“Equality is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue.”* Over the course of my career, I have had the privilege of working with many remarkable women. In honour of International Women’s Day on March 8, I would like to reflect about some women that have made me a better leader and taught me along the way.
Earlier in my career, I worked with a leader who approached her work differently than I had previously experienced by making her employees the top priority. She taught me that it’s a manager’s job to remove roadblocks and ensure that their team members have what they need to do their jobs. This means responding to emails, taking calls and answering questions of your direct reports before your boss. This allows team members to focus on their projects for the greater good of the company, rather than worrying about managing up. She taught me to support the many instead of the few.
Last month, I visited our office in Ottawa and met with a group of colleagues. One employee I was speaking to joined Morneau Shepell in an entry-level role. She was so motivated by her desire to help others and saw the support we provide to our clients, which prompted her to go back to school and get her master’s degree. During my visit, she had just taken her first call as a counsellor. She showed me the value of leading with compassion.
Our Board of Directors is also dedicated to equality. We are a proud member of the 30% Club Canada, which is striving toward having 30 per cent of board seats and c-suite positions held by women – a goal we have surpassed as a company and will continue to expand upon in the years to come. The board’s role is to offer outside opinions and think about our strategy and operations differently for the betterment of the company. The more balanced our board is, the more we have diversity of thought and the better we represent our clients.
I am also inspired by the tenacity of the students at the Morneau Shepell Secondary School in Kakuma, Kenya. The young women at this school are working toward furthering their education, advancing their careers and becoming leaders in their communities. Our hope is that they will be entering workplaces that encourage equal representation. They remind me to push the boundaries beyond what is expected.
I could go on with thousands of other examples, as I’m sure all of you can.
Workplaces that focus on equality and overall well-being of their people, ensure everyone feels included and valued at work – no matter their gender, sexuality, race, religion, age, economic background, education or position. I am fortunate enough to work with many extremely passionate people who care about others’ well-being and want to make a difference. I will continue learning from them, being inspired by them and investing in them. Please join me in celebrating International Women’s Day, as we strive for gender equality worldwide.