Portfolio

Highlight Communication has provided strategic, creative support in providing content related to Diversity and Inclusion. Samples of the work have been provided below.


Videos

We’ve produced several live action videos for a Mining Sector Council and Settlement Agencies in British Columbia and Ontario. Topics have centred on the successful integration of newcomers into the Canadian economy.


Multi-media Presentations

Highlight Communication has also created multiple Prezi videos and presentations like this one about the Settlement Sector’s benefits for the Mining Industry.

Other animated, multi-media presentations were created for the 2016 IMPACT project (Immigrant Pathways to Alternative Careers in Technology) for ISSofBC:


Podcasts

In 2018, Highlight Communication set out to create a podcast that would uncover DEI issues in BC. Gwen Pawlikowski and co-host Zahida Rahemtulla created Season 1 of Untold Stories of Belonging, Inclusion and Diversity. We had some amazing guests, such as Dr. June Francis, who was the Director of the Institute for Diaspora Research & Engagement at Simon Fraser University at the time. Bill Walters, Metro Vancouver Diversity on Board Project Lead, joined June for the interview. Wyle Baoween, HRx Technolog’s CEO also joined us to talk about unconscious bias. With these and other episodes, we learned what was possible and where we could develop further; these are ideas that continue to be implemented.


Untold Stories of Belonging, Inclusion and Diversity

Two Women with Long Family Names Apply for Jobs and Nothing Else Happens

October 8, 2018

When you apply for a job that you perfectly match, then hear nothing in response, you wonder why. It’s a competitive world, sure. Yet, fearing subtle discrimination in the form of unconscious bias is a realistic worry.

This episode offers insight into the way unconscious bias works and how it can affect what happens in job search and beyond. Zahida Rahemtulla and Gwen Pawlikowski talk with Wyle Baoween of HRx Technology who’s offering training and IT solutions to the unconcious bias barriers that keep organizations from more robust diversity and inclusion.

Two Women Walk into a Committee Meeting and Find Diversity Declining

October 1, 2018

Walking around the Metro Vancouver area, you might think that we’ve got the whole diversity project aced. We have a multicultural populace, for one thing. We’ve made advancements in gender diversity, for another. You can get the sense that we’ve got inclusion figured out. Of course, the appearance doesn’t tell the whole story.

While diversity and inclusion seems to have risen in highly visible occupations like TV news announcers or transit drivers, there are important pockets where diversity has actually declined. We learn in this episode that representation of visible minorities and women has dropped in governance boards in British Columbia non-profits, agencies and commissions, corporations and libraries. Our guests are pretty clear on the very detrimental implications of under-representation. The image of the quiet board meetings behind closed doors has meant they are often ignored by many of us. But they are a much bigger deal that you think.

Join Gwen Pawlikowski and Zahida Rahemtulla to find out the implications with Dr. June Francis and Bill Walters. Dr. Francis is the Director of the Institute for Diaspora Research & Engagement at Simon Fraser University. Bill Walters is the Metro Vancouver Diversity on Board Project Lead.

Two Women Walk into a Bar And No One Can Pronounce Their Last Names

September 23, 2018

In Episode 1, Two Women Walk into a Bar and No One Can Pronounce Their Last Names, Untold Stories of Belonging, Inclusion and Diversity examines ethnic names in North American life through the eyes of the podcast hosts. We introduce ourselves, share our experience with long family names and explore the impact on our sense of belonging. We’ve used the common format of a joke for our title because that often serves as a delivery vehicle for stereotypes and we’d like to reclaim that language and flip it around. This is a pretty mellow introduction since we’re just getting to know you; we venture deeper into belonging, inclusion and diversity as we invite guests on our show in upcoming episodes. For now, this one is a quickie.


Curriculum Development

Gwen Pawlikowski provided curriculum development and short instructional videos for the in-person and online iteration of the Women IT Teleworkers program in Ottawa, as well as the Ontario Web Developers Network with In-TAC in Ottawa. Gwen is also developing curriculum and videos for In-TAC’s Empowering Employers for the Future of Work project soon to be released.


Success Stories

Highlight Communication has written, photographed, PhotoShopped, and designed countless success stories like the ones completed for the IMPACT project in 2016. One has been included here but there are several more on the ISSofBC website.


Industrial Engineer Grows Alternative Career in Bakery Start-up Management

Claudia Vasconcelos started industrial engineering in El Salvador and was pleased with her work. Years later, she has taken her knowledge and woven it together with a new-found passion for food, baking and Canadian business that has resulted in a rewarding alternative career.

Welcome to British Columbia!

December 6, 2010 was the day the Vasconcelos family arrived in Vancouver as well as the fourth birthday of the youngest family member. The family of three was optimistic about life in a new country. Like many mothers, the industrial engineering newcomer had earlier found a way to combine her parenting with her work. Her pre-child years involved continuous improvement engineering work in factories, work that she really enjoyed. Then, after the birth of her daughter, she found a new passion in baking and cooking with whole and natural ingredients, which led her to start a small bakery business that she could combine with parenting.

She was motivated by the idea of creating healthy food for her daughter. “I wanted to have the best foods for her.” After landing in B.C. this engineering mom had planned to start working by the fall of 2011, after she would have settled her daughter in school. However, before the expected time she found an opportunity to work at a local bakery to follow her passion while contributing to the family income. Like so many newcomers, she started out at the most entry-level position available: a helper. But she quickly moved up. Within a few months, she was running the bakery.

Getting Job Search Help

Finding the bakery job had not been difficult. Yet although she moved up the ranks quickly, the minimal salary didn’t match her skills. After assessing the situation and her future at work she decided it was time to return to the idea of running her own business. With the assistance of ISSofBC, she joined a nine-month self-employment program. Business wasn’t new to her, but the Canadian context was. After the course, she set up her home-based baking operation. Unfortunately, as with many start-ups, the business was not paying back as quickly as she needed. The job market seemed a possibility again. Claudia Vasconcelos stops for a quick photo just outside the plant she manages in Burnaby.

ISSofBC IMPACT Self Assessment Quiz 2 Funding for this project from: In the summer of 2014, she re-assessed her situation and knew that growing her business would take time and financial resources. She wanted to go back to the labour market but this time using her skills as Industrial Engineer. She decided to pursue a position as Continuous Improvement Specialist and reconnected with ISSofBC. A year before, she had learned about the MAPLE 2.0 program. She started an internship at a food manufacturing company and participated in a continuous improvement position.

During the three months, she strengthened her confidence and learned that her previous experience was a great asset to find the position she desired. Soon, two fantastic offers came her way. One was a continuous improvement specialist with a large company. However, the interview process took months to complete before the job offer eventually came. Three months after the first contact, there was no assurance the job would really be hers. Another offer was to set up and run a new Industrial Food Manufacturing Plant in Burnaby for glutenfree baked goods. This opportunity came through her network, from people she knew and trusted. And this offer came one day before the other.

She didn’t hesitate: she accepted and has been the Plant Manager since early 2015. She turned down the other offer in favor of her current work. “It fits like a ring,” she says, “An opportunity to start from scratch…like living my own business dream.” Looking back, this industrial engineer would never have predicted that she would have followed this path. As a young professional in El Salvador, she never baked or cooked, but followed the convention of hiring someone to do that work. That has changed for her over the years. “I didn’t know I had this passion for cooking,” she says. Immigrating to Canada brought this self-knowledge. “This experience makes a more complete you.”

The Future

As the first staff member of the organization, the Plant Manager has hired other workers and trained them. She’s completed numerous other tasks involved with scaling up the small business to a larger producer. That’s included adapting the company’s recipes from small size to industrial proportions. Currently she is also directly involved in the R & D process of the company, from the creation of new products to defining the manufacturing process.

There are many other tasks involved in her work, including securing various licences related to food and growing customer and supplier connections. That will continue in the future. She doesn’t plan to work toward a Professional Engineering designation. She simply doesn’t need it. Other opportunities for career growth have appeared.

“The learning experience has been wonderful,” she says, “I am at that place of contentment and peace.”


Conferences

Gwen Pawlikowski has coordinated six conferences aimed at bringing together technical newcomers and tech employers. This conference has been a partnership between the Vancouver Public Library and ISSofBC. Over the years (2016 – 2021) the conference attracted as many as 200 participants, went online with the arrival of the pandemic, and served as a key networking event in the Metro Vancouver immigrant-serving sector. It was a meaningful and fun event to which participants consistently gave high evaluation marks.