According to an analysis independently conducted by Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Up With Women’s program effectively supported program participants to secure employment, increase annual income and improve housing stability, even in the midst of a global pandemic.
BCG’s analysis found that, within 6-12 months in-program, UWW clients achieved the following results:
- average annual income increased by $15,000 per year
- 1 in 5 finish the program earning over $40,000 per year
- 38% Terminate their social assistance.
- 87% of clients reported progress toward achieving goals and greater confidence.
Poverty and homelessness not only exact a terrible toll on individuals, but it comes at an enormous economic cost to society. A recent report estimates the cost of poverty in Ontario alone at $33B per year in lost income, foregone taxes and increased use of the health and justice systems.
By increasing the financial well-being of graduates, UWW’s program reduces the economic burden of poverty. A BCG analysis of UWW’s program demonstrates a measurable social return on investment.
On a per graduate basis, BCG estimates societal benefits of $8,100 per year in cost savings and increased revenues including:
- $3,300 saved from terminated and reduced OW and ODSP payments
- $1,900 generated in incremental income and sales tax payments
- $1,500 saved from reduced homeless shelter & transitional housing usage
- $950 saved from reduced hospitalization, ER visits, medical office use
- $450 saved from terminated and reduced OCB and CCB payments
The power of coaching
In contrast to periodic job training, mentoring, or interview preparedness workshops, Up with Women’s program leverages the transformative power of 12 month one-on-one coaching to unleash the potential in our clients’ lives.
Coaching is a proven methodology that focuses on the client’s unique path and interests through probing questions and personal accountability. Using in-depth personality and emotional intelligence assessments led by the coach, the client’s self-understanding sharpens, allowing her to zero in on a path best aligned with her unique strengths and values.
Coaches undergo over 125 hours of formal standardized training and possess at least 100 hours of professional coaching experience before being certified by the International Coach Federation. As part of the certification, coaches are vetted through the review of recordings of the coach’s professional sessions, in order to ensure the coaching Core Competencies and Code of Ethics are followed and appropriately delivered. All UWW coaches are also trained by a University of Toronto expert on women’s homelessness, in order to understand the intersecting challenges facing our clients.
Breaking the Cycle
By supporting clients to achieve economic empowerment in the form of decent employment, UWW’s program addresses intersecting issues of women’s poverty, homelessness/housing precarity, employment barriers, the gender wage gap and generational poverty.
Women are estimated to make up 27.3% of the estimated 235,000 homeless population in Canada . Although this is widely regarded as a serious underestimate as “hidden homelessness” e.g. women living with friends or family, or living in a household where they are subject to violence in order to provide housing for themselves and their children, are not included in these estimates.
Multiple issues lead to women’s homelessness and housing precarity, but poverty is the common denominator. Lack of economic power in the form of secure, decent employment clearly impacts women’s ability to make autonomous decisions about safe, stable living arrangements. Women who are racialized, raising children on their own, have mental health issues, are First Nations, Metis, and Inuit, and women with precarious immigration status are disproportionately affected.
Unfortunately, being homeless and unemployed often perpetuates a cycle of housing precarity and unemployment that can be very difficult to escape.
Since most homeless women have experienced violence, many struggle with issues such as low self-esteem, high stress levels, depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress. Homelessness in and of itself creates additional trauma by its very nature. These psycho-emotional impacts create additional barriers to finding or retaining employment.
The longer one is unemployed the harder it becomes to secure employment. A recent landmark study proved that gaps in employment – as little as four months – significantly reduce the chances of even receiving a call-back for a job interview. Gaps of 8 months or more reduce the call-back rate below 4%.
These interrelated dynamics perpetuate a downward cycle that keeps women unemployed/underemployed, living in poverty, and precariously housed.
Gender wage gap
Comparing full and part time workers, women in Canada earned an average of 69 cents for every dollar earned by men in 2016.
This gap contributes to women’s poverty and economic insecurity. Lower earning power means women are at higher risk of falling into poverty if they have children and then become separated, divorced, or widowed. With substantially less control over their lives, they are often forced to stay in abusive relationships. The COVID19 pandemic has exacerbated this issue, reducing women’s labour force participation to its lowest level in three decades.
By supporting women to achieve their full potential and pursue secure, decent work, UWW’s program plays in important role in narrowing the gender wage gap, putting women on a stable, secure footing to lead lives free of poverty and violence.
Generational Cycle of Poverty
Decades of research have demonstrated the devastating effects of poverty for children  and suggests children raised by lower income parents face at least a 25% chance of growing up to be low-income adults. Providing mothers with pathways out of poverty has the potential to transform the lives of future generations.
 Gaetz, S., Dej, E., Richter, T., and Redman, M. (2016). The State of Homelessness in Canada, 2016 .
 Interval House, Barriers to Employability and Employment for Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence, 2018
 The Trauma and Mental Health Report, September 11, 2011. Homelessness as Trauma.
 Kroft, Lange, Notowidigdo, “Duration dependence and labor market conditions: evidence from a field experiment.” The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Volume 128, Issue 3, August 2013, Pages 1123–1167, https://doi.org/10.1093/qje/qjt015
 Canadian Income Survey, Statistics Canada. Table 2016-0052. “Income of individuals by age group, sex and income source, Canada, provinces and selected census metropolitan areas, annual (number unless otherwise noted).” Available here.
 RBC, Pandemic Threatens Decades of Women’s Labour Force Gains – RBC Economics
 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2019). “A Roadmap to Reducing Child Poverty.” Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/25246.
 Miles Corak (2017). “Divided Landscapes of Economic Opportunity: The Canadian Geography of Intergenerational Income Mobility.” University of Chicago, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Paper Number 2017-043.