Strengthening diversity and inclusion within the Transit Special Constable profession

The room was filled with passion and enthusiasm. Women in uniform were offering the example of what could be, while others watched and felt what might be possible for their future.

The first annual Transit Special Constable (TSC) Women’s Symposium took place at Humber College on Saturday, August 25. The sold out event gathered women from different backgrounds to find out more about the profession, to see if it might be right for them and if their skills are transferable.

According to Jessica Langley, an investigator with GO Transit, women in the field need to overcome some challenges but a change is happening.

“We are having the conversations. We have the leaders that are listening. The culture is changing,” she said. “I’m able to develop and have a successful career. I’m contributing to the workplace and I’m raising my children at home and I’m in a place where I am happy.”

Many in attendance were pleasantly surprised to see how approachable and friendly the constables were, while showing a good sense of humor. Those presenting talked about what they enjoy the most in their profession, what being a woman in the workforce means and how to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

“Has it been easy? No. But it’s a challenge that’s worth it and that’s why we are here today and that’s why we created this,” Langley said. “Women in the workplace matter and our issues matter and they are important. When we can raise it and build together, change happens.”

Those who were there couldn’t help but be inspired. Sehnaz Doguscu is working as a child care teacher and Nermiye Yuce is a registered early childhood educator. They are both considering a career change and are confident the skills they have developed, taking care of special needs children, can help them deal with individuals with mental health issues and cope with tense situations.

Georgia Hanson, a successful business owner in her forties, was a street kid and has been on her own since she was 13 years old. She has contemplated a career as a TSC and now she wants to use her experience to help others.

“Because I am coming from that type of background, I know so much about the criminals,” she said. “What they said about the power of your mouth is for real. I never got in a physical fight in my life and I always got out of fights by talking.”

Mental health and its impact on the profession was one of the many topics discussed throughout the one-day event.

“Law enforcement is not kind of what it used to be back in the day. It is a lot of customer service,” said Bonita Thompson-Lawson, who was recently sworn in as a GO Transit TSC. “We might carry all this equipment but my goal is to not ever have to use any of it.”

“A lot of the times you have people who are just upset and they really want to just express themselves or get it out and we are kind of that avenue to listen,” she said. “It is really more of a communications type of job and customer service.”

In the end, attendees walked out the room empowered and ready to apply to be a transit special constable and, in turn, be part of the change.