Osler Report: Diversity Among Directors & Executives in Canada’s Utilities & Pipelines industry

Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP

Executive search consultants say the No. 1 ask from boards recruiting new directors is CEO or CFO experience. In many sectors, where relatively few women attain CFO and, especially, CEO positions, this can hamper companies seeking to cultivate a diverse roster of directors.

But then there is St. John’s-based Fortis Inc. — a utility with $8.9 billion in revenue, $56 billion in assets and operations in five Canadian provinces, nine U.S. states and three countries in the Caribbean. Fortis has six women on its 12-member board. In addition to their diverse range of director experience, one is a former CEO, two are former CFOs, one is a former president, one is a former COO and the other is a former Chief Digital Officer. 

How did they get there? The short answer is that Fortis didn’t restrict its search to women from its own sector. It’s a practice that many diverse boards have applied — yet, at first glance, one that seems more widely embraced in utilities and pipelines, which leads all sectors both in terms of the percentage representation of women directors on boards and in executive officer positions in the C-suite.

Along with Fortis, for example, boards at companies like Enbridge, Emera, TransAlta, Hydro One and Capital Power all count four or five women directors — former CEOs, presidents, CFOs, managing directors, group heads and the like.

However, even in this sector, there are examples of boards with only one woman director or none. The results achieved by other companies in this sector suggests those boards either just aren’t trying hard enough or aren’t making diversity a priority.

Latest diversity data

As noted, overall sector data compiled for Osler’s 2021 Diversity Disclosure Practices report establishes utilities and pipelines as the industry to emulate. In terms of the percentage of women directors, it leads with a mid-year 2021 mark of 35%, compared to 22.1% for the entire group of 614 TSX-listed companies that disclosed. The average of 3.71 women directors per utilities and pipelines board is more than double the TSX-listed average of 1.83 (629 companies disclosed).

Breakdown of number and percentages of women directors in 2021

Breakdown of number and percentages of women directors in 2021

In terms of women executive officers at mid-year 2021, utilities and pipelines ranked first overall in the average number of female executive officers per company at 5.08, compared to 1.69 for all the TSX-listed firms in Osler’s report (575 companies disclosed). On a percentage basis, women made up 30% of executive officers in the sector as of mid-year 2021, leading the pack in first place. The average for all the TSX-listed companies reporting in this category (565 companies) was 18.2%.

Breakdown of number and percentages of women executive officers in 2021

Breakdown of number and percentages of women executive officers in 2021

Trends since 2015

This sector’s positive story is also reflected in gains for women since 2015, both on boards and in the C-suite. The percentage of women directors at mid-year 2021 was up by 75% (35% versus 20% in 2015). The average number of women directors per board increased at roughly the same rate (3.71 at mid-year 2021 versus 2.06 per board in 2015). The percentage of women executives in the utilities and pipelines sector also doubled, according to Osler’s data (30% as of mid-year 2021 versus 15% in 2015) while the number of women executive officers per company increased at a more modest but still significant rate (5.08 versus 3.0).

Women executive officers in the utilities and pipelines sector

Women executive officers in the utilities and pipelines sector

Similar data compiled by the Canadian Board Diversity Council (CBDC) [PDF], focusing exclusively on FP500 companies, shows a slower rate of change — at least among large utilities, which the CBDC measures separately rather than combined with pipelines. In that group, the percentage of women on boards grew from 27.1% in 2015 to 30.1% in 2018. The change was even more gradual for female executive officers (which the CBDC only started tabulating in 2016), going from 23.2% to 24.3% in 2018.

Best practices and sector leaders

The CBDC’s annual report card points to a couple of sector-wide trends that might help explain the relatively high rates of diversity in utilities and pipelines. According to that report, the utilities sector ranks first in the percentage of boards (55.6%) that have diversity targets for the number of women directors and second for boards that have a written diversity policy (66.7%).

Osler’s research has highlighted a pair of individual companies that have shown leadership in these specific areas.

Inter Pipeline Ltd.

In 2019, the corporation developed a diversity strategy with respect to the construction and operation of its Heartland Petrochemical Complex and also partnered with Women Building Futures. In 2019, Inter Pipeline invested $580,000 to support Women Building Futures in raising awareness and providing pre-apprenticeship training to women in Alberta’s Heartland area.

Inter Pipeline describes various initiatives intended to support its diversity strategy and commitment to advancing women and other individuals of different backgrounds at all levels of the organization. These include a formal internal networking group, formal leadership programs and its support of and partnership with Women Building Futures, an organization offering training for women looking to enter the construction, maintenance, transportation and home building industries. In 2020, the company established a Council for Diversity & Inclusion and introduced a mandatory unconscious bias training program for all employees.

Emera Incorporated

To foster a more equal, diverse and inclusive environment, Emera annually analyzes pay equity, including (a) a wage gap analysis to track progress and identify challenges by affiliate, (b) the exercise of selective pay increases if wage disparity exists and (c) annual monitoring of the rates of women in leadership and senior leadership roles. As part of the company’s governance practices, a minimum of 30% of the board must be comprised of women — a target the organization has surpassed for many years. Currently, four of the directors on the 12-member board are women, including the chair.

Global comparison

Periodically, international consulting firm EY publishes a Women in Power and Utilities index that tracks diversity at the top 200 global utilities by revenue. Based on that data, women are under-represented in this sector in all regions around the world. But there are some significant differences.

The percentage of non-executive women directors on power and utility boards in North America (25%) and Europe (26%) is high, but those figures dwarf percentages in Latin America and the Caribbean (7%); Africa and the Middle East (11%) and Asia-Pacific (13%).

North American utilities have the highest percentage of women in senior management (22%) according to EY, followed by those in Europe (15%), Latin America and the Caribbean (13%), Africa (9%) and Asia-Pacific (9%).

The uneven progress between regions, and at a remaining handful of companies in Canada, is a target for further improvement. But in this sector, unlike some others, leaders and role models are close at hand.

Click here to read the original report on Osler’s website.

Thank You for Attending our 1st In Person Member-Only Event!

July 5, 2022

We couldn’t be more thrilled with the support we received from our guests at our first member-only in person event on June 16, 2022! It was so great to meet so many of our members in the flesh and we thoroughly enjoyed connecting over some great conversation. We know this event has been a long time coming and we thank you for joining us at The RoofTop YYC!

Women+Power would like to thank the following individuals and organizations for their support and donations. Your contributions made the event possible and allowed us to provide giveaways to our members in attendance:

  • Mr. Brett Wilson and The Rooftop YYC for providing us with a venue for the event at the most popular (and fully booked til forever) patio in town! It was many of our attendees first visit since the Rooftop’s expansion, and everyone was impressed. The food and drinks were delicious!
  • Anna Marie Chocolates for the generous donation of 10 boxes of beautifully hand-made chocolates . Anna-Marie has been creating chocolate delights for over 10 years. She attended a variety of chocolate courses, including “Bean-To-Bar” and Showpiece Creations. She is an avid culinary traveler and has tasted chocolates all around the world. To place an order or for more information, contact Anna-Marie at chocolateannamarie@gmail.com.
  • A big thank you to Divine Creations for donating the exquisite flower arrangement that adorned our Network Event sign-in table until it was raffled off to one of our lucky attendees!

If you missed this event, please consider becoming a member to receive invitations to all of our exclusive offerings. Click here to join as a member today (membership is free!).

A big thank you to our sponsors for their continued support, and shout out to our newest sponsor, Enfinite, for recently joining Women+Power at the Megawatt level. We have some exciting things in the works. Stay tuned!

May EmPOWERment Hub Entry: The End of Bias – A Beginning

May 16, 2022

Post Author: Sharleen Gatcha, CEO & Founder, Women+Power

I can’t say enough about this book or the author, Jessica Nordell (aka “JD”)! Goodreads describes The End of Bias: A Beginning as “a transformative, groundbreaking exploration into how we can eradicate unintentional bias and discrimination, the great challenge of our age”.

I had the opportunity to hear Nouman Ashraf (He/Him/His) interview Jessica about her book and it highlighted her findings which are nothing short of monumental! Anyone who wants to understand how unintentional/implicit /unaddressed bias impacts the workplace, everyone in it, the work we do, and the world in general (Hint: That’s ALL OF US!) needs to read this book. Some spoilers:

Implicit bias: persistent, unintentional prejudiced behaviour that clashes with our consciously held beliefs. We know that it exists with a corrosive and even lethal effect. We see it in so many places but are we able to step beyond recognition of our prejudice to actually change it?

With fifteen years’ immersion in the topic, Jessica Nordell digs deep into the cognitive science, social psychology, and developmental research that underpin current efforts to eradicate unintentional bias and discrimination. She examines diversity training, deployed as corrective but with inconsistent results. She explores what works and why: the diagnostic checklist used by doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital that eliminated disparate treatment of men and women in disease prevention; the preschool in Sweden where teachers found ingenious ways to uproot gender stereotyping: the police unit in Oregon where the practice of mindfulness and specialized training has coincided with a startling drop in the use of force.

Thankfully, the book does bring good news. Biased behaviour can change; the approaches outlined in the pages can transform ourselves and our world.  

TWO Electricity Industry Women Recognized at 2022 CIWB Awards

This May be a First at the Axis Connects Calgary Influential Women in Business Awards!

May 14, 2022

Author: Evan Bhary, Women+Power Board Member

Out of six winners, two of the 2022 Calgary Influential Women in Business Award (CIWB) winners came from the electricity industry, one of which is on the Women+Power Board.

We’re thrilled that Jana Mosley, President of ENMAX Power & Women+Power Board member, was honoured as the winner of the Influential Women award for Large Enterprises. Jana is a passionate leader and an incredible role model. She is currently completing her Executive MBA at Harvard while also being the President of ENMAX Power and a full-time mom to her three daughters.

To get a sense of Jana’s character and impact, the following comes from a congratulatory post that appeared on LinkedIn from one of her ENMAX colleagues, Terri-Lynn Duque:

“We need leaders who walk the talk. Who stand up for equality, no matter the personal discomfort. As someone who’s career has been enhanced by this woman’s mentorship and sponsorship, I can attest to the power that comes from the actions by this amazing leader, not just the words. (Although the words on Wednesday night were pretty amazing!) The biggest re-congratulations to Jana Mosley on this major recognition at the CIWB Awards!”

Terri-Lynn Duque, Director Strategic Innovation, ENMAX Power

In addition to Jana’s award, the CIWB’s Lifetime Achievement Award was bestowed upon Dawn Farrell, former President & CEO of TransAlta and current Chancellor of Mount Royal University.

Dawn retired as CEO & President of TransAlta Corp. in March 2021 after serving in the role for over 9 years. She helmed one of Canada’s largest independent power producers. Dawn led the transformation of the company to competitive power focused on low cost, low-emission and reliable solutions for large commercial and industrial customers.

As a large company CEO with a decade of experience, Dawn has led multiple complex mergers and acquisitions transactions, including floating TransAlta Renewables, completing a company-wide complex cultural transformation, critically evaluating and negotiating a complex off-coal transaction with the government, building a significant business presence in Australia, and executing private and public financial transactions to advance TransAlta’s strategic shift away from coal-fired generation.

As a community leader, Dawn is known for her deep policy work in electricity, the environment and ESG. She is a co-founder of the Alberta Business Council, has worked with the Canadian government on a roadmap for advancing renewable wind technology, and was a member of the Canada-U.S. Council for the Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders. She also has extensive experience in negotiating agreements with First Nations in British Columbia.

Women+Power offers its profound congratulations to both of these remarkable women!

Watch the highlight video here:

Equal Pay Day in Canada

April 12, 2022, marked Equal Pay Day in Canada. The day symbolizes how far into the calendar year the average woman needs to work to earn what men, on average, earned in the previous calendar year. In other words, women, on average, need to work almost 15.5 months to earn what men, on average, make in just 12 months. Equal Pay Day represents pay inequity in Canada, also known as the gender pay gap, and is a day to bring attention to this persistent issue.

It is important to note that there isn’t just one pay gap — pay inequity is worse for women who are Indigenous, racialized, living with disabilities, immigrants or migrants, LGBTQI2S+, or elderly. Multiple forms of discrimination, in addition to gender, shape pay inequity. Pay inequity not only represents discrimination but is also a key contributor to economic insecurity.

Women+Power is committed to tackling pay inequity through the power of community and mentorship. We believe we can work together to address the challenges that result in and from the under-representation of women so that we can begin to develop opportunities to promote increased diversity and inclusion.

Learn more about Equal Pay Day here.

April EmPOWERment Hub Entry: The First 90 Days

April 7, 2022

Post Author: Cherise Nielsen, Women+Power Board Member
Book Author: Michael D. Watkins

Starting a new job is an exciting experience, but the transition to a new role can also be a very challenging time in a leader’s professional career. The First 90 Days by Michael D. Watkins provides “proven strategies for getting up to speed faster and smarter” for new leaders embarking on what Watkins describes as a “leadership transition”.

The two most common leadership transitions are (1) getting promoted within your current organization and (2) onboarding with a new organization.

Watkins provides essential tasks that will help you accelerate your transition and create momentum for greater success. These include:

  1. Prepare yourself. Make a mental break from your old position and prepare for the new role.
  2. Accelerate your learning. Climb the learning curve as fast as you can – be systematic and focused on how you learn most efficiently.
  3. Match your strategy to the situation. Different situations present different challenges – is it a start-up or a turnaround?
  4. Secure early wins. Early wins build credibility – identity ways to create value and improve business results.
  5. Negotiate Success. Have critical conversations with your boss about the situation, expectations, resources, working styles, and resources.
  6. Achieve alignment. Ensure the organization’s strategic direction is in line with the strategy.
  7. Build your team. Be both systematic and strategic in your approach to team building.
  8. Create coalitions. Supportive alliances are critical to achieving your goals.
  9. Keep your balance. Maintain your equilibrium and perspective.
  10. Accelerate everyone. Help everyone around you – direct reports, bosses, and peers accelerate their own transitions.

Watkins also provides helpful exercises and questions to help you set yourself up for success. One of these is a Transitional Risk Assessment. As you prepare for this transition, take note of the challenges and complexities that could pose risks to your success. These might include moving to a new industry, joining a new company, leading former peers, moving geographically, or entering a new organization where major change is already ongoing. Detailing and ranking these sorts of transitions will help you get a sense of the overall magnitude of the challenges you may face and the areas you should focus on.

Another exercise Watkins suggests is mapping out your first 90 days as a planning horizon. Begin by thinking about what you would like to accomplish on your first day, your first week, then the end of the first month, the second month, and finally the end of the third month. These plans can and will change, but the act of simply writing them down will help you focus on your goals and clear your mind.

The Economist has called The First 90 Days an “onboarding bible”, and I hope it helps you navigate transitions and growth opportunities throughout your career.

March EmPOWERment Hub: International Women’s Day 2022 – Break the Bias

March EmPOWERment Hub: International Women's Day 2022 - Break the Bias

March 1, 2022

Post Author: Carissa Browning, Board Member, Women+Power

The campaign theme for International Women’s Day 2022 is #BreakTheBias. As noted in the materials available here, whether deliberate or unconscious, bias makes it difficult for women to move ahead. Knowing that bias exists isn’t enough. Action is needed.

Alex Borstein’s Emmy acceptance speech for her role as the feisty Susie Myers in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is a wonderful call to action:

I want to dedicate this to the strength of women. To my mother. To my grandmother. They are immigrants. They are Holocaust survivors. My grandmother turned to a guard – she was in line to be shot into a pit – and she said, “What happens if I step out of line?” And he said, “I don’t have the heart to shoot you but somebody will.” And she stepped out of line, and for that I am here, and for that my children are here. So step out of line, ladies. Step out of line!

Groupthink doesn’t just harm those marginalized by race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and disability. It harms all of us. If you are a working mother finding it difficult to connect with your team by 7:00 a.m. while also getting your kids off to school in time, chances are the working father struggles as well. Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s systematic take down on laws that discriminated on the basis of gender began with the United States tax code which denied Charles Mortiz, a never married man, the right to deduct expenses for the care of his ailing mother. In Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld she argued the Social Security Act unfairly discriminated on the basis of gender since benefits based on the earnings of a deceased wife were not available to a widowed husband. When we step out of line, break the bias, flip the script and demand better for ourselves, we also do so for others. Bias harms all of us. So don’t be afraid to have that difficult conversation or to have a different perspective. Empower yourself and those around you by stepping outside of groupthink. It’s time to speak up.

#breakingthebias #stepoutoflineladies #flipthescript

February EmPOWERment Hub Entry: Why Women Struggle With Self-Promotion

February EmPOWERment Hub Entry

February 17, 2022

Post Author: Sharleen Gatcha, CEO & Founder, Women+Power

Tara Mohr, a career coach and author of Playing Big: Practical Wisdom for Women Who Want to Speak Up, Create, and Lead, has noticed something in her years of coaching women to reach their potential: we’re often not good at owning our accomplishments. As Mohr explains in her book, this is often why women excel as students: it’s quiet, heads-down work that’s then graded independently—it’s good work that’s then recognized as good work, without the need to draw any extra attention. This “good girl” modelling doesn’t serve us very well in the real world, though, where it’s easy to get overlooked if you’re not inclined to point out all of your accomplishments. Mohr explains her answers to some of the most important questions on the topic of women and self-promotion below.

Why is self-promotion so tricky for women?

It’s tricky for women to talk about their accomplishments and their abilities for a few different reasons. In the workplace, we tend to be judged more harshly than men for self-promoting, particularly when it’s other women who are doing the judging. (Yes, sadly, the research suggests that women are more likely than men to deem other women who advocate for themselves strongly as “unlikable.”) Combine that with good girl conditioning that tells us to never do anything that could come across as “full of ourselves,” and many women end up uncomfortable talking about their accomplishments, quite worried about coming across as “bragging” or “arrogant.” Then, in our discomfort, it’s easy to assume that putting a key accomplishment on a resumé is enough for it to be noticed in a job interview process, so we never bring it up in the interview. Or we assume, for years, that working hard and getting great results in our job is enough—but we don’t realize that the leaders around us are too busy to notice what we’ve done! What I’ve found working with women, is that at some point in their careers, many realize that to be put in the roles they want, to get the projects, the clients, the opportunities they desire, they have to figure out how to make people aware of their great performance. This is a realization many women are late to come by, especially if they were good student types in school because self-advocacy isn’t needed much to excel in the classroom. In school, we get used to doing heads-down, quiet, quality work without ever having to talk it up. In the workplace, the rules change. And yet, even as women realize they need to make their good work more visible to others, they also sense that they will probably need to do that in a little bit of a different way than their male counterparts do if they don’t want to be seen as arrogant, or not team-oriented. And that’s where many women feel stuck.

Are there ways to make the whole concept of self-promotion for women more comfortable (or is that uneasiness in and of itself, the real problem)?

What’s been helpful for me, and for so many women I work with, is to not think of self-promotion as pumping yourself up, faking, or striving to prove anything. Instead, it can be more of a centered, honest sharing, and highlighting of what you’ve truly accomplished. It’s really just what you’d say if we were able to take your inner critic and your fear of being seen as arrogant out of the conversation.
If the idea of self-promotion makes you cringe and want to run the other direction, here are a few tips for reframing the concept:

  1. Don’t use the term “self-promotion”—even in your own head! That may sound too pushy, ego-centric, or just annoying to you. Think about “making your work visible” instead. That’s a much more comfortable framing for many women.
  2. Focus on being of greater service. Instead of thinking about promoting yourself, call to mind the ways your talents and your work are of service to others. Get excited about the idea of having an impact – and expanding that to any positive impact on others.

How can women make their work visible? How does that manifest?

This first thing to do is to simply start living with this idea—that your works’ visibility is important and something to be mindful of. In my courses for women, I find that when women begin looking at their careers through that new lens, it often sparks a lot of insight for them, as well as ideas about how they can make their work more visible. Ask yourself, “Are my accomplishments visible within my organization?” Or, if you are an entrepreneur, you might ask, are my important accomplishments and best work visible in some way to current and potential clients, desired partners, or even my industry more broadly? It’s also helpful to think about the “who.” Who do you want to be aware of your good work? Who are the decision-makers impacting your career? Who are the leaders you’d like to work with more or be “tapped” by for future roles or special projects? Is anything currently in place that would make them aware of your good work? If not, what might help them become aware? You can brainstorm from there about ideas. For example, posting an updated portfolio of your great work on your website and sending out an announcement about it to past clients might move the needle. Or, if you work inside a large organization, you might send out an email commending the recent great work of your team, knowing that their work reflects well on you, as their manager. Or, you could set up a brown bag lunch for other departments in your organization to learn about the cool project your team has been working on, and to share best practices that you know would benefit the rest of the organization. The specifics will look different depending on your goals and organizational culture, but there are lots of ways to gracefully make you and your work more visible.

If a woman feels like they’re being overlooked in the workplace, how should they address this?

Sometimes the issue is that you’re doing great work but it’s not visible. If that’s the case, you need to brainstorm ideas for more visibility, like the ones above. Sometimes the issue is that you aren’t yet delivering the standout work that’s enough to get noticed. A lot of us are still waiting in some way for permission to play big, to share our voices. We’re waiting to be noticed by someone important—as if after that we’ll really start shining. But it works the other way around! If this is your situation, ask yourself, “What are my greatest strengths and are they coming forth here?” Think back on what abilities you’ve often been recognized for, or what talents propelled your biggest accomplishments. Are you using those strengths much in your current job? If not, brainstorm how you could use them more in your work. For example, if you realize you’ve been praised a lot for your abilities with numbers, maybe you want to take a bigger role in the quantitative planning your team does.

A second great question to ask is, “How can I add more value?” How can I contribute more of what will really move the dial for what matters to my company or team? Start doing those things! Or, if needed, talk with the appropriate person in your organization about your ideas for how you could add more value, and with them, decide on one or more to get started on.

And last but not least, ask some curious questions. Approach the people that you feel overlooked by and ask them: “Am I contributing what you’d like me to contribute? What would you like to see more of from me?” Aim to be surprised at least once by what you learn in this conversation. (If you are truly asking curious questions and listening carefully to the answers, you’ll be surprised by something you learn from them.)

Women+Power International Women’s Day Contest

Women+Power International Women’s Day Contest

International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated globally on March 8 to honour the cultural, political, and socio-economic achievements of women. This year’s theme, #BreakTheBias, reminds us that conscious and unconscious bias serves as a significant barrier in limiting women, both personally and professionally. Your commitment to action is necessary to change this narrative.

To mark IWD, Women+Power is inviting members to submit an inspiring story about a time they acted or witnessed action that directly called out gender bias, discrimination, or stereotyping. Everyone that submits a story will be entered in a draw for a chance to win a $100 CAD Cadillac Fairview gift card. Women+Power will share some of the most powerful submissions in the days leading up to IWD 2022. The contest winner’s name and story will be published by Women+Power on March 8, 2022.

Click this link to submit your entry!
*A Google account is required for submission. Click here to create your account. 

January EmPOWERment Hub Entry: Unleashed – The Unapologetic Leader’s Guide to Empowering Everyone Around You

January EmPOWERment Hub Entry

January 22, 2022

Author: Jana Mosley, Board Vice-Chair and Sponsorship Committee Chair, Women+Power

I’ve had the privilege of formally leading people for the last 15 years, and I have to say they have been the most rewarding years of my career. Leadership is a journey, and I must admit I’ve hit some bumps in the road, maybe even a few potholes. (I just went back and forth on whether not to use the word “few” or “a couple”, not wanting to be too imperfect – such a female thing to think!)

I’m grateful to the people along my path who have been patient with me when I’ve started a new role, to those who cut me some slack when I didn’t take the time to understand their perspective, and to the many who have been kind enough to give me feedback so I could improve. You know who you are – keep it comin’!

As I’ve progressed in my career, it became clear that the strengths that got me the latest promotion were not necessarily the same strengths I needed to leverage to be successful leading at the next level, or at least how those strengths needed to change in order to bring out the best in those around me. It was less about what I had accomplished and more about what the team had accomplished.

I recently read a book called “Unleashed: The Unapologetic Leader’s Guide to Empowering Everyone Around You” by Frances Frei & Anne Morris. I was intrigued, as we often talk as leaders about empowering others, but find we get stuck in our comfort zones and hierarchical society. The book starts by stating clearly “It’s not about you”. Leadership is about empowering other people as a result of your presence and making sure that impact continues in your absence. If you are all about unleashing the potential in others, check out this book!

Here are the main principles the authors cover, taken from the contents summary:

  1. Trust – Trust is the foundation for empowering leadership. You build trust when you reveal empathy, logic, and authenticity
  2. Love – You empower other people when you simultaneously set high standards and reveal deep devotion to them
  3. Belonging – You empower teams when you champion difference and ensure that everyone can contribute their unique capacities and perspectives
  4. Strategy – You empower organizations when you show people how to create and capture value on their own
  5. Culture – You empower communities – organizations and beyond – when you change the way people think and act

They say there is no “I” in TEAM, and throughout my leadership journey, I can tell you the times when I’ve felt the most fulfilled and proud have been when I have seen those around me in my team nail a presentation they were nervous about, have a difficult conversation they thoughtfully prepared for, rally others to achieve great results, or create a solution to a problem without being told what to do. When, through coaching, mentoring, learning, and trying, people in my organization move the needle on their path to reach their full potential, I get to sit back and smile knowing that in some small way, I made a difference. And that’s what it’s all about.

December EmPOWERment Hub Entry: The Power of Language

December EmPOWERment Hub Entry

Post Author: Stefania Cerisano, Board Member – Events & Programs Committee, Women+Power

The words we choose in both casual and formal communications can have a significant impact on the perpetuation of gender stereotypes and inequality. Impacts are not just reserved for blatantly derogatory phrasing, but also extend to more subtle language choices and pairings.

Imagine receiving a group email from a male co-worker which begins, “Good morning, Kevin, David, Larry and ladies”. Even if you are not bothered by the term “ladies”, seeing this term used in a greeting that acknowledges male peers by name and female peers only generally can leave a bad taste and negatively impact a culture of inclusiveness far more than you may think. While some may choose to downplay wording implications as an over-reaction or unintentional ‘slip’, according to recent studies conducted by Stanford University, these kinds of ‘slips’ are often highly correlated to views held by the writer or speaker and if left unaddressed, bias wording will continue to encourage a culture ripe with obstacles for inclusion. According to leading research and advisory company, Gartner, “Any behaviour, habit or routine, will continue to persist as long as there is something in the environment that rewards and reinforces that continued action”. Reinforcement can take the form of inaction and result in missed opportunities to evolve mindsets.

This is not to suggest that every person who makes a statement with a bias undertone should be explicitly called out, but rather that there is a range of reactions that could serve to change the narrative, including leading by example. A reply such as, “Good morning, Team” or “Good morning, Lisa, Karen, Kevin, David and Larry” may just be enough. Regardless of how one chooses to reply, the point is simply that by ignoring less than ideal wording, we forgo an opportunity to reduce counterproductive behaviour.

It is interesting to note that some wording biases may be inherently linked to the specific language spoken. A study by Carnegie Mellon, which investigated the male-career bias in 25 languages, found that “languages that heavily associate men with careers and women with family also have speakers who live out those biases”. English was found to be the 6th most biased language of the 25 reviewed in the study. The research results showed a positive correlation between biased language and high male-career gender bias and further demonstrated that the more biased the language, the lower the percentages of women in STEM fields and STEM higher education. According to the study’s lead author, Molly Lewis, those who speak a language filled with bias are more likely to hold gender stereotypes.

This is certainly something to consider the next time you find yourself wondering if it’s worth the effort to promote more inclusive language in the workplace. Collectively, we have the potential to shift mindsets towards a more inclusive environment by simply choosing our words more carefully and calling on others in our workplace to do the same.

Community Holiday Giving Campaign & Dec 12 Drop Off Location: Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter

Community Holiday Giving Campaign

This holiday season, Women+Power is once again partnering with the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter to collect essential items for families in need. In addition to the dropoff locations listed below, Women+Power we are hosting a festive drop off location on December 12, 2021, from 5-8pm at 175 Aspen Stone Terrace SW, where you can drop off your donation items, have a picture taken of your family in front of an amazing display of Christmas lights, enjoy a cup of hot cocoa and meet fellow Women+Power members.

The Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter supports individuals, families, and communities to live free from family violence and abuse. In the last year, the Calgary Women’s Emergency 24-Hour Family Violence Helpline received more than 10,450 calls and the total number of clients served at the shelter was more than 15,000.

At Women+Power, we believe in the power of community. That we can work together to not only address challenges that women experience in the workplace, but that collectively, we can help to support the families in our communities that need it the most. This year, we will be helping to raise funds and gather essential goods for families in our communities that turn to the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter for assistance and safe refuge.

The statistics are staggering. 74% of Albertans report that they personally know at least one woman who has been sexually or physically assaulted and 1 in 2 women will experience one incident of physical or sexualized violence in their life. COVID-19 has only exacerbated the situation and has created additional barriers and isolation for people living in unhealthy and dangerous situations. Stress and anxiety remain high as there are still so many unknowns.

This holiday season, we ask that you reflect on the resilience of these families and help in any small way that you can, whether it be financial donations or collecting and dropping off essential items (view the list here). Your support and generosity will help keep local individuals that are impacted by family violence safe during this critical time.

View & Download the List of Essential Items here.
View & Download the List of Drop Off Locations here.

*Due to health and safety concerns, the Shelter cannot accept used clothing and toys.
*They cannot accept new or used furniture, small appliances and household items.
*They do not take hotel/travel size due to the length of stay that clients are at the Shelter.

And if you or anyone you know needs the support of the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter, please contact them via one of the methods below:

Phone their 24-Hour Family Violence Helpline: 403-234-7233 (SAFE)
Email: help@cwes.ca
Text: 403-604-6689