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Why the ‘peoplekind’ debacle is so insulting

When I first heard that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau interrupted a woman during a town hall meeting to suggest she say “peoplekind” instead of “mankind”, because it was more inclusive, I laughed. I assumed it was a mistake, as to my knowledge there is no word or term in the English language for “peoplekind”. He meant “humankind” right?

Apparently, that wasn’t the mistake he made.

“I made a dumb joke a few days ago that seems to have gone a little viral in the room, on the peoplekind comment,” Trudeau told reporters after the fact. “It played well in the room and in context. Out of context it doesn’t play so well, and it’s a little reminder that I shouldn’t be making jokes even when I think they’re funny.”

This is disappointing. Essentially, he was saying his mistake wasn’t the word, but rather the Canadian prime minister, someone who describes himself as a staunch feminist, said he was joking about inclusivity. Not only that, but he interrupted a woman with a legitimate question to do so.

This is not just a matter of a joke not playing well. It’s proof that even the Prime Minister still has a patriarchal mentality.

Oh, and the international media is having a field day.

Trudeau’s comment, in addition to the way he injected his opinion overtop of that of a woman, is the reason why no progress can be made in the feminist movement. Women are fighting to be heard, to be considered active citizens and get involved in politics. Yet, they are being shoved out, belittled with fake expressions of equality.

This woman’s question was about a policy that would see religious charities lose funding, not a light-hearted topic. However, the condescending way in which she was treated at the town hall meeting diminished the importance of what she was saying. It also acted as an embarrassment technique. This woman was essentially corrected in front of a couple hundred people, told she was being sexist and politically incorrect.

Trudeau’s boyish charm will only get him so far if he continues to act so cavalier when speaking with the people of Canada, especially women. It’s important to remember that everyone has the vote now — and this silly, stupid “joke” may have lost him some.

Featured Image: Justin Trudeau | by JustinLing

Is it ‘TIME’S UP’ for the 2017 feminist movement?

Women in the entertainment industry — including actresses America Ferrera and Eva Longoria; lawyer Nina L. Shaw; actress Reese Witherspoon; producer Shonda Rhimes; and lawyer Tina Tchen, to name a few — have come together to form an initiative that will fight systemic sexual harassment in Hollywood and in blue-collar workplaces.

You may be thinking: sure, a whole bunch of famous people have come together to do some fundraising, big deal?! This happens a few times a year. But, in reality, the initiative TIME’S UP is much more than a pet project spearhead by a select number of privileged people. Instead of focusing on the sensationalist media coverage of the #MeToo movement, the initiative provides real support for victims and calls for new legislation that will penalize companies that tolerate sexual harassment.

As the initiative’s website says, “TIME’S UP is a unified call for change from women in entertainment for women everywhere. From movie sets to farm fields to boardrooms alike, we envision nationwide leadership that reflects the world in which we live.”

After the social campaigns and the marches — this call for political and legal change is the next logical step. Ironically, it was a group of victims rather than those elected to lead our nations who stood up to call for this change.

TIME’S UP will provide a legal defence fund, based on $13 million in donations, to help less privileged men and women protect themselves from the fallout of reporting sexual misconduct. The fund will be administered by the National Women’s Law Centre, which has a network of lawyer and public relations professionals available to provide assistance.

The initiative is also calling for an increase of women (including members of the LGBTQ community and people of colour) in positions of power across all industries, as well as equal representation, benefits, and pay. Perhaps North America can follow Iceland, who made equal pay mandatory on Jan. 1. Every single company in Iceland now has to obtain a certification saying that men and women are being paid equally in similar positions.

Can you imagine every company in North America needing to obtain proof of pay equality? It’s the stuff of dreams.

TIME’S UP was formed after 700,000 female farmworkers sent messages and letters to celebrities throughout the entertainment industry following the allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein and the #MeToo social media campaign. “Even though we work in very different environments, we share a common experience of being preyed upon by individuals who have the power to hire, fire, blacklist and otherwise threaten our economic, physical and emotional security,” they wrote. “In these moments of despair, and as you cope with scrutiny and criticism because you have bravely chosen to speak out against the harrowing acts that were committed against you, please know that you’re not alone. We believe and stand with you.”

The TIME’S UP website leads with a letter written to show support for those farmworkers, in which over 300 people within the entertainment industry acknowledge their suffering and stand with them to try and help change the system.

The initiative is volunteer-led and doesn’t have a leadership team. It is comprised instead of smaller working groups, each one tackling a certain area. For example, one group is creating a framework to end sexual harassment in show business while another is reviewing legislation that will tackle abuse within businesses, including the use of nondisclosure agreements to silence victims.

About half of men think women are well-represented in leadership, despite the numbers that show otherwise. When the #MeToo campaign started to trend, most men couldn’t fathom how many women had been sexually assaulted.

2017 may have been labelled as the year for feminism and women’s rights, but nothing actually changed. Perhaps more people are aware of the situation than before, but there was no legislation promised by politicians and no guarantees made by industry management.

There is still a lot that needs to change in order to ensure gender equality — and our time is not up!

 Featured Image by Vini.

Happy New Year from Women’s Post

From the staff at Women’s Post, we would like to wish you a Happy New Year!

2017 wasn’t the greatest, but there were a few good things that arose from the confusion and tragedy. In our letter to Santa, Women’s Post rounded up our wishes and desires for the next year — but now, many of us have come to the realization that it may take a little more than a Christmas miracle to achieve those goals of gender equality.
Can everyone make a pledge? No matter what your New Year’s resolution, promise us that you won’t settle. Promise us you will speak up if you see an injustice. Promise us you will fight for that promotion or raise. But, most of all, promise us you will support others instead of tearing them down — especially women! If everyone works towards those goals, Women’s Post is hopeful that 2018 is going to be much better!

 

For inspiration, sign up for our weekly e-newletter!

New Canadian alliance created to achieve gender parity on boards

A new alliance has been created to help accelerate gender parity on boards. The Canadian Gender and Good Governance Alliance (CGGGA) is made of seven influential Canadian organizations dedicated to pushing forward gender equality in the workplace, especially on boards and in executive positions. 

Despite decades of advocacy, women are still outnumbered in senior roles, especially within financial services. Women hold approximately 14 per cent of all board seats and only 26 per cent of open board positions are filled by female applicants. A McKinsey & Company study in 2016 showed that only six per cent of Canadian CEOs are women.

The CGGGA is made up of Women in Capital Markets (WCM), the 30% Club Canada, Catalyst Canada, the Business Council of Canada, the Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD), Canadian Coalition for Good Governance (CCGG), and the Clarkson Centre (CCBE).

This is the first coalition of its kind in North America. The CGGGA Directors’ Playbook is their first initiative and presents practical tools companies can use to achieve gender balance on boards.

Women’s Post spoke with Marlene Puffer, partner at Alignvest Investment Management, who represents Women in Capital Markets within the alliance, to find out a bit more:

Why join forces with other organizations to create the CGGGA? 

There is power in having a coordinated message from the many high-quality organizations that all share a common goal – to enhance the numbers and impact of women on boards and in executive positions. The biggest impact will come from having a clear set of tools to offer to businesses, governments, regulators, institutional investors and other interested stakeholders to improve practices that lead to better governance and gender balance.

What will Women in Capital Markets specifically bring to the organization?

Our industry is at the heart of corporate Canada, where providers and users of capital come together.  Senior professionals in our industry and in related areas are extremely well suited to board roles, and we will be launching a lengthy list of high-quality board-ready women in the coming weeks. Women in Capital Markets has an active network of hundreds of senior-level women, and is working diligently to ensure that they have the support and exposure that they need to reach the highest levels within their organizations and on boards. We are a deep resource of information, experience, and research on what works.  We have partnered with members of the Alliance in the past, and we bring all of this experience to the table with the other Alliance members to continue to find innovative ways to move the dial.

What is the ultimate goal of CGGGA? 

The Alliance aims to amplify and coordinate efforts to increase gender parity on boards and in executive positions, and to contribute to public policy as an advisor for the governments and regulators. Enhancing gender diversity on boards leads to greater variety of thought and leadership styles, better understanding of the end consumer, a wider talent pool and ultimately higher-quality boards.

Obviously, after years of advocacy, mentorship, and change, not enough has been done in terms of gender equity on boards. What kind of difference can CGGGA make and why is the process so slow?

CGGGA can have a potent impact if we can get the Directors’ Playbook into the hands of every board chair and every CEO of Canadian public companies, as well as into the hands of the private equity investors who have influence over the selection of board members for private companies.  The tools that we present are logical, and straightforward to implement:  formal board evaluations, term and age limits, using a board competency matrix to ensure a diversified set of skills and approaches at the board table, having a gender diversity policy to set clear goals and to monitor progress, and a focused effort to broaden the networks that are used to recruit board members.

How did you get into finance? 

I got into finance because I loved math as a high school student, which led me to study economics as an undergraduate.  Finance was a field that was growing at that time (the early 1980’s!), and interesting models that we now take for granted had only recently been developed.  I pursued a PhD at a top US school.  I came back to Toronto as a finance professor at the University of Toronto Rotman School, and after about five years, I decided to join the financial industry as Head of Fixed Income Analytics at RBC on the trading floor.  From there, I have had an unusual variety of roles on the investment management side of the business, with a focus on long-term investors like pensions. I have been on the board at the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan for nine years.

What is your role in Women in Capital Markets? How long have you been involved and why did you get involved?

 I am currently the WCM representative to the CGGGA, and advisor to the WCM Women in Leadership network, where I have been focusing on the creation of the Board-ready list. I was President of WCM in 2001-2002 and previously I was co-Chair of the Education and Outreach Committee.  I got involved at the start of the organization to help encourage high school students to pursue math and to provide insight into the career opportunities in the capital markets.  I have since been involved in almost every committee along the way.

 

Report indicates little change to workplace gender equality gap

The number one issue for women in business is achieving gender equality. October is Women’s History Month in Canada and as a country, sometimes it’s easier to take note of the progress concerning the roles of women in society then to accept the inequalities still present.

A 2017 study on the status of women in corporate America showed that people are comfortable with the status quo. The report, entitled Women in the Workplace, is the largest of its kind, with data gathered from  over 222 companies, and was established by LeanIn.org and McKinsey & Company. 

The report shows women at all levels in corporate America are unrepresented, despite achieving more college degrees than men. The percentage of men in positions of power at the corporate level is at equal level at some companies, but higher at most others.

Ignorance about diversity within the workplace is the primary reason for this disparity. Women of colour are generally placed at a disadvantage where they are often overlooked for promotions of job advancements. Overall percentages from the study indicate that, compared to white women, women of colour get the least support from their office managers.

Two major themes were presented in the data:

  • Women continue to be hired and promoted at lower rates than men and the gap is more pronounced for women of colour
  • There is no difference in company level attrition and women and men appear to be leaving their organizations at the same rate.

The distribution of women weakens as you climb up the corporate ladder. Entry-level positions have a higher percentage of women compared to c-list corporate titles like CEO, COO, CFO etc. The percentage of women is also rather uneven depending on the industry. For instance, there is a lower percentage of women working in technology than you would find in the food and beverage industry.

Depending on the industry, the larger percentage of men think their companies are doing a good job at highlighting diversity in the workplace.

The report indicates the bar for gender equality is too low and on average you may only see one in 10 women in leadership roles. Men are also more likely to get what they want, like a promotion or a raise, without having to ask.

Other statistical highlights include:

  • At entry–level positions, women occupy 47 per cent of jobs and only 17 per cent of that figure is represented by women of colour
  • At a managing level, women get promoted at a lower rate (37 per cent) than men in that same position (63 per cent).
  • At a senior C-list role, women of colour make up only three per cent or 1 in 30. At this level, white women occupy a position of 18 per cent.
  • Forty per cent of white women will have their work defended by their managers. That number is 28 per cent for black women, 34 per cent for Latin American women, and 36 per cent for asian women.

The conclusion of this report doesn’t offer much hope for women in business. In order to close the still prevalent gender equality gap, most companies will need to restructure their thought patterns and policies to be more inclusive to women in the workplace.The report recommends some key suggestions such as:

  • investing in more employee training
  • have a compelling case for gender diversity
  • managers should enable change
  • employee flexibility to fit work in their lives
  • hiring, promotions, and reviews are fair and balanced

These steps are not foolproof, but it does present a chance for people to question their company’s accountability and evaluate if they are doing their part to help reduce the gap.

What are your thoughts? Comment below.

Canada ranks number one for civil service gender equality

By Leanne Benn

The Global Government Forum, an organization that measures standards for gender- equality worldwide, ranks Canada as number one out of any G20 country. This ranking places Canada at the top of the civil service sector for having women in leadership positions.

According to the Women Leaders Index, released in September 2017, 46.4 per cent of senior civil servants in Canada are women. There is a 3.3 percentage point difference between Canada and Australia and the gap has been slowly closing over the past few years.

The data was gathered over three years from 2013 to 2016 and measured gender equality in leadership roles in G20 and EU countries. The goal of this forum is to highlight the countries that are leading the way for gender equal roles in federal or national governments, therefore encouraging other countries to do the same.

This is the first year the data has included research from countries outside the G20 with the inclusion of European Union countries. The data collected from the EU shows that these countries are more advanced in terms of gender equality than those included in the G20. Among 28 EU nations the average is 40 per cent high-ranking women.

This data analysis covers a broader base and as a result new fields of analysis were included this year. In addition to civil service leadership and women elected into political office, the forum examined women on private sector boards. It should be noted that in these sub-sector datas collections, Canada ranked low for women in private sector boards.

The discussion of gender inequality for high ranking positions has been long analyzed and female talent should be promoted within government structures. Canada’s most senior civil servant as of January 2016 was Janice Charette. Charette, in response to the index, said public service should represent the population in order to show they are doing the best job possible. The polices and the practices of high ranking countries can have an internal impact on HR management, staff development, recruitment, and the promotion of women.

“If you look at all the research on this, the value proposition for gender equality and diversity in leadership positions, whether in the public sector or the private sector, is very clear,” she said in the report. “And I would say that in the public sector it’s even more important, because if we are to have credible public service structures and institutions that are able to give good, thoughtful, strategic advice to governments, they have to understand and represent the population they are there to serve. That’s absolutely critical.”

However, there must be a political appetite in order to change the public leadership roles for women. For instance, both Canada and France have a cabinet that includes 50 per cent women. A strong political role is required for gender diversity and this is the only way conditions may improve.

How do you feel about Canada’s ranking and what are your thought on gender equality on a global level?

Time to tell male friends they are guilty of ‘Mansplaining’

Have you ever had a man interrupt you to explain something you know more about? Or how about being told how you feel from a guy instead of being asked? Or just felt this uneasy feeling of inferiority when talking to a man who appears to be leering at you and not actually listening at all?

If you have answered yes to any of the above, you have been ‘mansplained’ to, which is an annoying experience to say the least.

‘Mansplaining’ is described as an experience when a man with an undeserved air of authority condescendingly explains something to a woman who generally knows more about the topic at hand. Interestingly, I can recount several occurrences of having experienced ‘mansplaining’ and was too naïve to understand it wasn’t respectful. There have been dozens of times when male friends, partners, and family members have explained what my job as a journalist is and how it impacts me as a person in the suffering media industry. Instead of asking me for my opinion on my career as a journalist, I was informed of how I should feel about it. Thanks guys, much appreciated.

In all honesty, I wish I could go back to my younger self and say “Excuse me? Why don’t you ask instead of tell? How did you get to be such a pompous ass?”, but I quite honestly didn’t have the knowledge that I was being talked down to at the time. I have little doubt that I grew up in a city dominated by men. Hailing from Calgary, known as Canada’s oil tycoon capital, I watched big men in suits in various power positions throughout my entire life, and I never quite realized that many of the women by their side seemed to be standing in the background — never acknowledged, or appreciated, somehow smaller or less important.

It makes me wonder, as an adult woman today equipped with words such as ‘mansplaining’ and ‘bropropriating’ and a strong community of feminists around me, how did these women feel being in the back of that room? How did my own mother feel being ‘mansplained’ to without being able to tell these men to screw off without fear of impunity? Even though there are still miles to travel in terms of true gender equality, every young lady today owes a thank you to their mothers, aunts, grandmothers, and older women colleagues. They have experienced unadulterated ‘mansplaining’ a hell of a lot longer than I know I have.

Sadly, it still happens today. Toronto is chalk full of entitled young men who want to dominate over women in conversation. The sense of authority these men carry seems to be a character trait that hasn’t ‘left the building’ and most aren’t even aware. If you have a male who has an authoritative ‘holier than thou’ attitude and feels the need to tell you how to feel, but you know they are genuinely a good person and just haven’t been taught better — do them a favour and let them know. Be honest, and straightforward because many men aren’t even aware that they are doing it. It is a learned behaviour and women to nip this bad habit in the bud. Be respectful when doing so, as it’s likely your friend will be embarrassed or offended. But your gentle criticisms will permeate and may even convince said male counterpart to ditch the entitled behaviour all together.

The world is slowly moving towards gender equality, and highlighting the ridiculousness of ‘mansplaining’ will help men understand that what they are doing is wrong, relieving hundreds of thousands of women who are just down with being told things they already know.

Stick up for yourselves ladies! It is never too late and you may be surprised by the response you receive. There are a lot of men out there who are ardent feminists and will ditch the bad attitude to embrace a world where women aren’t interrupted anymore.

What do you think about mansplaining? Let us know in the comments below!

Ontario tries to empower women, but ends up with stale report

Engaging empowered women in Ontario is getting more political airtime, with more focus on the “status of women” in legislature. But will it have the desired impact of actually helping women in Ontario?

The province released an engagement paper on June 9 that describes the ways in which the government wants to increase women empowerment and close the wage gap. The paper includes a survey with questions about youth, economic opportunities, social attitudes, and leadership. These are significant issues for women and addressing them is important — as long as it is for and about the women in Ontario, instead of an election issue to win votes with no real purpose.

The survey asks Canadian citizens what they believe is the most important component to women’s empowerment via a series of detailed questions. The issue with the survey is that it offers several reasons why women don’t have complete equality in Ontario and doesn’t mandate the survey-taker to choose which issue is the most important on every question. This allows the people taking the survey to choose every issue and not specify what subject matters should be tackled first. It is fairly obvious that each of the four goals specified in the report is important, but asking if all of them are important is redundant. This is often seen in government surveys and makes a democratic and potentially helpful questionnaire essentially pointless.

Though Ontario is making strides with women, the efforts thus far is limited. For example, the province has committed to help 100,000 children obtain licensed child care over the next five years, but the subsidy waiting list in Toronto alone is 18 months long. There are also efforts to help 1700 low-income women gain financial literacy training, but there are thousands of women who still need help to gain education and training to move up in the world. Needless to say, more is needed and it shouldn’t be based on fulfilling commitments five years down the road, but should be fulfilled now.

The report is well-minded, but still lends itself to words such as “encouraging women to explore different careers”, and “supporting continued career progression”, but lacks specific goals with targeted language. Though it is important to “encourage” and “support”, women need action and specific goals with a ready-made budget instead of a tentative report and survey. Often, talking about women empowerment is seen as enough action when credible and supported goals need to be met to actually close the wage gap and promote women equality.

Women’s economic empowerment is a primary concern in Ontario and needs to be addressed with affirmative action as soon as possible. Between reports, surveys, and loosely mandated changes, there remains a gap on giving childcare to all women who need it so they can work. Pay wage gaps must also be addressed immediately, and board positions should be mandated to have 50/50 representation.  The engagement paper is yet another shining example of the government using ‘status of women’ to appease female voters — what will it take to get the real support and action women need?

Women in Iceland walk off the job, demand equal pay

Can you imagine if every woman stood up at her desk and left work mid-afternoon to unite against gender discrimination in the workplace?

Women in Iceland are doing just that — and Women’s Post loves them for it.

Thousands of women left work at 2:38 p.m on Oct. 24 because, when comparing their salary to men, after that time their work would be unpaid. Women make 72 per cent of what men are paid to do similar jobs. At the same time, Iceland is the lead ranking country in gender balance worldwide according to the World Economic Forum (WEF), so the fact that they are leading the fight for gender equality is impressive and inspirational.

Canadian women also make 72 per cent of what are male counterparts earn, and yet there are no protests or demonstrations being organized to show that we don’t accept sexism in the workplace. Canada falls in 19th place for gender balance according to the WEF, scoring low points in politics and in economic participation and opportunity. Despite Canada’s attempts to be inclusive, we are significantly behind countries like Iceland that make gender equality a priority.

This is not the first time Iceland has protested the wage gap. Forty years earlier on Oct. 24, 1975, women joined together to march out of the office and make it clear they won’t work for free.  On this commemorated day, 90 per cent of women left their jobs and homes to protest inequality and this left the men to take care of children and work. Ninety per cent! That is an unheard number of participation in any demonstration.

Since then, women have protested twice more about the wage gap in an attempt to get equal pay faster. On October 24, 2005, women left at 2:08 p.m and in 2010, they left at 2:23 p.m. This year, women in Iceland left work at 2:38 p.m, which shows that the wage gap is slowly closing, but not fast enough. If the wage gap trend continues at this rate, women will achieve equal pay in 50 years. Imagine waiting 50 years until a you get paid the same as your male co-workers? This fact is absolutely unacceptable.

Women’s Post would like to commend Iceland for their persistence. In fact, women in Canada should take note of this persistence and do some of their own protesting. What do you think will happen if we all stood up and walked away from our desks at 2:38 p.m.? Would our employers take notice?

The fact that people have to say “Women deserve equal pay” in 2016 is starting and disgusting. If Iceland, a country that is ranked as one of the best in gender equality in the world, is putting in this much effort to close the wage gap, then Canada should be working twice as hard.

Tell us what you think women should do to encourage the government (and large corporations) to put an end to wage discrimination. Leave us a comment below.

Is Toronto Women’s Fashion Week just a side project?

Professional fashion designers of women’s clothing have been at a loss on where to show their clothing since Toronto Fashion Week announced its closing in July.

Toronto Men’s Fashion Week (TOM*) has stepped up to the plate, announcing a Toronto Women’s Fashion Week (TWFW) that will launch in February 2017. Details are to follow, but the event will most likely run twice a year in February and August alongside TOM*.

Previously, IMG Canada and IMG Fashion were running Toronto Fashion Week and shut it down due to a lack of financial support.  World MasterCard was the main sponsor for the event, and dropped out earlier this year. The organizers reported that the event also lacked local support in the fashion community. In turn, the event was criticized by the fashion community as being too late in the fashion season to attract buyers, not to mention it was poorly advertised. Having buyers at fashion runway events is essential for new designers looking to make a living and the annual event was failing to do so.

TOM* has a better reputation because of the way the event is planned. It includes parties, industry talks, and a lucrative prize for the top local designer, in addition to the runway shows. The event also includes a magazine that advertises the designers and wallpapers that advertise men’s fashion. The runway shows take place in the Mattamy Athletic Centre.

It is interesting that there is a fashion week dedicated to men, yet there isn’t already an event that focuses on women’s clothing in fashion. It also stands to question whether the women’s event will follow TOM* and stand in the shadows of the already established male-oriented event.

If a challenge of the fashion industry is the expense of having runway shows and fashion events, it seems that it would be easier to create one event that has both men and women’s clothing together. It would also blur the lines between acceptable gendered “men” and “women’s” clothing. In the fashion world, it appears that the concept of dividing genders still persists despite Toronto being known as a progressive city. It will be interesting to see how the women’s and men’s events are run, and if Toronto Women’s Fashion Week can gain the notoriety its male-counterpart has, or if it will be of secondary influence.