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International Women's Day

Inclusivity In The Workplace

International Women’s Day is an important time for us to not only celebrate the achievements of incredible, diverse women across the world but also to pause and reflect on what we’ve learned this year and how we’re continuing to rally for progress towards gender equality in the Canadian workforce. This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is inclusivity which embodies how important it is to collectively recognize and empower women from all backgrounds in our efforts and initiatives.

As a national non-profit organization, the Women in Leadership Foundation (WIL) is committed to creating a platform to promote diverse & inclusive workplaces in our communities (190,000+, 8 chapters across Canada, 75+ volunteers). Established in 2001, we lead transformative projects and programs to help all women to have the confidence and opportunities to pursue positions of leadership and help employers hire, grow, and support a diverse workforce.

Here are some recent initiatives at Women in Leadership that we’ve been working on:

  • In 2021, the Women in Leadership Foundation embarked on a 30 month, federally funded initiative, The Bridge to Gender Equality Project. WIL acknowledges the financial support of Women and Gender Equality Canada for making this project possible. Over 402 employers and organizations participated in this project which aimed to support a feminist response and economic recovery through systemic change. We brought together employers and stakeholders from across Canada to gain an understanding of how to build an inclusive HR framework to support more women to apply and be considered for leadership positions.
  • As a result of our research, we developed the Transforming the Workplace Report (available in English and French) which shed light on barriers that women and equity deserving groups faced. These barriers included a lack of inclusive corporate cultures and HR policies which hindered equal opportunities for women and equity seeking groups that limit the advancement of women in the Canadian workforce. See below for a few of our findings:
  • Our research findings also called attention to how women’s perception of themselves and other women in leadership positions differs. For example, many women felt that they did not have all the skills to apply for leadership positions. Our findings highlight that mentorship, sponsorship and role models are deemed essential, particularly in more formalized structures early in one’s career. Furthermore, providing opportunities for women to grow into leadership roles is a best practice that organizations can incorporate to provide additional support to combat this barrier.
  • The project also completed a companion guide, the Championing Change for Women in the Workplace: Organizational Guide to Leadership (available in English and French) which is a seven (7) step process designed to support organizations to implement Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging strategies and policies within their workplace and accelerate gender equality.
  • The 7 step process focuses on employee recruitment and retention, as well as provides sample policies on how to promote inclusive behavior within the workplace. Additionally, the guide includes a wide array of recommended resources such as books, toolkits, podcasts and videos in specific areas such as Indigenous, 2SLGBTQIA+, Women in Leadership, DEIB and Anti-Racism.
  • Our project’s DEIB Leadership Forum in October 2023 launched a Transforming the Workplace Pledge to measure the commitment of our Canadian employers and organizations to champion change by amending their workplace policies and practices. Your commitment is a powerful step towards not only enhancing your organization but also contributing to the broader societal shift towards diversity and inclusion. If your organization is interested in building inclusive and diverse workplaces and want to show their commitment they can do so by signing the Transforming the Workplace Pledge here!

To date, IBM, SAIT, Good to Be Good, Making Changes Association, Innovation Creation Canada, the Women in Leadership Foundation, Leading Talent, Learn Peace Canada, Canadian Craft Spirits Association and others have signed the Pledge.

As women, there is tremendous power in joining together. Not only do we benefit from shared experiences, but together we can have a massive impact on our children and/or the next generation, our families, our workplaces, our economy, and our planet. Diversity, equity, and inclusion in workplaces and in leadership would make the world a better place: with a more peaceful, progressive and sustainable approach to business, community, and beyond. Together, we can make a positive difference, break barriers to equity, and accelerate transformational change in the workplace. Join us to be part of the change – sign the pledge today!

Sign the pledge today!

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