Learning With Bridges Out Of Poverty

by Candice Lepage

In May our staff took part in Guelph Wellington Public Health’s Bridges Out Of Poverty training.

As a B Corporation we are committed to making significant changes to how people are employed. When Flow Office Wisdom was simply an idea between two people, our founders April and Crystal, they had one goal. Create employment for under-employed women.

Of course as time goes on and businesses become places where tasks are done, the day to day operations of Flow Office Wisdom include making phone calls, answering emails, setting up appointments, writing up documents, preparing reports, reconciling bank accounts; all being done by women who are not particularly disadvantaged and are all very capable at their jobs.

As one of those privileged, capable women, I certainly appreciate having a job which allows me the freedom to work from home and enrich my life with other interests. And many of my co-workers appreciate being able to have a job they enjoy while also being active mothers to their children.

Bridges

But over this past year, we have been returning to that goal April and Crystal had when they began thinking this place up 5 years ago. Create employment for under-employed women. Flow Office Wisdom has reached a place of stability and is moving forward into growth, so revisiting our initial goals is important. As well, B Lab, the certifying body behind every B Corporation across the world, has challenged all of us to be a more inclusive workplace.

One of the ways we have explored these goals this year is to take the Bridges Out Of Poverty training. Generational poverty (when people grow up poor, raised by parents who grew up poor) leads many employers to the mistaken belief that some people are simply not employable.

Bridges Out of Poverty aims to help employers, and co-workers, begin to understand the many ways we have been socialized differently from those who are generationally poor. The course aims to help us understand that what we see as normal, acceptable behaviour, common sense even, is in fact not normal or common, it is simply the behaviour and sense of people who have lived firmly in the middle class their entire lives.

The training was very enlightening, leading us down the very long path of becoming more accepting.

Some recollections from a few of our other team members:

This course raised my awareness of those living in poverty and gave me an understanding that will guide my thoughts that may have been judgemental at times in the past.” April
 
“Worthwhile for anyone both in business and in personal everyday life.” Laura-Lee
 
Eye-opening. Good examples demonstrated that what I might consider to be universal values in this society are actually hardly universal.
 
Bridges out of poverty for me was a good lesson to stop and consider seeing reality from someone else's possibly very different point of view.“ Chris
 
Extremely eye-opening. And a good reminder that people don't choose to be poor. You're born into a socio-economic class where multiple external factors play into and can determine your health, well-being and lot in life. The course provided many real life examples to demonstrate and provide a greater understanding of this poverty paradigm.
 
As an individual I believe the course has reinforced my ideas of being open minded and accepting of people with different backgrounds and experiences than my own. As an organization I believe we will do the same and better shape how we interact with each other and with clients. “ Jess
 
If you want to take the Bridges Out of Poverty training for yourself, or for your business contact Elaine Weir at 519-822-2715 ext 4395 and watch the website for updates on upcoming trainings or webinars.