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On March 3rd, 2016, IDI hosted its celebration for International Women’s Day (March 8th), in partnership with the Multi-Faith Centre from the University of Toronto at their centre. The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day, as laid out by the United Nations is Gender Parity. The World Economic Forum predicted that the gender pay gap would not close entirely until the year 2133, so IDI and the Multi-Faith Centre hoped to lend their voice to the conversation of women in leadership roles.

The Master of Ceremonies for the luncheon was Dr. Shari Goldberg. Dr. Goldberg holds a PhD in Religion from the University of Toronto and has worked to explore the feminist approaches to Jewish and Islamic texts, as well as promote dialogue between the two groups through various initiatives. In the past she helped develop a province-wide public education campaign to prevent violence against women, during her time at the Ontario Women’s Directorate. Recently, she served as Project Director for Blood, Milk, and Tears, from Shema & Iqra’: The Jewish-Muslim Text Project. This course and arts collective explores the relationship between art, gender, embodiment, and identity in Jewish and Muslim texts and communities.

Keynote Address

The keynote address, titled The Power of Sponsorship in Catapulting Women’s Careers, was given by Ritu Bhasin. She is the Founder and Principal of bhasin consulting inc. (bci), which offers consulting in cultural competence, diversity, and inclusion; women’s advancement; talent management; and authentic leadership. Ms. Bhasin had a long history of leadership experience before founding bci, where she now coaches senior level officials on cultural competence, unconscious bias, and improving the careers of women.

Ms. Bhasin’s keynote focused on recent research from CTI and Harvard Business Review that sponsorship, more than mentorship is key in jumpstarting the careers of women. She explained that she started her career at the University of Toronto, studying critical feminist and critical race theory, something she never thought she would be teaching to senior level executives who are mostly men. Her interest particularly lies in the intersection of women of colour when speaking of feminist and race issues, as it is an area that is under explored.

In the United States primarily, there has been growing interest in sponsorship around leadership training. The Harvard Business Review has had multiple pieces on sponsorship, HERE and HERE for example. Ms. Bhasin also highlighted the studies from the Centre for Talent Innovation (CTI) with their Sponsor Effect and Sponsor Effect UK research publications. bci will also be partnering with CTI for Sponsor Effect Canada.

In a mentor/mentee relationship, Ms. Bhasin explained the one in the diver’s seat of the career is the mentee, who is receiving advice and some contact with the—usually—senior level mentor. In a sponsor/protegé relationship, the onus for advancing the women’s career falls on the sponsor. Some elements of a sponsor’s relationship includes putting their reputation on the line, giving the protegé opportunities they would not normally receive, and giving them stretch opportunities to build, grow, and showcase their skills.

Sponsorship is already happening, Ms. Bhasin explained, and affects us at all levels of our career. If someone has advanced in their career, then it is almost certain that they had—and have—powerful senior backing. bci’s focus is in bringing more attention to sponsorship, and the sponsorship of women and women of colour in particular because most often it is men, especially white men, on the receiving end of sponsorship relationships.

One of the most important things women can do to receive sponsorship is to become indispensable. Research shows that women tend to focus more on their technical skills, to the detriment of building relationships, which are key to getting sponsors and catapulting their careers. Ms. Bhasin explained that many times these relationships are being built across genders and cultures, which makes it more difficult and doesn’t happen as frequently. However to grab those sponsorship opportunities, women need to show that they are incredibly valuable to senior management and reciprocate those stretch opportunities with good work.

Ms. Bhasin recommended the book Forget a Mentor, Find a Sponsor  by Sylvia Ann Hewlett, before taking questions.

Excellence in Community Service Award

IDI’s Excellence in Community Service Award was given to the Women In Leadership foundation (WIL). It was founded in 2001 and is the only national charity in Canada bringing women together to advance and grow the number of women in leadership positions. Many leaders are set to retire over the next decade, and WIL believes that it is paramount to promote women for these roles.

Organizations that have a good track record of promoting women are more profitable. To enable the success of women in leadership roles, WIL has a mentor program that essentially bottles experience and works to give leadership experience to women of all career levels. There is a sense that we must automatically know how to be leaders, but WIL has taken it a step further to educate and teach women how to be good leaders.




Leadership and Mentorship

The Power of Sponsorship in Catapulting Women’s Careers

Keynote Address:

Ritu Bhashin

Ritu Bhasin, LL.B. MBA

Founder and Principal of bhasin consulting inc.
People Strategist & Inclusion Specialist

Master of Ceremonies:

Shari Goldberg

Shari Golberg, PhD

Director, Shema & Iqra’: The Jewish-Muslim Text Project

Excellence in Community Service Award:

Women in Leadership

Award to be received by

Tricia Ryan
Toronto Chapter Chair of WIL
Certified Business Coach, Focal Point

Date and Time:

March 3, 2016, 11.30 am-1.30 pm


Multi-Faith Center
569 Spadina Avenue Toronto, ON  M5S 2J7

Event is co-organized by
IDI GTA and Multi-Faith Centre.

Lunch will be served at 12:00pm

IDI GTA International Women’s Day Luncheon Hosting Committee

Shashi Bhatia, Indo-Canadian Association, Durham Region
Rose Buhagiar, Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services
Marilyn Elphick,Chaplain,Private Nurse
Nuray Gunel, North York General Hospital
Sarah-Anne Harrington, Ontario Tirillium Foundation
Lily Leung, Cake Odyssey GTA
Asma Pathan, Volunteer
Gina Valle, Diversity Matters
Ayse Yegul, Coordinator, IDI GTA


Ritu BhashinRitu Bhasin, LL.B. MBA, is the Founder and Principal of bci. Recognized globally for her inclusion and leadership expertise, Ritu has received a number of awards and distinctions for her work. She has extensive experience in delivering programming, consulting, and coaching across a range of people management areas with a focus on leadership development, diversity and inclusion, and the advancement of women. Ritu works primarily with senior leadership teams, boards of directors, middle management, and emerging leader groups, including women and diverse professionals. Ritu is known for her diversity and inclusion expertise in Cultural Competence and unconscious bias, and is certified to administer Cultural Competence assessment tools including the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) and the Intercultural Conflict Style Inventory (ICS). Ritu is also certified in neuroscience coaching strategies for leadership growth. Ritu has coached hundreds of professionals, and now coaches C-Suite leaders and other executives on building their Cultural Competence to be more inclusive. Before founding bci, Ritu spent ten years in the legal profession; she first practiced civil litigation, and then spent seven years on the senior management team of a preeminent Canadian law firm as director of legal talent. Ritu has won several awards and distinctions reflecting her passion and commitment to her work, including the City of Toronto’s 2014 William P. Hubbard Award for Race Relations. Ritu is also the Co-Founder of Insayva, a platform for self-empowerment for those seeking personal and professional growth. She is a trained instructor in several yoga disciplines and, when she is not working, you will find her in a downward dog.

Keynote Address: Recent research stresses that sponsorship has replaced mentorship as a critical tool for professional success – particularly for women. In this talk, global leadership expert Ritu Bhasin will discuss:

  • What sponsorship is
  • The critical impact of sponsorship vs. mentorship on career growth
  • The unique impact of sponsorship on women both personally and professionally
  • Key leadership principles

Come ready to learn the fundamentals of this key leadership tool in a dynamic and interactive talk.


Shari Goldberg

Shari Golberg has a PhD in Religion from the University of Toronto. Her academic work explores feminist approaches to Jewish and Islamic texts and contemporary text-based collaborations between Jewish and Muslim women. Her other research interests include Jewish and Islamic law, Canadian public policy and religious accommodation, diversity and conflict mediation, and interfaith activism.

Golberg has taught numerous courses and facilitated many workshops on gender, diversity, and religiosity in both community-based and academic settings, including Huron College and the University of Toronto. In the summer of 2013, Golberg served as an evaluator of The University of Toronto’s Connaught Summer Institute in Islamic Studies, a unique program for international doctoral students exploring issues of diversity in the study of Islam and in living Muslim communities.

Golberg also co-ordinates and facilitates Shema & Iqra’: The Jewish-Muslim Text Project, a grassroots initiative which brings communities of Muslims and Jews together using classical religious texts as a springboard for dialogue to explore issues of mutual concern, including gender and religious leadership, environmental ethics, and creative expression.

Most recently, she has served as the Project Director of Blood, Milk, and Tears, a course and arts collective that explores the relationship between art, gender, embodiment, and identity in Jewish and Muslim texts and communities. Golberg also has extensive government experience, having worked as a policy analyst for many years at the Ontario Women’s Directorate. During her time there, she helped develop a province-wide public education campaign to prevent violence against women and assisted former Attorney General Marion Boyd in the review of the Ontario arbitration process, which explored whether faith-based arbitration in family law matters had a differential impact on marginalized communities.

All her work seeks to encourage nuanced dialogue about religious identities and how these intersect with our political, civic, and ethno-cultural commitments.