Home » Diversity » Advancing Women's Leadership » Empowering Women: Q&A With TSX Trust President and CEO, Claire Johnson
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Claire Johnson

President & CEO, TSX Trust

Claire Johnson is a CPA who has spent her career in the financial sector, honing her leadership skills through a variety of senior management positions that spanned operations, relationship management, product, marketing, finance, and strategy. In 2018, after a 20-year career at CIBC Mellon, Claire joined TSX Trust as its President and CEO.

TSX Trust — a wholly-owned subsidiary of TMX Group, and operator of the Toronto Stock Exchange, TSX Venture Exchange, and the Montreal Exchange — is the largest Canadian-owned Transfer Agent and provider of Corporate Trust Services.

Readers may be familiar with TSX Trust if they invest in companies that send them dividend cheques or proxy mailings during the annual general meeting season; TSX Trust performs those services on behalf of issuers.

As of December 31, 2021, approximately 70 percent of leaders at a director level or higher at TSX Trust were women.
As a mother of five children — ages 7 to 19 — Claire understands the challenges women face in achieving their career aspirations while maintaining a work-life balance.

Mediaplanet recently spoke with Claire to get some of her insights on women and leadership and learn more about how TSX Trust is empowering women.

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Over the past year, TSX Trust has been through a major transition with the acquisition of AST Canada. What’s an important leadership lesson you’ve learned over the past year?

Empathy took centre stage this past year.

As workloads increased because of our recent acquisition of AST Canada, it was important for me to regularly connect with team members as individuals, learn about their families and things they care about to best support them.

Additionally, as a management team, we were transparent about the changes that would occur during the integration of two complementary businesses. We connected with our employees through team meetings, newsletters, town halls, and education sessions. However, transparency is a two-way street. While I do my best to provide transparency to the team, I also expect it from them, since, without it, we cannot succeed together.

At the end of the day, we wanted our employees to know that we have confidence in them to do their jobs and make good decisions during times of change.

As of December 31, 2021, approximately 70 percent of leaders at a director level or higher at TSX Trust were women.

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What are some initiatives at TSX Trust that empower women in the workplace?

I am particularly proud of the fact that women hold 70 percent of director and 60 percent of management positions at TSX Trust. These numbers speak to the ability of our organization to engage, empower, and retain top female talent.
The high percentage of women in leadership is the result of a combination of things.

I think it starts with the hiring process. At TSX Trust, we value hiring the whole person, not just their technical skills and work experiences on a resume. We also look at things like interpersonal relations and life experiences because those are factors that can be critical indicators of long-term career success.

After joining our organization, we have well-established training and development programs, as well as evolving succession planning strategies to retain our female talent and do the work to prepare them for leadership roles.

I’m also proud of the fact that female leaders at TSX Trust have built a fellowship, encouraging their female employees to get out of their comfort zones and seek growth opportunities.

Finally, we know women are more likely to balance family obligations — including child-rearing and elder care than men. Women at TSX Trust benefit from our culture that embraces and encourages work-life balance so that employees can manage their work and personal lives together.

Organization-wide, TMX Group is committed to promoting gender equality. In 2021, we were proud to partner with Women in Capital Markets to provide 12 paid memberships for TMX women to be included in the group’s coveted mentorship program.

Initiatives like this show we aren’t just stating our targets on paper but putting them into action and making commitments.

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How do we ensure that the activities and conversations about workplace equality that takes place around International Women’s Day continue year-round?

I think this is an important question. International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate women leaders inside and outside the organization. It is also an opportunity to have important discussions about “where can we improve equality; how do we better support women; and what can we learn from other organizations?

But discussions, around one day of the year, are not enough.

It’s important to take those learnings and embed them into our systems and processes — year-round — for hiring and developing our women.

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What advice would you give other women aspiring to be executives in the finance industry?

My advice to women who aspire to be in leadership positions is to raise their hand for new project opportunities. The challenge and the experience will allow you to grow, showcase your capabilities, and give you the confidence to take on more.

Ask for help from others around you. Seek feedback. Pay for services or find ways to share tasks with family or friends to manage your work-life balance.

I was fortunate to work for leaders, many of whom were men, who actively sponsored women, thought deeply about development and gave them opportunities. I worked part-time for seven years, took on progressively senior roles, and found ways to balance my home life, with support from my family. The path was not a straight line, but it is an adventure that I would love to see more women be supported to achieve.

We all have a role to play in improving diversity in the workplace.

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