As a teenager, I remember well that my Mother, a career professional, was actively involved in the celebration of International Women’s Day. Each year, I would attend as her guest with my younger sister. It was an event I looked forward to each year. There, we sat in a room mostly filled with women. Dinner, speeches, awards, a full celebration of diversity. As part of my upbringing I thought it would be hard to imagine a work environment where employees were not all equally respected and represented. So, it certainly came as a surprise to me that, in my first leadership role, I was sitting in a meeting with twelve men and two women. Looking back, that ratio for the 90’s was impressive!
Twenty years later, I entered a different meeting room, filled with senior banking leaders with the same diversity ratio, if you include the facilitator, to attend an ‘Unconscious Bias’ presentation. The training was held on the corporate banking floor. It felt like a throw-back to the 90’s. At the break, I jokingly asked if they actually had a lady’s room on this floor of the building. I was greeted with quizzical looks as if I just asked a very perplexing question!
Recently, during a panel event, I was asked: what changes would we need to see in the work place to make a true difference for women in leadership? The one area that seems to be overlooked in the Diversity and Inclusion planning process is recognizing the extraordinary impact of contributions made by women. Men are active in ‘He for She’ and advocate for Me Too, yet our biggest obstacle may be ourselves.
In celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8th, commit to honouring each other and ourselves through 10 commitments for 2019;
- The way to your next role is to be the very best at your current role. Period.
- Seek roles that push you outside your comfort zone and trust that you have the skillset required to thrive.
- Be your authentic self, do not change your personality, leverage it.
- Set learning and growth goals and find an accountability partner.
- Do not apologize for requiring flexibility to meet your family needs.
- As woman leaders, mandate diversity of job applicants with a clear understanding that regardless of the ratio goal, the best candidate will prevail.
- Commit to a pay it forward approach, providing mentorship to other women who seek it.
- Commit to supporting and building strong networks of women who work in support of each other, not in competition with one another.
- ‘Done is Better than Perfect’ are words to live by.
- Honour Yourself by taking time for Yourself – yes, every day!
Happy International Women’s Day!
Alana Riley MBA(FS) 2017, Senior Vice President, Financial Services at IG Wealth Management, is committed to employee engagement and client centric outcomes. As a success-driven professional with a consistent track record of generating exceptional results while motivating top performing teams, Alana excels within an agile setting, where innovation and strategic thinking are highly valued assets. Passionate about leadership, she fosters a collaborative work environment that enhances individual and team-based participation. Alana is a repeat contributor on CEGE Connection. We invite you to read Alana’s first post, Investing in You.