Since 2014, Nour Hachem Fawaz has continued to build a dream for many young women and girls looking to get into careers that challenge the status quo and push the envelope for women wanting to get into male dominated jobs.
Back in 2012, Nour was working for a non-profit organization called Women’s Enterprise Skills Training of Windsor where she helped women on social assistance and women who were unemployed to get into the workforce.
“One day we did an analysis of where our clients were finding employment and a lot of our clients were finding very low paying positions,” Nour explains. “Often I was doing the math with my clients to ensure that the full-time job provided a living wage to afford them the option to get off the system and full-time into the workforce.”
Nour shared that doing that within her job sparked an interest in how she could help her clients find high paying positions and get them into the workforce not just in low paying positions but positions that can lead to long term financial success.
“Windsor-Essex is really known for the manufacturing sector, there’s a lot of skilled trades opportunities,” Nour says. “So, at the time, we hosted a workshop and invited close to 300 of our clients to learn about career pathways and skilled trades and only one of our clients showed up.”
Since then, that pushed Nour to do her research and find out why women on social assistance seeking full-time positions never considered skilled trade positions. Furthermore, why women made up only 3% of skilled trade workers across Canada, yet there was a significant demand.
“We partnered with many stakeholders and beginning asking important questions to help us better understand the barriers and limitations preventing women from accessing these positions.” Nour explains. “At the time, the federal government of Canada launched a proposal that was asking community organizations to come up with ways to help young women reach economic success.”
From there on, Nour and her team launched a project called “We Succeed Beyond The Status Quo”, which looked into what influences the career decision of a young woman and what educators, employers, government and community could do to help young women consider career pathways in male-dominated industries including the Skilled Trades, STEM( Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), Emergency Response and Entrepreneurship.
“One of our many findings was parents were key influencers in that decision-making process,” Nour shares. “That’s when we launched Build A Dream with our funding partners, The Greater-Essex County District School Board, The Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board, St. Clair College, University of Windsor and Workforce Windsor Essex as a one-time event, where we invited parents and their daughters.”
The first Build A Dream event included role models sharing their career journeys, companies showcasing the opportunities within their company, college, and universities with hands on experience and within that, the event was a huge success.
“Parents were overwhelmed with how many opportunities were available for their daughters,” Nour says. “We kept hosting it as a grassroots initiative every year at the same time during my role at Women’s Enterprise Skills Training of Windsor I had written a provincial grant to secure additional funding to lead a pre-apprenticeship training program to get women trained in the skilled trades. WEST in partnership with St. Clair College received funding to train women in Windsor-Essex in the manufacturing industry. A program that still exists today.”
Nour has travelled across Canada speaking about diversity and inclusion in the workplace and recruiting, attracting, retaining and advancing women in the male-dominated industries.
In 2017, Nour registered Build a Dream as a Not-for-Profit organization with the goal of taking the movement across Canada. The organization has scaled significantly with programs and services that service all stakeholders addressing diversity and inclusion efforts. With her role as the President/Founder of Build A Dream to motherhood to running a growing foundation, Nour’s mission is to spread the word to other young women that they can do anything in their career.
“Having been raised and often told while I was growing up that I couldn’t do things because I was a female or a girl, I often questioned that,” Nour shares. “I didn’t really agree clearly, with what was being told to me so I made it my mission to tell other women that yes you can and I’m going to show you how.”
When asked what empowers Nour daily, she shared that there is just something magical about young women owning their power.
“Young women owning their voice and young women owning their actions,” Nour shares. “Women that believe in their power and their dreams to achieve their goals and to just be able to watch that unfold, watching them install their confidence and evolve, I just think that is what ultimately empowers me every day.”