goal I’m happy to be able to say I am well on track of achieving this year. By bringing awareness to the group and the overarching Lean In ideology, we can better equip ourselves to tackle issues such as gender diversity in the workplace.

Name one notable woman you think deserves a shout out or career recognition – and what would you like us to know about her?
If you haven’t seen the TED talk entitled “Color Blind or Color Brave” featuring Mellody Hobson, you are missing out! Mellody addresses the often called “awkward” conversation of race expertly encouraging people and organizations alike to embrace diversity in their personal and professional lives. Mellody has been a great influence for me on what it means to not only be a woman, but a minority woman, in a male dominated industry. Sheryl Sandberg herself credits Hobson as being an inspiration of the Lean In book concept.

When I think about the part I play in the hiring process of my own organization, I often go back to Mellody’s talk and think, “am I doing enough to address diversity concerns at work?” The answer today is no. I am however motivated to continuously learn and grow in this regard. I am confident that forums such as Lean In can help me to realize this objective. As I continue to build relationships with women who share such passion for the cause, I can make strides in my own organization towards ensuring diversity is viewed less about checking a box but more so a legitimate strategy for contributing to overall organizational effectiveness. For that, I’m sure Mellody would be proud.

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