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Woman of the Week: Janet Zuccarini

Janet Zuccarini is the CEO and owner of Gusto 54, a global restaurant group that encompasses a number of Toronto’s top restaurants, including Trattoria Nervosa, Gusto 101, PAI Northern Thai Kitchen, and Gusto 54’s Catering and Commissary Kitchen, among many others. She describes her role in the company as “the visionary”, responsible for finding locations, managing real estate, determining the concept, and assembling teams for each restaurant.

Zuccarini has an intense passion for international cuisine, with a specialization in Italian foods. She is the first Canadian woman to become an AVPN-certified Pizzaiola and was featured as a resident judge in Top Chef Canada’s fifth and sixth season. While her responsibilities now are more business-related, she started in this industry because of her love of food — both cooking and eating it.

Zuccarini has received the RBC Woman of Influence Award in Entrepreneurship and the 2017 Pinnacle Award for Independent Restaurateur of the Year. One of her restaurants is currently under review for consideration as one of Canada’s 100 Best New Restaurants of 2018. Here is what she had to say to Women’s Post in an email conversation during her travels.

Question: You are from Toronto, but you moved away for schooling, why?

Answer: I have a passion for traveling, which began at age 19 when I traveled to Europe on a one-year trip. I spent a few months in Italy on that trip and decided at that time that I needed to find a way to stay in Italy and experience living in that culture, so I found an American University in Rome and completed my undergrad there. When my four years was up and I completed my degree, I felt strongly that I needed to spend more time there, so I searched for another post-grad opportunity. I then found an MBA program at Boston University, which had a campus for a few years in Rome, and stayed in the city for another four years.

Did you always want to be a restauranteur? 

It all started with my father, who loved Italian food and was an incredible cook. We ate very well at home; always whole foods cooked from scratch. Living in Italy for eight years and being a student, I had to learn to really stretch a dollar (or back then it was the Italian lira), so I began cooking for myself and my friends. During that time, my friends would suggest that I open up my own restaurant, but I never thought that would become a reality. After I finished all of my university work, I traveled back home to Toronto for a friend’s wedding and went to Yorkville to get my hair done at Salon Daniel. I was chatting with a stylist there who told me that the corner of Yorkville and Belair was under construction and was set to become an Italian restaurant. I was intrigued, so I walked over and introduced myself to the guys who were opening it. Shortly afterwards they asked me to be a partner and literally overnight I was in the restaurant business. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was marrying my two passions: business and food.

What was the first restaurant you opened? 

I opened Trattoria Nervosa (back then it was known as Cafe Nervosa) in 1996 with two partners, which very quickly turned into only one partner. During that period of transition, I had to thoroughly immerse myself in the business to learn its ins and outs. In the early days, I worked every position; six days a week, 17 hours a day. I learned every aspect of the business, which is incredibly important to creating procedures so that you can step away from being a “technician” and put yourself at the top of your company where you can more efficiently and effectively run it. After the four-year mark, I bought out my partner (thankfully, as it was a soul-destroying partnership) and that’s when my life took this extraordinary turn. The business was stable. I had learned every aspect of it. I successfully bought out a toxic partner, and I really started to run my business instead of letting it run me.

How did Gusto 54 come about?

Three years ago when we decided to consciously transition the company from owning three restaurants in Toronto to becoming a global restaurant group. Gusto 54 was created in honour of my father, who opened up the Sidewalk Caffè at the corner of Yonge and College Street in 1954, which at the time featured the very first espresso machine in Canada, as well as the first wood-burning pizza oven and heated patio. My father was a pioneer and I owe any entrepreneurial spirit that I possess to him.

Chubby’s Jamaican Kitchen is your latest restaurant to open – how is it doing?

Chubby’s Jamaican Kitchen opened to Toronto’s King West area in early December and we are busy, which is great considering that we opened our doors during that time of year.

What does it take to run a successful restaurant?

To be successful in the restaurant business you need to deliver on all fronts of the experience, including service, food, location, design and music. You also have to consider what exactly you aim to deliver with your restaurant, as every concept will have different requirements. A destination restaurant will not have the same formula as a restaurant that services a neighbourhood. The restaurant business is arguably the toughest business at which to succeed due in large part to the fact that the margins are so slim. To help mitigate this risk we analyze sales and our numbers every day. All in all, you need to possess a certain level of business acumen, as well as consistently keep your finger on the pulse to deliver what people are looking for in order to truly succeed in this business.

What is the biggest challenge?

This can be a challenging business where you need to keep a very close eye on food and labour costs and keep the operations very tight. Systems, procedures and technology become integral in operating a profitable business that consistently delivers against our mission. Consistency in both food and soulful hospitality can also be a challenge given the number of people we rely on every day to serve over 3,500 customers. This is where training becomes essential in ensuring everyone is set up for success.

How do you make sure the food served is following the newest trends – or even leading the trends?

My job as the visionary is to make sure that my finger is always on the pulse of what’s happening in the world as far as food and industry trends go. I have a passion for dining out and checking out all kinds of restaurants wherever I go in the world.

What advice would you give to a young female business professional with dreams of starting their own empire?

You can do anything if you have grit and don’t let anything stop you.

What’s next for you?

I feel like I’m just getting warmed up in the restaurant business. We’re opening Gusto 501 to Toronto’s Corktown area this year, we are looking to open in New York, and we’re currently working on rolling out two additional concepts.

What do you do to help women?

As a woman operating in a primarily male-dominated industry, supporting and helping to empower women is extremely important to me. Many of the key leadership positions within our company are held by women including chefs, GMs, and our President, Juanita Dickson. In addition to contributing to various local organizations such as Women in Capital Markets, Dr. Roz’s Healing Place, and Dress for Success, I always strive to make time to personally meet with women to provide mentorship or advice.

What do you do when you are not working?

I live in Los Angeles half of the year, so I love taking advantage of the weather there and doing a lot of activities like tennis, hiking and biking. I’m also super passionate about yoga and, whenever possible, I love checking out new restaurants and hosting friends and family at my house for dinner.

I’m currently reading “The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance” by Timothy Gallwey, as well as “Becoming Supernatural” by Joe Dispenza.

 

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Toronto has a directory of ‘Women and Color’

Have you attended a technology conference or speaking series and noticed the gender parity within the audience? How about on the panels or the keynote speaker lists?

Over the past year, I’ve attended a number of conferences within the fields of technology, marketing, and business. I was startled to see so few women represented. In the crowd, there was often one table or two of women, all clumped together and isolated from everyone else. Those women who were part of the panels, were often asked the questions about gender in the workplace, as if they were token members

And this is just women as a whole gender. I can count the number of women of colour who took the stage on one hand. While feminism may have been the word of the year in 2017, STEM fields still have a long way to go in achieving gender and race equality.

When I read about ‘Women and Color’, a directory of women and people of colour who are available to speak at such conferences, I was floored! How has this database existed for two years without people knowing about it?

The directory was created by a product designer named Mohammed Asaduallah, who was just as frustrated as many women to find the lack of diversity within the tech industry. Asaduallah and a team of volunteers help maintain the site by adding in new profiles of women in Toronto. The profiles include a photograph, job title, a short description of the person’s expertise through tag words, contact information, and a link to their Twitter account.

Asaduallah hopes to grow Women and Color and add profiles from cities across Canada and even venture into the United States.

 

At your next conference or speaking series, perhaps consider reaching out to one of the numerous qualified women in this directory. It’s time to stop using women as “tokens” at technology events and start seeing them as the qualified and capable experts they are.

‘Feminism’ is the word of 2017

Merriam-Webster has announced their Word of the Year for 2017: feminism!

While the term may not have been included in Google’s most searched words this year, it was the centre of many discussions, arguments, and protests over the last 12 months. Here at Women’s Post, the term is used weekly.

Webster’s said the word “feminism” was a word looked up constantly throughout the year, “with several spikes that correspond to various news reports and events.” Events that sparked an increase in searches included the Women’s March in Washington, when U.S. President Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway claimed she wasn’t a feminist, and the #MeToo movement that has rocked the entertainment industry. And of course, there were television shows like The Handmaiden’s Tale that explored a number of women’s issues and inspired women to become more active in politics.

According to Webster’s definition of the word, feminism is “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes” and “organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.”

On average, the term was looked up 70 per cent more often than in 2016.

Some of the words searched in Webster’s include:

  • Complicit: “helping to commit a crime or do wrong in some way.” Remember when Ivanka Trump was accused of being complicit to her father’s actions int he White House and she claimed not to know what the word meant? I’m sure she does now!
  • Dotard: a person in his or her dotage” (dotage is “a state or period of senile decay marked by decline of mental poise and alertness”). The term was used in a news release in North Korea to describe U.S. President Donald Trump.
  • Syzygy: “the nearly straight-line configuration of three celestial bodies (such as the sun, moon, and earth during a solar or lunar eclipse) in a gravitational system.” The term was searched during the December super moon, which was partially caused by this phenomenon.
  • Gaffe: “a noticeable mistake.” Anyone else remember the 2017 Academy Awards?
  • Empathy: “the ability to share another person’s feelings.” This term as searched in response or in relation to political decisions this year, as well as the #MeToo social media campaign. I don’t know about you, but I think more people should be looking up the definition of empathy.

What you need to know about net neutrality

Net neutrality is all over the news. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), with the support of U.S. President Donald Trump, wants to repeal the net neutrality laws put in place to create a more equal and open Internet. People gathered in 700 different cities across the United States (mostly outside Verizon stores) to protest these changes.

But, what exactly does this mean and why are people so upset? Women’s Post has you covered with this super easy to understand (and perhaps overly simplistic) primer:

What is net neutrality?

Net neutrality is essentially equality on the Internet — all data must be treated the same by all providers, browsers, and platforms. It prevents these companies from slowing down service (or preventing access entirely) to website, applications, and other features from competitors. Internet providers can deny access to certain sites either because you don’t pay enough or because they have their own service they would rather customers use.

For example, in 2014, Comcast got caught slowing down streaming on Netflix, and AT&T started a program that required apps to pay more money in order to ensure they used less data. All of these things gave certain platforms and applications an advantage over others.

What happened in 2015?

In 2015, President Barack Obama encouraged the FCC to regulate broadband Internet providers as a public utility, recognizing the Internet as a service necessary for economic and social growth, as well as a tool for innovation. Internet was reclassified as a telecommunications service in order to justify the change. Telecommunication companies are exempt from any kind of price control. It also led to more government control over broadband traffic.

In short: companies were not allowed to block or slow down the content of their rivals.

What is happening now?

Trump was elected and wants to overturn everything Obama has done. This includes net neutrality. What are the arguments for net neutrality? Republicans believe the government oversight associated with Open Internet was slowing investment in the technology.

Without net neutrality, it would also allow carriers like Verizon and AT&T to offer tiered pricing for Internet access — the more a person pays, the faster they get their Internet. Those who agree with the appeal say this will create a more stable marketplace and remove barriers for investment.

However, without net neutrality it becomes difficult for emerging technology companies or startups to get the same amount of speed as other sites. There will be no guarantee your site wouldn’t be blocked or that it won’t lag when potential customers come to use your product. There is also a socio-economic concern — if you have to pay more for Internet access that works; what will this mean for those who can’t afford it?

The new rules are scheduled to be voted on next Thursday, December 14.

What do you think? Should the U.S. repeal net neutrality? Let us know in the comments below!

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle set to marry next May

As news broke early yesterday morning of Prince Harry’s royal engagement to American actress, Meghan Markle, hearts of girls around the world broke as they realized they had minuscule hope of becoming the next princess. Personally, I was rooting for Prince Harry and Meghan since the media started speculating about their relationship in 2015.

The two have been dating for a year and a half and it was announced Tuesday morning they are set to marry next May at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. The two are reportedly planning the ceremony themselves. Prince Harry has always been the more ‘bad-boy royal’ so to say, especially compared to his older brother, Prince William. Harry was known for his bachelor’s lifestyle, dating a string of beautiful women when he was younger and often getting in trouble with the press.

Eventually, Prince Harry matured and paid keen attention to his charitable work, including the support of 22 different charities and over 25 different causes worldwide. Before settling down with Meghan Markle, the prince’s long time on and off girlfriend of seven years was Chelsy Davy. Davy reportedly ended their relationship after she allegedly struggled with the pressure of dating a royal. Davy was last seen publically with Harry as she attended Prince William’s wedding to Kate Middleton back in 2011.

It has been reported by Harry and Meghan that the pair met through a female friend that set them up on a blind date. In fact, Harry claims to have never seen Markle on her most known television role in the show, Suits, before meeting. The two sat down for an intimate interview with a BBC reporter shortly after announcing to the public their official engagement. They giggled behind the scenes and acted very much like a couple that’s down to earth and in love. As Prince Harry remarked in the interview, Meghan Markle was ‘the one” from the very first time they met.

It sounds like the story of fairy-tales. Markle remarked that she excitedly replied yes to Harry’s proposal before he could even put the ring on her finger, as they spent a cozy evening at home roasting chicken. I am beyond thrilled for this next royal couple and considering these two have a lot in common, including their love for charity, it is hopeful they can live a relatively normal life, at least as normal as it can get for for such a well-known member of the Royal Family.

The British family has changed quite a lot over the years, but Prince Harry and Meghan Markle ignored any negative feedback from the public. As Harry is fifth in line to the crown, it doesn’t seem there is any rush for him to conform to the pressure of being a ‘King’, while living in such a modern society. Markle, who is a divorced, American actress, will now allegedly become HRH Duchess of Sussex, or as she will be in our hearts: Princess Meghan, the one that stole Harry’s heart.

Congratulations to this happy and beautiful couple.

First hijab-wearing Barbie launched in ‘Shero’ line

Barbie is getting an international makeover. During Glamour’s Woman of the Year summit, a hijab-wearing Barbie was revealed as one of the first of a line of dolls based on the image of inspirational women.

This particular Barbie is modelled after United States Olympian Ibtihaj Muhammad, who won a bronze medal for fencing in Rio last year. The doll wears the white fencing uniform, complete with training shoes, mask, sabre, and of course, Muhammad’s hijab.

Muhammad told the press that she used to make her own hijab for her Barbies when she was younger, and that she hopes this new doll will encourage and inspire young girls to feel included.

“I’m proud to know that little girls everywhere can now play with a Barbie who chooses to wear hijab! This is a childhood dream come true,” she tweeted.

Barbie has often been criticized for their lack of diversity and the size of their dolls. This inspirational line of “Sheros” is the company’s attempt at breaking that image. The line recognizes women who break boundaries and inspire the next generation of young girls. Last year, Mattel, the company that creates Barbie, revealed a variety of sized-dolls inspired by plus-size model and advocate Ashley Graham.

Other “Sheros” include African-American ballerina Mista Copeland, filmmaker Ava DuVernay, Olympian Gabby Douglas, and actresses Kristin Chenoweth and Zendaya Coleman.

The release of the Muhammad-inspired Barbie comes at a time where muslim women are being persecuted around the world. In Canada, Quebec’s Bill 62 law makes it illegal for women to wear the niqab or burkha, while oversees in Europe muslim women are being targeted for wearing burkinis on the beach. In the U.S., white supremacists are protesting immigration and the removal of confederate statues.

The “Shero” line will go on sale in 2018.

What do you think of this Shero line? Does it make up for Barbie’s previous reputation? Let us know in the comments below!

UPDATED: Hurricane Maria, category 3 storm, set to hit Caribbean

The Caribbean Islands just can’t catch a break.

Earlier this morning, Hurricane Maria was upgraded to a category three storm and is moving along the same path as Hurricane Irma, the category five storm that left 37 dead.

Hurricane warnings have been issued for Guadeloupe, Dominica, St Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat, and Martinique.

A tropical hurricane warning was issued for St. Vincent, the Grenadines ,St. Martin, St. Barts, Saba, St. Eustatius, Anguilla, and Puerto Rico.

According to the latest update provided by the U.S. National Hurricane Centre at 2 p.m. on Monday, the eye of the storm is located on Martinique moving westward. It will move through the Leeward Islands later this afternoon and evening. Winds are expected to gust at 200km/hr and Maria is being described as a “dangerous major hurricane.”

“The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline,” the update reads. “The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast near and to the north and east of the landfall location, where the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves.”

Maria is expected to produce six to 12 inches of rainfall with isolated amounts of 20 inches across central and southern Leeward Islands as well as the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. Puerto Rico can expect up to 25 inches. This can cause flash floods and mudslides.

More to come.

 

American women are being screwed by health care

This is one of those moments that make me want to face-palm, or scream as loud as I can in hopes that someone, someone with the ability to actually listen and then act, will hear me.

And then I thank god that I live in Canada. This country may not be perfect — it absolutely has its own set of problems — but at least I don’t have to be scared of going to the doctor.

Thursday, the Republicans passed a health care bill to replace Obamacare. The bill passed by a slight margin, 217-213. This is being hailed as a big success for the Trump government, who was unable to pass the first version of the health care bill. But while the government may be laughing and smiling at their success, a lot of people in the United States are going to get screwed, particularly women.

The full version of the American Health Care Act hasn’t been made public yet, and has not been analyzed by the Congressional Budget Office, so there is no way to know what economic impact

There was also an amendment made by Republican Tom MacArthur of New Jersey that would allow states to opt out of “essential health benefits” in order to opt their own.

Here are some of the items that are considered “pre-existing” conditions and therefore not coverable under the new health care plan: c-sections, sexual assault, mental illness, domestic violence, depression, acne, asthma, irregular menstruation, pregnancy, diabetes, sex reassignment, cancer, and other debilitating diseases.

So, if you are a woman, suffer from any sort of mental illness, or have been diagnosed with a serious disease — the Trump government just said you didn’t matter. They also just said the state could decide that whatever coverage the bill did have, may not actually be what you will be given (for better or for worse).

As a side note, congress and their families are exempt from many of the effects of the bill; although they claim there will be a revision made to correct that and make further changes.

Of course, as very few members of congress are female, this makes perfect sense.

As I don’t know the exact wording of the bill, I can’t say much else about it. But I can say this: I find the inclusion of pregnancy and mental illness as pre-existing conditions ridiculous, and can’t believe that something like menstrual cycles made it into the list. Honestly, it feels like spite — spite for the protests and women’s marches that have plagued the White House during President Donald Trump’s first 100 days.

The bill will now go to the Senate for revision. Who knows how much this bill will change (or if it even will), but for the sake of American women, I hope it does. While Ontario includes abortion pills and free birth control for women under the age of 25, it looks like the United States is going the opposite route.

And it makes me feel ashamed to be part of the same continent.

What do you think of the new health care bill? Let us know in the comments below!

Jessa Crispin regains focus in new book “Why I Am Not A Feminist”

Feminism is the new black. And although that’s not necessarily a bad thing – not at all, actually – there are a few concerns with this not-so-new concept of women’s equality. Unfortunately, instead of a movement, feminism has largely become a brand, a buzzword albeit. And it’s being used on literally everything. Hats, sweaters, mugs, and even stickers for your laptop. Your laptop. So, it’s no surprise that the definition of feminism is losing its meaning between the merchandise and arguments between you and bae about ‘who pays for dinner’ next.

Nowadays, everyone is a feminist. Jessa Crispin, however, argues otherwise. In her new book, “Why I Am Not a Feminist: A Feminist Manifesto”, Crispin explains the importance of bringing back the true meaning of feminism.

Her inspiration behind the book was simple. After reading up on modern feminist writing over the past five years or so, Crispin claimed to be constantly filled with despair on the content of the writing. And with the ongoing issues around the world, including the rise of the far-right worldwide, mass deportations in America, the shutting down of abortion clinics, she noticed that feminist writing still continues to be mostly concerned with lifestyle choices and pop culture. And that’s not the main priority right now.

“It led to occasions where I had to scream into a pillow. So writing this book was just my way of doing something with that anger so I wasn’t overwhelmed by it anymore.”

“Why I Am Not a Feminist” reminds readers what feminism is really about. As a feminist, men and women should be fighting for the political, economic, and social equality between the sexes. A feminist should recognize that women are oppressed by complicated systems. A feminist should realize that the oppression of women is not limited to the wage gap in North American society, or the prevention of girl on girl hate, or on dress codes that dictate what women should or should not wear.

Upon first glance, one may come to the conclusion that the book is actually calling out ‘white feminism’ – a concept which has gotten an increased amount of attention in recent years. While not outright exclusive, white feminism is about the failure to consider the problems faced by the “average woman” who are often alienated due to their colour, sexuality, cultural practices, and religious beliefs.

Be careful though. It’s not. In fact, Crispin hates the term “white feminism” as she so boldly told Women’s Post.

“It doesn’t really convey the meaning it’s trying to. What it should be is “power feminism,” a kind of pro-woman stance that is interested in the amassing and holding of power. Yes, white women have the most power these days. But the problems related to power feminism — a kind of blind selfishness, a focus on individual success over societal reform, a value system based on money and power and greed — are problems with our whole culture.

Maybe just call it patriarchal feminism!

But yes, feminism has been blind for too long to issues of class and race and sexuality, and it has been reluctant to look at the times when feminism and feminist leaders were racist, homophobic, and xenophobic. You still see this nonsensical resistance to associating themselves with the trans advocacy movement because they can’t move past a biological view of gender, or their lack of empathy and solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. And that’s a symptom of anxiety, that if they admit the humanity of other people — despite the fact that they themselves are begging to have their own humanity recognized — there won’t be enough attention for their own issues.

We’re all in this together. We are suffering under the same system. There has to be a solidarity that transcends race, sexuality, religion, class, and every other marker, so that we can fight effectively.”

So what exactly does Crispin hope you take away from her manifesto? Well, that’s not her job to figure out.

“I write the thing, then it’s up to people to manage their own responses. I’m not trying to abdicate responsibility for the work, I absolutely stand by it. But I don’t really have any expectation that this is going to change feminism. I think the best thing a writer can do is simply to write the material and then get out of the material’s way.”

She’s unapologetic. She’s pertinent. And her new book is a reflection of that. It’ll leave you feeling rather angry, and Crispin’s gallant, at times ranty way of explaining her point of view will only fuel this anger. This is not the type of book you’ll want to read with a cup of tea in your pajamas. It’s the type of book for when you’re looking for that extra jolt of passion required to seek the change you need.

Whether you agree with her views or not, readers should admire the Crispin for her unconventional, yet highly relevant, way of thinking. Essentially, “Why I Am Not a Feminist” is a not-so-friendly reminder that being a feminist isn’t just about wearing a “this is what a feminist looks like” shirt or about re-blogging a gif from a Taylor Swift interview on Tumblr. It’s about looking past that, and focusing on what is important to truly bring about the change towards equality.

“Why I Am Not a Feminist” is now available on Amazon!

What are your thoughts on the book? Let us know in the comments below! 

Equal Pay Day brings awareness to gender gap

In 2014, women in the United States were paid 79 per cent of what men were paid.

This statistic should shock me, but it doesn’t. Despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s revolutionary claim that “it’s 2016”, women are still facing incredible adversity in the workplace. Similar statistics have been shared, and re-shared, and re-shared every year — but nothing seems to change.

That’s why this date is so important.

April 12th marks Equal Pay Day in the United States, the symbolic day in which a woman’s salary from the previous year catches up to that of their male counterparts. What does that mean exactly? On average it takes a woman three and a half extra months to make the same amount in salary a man earns in a year.

Despite the slow decline in the wage gap, the country still has a long way to go. The Institute for Women’s Policy Initiatives predicts that women won’t see equal pay until 2059, which is absolutely ridiculous. And a new report published by the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC) says on average, women in the United States earn about $10,800 less per year than men.

According to this report, women of colour face an even greater challenge. African-American women on average are paid only 60 cents per every dollar made by a white man, and Hispanic women are only paid 55 cents. The report also attributes about 40 per cent of that wage gap to sexism and discrimination.

Considering how far we’ve come, it’s startling that this type of gap exists in North America. The world is on the verge of a feminist wave — politicians, celebrities, and activists are all talking about women’s rights on public platforms — but there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure true equality.

But, what’s even worse is that the gap increases when it comes to positions of power. In the United States, women make up only four per cent of CEOs and 16 per cent of the board members at the 1500 companies reviewed by the JEC. Without women in positions of power, there is no way to change the sexist mentalities that exist within the business world.

The question is: how do we change this mentality? Education and awareness is the number one solution, but it’s not enough. Equal pay laws must be enforced and men and women must stand together and demand salaries that are determined not by gender, but by ability.

There are simple ways to ensure that you (and your company) play a part in this revolution. Take the BUY UP Index as an example. This app allows you to make purchasing decisions based on the company’s commitment to gender equality. Criteria for the products listed on the Index includes whether or not the company achieves the benchmark of 16 per cent women on their board and 40 per cent in management, and whether there are leadership programs for women.

Why aren’t people using these types of services to promote and encourage gender equality in the workplace? The Buy Up Index provides a simple way of ensuring that business is conducted with companies that honour the promise of equal pay and treat women with equal respect.

Until every company takes the idea of equal pay seriously and commits to promoting gender equality in the workplace, I fear I’ll continue to be disappointed. Let’s hope that next year the gap decreases significantly — this doesn’t mean by one or two per cent either. In order to be satisfied that the government, and the respective business community, is taking this issue seriously, there would have to be a difference of five per cent.

Do you think that is even possible in today’s political climate? Let us know in the comments below

Ontario’s version of Equal Pay Day will occur on April 19.