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Becoming authentic women leaders

Posted By Clare Beckton, Tuesday, March 3, 2020
Updated: Thursday, May 28, 2020

Winning a 2019 Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 award, my third, was another validation of the importance of my passion and work to advance women’s leadership. I am deeply honoured and appreciative to be recognized for my work as a champion for the advancement of women through helping them access and serve in leadership roles. When I was deputy head of Status of Women Canada, as it was then called, I recognized that without advancement of women into leadership and decision-making roles we cannot change what is happening in terms of equality and freedom from violence against women. Despite the many years of work to advance women’s equality, there continues to be under-representation of women in positions of leadership, a gender earnings gap, violence against women and continued efforts by some to silence women’s voices.

WXN has been a leader in promoting recognition of the power of women leading and empowering themselves to have an impact no matter their role or sector. Leading to create impact requires courage and the ability and desire to act despite fears of failure or push back. We know that seeing other women succeed is an inspiration for other women who can say if she can do it so can I.

When I was growing up in small town Saskatchewan, there were few role models for women in leadership roles. I was among a minority of women in our law school class and the only woman when I started teaching law at the age of 24. Needless to say, it was a challenge to navigate and I was fortunate to have some men who believed in me and helped me overcome some of the obstacles. I had the imposter syndrome despite my academic success which took some years to overcome. Later I met some female leaders in the government who could provide some guidance and help me see that the only road to success was being present at the table and adding our voice where decisions were being made. Many of the women, myself included, were subscribing to the mantra that women were victims in the system which took away our power. When a mirror was held up to the behavioural consequences of this thinking, we did not like what we saw. As a victim we give up our power to change the situation. Recognizing, through good coaching, that it was my choice to become a leader, instead of a victim, I began a different journey to success. A desire to make an impact helped to overcome fears and move forward.

One of the first steps was recognizing that I had to speak up in meetings and add my contributions in an empowered manner. I also accepted others may not share my point of view or perspective which was okay. Over time I realized my perspective was often different and added value to the discussion and decision making. At the same time, I began to truly understand leadership and focus on becoming a fully authentic women leader. Acting like the men, something I had observed from some of the very senior women when I entered government, was not aligned with my values. Many lost touch with their feminine side and paid a price. Recognizing, as I rose to more senior leadership roles, that I was now also a role model I worked to be authentic and make an impact. In the process I learned from failure and developed resilience to move again toward success  I also accepted that I might not be universally valued for this approach, but it was the only way for me to be a success in an authentic fashion. Mentoring others became an important part of my leadership.

Today, I know the importance of helping other women move forward with confidence in their own abilities. I can fully relate to this journey. Stereotypes abound in our society and we embody them without realizing it. Understanding these and making choices about how we will live and lead are so important to being our authentic selves and authentic leaders. I have chosen to devote my post career years to facilitate leadership programs and coach and mentor women to become fully authentic leaders, to seek their success on their own terms and to help mentor the next generation. Co-leading research respecting women entrepreneurs also helps me to support and encourage leadership by a powerful force of women. Interviewing so many amazing women entrepreneurs for my research and seeing so many young diverse women also receiving top 100 awards continues to inspire me in my work.

Clare Beckton BA LLP MPA, Executive in Residence, Centre for Research and Education on Women and Work at  Carleton University, is a Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner in the Championis category for 2019. She has been recognized as a woman who has made a describable difference to the advancement of women in the workplace.

2020 Top 100 Nominations open on International Women’s Day – March 8, 2020. Click here to learn more about Top 100 and nominate a powerful female or even yourself!


About Clare:

Clare BecktonClare Beckton BA LLP MPA is Executive in Residence, Centre for Research and Education on Women and Work at Carleton University

2019 Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner
RBC Champions

Clare Beckton is a champion for the advancement of women’s leadership, sought-after speaker, mentor, coach, facilitator and author of Own It: Your Success, Your Future, Your Life. She is a former professor of law, senior executive in the Canadian government including head of Status of Women Canada and founder of the Centre for Women in Politics and Public Leadership. Clare is co-author of A Force to Reckon With, Women Entrepreneurs and Risk and Everywhere, Everyday Innovating: Women Entrepreneurs and Innovation.

Tags:  authentic leadership  Canada's Most Powerful Women: Top 100  champions for women  CMPW Top 100  women champions  women leaders  women leadership. women leading women 

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Top 100 winners share: 6 ways we can all be powerful

Posted By Women's Executive Network, Tuesday, December 10, 2019
Updated: Thursday, May 28, 2020

Top 100 Lessons Learned

Power. Is it your physical strength, the amount of money you have or your title within your organization? Or is it the way you give unselfishly, meet adversity with bravery and stand up for others?

“Our mission and challenge to you today is redefining what power means to you,” said Sherri Stevens, Owner and CEO of WXN and CBDC. It’s a call-to-action she shared with all of us during this year’s Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Awards Summit and Gala at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on Nov. 21, 2019.

And to help us all on that mission (should you choose to accept it): our Top 100 Winners, who shared their stories and knowledge with a crowd of over 1,200 women and allies.

So what can we do in our daily lives to be powerful and make that mission a reality? Here are six lessons from our speakers and winners.

1.      Learn it, earn it and return it

Success doesn’t happen in a silo. When one person succeeds, we all succeed, said Rola Dagher, president of Cisco Canada and 2019 Top 100 award winner. Hence her philosophy of “Learn it, earn it and return it” – no matter where you are in your career, if you’ve been blessed with an opportunity, use it to support and uplift those around (and those who follow in your footsteps).

2.      Quit that stinkin’ thinkin’

People fear what they don’t understand, said Victoria LaBillois, a Mi’gmaq entrepreneur, president of Wejuseg Construction, owner of Wejipeg Excavation, mentor for Indigenous women and 2019 Top 100 award winner. That’s why we have to do everything we can to create opportunities for other people, be bold and step into our power.

3.      Know who you’re fighting for

It’s a basic truth of life, said Melissa Grelo, co-host of CTV’s The Social and 2019 Top 100 award winner: we can’t know what we’re fighting for if we don’t know who we’re fighting for. Those of us who have privilege must understand that many of our sisters start their fight from a different level. How do we fix that? Stand next to them, but never in front of them. Help make their voices heard. 

4.      Leave the armour behind

“Can you think of a situation where you’ve seen a leader step out with courage and vulnerability?” asked Jenn Lofgren, founder and executive coach at Incito Executive and Leadership Development and 2019 Top 100 award winner. It starts with understanding what it really means to be vulnerable and accepting (even embracing) that things are going to be uncomfortable sometimes. Now that’s courage.

5.      Break the silence

Samra Zafar, author of A Good Wife: Escaping the Life I Never Chose and 2019 Top 100 award winner, knows what it’s like to be silent. Married as a teenager to a much older man, abused throughout her marriage and denied access to the education she desperately wanted, Zafar was not alone – there are millions living the life she used to know. That’s why it’s up to us to break the silence for those silences that are yet to be broken.

6.      Think seven generations ahead

Mohawk wisdom teaches us that, in the decisions we make today, we must not focus on the impact to our own grandchildren but rather on our great-grandchildren’s great-grandchildren – the seventh generation to come. That philosophy fuels WXN Hall of Fame alumni Roberta Jamieson’s goal of making sure every Indigenous youth graduates school through her organization, Indspire.

 

Congratulations again to all of our winners, past, present and future – and thank you for sharing your wisdom!

Tags:  Canada's Most Powerful Women: Top 100  powerfully empowered  stand up for diversity  Top 100  Women  Women Leaders  WXN 

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"Powerfully Empowered" isn't just our theme; it's our mission

Posted By Sherri Stevens, Monday, November 18, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Every year, we pick a theme for our Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Awards.

It’s a challenging process because the theme represents many aspects of what we do. It reflects who we are as an organization, the accomplishments of our winners, the diversity and inclusion environment as it stands today, the challenges professional women face and the amazing work we’re all doing together to break down barriers for each other.

Picking this year’s theme, “Powerfully Empowered,” was no different. It’s about women who show their power not through their standing, but rather through the way they inspire and champion others, share their knowledge, create change and help others achieve their best. In short, it’s about celebrating women who don’t stand up just for themselves – they stand up for all of us.

As owner and CEO of the Women’s Executive Network (WXN) and the Canadian Board Diversity Council (CBDC), I often travel across Canada to speak with leaders across roles and industries. Through those conversations, I hear one thing over and over: “I don’t feel comfortable with the word power. I don’t feel powerful.

In fact, for many of us, we’re just plain uncomfortable identifying with the word “power” – we may even feel ashamed of it. We equate it to the car we drive, the office we hold, our physical strength, the money we have or the influence we exert. Some of us even attach negative connotations, especially when it refers to a woman.

Should we stop using the word? Quite the opposite – we should use it more, though in a different way. We need to toss out our old relationship to the word and start celebrating real power.

What is real power? It’s not how we lift ourselves up; it’s how we lift up everyone else around us. It’s quiet in its confidence. It’s unselfish and giving. It’s authentic, humble and honest. It’s kind and joyful. It’s shared, not hidden. It’s brave in moments of adversity and difficulty. It’s pushing forward when you feel like giving up. It’s the way we help other people feel powerful.

When I think of some of our most powerful leaders – leaders like Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Michele Obama – I realized they all have these traits.

And so does every one of the 110 winners of this year’s Top 100 Awards. They personify this kind of power, across our country and across arts, business, sports, science, entertainment, entrepreneurship, technology, the skilled trades and the public sector. They’re making an impact in their industry while inspiring and empowering others to follow in their footsteps.

Thank you to KPMG in Canada, an empowering organization, for their support and leadership as the Presenting Partner for the Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Awards. As with everything they do, KPMG gives 100 per cent of their support to the recognition and advancement of women. They also give 100 per cent in their partnerships and we are grateful.

This year, “Powerfully Empowered” isn’t just a theme. It’s a call to action for all of us to redefine the word “power” itself, to change the way we think about power in our lives and help others feel powerful in theirs.

Tags:  Canada's Most Powerful Women: Top 100  leadership  powerful  powerful women  powerfully empowered  Top 100  Top 100 Winner  Top 100 Winners 

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Eyes on the Bigger Prize: Gender Parity

Posted By Natalie Dakers, Monday, August 12, 2019

Natalie Dakers

Awards are nice, but my eyes are on the bigger prize: gender parity.

When I was recognized as a WXN Most Powerful Women Top 100 Award Winner for 2018, I was truly happy. Not because I’d have a nice, shiny award for myself, but because I know that being recognized as a leader means people will listen to what I have to say. And I want to use my voice to achieve an even better prize: gender parity.

The simple fact is in Canada only 5.3% of CEOs are women. This is shocking given that a 2014 Statistics Canada report says women now make up almost half (47%) of the total number of workers in this country. Clearly, there’s a huge gap for women between labour force participation and labour force leadership, and I’m determined to be a force for change.

I want Canada to achieve gender parity and I’ve got some ideas on how to get there. Just as I’ve spent my career creating a pipeline of investor-ready companies, I’m now focused on building a pipeline of executive-ready female leaders. We can’t appoint women to leadership positions if they haven’t been groomed for the demands of the job, so here’s what I’m doing to help bridge the gap and what you can do, too.

Mentor Young Women

The way I see it, young women need mentorship and guidance on how to build a career to achieve their dreams. They need exposure from a young age to leadership development courses, peer support and access to executives who can provide advice and counsel along the way. If they’re not granted access to C-suite insights, it will be far more difficult for them to cut through the glass ceiling. I make a point of connecting with young women, as I have had the fortunate opportunity of working with various groups like the WXN that specifically mentor younger women earlier in their career who are keen to be our next generation leaders.  I try to remind them that when we take responsibility for our future, opportunities will emerge that weren’t otherwise possible. Being in health sciences, we need more senior level talent regardless of gender and so the opportunity to be a leader is wide open – we just have to work for it.  Through Accel-Rx, we have specifically hosted events to share learnings and inspire women to fuel their own personal and professional growth.  It’s been very rewarding to see the progress made.

Speak Out

Now more than ever before, women are demonstrating their leadership, exerting their influence and speaking out. Around the world, we are rallying together for change, and we need to continue to make our voices heard to change our lives – and those of others – for the better. For me, that means not remaining silent or complacent around a boardroom table. It means speaking my mind even if I think others might disagree with me. And it absolutely means bringing up gender issues when called for. I can’t be a silent witness to the gender gap. I believe I must call it out and work towards changing it so one day soon the talent pool will be gender-balanced. Speaking out also means me taking advantage of my many public speaking opportunities to advocate for gender parity to larger audiences. The next time you take the stage, think about how you can also lend your voice.

Be Flexible

As an employer, I lead by example and offer a flexible work environment. This is especially important for women who are often juggling kids and a career at the same time. We can’t achieve gender parity with the same rigid, antiquated workforce standards that were largely created by men, for men.  If someone needs to leave work early one day to deal with a family commitment, so be it. The time can be made up later.

If someone wants to work from home, why not? In this day and age, with technology connecting us, having to work in an office, 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, needs to be revisited. No matter where you are, it’s easy to work remotely. And if you have a job that can be done from home, why can’t you choose how and when you’d like to work?

In short, mentorship, speaking out and flexibility support gender parity, which leads to happy employees and better results for my company.

Did you know that advancing women’s equality could add $12 trillion to the global economy by 2025*? Talk about a compelling economic reason to close the gap! And, we should also remember the human reason as well: women and men are equals and deserve to be treated as such.

While I greatly appreciate my WXN Award, I’m looking ahead to the greater prize of gender parity – because that’s a victory we can all celebrate.

*https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/employment-and-growth/how-advancing-womens-equality-can-add-12-trillion-to-global-growth

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Natalie Dakers, President & CEO of Accel-Rx Health Sciences Accelerator Society, is a Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner in the CIBC Trailblazers & Trendsetters category for 2018. She has been recognized as a woman who has made a major impact in her field in Canada. Natalie is a leading figure in the Canadian biopharmaceutical industry and one of B.C.'s most influential women.

Do you know a female trailblazer who deserves to be recognized for her contribution to Canadian society? Are you a trendsetter that’s made an impact on Canada? Click here to nominate today! It's free! Deadline to nominate is July 1.

Looking for more information about Top 100? Visit our website to learn about all of the categories, including the CIBC Trailblazers & Trendsetters award category!


About Natalie:

Natalie Dakers portraitNatalie Dakers is President & CEO of Accel-Rx Health Sciences Accelerator Society.
2018 Canada's Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner
CIBC Trailblazers & Trendsetters

Natalie Dakers is a leading figure in the Canadian biopharmaceutical industry and one of B.C.’s most influential women. With four successful start-up companies to her credit, she’s regarded as a Life Science industry visionary with an ability to get things done.

Ms. Dakers is currently President and CEO of Accel-Rx Health Sciences Accelerator Society, an organization that identifies and supports promising early-stage companies by providing seed stage capital and expertise. Ms. Dakers was also founding President and CEO of the Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD), a national Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research of biopharmaceutical products. She subsequently went on to create and run CDRD Ventures Inc., the commercial arm that supported company creation at CDRD, before creating Accel-Rx. Prior to establishing CDRD, Ms. Dakers co-founded Neuromed Pharmaceuticals Inc., a private biopharmaceutical company developing drugs for chronic pain, anxiety, epilepsy, and cardiovascular diseases where she successfully raised $70 million in three rounds of venture financing.

Ms. Dakers has served on many local, national, and private company boards and advisory panels and has garnered numerous honours including Startup Canada’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award (2015), WXN Top 100 Most Powerful Women (2016) and Business in Vancouver’s Most Influential Woman Award (2017).

Tags:  biopharmaceutical  Canada's Most Powerful Women: Top 100  female leaders  Leadership  mentors  mentorship  Top 100  Top 100 Awards  Top 100 Winner  Top 100 Winners  trailblazers  trendsetters  Women  women coaching women  Women in Leadership  Women Leaders  Women Leadership  women mentors  WXN 

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A Conversation with Copperleaf CEO and Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner Judi Hess

Posted By Judi Hess, Monday, August 12, 2019

Judi Hess

Judi Hess is the CEO of Copperleaf™, a Vancouver-based software company that provides decision analytics to companies managing critical infrastructure. Renowned as a visionary leader and strong advocate for empowering women in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), she has increased the percentage of female employees from 10% to over 30% during her time as Copperleaf CEO. A long-time proponent of increasing diversity in the workforce, she was recently featured as one of B.C.’s Most Influential Women in BCBusiness Magazine and was the recipient of the 2018 BC Tech Person of the Year Award.

How did you feel when you learned you were selected as a Top 100 Winner?

I was thrilled to be included in this year’s list of outstanding Canadian women leaders. It’s wonderful to celebrate the success of Canadian women and the advances we’re making in the business world, and organizations like WXN allow female corporate leaders from a diverse range of industries to share knowledge and ideas.

How will you use your status as a winner in the coming year to inspire those around you?

I want to build a movement that will empower future generations to reach their fullest potential. I’ve always had a passion for driving more diversity in our field and I hope that increasing the visibility of women in leadership positions will help attract a more diverse workforce and inspire the next generation.

How can we achieve gender diversity in STEM?

Renowned writer and social critic, James Baldwin, once said, “You are formed by what you see.” That’s why it’s so important for young women to see strong female leaders in their environment. In this age of the #MeToo Movement, it’s imperative for women in STEM to find their voices and realize that they belong here too.

Attrition of women in STEM fields is severe. In high school in Canada, girls make up around 50% of mathematics/physics students. By university, the percentage of females majoring in engineering is around 25%, and in the professional world, women comprise less than 13% of the engineering workforce after five years in practice.

It is vital to actively hire and retain more women in male-dominated industries so we can compete into the future.  It is possible to change this trend. When my father went to law school in the 1940s, there was only one woman in his class. Today, two generations later, women constitute around 50 percent of law school students in North America. We need to strive to have the same representation in STEM, because diversity brings success and enhances our workforce.

Do you have any early and lasting lessons you can share?

Determination and believing in yourself are hugely important for success. When I was rising up the corporate ladder, I was often the only woman in the room, but I never let that make me feel like I didn’t deserve to be there.

I’ve also learned a lot from failing. Failing is okay as long as you learn from it, and those early lessons helped to make me more resilient in the long run.

What advice would you give someone who aspires to become a leader? 

Seize opportunities when they are presented to you. If anyone asks you to take on a leadership role, just say ‘yes’. Most women have less confidence than they should in their abilities, so if a leader sees potential in you, you should probably trust them and go for it!

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Judi Hess, CEO of Copperleaf, is a Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner in the HSBC Corporate Executives category for 2018. She has been recognized as a woman holding a senior position in a Canadian company. Judi is also renowned as a visionary leader and strong advocate for empowering women in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

Do you know a female Corporate Executive or a woman in STEM who deserves to be recognized as contributing to Canadian society? Are you a Corporate Executive or a woman in STEM that’s made an impact on Canada? Click here to nominate today! It's free! Deadline to nominate is July 1.

Looking for more information about Top 100? Visit our website to learn all about categories including the HSBC Corporate Executives and Manulife Science & Technology!


About Judi:

Judi Hess portraitJudi Hess is Chief Executive Officer of Copperleaf.
2018 Canada's Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner
HSBC Corporate Executives

Judi Hess is the CEO of Copperleaf, a Vancouver-based software company that provides decision analytics to companies managing critical infrastructure. Under Judi’s leadership, Copperleaf has become one of the top 20 biggest software companies in BC, and one of the Fastest-Growing Software Companies in Canada.

Judi began her career as a software developer at MDA and spent 14 years there before joining Creo Inc. in 1995. She rose to become president in 2002, a position she held until Creo was acquired by Eastman Kodak for just under $1 Billion USD in 2005. During her 4 year tenure at Kodak, Judi was a general manager and vice president within the graphic communications group, a corporate officer and vice president of Eastman Kodak, and head of Kodak Canada.

Judi is currently a member of the Federal Economic Strategy Clean Technology Table, and on the board of directors of Pason Systems Inc. (TSX: PSI) and Neurio. In 2018, Judi was recognized by the BC Tech Association as Person of the Year, and in 2017 as an Influential Women in Business, an award celebrating B.C.’s most outstanding business women.

Originally from Toronto, Judi and her family live in Vancouver. She holds an Honours Bachelor of Mathematics Degree With Distinction – Dean’s Honours List from the University of Waterloo, and is an avid downhill skier.

Tags:  achievement  Canada's Most Powerful Women: Top 100  corporate executives  female leaders  Leadership  STEM  Top 100  Top 100 Awards  Top 100 Winner  Top 100 Winners  Women  women CEOs  Women in Leadership  women in STEM  Women Leaders  Women Leadership  WXN 

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