Women of Influence http://www.womenofinfluence.ca Sat, 08 Dec 2018 15:44:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 The Role of Men http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/2018/12/05/the-role-of-men/ Wed, 05 Dec 2018 10:23:12 +0000 http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/?p=192950 Over the last few decades, we’ve made progress towards gender equality in the workplace, and shifted our focus from ‘why’ we should be doing it to ‘how’ it can be done. The path that will most likely lead to success? One that includes men — as leaders, champions, and allies. Here’s why and how we’ll do it.


By Stephania Varalli



In 1977, John T. Malloy published a bestselling guide called The Woman’s Dress For Success Book.

His advice amounted to a feminized version of male office attire — hair above the shoulder, a “man-tailored” blouse, a scarf, a skirt-suit — creating a uniform for women that downplayed their gender in a non-threatening way. We’re like you, but we’re not trying to be you, it said.   

The book opened with a disclaimer that it was not at all sexist, just reflective of the reality of the time. “If women control a substantial hunk of the power structure in ten or fifteen years,” Malloy stated, “I will write a book advising men how to dress in a female-dominated environment.”

At least he was optimistic about the speed at which women would be advancing. In reality, it took longer than 10 or 15 years to just shift our focus away from “fixing women” to creating workplaces that work for everyone. But today, we are on that path.

In the past few years, we’ve stopped arguing about whether there’s a business case for diversity, and have started talking about gender equality as a business imperative — delivering better problem solving, increased collaboration, greater innovation, better governance and compliance, and overall higher financial performance. Corporations, SMEs, government, investors, and individuals are stepping up to the challenge of reaching economic gender parity. And there are more organizations that are calling for and supporting change, from broad efforts to focused initiatives.

“The question is not about ‘if’ or ‘why’ gender balance is important; it’s so much more about how we make it real,” says Louisa Greco, a senior advisor at McKinsey & Company. Passionate about gender balance and sponsorship, she’s also on the Advisory Committee for the 30% Club Canada, a campaign with the aspirational goal of 30% of board seats and C-Suite positions to be held by women by 2022.

The 30% Club wants to avoid the need for quotas. Instead, they are building a strong foundation of business leaders who are committed to meaningful, sustainable gender balance. If you scroll through their directory of members, some might be surprised to find more men than women. But in this case, it’s a good sign — and necessary for success.

“Men lead 95% of the world’s organizations and therefore have the power to make change,” explains Tanya van Biesen, Executive Director of Catalyst Canada. “Not change for change’s sake, but meaningful change that will expand their talent pools, their levels of productivity and innovation, and their contribution to just and fair societies.”

And, Tanya says, if you look at gender inequality not as a women’s issue, but as society’s issue, “all of society must take part in making progress.” So the question becomes: How do we encourage more men to get involved?


“Men lead 95% of the world’s organizations and therefore have the power to make change.”


“It does help to frame the issue in a way that promotes the understanding that equality and inclusion are not just ‘women’s issues,’ they are ‘people issues’ and ‘business issues,’” suggests Rahul Bhardwaj, CEO and President of the Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD). “If we start from there, the quality of engagement will be much better.”

The ICD mandate is to actively promote the idea that strong boards make strong organizations, and ultimately a better country. Supporting the 30% Club Canada is a logical partnership for the organization, says Rahul, because of the impact diversity can have on board performance, and specifically, innovation.

“Canada’s prosperity depends in large part on innovation, and innovation requires new ways of thinking — diverse thinking.” says Rahul. “If your directors aren’t focused on innovation and helping you to think in new ways, your company will be left behind.”

Diversity as an enabler of innovation makes a strong business case, but it’s not the only thing that drives Rahul’s support of gender equality. “On a personal level, a strong woman raised me. My mother played a significant role in the community and did so with a lot of grace and courage despite some of the challenges of that time,” explains Rahul. “I’m also a husband and a father of a daughter and I’d like to know that all opportunities for professional growth are available to them, regardless of gender.”

These aren’t uncommon outcomes. According to research, having a working mom that acts as a strong female role model changes a man’s perception of gender roles, and having a daughter tends to push men towards more progressive views on gender.

For Spencer Lanthier, it is a matter a fairness. He’s the Former Chairman and CEO of KPMG, as well as the Founding Chair of the 30% Club Canada — although his views might peg that percentage goal even higher. “Women make up half the population,” he says, “so it’s only right that they would make up half the C-Suite roles and board seats.”

He came on board in 2015 after being approached by the team of Brenda Trenowden, the organization’s Global Chair. Spencer saw the 30% Club campaign “as a way to heighten awareness of the issue as well as to bring about change in a measurable manner, allowing organizations to do the right thing and experience the benefits that come with gender balanced leadership.”


“It’s a simple matter of math to make gender diversity a core value and drive meaningful, lasting change, men need to be part of the solution.”


Whatever their motivations, leaders and organizations are starting to do the right thing. Looking at TSX-listed companies in Canada, Osler’s 2018 Diversity Disclosure Practices report found that women held 16.4 per cent of board seats in 2018, up from 14.5 per cent the year prior. The stats are even more encouraging for S&P/TSX 60 companies: women held 28.4 per cent of board seats in 2018, as compared to 26 per cent the year prior. These numbers represent progress — but they also show that we still have work to do. Board directors tend to blame a lack of qualified female candidates, but this is an excuse that’s easily proven wrong.

“Women have earned upwards of 60% of university degrees in Canada for the last 30 years,” says Tanya. “These women are well educated, ambitious and engaged, yet they continue to be underutilized and undervalued in the workplace, to the detriment of our economy and society. Women have all of the capabilities and smarts to be successful, alongside men, but our workplaces and our societal expectations are lagging their ambitions.”

In 2017, leading not-for-profit organizations focused on research, advocacy and education in the areas of governance and gender diversity joined together to form the Canadian Gender and Good Governance Alliance. The aim of the Alliance was to coordinate and amplify their impact in their efforts to achieve gender parity on boards, in executive positions, and throughout Canadian organizations. They have launched curated best practice tools for boards in the Directors’ Playbook and for organizations in the CEO Blueprint. These serve as guides for today’s leaders to become champions of change — leaders who are mostly men.

Yes, some of these men have far to go before they’ll be convinced to tackle gender equality. But many men are already stepping up as allies and champions, and even as husbands, partners, and fathers, redefining the role of men and creating a more equal playing field for women.

“For sustainable progress, to make gender diversity a core value and drive meaningful, lasting change, men need to be part of the solution,” says Louisa. “And I firmly believe that, together, we’ll all benefit. If we ensure women are successful, men will be more successful, too, and broader business performance will reflect the positive benefits of this.”



This article is just the beginning. Over the next year, the 30% Club Canada and Women of Influence are partnering to explore the role of men, amplifying our efforts by joining together. We’ll be sharing the stories of allies — men who are pushing for gender equality in the workplace, or making it happen in their own business. These Champions of Change can act as visible role models, inspiring and guiding other men to follow in their footsteps. If we’re going to level the playing field, we need men to be engaged.




Four tips for using technology to help your startup succeed http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/2018/11/29/four-tips-for-using-technology-to-help-your-startup-succeed/ Thu, 29 Nov 2018 19:41:56 +0000 http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/?p=192984

With the high failure rate of startups, what can entrepreneurs do to drive towards success? Dr. Yolande Chan, professor of information technology management at Smith School of Business, Queen’s University, offers four suggestions for using digital innovation to help your company grow.



By Hailey Eisen


When Dr. Yolande Chan began her academic research in the 1990s, she was focused on strategic alignment — the fit between an organization’s business strategy and its information systems strategy. But over a decade ago, she saw the business landscape becoming more turbulent, and small businesses struggling and failing to adapt quickly.

As instability became the norm, there was less need for alignment and more for agility. Taking note, Dr. Chan — a professor of information technology management at Smith School of Business — shifted gears to focus on what she calls “digital innovation.” Essentially, the ways in which startups and SMEs are adopting emerging technology and technology-enabled processes to stay relevant and support their survival and growth.

“We know that only about 70 per cent of startups survive the first five years,” she says, “and among the primary reasons for failure are resource scarcity and lack of knowledge.” And when resources are scarce, Dr. Chan’s extensive research has found that many successful startups are using technology to inexpensively fuel growth.

How do they do that effectively? Dr. Chan provides four key suggestions around utilizing technology and resources to help achieve success.


1 – Tap into the systems and resources already in existence.

When starting out, Dr. Chan advises entrepreneurs to think of themselves as one business in a system of systems. After making targeted tech investments internally, you’ll want to reach out and access resources from the systems that surround you. For example, in the average North American city today, you’re likely to find an incubator or accelerator to join. In doing so, you’ll gain access to technology, support and training, mentorship, physical office space, and shared peer experiences, among other things. Take advantage of the fact that you can embed yourself in a rich ecosystem already in place and access resources you wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford.


2 – Use SMAC (social media, mobile, analytics, and cloud) technology to your advantage.

Knowing how to access and leverage emerging technology that is affordable and oftentimes free can go a long way toward startup success. As Dr. Chan indicates in her research, “by leveraging emerging technologies in organizational learning processes, startups can better sense market trends in real time, see gaps, and realize opportunities to create new products.” Here are some other ways SMAC technologies can be leveraged by startups.

  • Use social media technology to sense your environment and stay on top of your competitors. Track competitors on social media, join their mailing lists, lurk in their groups and get a real sense of what’s happening in your market and how you are positioned competitively.
  • Use data analytics to sense trends and understand how the market is changing.
  • Use web technology to help pivot when necessary; use it to transform your business model, raise funding, change your website or gain presence in a new market.
  • Use mobile apps and communications tools to connect and collaborate with distributors, suppliers and partners seamlessly and often without added cost.
  • Use cloud computing to share documents and work together with partners or to offer customer services globally without having to travel.


3 – Only invest in technology when the business need exists.

One of the mistakes many entrepreneurs (and big businesses as well, for that matter) make is to invest in technology for technology’s sake. Just because something appears to have great value or is being used by your competition, doesn’t mean you should purchase it. It’s fine to make modest investments for the sake of experimentation, but when it comes to significant investments, every technology purchase must have a related business goal.


4 – Be sure your ideas are linked with customer needs.

Finally, successful startups are those that respond to customer needs. Having a good idea on its own won’t result in success, Dr. Chan advises. Leveraging data analytics tools to research market trends can be vital in the success of your business idea.

While her research isn’t specifically on female-led businesses, Dr. Chan has had the privilege of studying many women entrepreneurs over the course of her studies, and notes that the startup space is a good one for women to be in.

“While you’ll go into multinational corporation boardrooms and see just a few women at the top, you’ll find a lot more women entrepreneurs at the helm of small businesses,” Dr. Chan says. “It’s an excellent opportunity for women who are often wearing a number of hats and balancing many commitments to engage passionately with a dream and use their resources to birth that dream.”



Looking to start, grow or drive new ventures, whether in a startup or inside a corporation? Register for an upcoming information session on Smith’s Master of Management Innovation & Entrepreneurship


2018 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards Gala http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/2018/11/26/canadian-women-entrepreneur-awards-gala-2018/ Mon, 26 Nov 2018 21:54:17 +0000 http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/?p=192859 #ngg-gallery-e2e0277f3f3f6782189e856f6d1f3e95 .ngg-pro-masonry-item { margin-bottom: 10px; }
Meet Jennifer Huether, Canada’s first Master Sommelier http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/2018/11/25/meet-jennifer-huether-canadas-first-master-sommelier/ Mon, 26 Nov 2018 02:22:57 +0000 http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/?p=191553

As Canada’s first female Master Sommelier, Jennifer Huether plays a dynamic role within the Canadian hospitality and wine industry. From her humble beginnings as a server at the Rosedale Diner, to her celebrated career as the head sommelier for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment and Prestige Account Manager for Jackson Family Wines. Jennifer worked tirelessly to achieve her dream, all while raising two young children.



My first job ever was… serving pizzas and Italian sandwiches in my home town at 15 years old. I was able to eat for free which was a huge bonus as a kid. I also realized early on how much I enjoyed working with others, and in hospitality.


I chose my career path because… great food and wine are in my blood. It comes naturally to me and never feels like work. I love chatting to people and learning about them, and I also love the complexity of wine. It’s such a deep subject when you start to dive into it, it’s like history you can drink!


My proudest accomplishment is… having my two children and raising them by myself for the last several years. It hasn’t been easy — shout out to all the single moms!


My boldest move to date was… getting a rescue dog, that I knew very little about in December. The weather turned out to be -25°C for a month straight, and I walked her for three hours a day in that weather! It has totally paid off, she is a wonderful addition to our family.


I surprise people when I tell them… my biggest passion is exercising!


My best advice to people starting their career is… I know it has been said so many times, but please do what you love. As Jackson Family Wines’ Master Sommelier, I realize how fortunate I am to be able to do what I am passionate about, for a living. When you find something that you enjoy doing every day, that is what you should follow. And work hard! People recognize and reward hard work now very readily because it just has become rare. You will stand out.


My best advice from a mentor was… Deep breaths, concentrate and be present in the moment. It’s so easy to become distracted in today’s world, and when you are sitting for exams that require your olfactory system, you have to be entirely calm and focused or it’s not going to work for you.


I would tell my 20-year old self… Save as much money as possible (RRSP’s)! Put away 20% of your salary if you can, as young as you can start. The younger, the better.


My biggest setback was… failing my Master Sommelier exam (just on the service) because I accidentally pointed the Champagne bottle at someone while fiddling with it. I was five months pregnant and not in a good head space after that at all. I felt like a horrible mom for letting myself get so upset while pregnant.


I overcame it by… having my baby, learning how exactly to properly do service at a Master Sommelier Level by training with several Masters, and going back to pass it! It felt like such a victory.


If I had an extra hour in the day, I would… meditate while listening to calm music for thirty minutes, then watch something fun on Netflix!


The last book I read was… You are a Badass by Jen Sincero (and I am — sometimes!)


I stay inspired by… my children, they are young and very impressionable right now. I am hoping my drive and passion will sink in.


The future excites me because… there are so many places I have yet to see, some of which with my kids as well. Also, I have a few projects I want to accomplish that I have started to work on and want to see come to life.


My next step is… to focus more on being in the moment with everyone, but especially with my children.


How Catherine Velie, general manager at Delta Toronto, is finding balance http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/2018/11/25/how-catherine-velie-general-manager-at-delta-toronto-is-finding-balance/ Sun, 25 Nov 2018 05:44:01 +0000 http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/?p=191542 Catherine Velie believes that the idea of “having it all” puts too much pressure on women. But she’s still found her own way to balance her role as general manager of the Delta Toronto hotel with marriage and motherhood — thanks to defined boundaries, a network that’s willing to lend a hand, and a supportive employer.


By Sarah Kelsey



“The pressure to say ‘I have to do it all’ is too much on someone — it’s a big phrase,” says Catherine Velie, when asked about whether women can have it all. “For me, it’s about finding a balance of where I need to be in each of my lives, prioritizing work and personal commitments and setting the example that it can be done.”

Her two lives — personal and professional — make for a busy schedule. Catherine is married and has an 11-year-old son, and she’s also general manager of the Marriott-managed Delta Toronto — one of few women in the industry in this leadership role. (It’s a changing landscape, however; women are increasingly being promoted to general manager roles, as they have proven their ability to run great hotels.)

“If you’re the leader who works early and leaves late, then you’re setting the example that that’s what you expect of your team. I believe that when you have to work, you work, but when you’re at home, you focus on your family.”

Her mastering of all things work-life balance is partially a product of the people she’s surrounded herself with. Her family and friends lend a hand if she’s in a bind, and she’s built a team of associates who can manage the hotel when she’s at home. Her boss — and the entire Marriott chain — also have supportive beliefs and policies that put staff members’ needs first.

“When you take care of your staff, they’ll feel empowered to take care of the guests,” she says.

Catherine got her start in the busy and competitive tourism field by attending hotel school in Québec at the Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec. From there she took a “carpe diem” approach to her career. She moved across the country for a job at the Westin Calgary, where she worked as the first female server on the evening shift before moving on to the front office. She then went on to hone her management skills at the Westin Grand Cayman before moving to Boston, where she eventually met her husband.

“I was always very vocal about what I wanted. In Boston I was a director of rooms, and I didn’t have a lot of food and beverage experience, but I needed both to become a director of operations — my goal at the time,” she notes. “I had a general manager who was a great leader and who exposed me to new sides of the business to help me grow and encouraged me to take on a new role as Director of Six Sigma. It was a tough year because I truly didn’t know a lot about what I was doing.”


“Through adversity you advance and you get stronger. You have to spend a lot of time doing things that make you uncomfortable.”


But the experience taught her the patience, confidence and leadership she needed to land a dream job: an opportunity to help manage the celeb-beloved W Los Angeles. She came to Toronto by way of Montreal, after she and her husband decided they wanted to raise their L.A.-born son in Canada. As the general manager of Delta Toronto (another Marriott property), she found a position that enabled her to be a mom and manager.

“I’m so grateful to Marriott,” she says of her career with the company and, most importantly, for her current role. “I feel they’re supportive of me as a general manager, but also as a woman and as a mom. Marriott’s support lessens some of the guilt I feel about balancing work and family life.”

The supportive environment is part of a company-wide focus on advancing women. Marriott consistently ranks high on FORTUNE’s 100 Best Workplaces for Women list, and has been on the 100 Best Workplaces to Work For list for 21 consecutive years. They also founded the Marriott Women’s Leadership Development Initiative in 1999 — well before the industry was focusing on gender diversity and inclusion — which has led to the growth of females in decision-making positions.

So what’s Catherine’s advice for young adults who want to get ahead — especially if she doesn’t believe in “having it all”? First, find a company that will support you in all you do — at work and at home. Second, find a mentor. 

“Find that person you connect with — regardless of their location. You need to be able to be true and raw with that person. You need to be able to take their feedback, too.” A good place to start is with your direct boss. Catherine says she regularly has conversations with her associates about what’s next in their careers. Her ultimate goal is to empower and challenge them to move beyond their everyday.

“Through adversity you advance and you get stronger. You have to spend a lot of time doing things that make you uncomfortable,” she says, adding her biggest career growth years were when she felt like a fish out of water.

“I tell my staff, ‘I will help you, I will coach you, but I’m not going to do the work for you. You’re going to have to pull up your sleeves to get certain things done.’”

In the end she says women (and men) need to be vocal about what they want — in work and in life — and to find people who can help make those dreams happen.

“Don’t be scared. Don’t let fear stop you. Don’t be afraid to say what you need to say or ask what you need to ask. There’s always a way. We sometimes get stuck in our comfort zone, but stepping out of it will help you get further. It may be a challenge, but it will bring you a whole new perspective. It will make you a stronger person and a stronger leader.”


Marriott International, Inc. is based in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, and encompasses a portfolio of more than 6,000 properties in 30 leading hotel brands spanning 122 countries and territories. Marriott Hotels of Canada continues to rank as one of the top 50 best places to work in Canada by AON Hewitt and was awarded Hotelier Magazine’s prestigious Company of the Year Pinnacle award for 2015. For more information, please visit our website at www.marriott.com, and for the latest company news, visit www.marriottnewscenter.com. Connect with us on Facebook and @MarriottIntl on Twitter and Instagram.


8 Ways to Transform Your Relationship with Money http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/2018/11/24/8-ways-to-transform-your-relationship-with-money-2/ Sat, 24 Nov 2018 22:37:13 +0000 http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/?p=191536

by Merilfor Toneatto 


The empowerment of professional women is at the forefront of our cultural conversation, ignited by movements that bring gender pay equity and workplace sexual harassment to the forefront.

Women’s economic empowerment is not just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do. Closing the gender pay gap can add $12 trillion to global economic growth by 2025.  For Canada, this could lead to $92 billion in GDP.

Yet despite women comprising half of the world’s population, and representing the largest growing market, we remain an untapped power.  

  • Globally, on average, women earn 77 cents for every dollar men earn. In Canada, women earn 87 cents for every dollar men earn.
  • In leadership, a 2017 Fortune Knowledge Group report with Royal Bank of Canada, found that only 4.2 percent of women hold CEO positions in Fortune 500 companies and 9 percent globally.

What is holding women back from greater wealth and success? What are we missing even after acting on Sheryl Sandberg’s recommendation to “lean in”?

Through my training, working with my clients, and experience in the area of women and money, I realized the root cause of this issue: what holds many women back from making the kind of income they desire and deserve has little to do with their intelligence, motivation, or spirit — but much to do with their relationship to money. This was the missing piece of the puzzle.

I have witnessed that regardless of age, educational background, and income level, many women privately struggle with valuing themselves and their worth, which impacts their ability to succeed in their career or grow their business.

Simply put, money is emotional currency for women. Money is tied to our sense of self-worth and self-confidence, and feelings of safety and security. These emotions can either move you forward or keep you stuck. Perhaps you have experienced money related challenges such as not charging and getting paid what you’re worth, feeling anxious about money conversations, or experiencing feelings of self-doubt or guilt when rising to the top of your career.

I created the 8 Holistic Principles, featured in my book Money, Manifestation & Miracles, to help women break free of unempowering beliefs, emotional blocks and patterns, which can then help you increase your income, impact, wealth and success.


Clarity leads to Alignment

By discovering your purpose, values and natural strengths, you can get into alignment with the best of who you are and everything that you do. This enables you to fully honor your self-worth.


Your Mindset Matters Most

Everything starts with your mindset, because mindset influences your beliefs and actions. Practice identifying a limiting belief about money and shift that belief by replacing it with a more optimistic belief.  Repeat as needed to make the shift.


Heal Your Emotions about Money

We all have emotional triggers regarding money. The four common emotions are fear, guilt, shame and anger. It’s critical to identify your top money emotion and begin to release it.


Confidently Express Yourself

Often, we are unaware of the power of our words in creating our reality.  Practice communicating about money in a more positive way by reframing your language.  Reframe “I will never” to “I will” or “I can.”


Create Your Lasting Impact

Focus on aligning your purpose and passion with your greater “why” with money — i.e. your deeper reason for wanting to make more of it.  This will deepen and anchor your vision, mission and connection to money.


Improve Your Money Habits and Actions

Improve your money habits by developing self-responsibility, accountability and integrity with yourself and your actions, i.e., paying bills on time, using money for your highest good, spending and handling money with care, and earning it in a moral and ethical way.


Empower Your Growth

Surround yourself in an optimal environment, including being with success-minded people and communities to support your growth. Other levels impacting you include your psychological, emotional and spiritual environments.


Focus on Achieving Results

Pay attention to your money and financial activities and take steps to achieve your monetary goals by eliminating unnecessary distractions so that your goal becomes a priority.


By transforming your relationship with money, you can claim your wealth, pay forward your own successes and live the life of your dreams, one that is rich and fulfilling in every way — financially, spiritually, and emotionally.


Merilfor Toneatto is an award-winning leadership and coaching executive. She is CEO of Power With Soul and author of Money, Manifestation & Miracles: A Guide to Transforming Women’s Relationships with Money. After 15 years as a senior leader in the Ontario Public Service, she now empowers women to claim their wealth + rise as a force for good.  Visit www.meriflor.co  


Five Minutes With Marie Harf, Political Analyst and Co-Host of Benson and Harf http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/2018/11/23/five-minutes-with-marie-harf-political-analyst-and-co-host-of-benson-and-harf/ Fri, 23 Nov 2018 15:00:39 +0000 http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/?p=191521

Marie Harf had a successful political career during President Obama’s time in the White House, with key roles as senior adviser for strategic communication to Secretary of State John Kerry; national security and foreign policy adviser for President Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential re-election campaign; and analyst on Middle East leadership issues in the C.I.A.’s Directorate of Intelligence. In January 2017, shortly after the shift in presidential power, Marie joined FOX news as a contributor — even though her political opinions certainly differed, and still do. She currently serves as a FOX News Channel analyst and co-host of FOX News Radio’s Benson and Harf, for which she discusses the latest headlines emanating from Washington alongside her co-host, Guy Benson. 



Describe your journey to your current position, from C.I.A. analyst to White House communications advisor to political commentator. Looking back, could you have predicted this path?

I definitely would have not predicted it. I was in college on September 11th, 2001 studying political science. At that point I realized I wanted to study the Middle East and foreign policy. When I graduated I applied for only one job, at the C.I.A. as an analyst. Luckily I got the job, and moved to Washington, D.C. to start working at the non-partisan C.I.A. After three years or so I wanted a broader look at the agency, so, without any media training, I applied to be the media spokesperson. It was a time when the C.I.A. was trying to do more publicity and become more transparent. Then, since I loved politics, when the 2012 re-election campaign rolled around I left the agency to work for President Obama’s campaign, running the national security policy. I now tell everyone to work on a political campaign. It’s such an amazing experience, if you ever can, to get to go to work every day and fight for values that are important to you. When Secretary of State John Kerry became Secretary, I moved to the state department, and since at this point I had media experience, I became his spokesperson.


How did you know your latest move to FOX was the right step for your career?

I started at FOX the day after the Obama administration left the office, beginning on the TV side, and then earlier this year I started a daily radio show called Benson and Harf. The election of 2016 really taught me that more people needed to hear diverse voices. I thought it was important to have a Democrat with a progressive point of view working at the network, which gave me a platform and opportunity to bring my message to millions of viewers who don’t hear this point of view as often. I think it’s really important for people to hear different points of view, and to not just be in our own news silos. Not only that, more people watch FOX News than other channel, and the audience is not all conservatives and republicans. In terms of reaching an incredibly large audience, which is the reason you get into media and television, for me this made the most sense.


How do you handle the criticism that comes with being in the public eye?

No matter where you are in the public eye you get criticism. What I’ve found is that a lot of the feedback I get from people, people I don’t know, is “I don’t agree with you politically, but I appreciate your point of view and I’m glad to hear your perspective and I’m happy you’re on this platform.” It’s comfortable to be in our silos, but a lot of people now want to hear different points of view. We have a great team at FOX, and even though we may disagree on politics, we’re all supportive of each other. Social media is really important, but when you’re in the public eye you have to have a thick skin, which is okay because these are tough, important issues people care deeply about.


“The fact that I get to play a role in the debate in the U.S. and give my opinion and talk through complicated issues on a daily basis feels like a gift.”


What do you enjoy most about your job? What do you enjoy the least?

Politics is so all consuming right now, the fact that I get to play a role in the debate in the U.S. and give my opinion and talk through complicated issues on a daily basis — whether with my radio co-host, Guy Benson, or my TV colleagues — feels like a gift. Everyone has political opinions but not everyone gets to make their case on a platform like I do. There are times when I wish I could close my eyes and not think about politics. The negative and divisive politics can be hard, and those who came to Washington as idealists are having a tough time right now. But ultimately, it’s okay, it’s okay to say that “this is hard.” We will be okay. Every generation feels worse than ever, but of course that’s not true: in the United States we had the Civil War, segregation, etc, and we’ve come such a long way. The difference today is the impact of social media. We can do amazing things with it, like stream our programs and interact with fans, but it’s also where some of the difficulties of the country become amplified. That’s a challenge today that feels very different and we haven’t figured it out yet. It’s our responsibility to try to make things better.


How do you ensure your voice is heard, in political conversations where men’s voices are often the loudest and historically taken more seriously?

I think the idea that men’s voices are heard more is changing. Starting in the Obama administration, we had a lot of really strong women who played key roles, and their voices were certainly heard and contributed substantially to the conversation. I think that ultimately things have changed on FOX, too — for example, we have so many incredible, strong women on air, including Martha MacCallum and Dana Perino. A lot of women have stepped up to the plate saying, “We belong here and are a part of the conversation.”


What do you hope to be remembered by?

I think my party is going through a generational shift. The Democratic Party in the U.S. has to figure out what’s next, and what values we will represent, whether it be economic opportunity, equality, civil rights, etc. I want to play a constructive role in that conversation, and help the party I love transition into the next phase — how that happens, how we reach Americans and voters, and speak to them about what we represent, which is a reason I’m at FOX. We have a huge, dedicated, loyal audience, and when I meet a fan or someone on the street and they say they don’t agree with me but they appreciate my voice, they see I’m a normal person from Ohio with a family who likes college football. Humanizing the political opposition is important for governing but also for discourse, and I’m proud to play a tiny role in that.


2018 RBC CANADIAN WOMEN ENTREPRENEUR AWARD WINNERS ANNOUNCED TODAY http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/2018/11/22/2018-rbc-canadian-women-entrepreneur-award-winners-announced-today/ Thu, 22 Nov 2018 14:00:20 +0000 http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/?p=191473  

Seven outstanding female entrepreneur winners awarded out of a record-breaking 7,400 nominees




TORONTO, NOVEMBER 21st, 2018 – The 26th annual RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards, presented by Women of Influence, have named seven winners of this year’s prestigious awards. They join the six recipients of the new up-and-coming entrepreneur ‘Ones to Watch’ category, announced earlier in September. This year’s winners and recipients span sectors that include innovative apparel solutions, trailblazing food conservation, next-generation fertility treatment, progressive childcare and much more.

“RBC is honoured to celebrate the achievements of Canadian women entrepreneurs who have been instrumental in driving business success in Canada,” says Greg Grice, Executive Vice President, Business Financial Services, RBC. “We’re proud to put a spotlight on this year’s winners who are exceptional leaders, innovators and rising stars. Their leadership, passion and entrepreneurial spirit serve as an inspiration for the next generation of Canadian entrepreneurs to pursue their aspirations and be part of Canada’s thriving business community.”

Now in their 26th year, the awards recognize the country’s leading female entrepreneurs who have made impressive and substantial contributions to the local, Canadian or global economy. We are honoured to have a panel of 12 judges that is comprised of some of Canada’s top business leaders, including: Karen Greve Young, CEO Futurpreneur; Bonnie Foley-Wong, Chief Investment Innovator, Pique Ventures & Founding Investor, Pique Fund; Paulette Senior, President & CEO, Canadian Women’s Foundation and Karen Brookman, Partner and Chief Innovation Office West Canadian Digital Imaging.

The announcement was made at a gala reception on November 21st, hosted by Marcia MacMillan, National TV News Anchor, Host and Reporter, CTV News Channel.

Following yet another record-breaking 7,400 nominees, this year’s winners are:

  • Glain Roberts-McCabe, The Roundtable, Toronto, ON, Micro-Business Award presented by Diversity Institute & Magnet Export Business Portal
  • Joanna Griffiths, Knix Wear Inc., Toronto, ON, Staples Start-Up Award
  • Dr. Marjorie Dixon, Anova Fertility and Reproductive Health, Toronto, ON, RBC Momentum Award
  • Latha Sukumar, MCIS Language Solutions, Toronto, ON, Social Change Award
  • Toni Desrosiers, Abeego, Victoria, BC, TELUS Trailblazer Award
  • Victoria Sopik & Jennifer Nashmi, Kids & Company, Toronto, ON, Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award

The Gala also honoured the recipients of the Ones to Watch Award, Presented by Freshco.ca: Kate Latos, Ecofence and Decking Ltd.; Jessica Ching, Eve Medical; Humera Malik, Canvass Analytics; Thao Nguyen, Bonbon Collections Inc.; Sonja Mills & Alicia MacDonald, Port Rexton Brewing Company Ltd.

Alicia Skalin, Co-CEO and Head of Events and Programming, Women of Influence Inc., congratulated the winners for their incredible achievements, and for inspiring future generations of female entrepreneurs. “The incredible growth of our program reflects the increasing number of successful women-owned businesses in our country and the growing diversity in industries across Canada. The 2018 winners have turned their personal passions—from art and fashion to development to medicine – into thriving businesses. They have earned the esteem of their peers and their communities and are truly paving the way for future female entrepreneurs.” explained Ms. Skalin.

For more information on this year’s award winners, visit www.womenofinfluence.ca/rbc-cwea.


About the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards

The RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards are the pre-eminent national business awards recognizing the country’s leading female entrepreneurs. The awards are an initiative of Women of Influence, an award-winning organization dedicated to advancing women globally.


About Women of Influence Worldwide Inc.

Women of Influence, now in its 24th year, is one of North America’s leading organizations working towards gender equality in the workplace — by empowering individuals. Through our events, content, awards, courses and coaching, Women of Influence annually reaches a community of over 300,000 professional women and men across Canada and internationally. Providing insights and inspiration, sharing the stories of extraordinary women, and creating opportunities to connect — we are making change happen for women, today. For more information, please visit www.womenofinfluence.com


For interview requests or further information please contact:

Amanda Kruzich, Women of Influence, 416 456 8633, akruzich@womenofinfluence.ca

Yuri Park, RBC, 437 229 2742, yuri.park@rbc.com

LES LAURÉATES DES PRIX CANADIENS DE L’ENTREPRENEURIAT FÉMININ RBC 2018 ONT ÉTÉ ANNONCÉES AUJOURD’HUI http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/2018/11/22/les-laureates-des-prix-canadiens-de-lentrepreneuriat-feminin-rbc-2018-ont-ete-annoncees-aujourdhui/ Thu, 22 Nov 2018 14:00:13 +0000 http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/?p=191474  

Sept entrepreneures remarquables se sont distinguées parmi 7 400 candidatures, un record



TORONTO, LE 21 NOVEMBRE 2018 – Sept lauréates ont été récompensées à la 26e remise des prestigieux Prix canadiens de l’entrepreneuriat féminin RBC, présentés par Femmes d’influence. Elles se joignent aux six lauréates de la nouvelle catégorie Entrepreneure prometteuse, qui avaient été dévoilées en septembre. Les lauréates de cette année personnifient l’innovation dans divers secteurs, dont l’industrie du vêtement, la conservation des aliments, les solutions de fertilité, les soins à l’enfant et bien plus encore.

« C’est un honneur pour RBC de célébrer les réalisations d’entrepreneures canadiennes qui ont joué un rôle crucial dans la réussite des affaires au Canada, déclare Greg Grice, vice-président directeur, Services financiers à l’entreprise, RBC. Nous sommes fiers de braquer les projecteurs sur les lauréates de cette année, qui sont des chefs de file exceptionnelles, des innovatrices et des étoiles montantes. Leur leadership, leur passion et leur esprit d’entreprise sont des sources d’inspiration pour la nouvelle génération d’entrepreneurs canadiens qui souhaitent réaliser leurs ambitions et faire partie du dynamique milieu des affaires canadien. »

Les prix, qui en sont à leur 26e année d’existence, visent à reconnaître l’impressionnante contribution des entrepreneures du pays à l’économie locale, canadienne ou mondiale. Nous sommes privilégiés d’avoir un jury formé de 12 chefs de file du milieu des affaires du Canada, dont Karen Greve Young, chef de la direction, Futurpreneur, Bonnie Foley-Wong, chef de l’investissement innovateur, Pique Ventures, et investisseuse fondatrice, Pique Fund, Paulette Senior, présidente et directrice générale, Fondation canadienne des femmes, et Karen Brookman, associée et chef de l’innovation, West Canadian Digital Imaging.

Les lauréates ont été dévoilées le 21 novembre lors d’un gala animé par Marcia MacMillan, présentatrice de nouvelles, animatrice et journaliste sur la chaîne nationale CTV News.

Voici les lauréates de cette année, sélectionnées parmi 7 400 candidates, un nouveau record :

  • Glain Roberts-McCabe, The Roundtable, Toronto (Ontario), prix Micro-entreprise présenté par le Diversity Institute et Magnet Export Business Portal
  • Joanna Griffiths, Knix Wear Inc., Toronto (Ontario), prix Nouvelle entreprise Staples
  • Marjorie Dixon, Anova Fertility & Reproductive Health, Toronto (Ontario), prix Dynamisme RBC
  • Latha Sukumar, MCIS Language Solutions, Toronto (Ontario), prix Évolution sociale
  • Toni Desrosiers, Abeego, Victoria (Colombie-Britannique), prix Pionnière TELUS
  • Victoria Sopik et Jennifer Nashmi, Kids & Company, Toronto (Ontario), prix pour l’excellence entrepreneuriale

Le gala a également rendu hommage aux gagnantes du prix Entrepreneure prometteuse présenté par Freshco.ca : Kate Latos, Ecofence and Decking Ltd. ; Jessica Ching, Eve Medical ; Humera Malik, Canvass Analytics ; Thao Nguyen, Bonbon Collections Inc. ; Sonja Mills et Alicia MacDonald, Port Rexton Brewing Company Ltd.

Alicia Skalin, co-PDG et responsable des activités et de la programmation, Femmes d’influence, a félicité les lauréates de leurs formidables réalisations et du rôle qu’elles jouent pour inspirer les prochaines générations d’entrepreneures. « L’essor de notre programme reflète l’augmentation du nombre de femmes propriétaires d’entreprises qui excellent au pays et la diversité croissante dans plusieurs secteurs d’activité au Canada. Les lauréates 2018 ont transformé leurs passions, que ce soit l’art, la mode, le développement ou la médecine, en entreprises florissantes. Elles ont mérité l’estime de leurs pairs et de la collectivité et elles ouvrent la voie aux entrepreneures de demain », souligne-t-elle.

Pour en savoir plus sur les lauréates de cette année, allez au http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/rbc-cwea-fr.


Les Prix canadiens de l’entrepreneuriat féminin RBC

Les Prix canadiens de l’entrepreneuriat féminin RBC, les prix les plus prestigieux à l’échelle nationale, rendent hommage aux entrepreneures canadiennes d’exception. Ils sont décernés par Femmes d’influence, organisme primé voué à l’avancement des femmes à l’échelle mondiale.


Women of Influence Worldwide Inc. (Femmes d’influence)

Femmes d’influence, qui en est à sa 24e année, est l’un des plus importants organismes nord-américains à promouvoir l’égalité des sexes sur le marché du travail en favorisant l’autonomisation individuelle. Par son offre d’événements, de contenu, de prix, de cours et d’accompagnement, Femmes d’influence appuie chaque année plus de 300 000 professionnelles et professionnels au Canada et ailleurs dans le monde. En informant et en inspirant, en faisant connaître des femmes extraordinaires et en créant des occasions de réseautage, l’organisme contribue chaque jour à changer la situation des femmes. Pour obtenir de plus amples renseignements, veuillez consulter le site www.womenofinfluence.com.


Pour demander une entrevue ou obtenir de plus amples renseignements, veuillez communiquer avec :

Amanda Kruzich, Femmes d’influence, 416 456-8633, akruzich@womenofinfluence.ca

Yuri Park, RBC, 437 229-2742, yuri.park@rbc.com

Three Lessons from Michelle Obama about Finding Your Voice http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/2018/11/16/three-lessons-from-michelle-obama-about-finding-your-voice/ Fri, 16 Nov 2018 20:35:16 +0000 http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/?p=191300

Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming, is not only a candid look at her journey from a cramped South Side apartment in Chicago to her position on the world stage today, it’s also full of lessons that anyone can learn from — like how to speak powerfully in public and express yourself honestly. Read on for some advice from the former First Lady.


By Dana Rubin



Michelle Obama’s memoir Becoming quickly made headlines for revelations about her infertility treatments and unfiltered comments about Donald Trump. But I see another story that will endure now that those headlines have faded: a woman who struggled and succeeded at finding her voice.

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life,” she writes, “it’s the power of using your voice.”

The memoir details Obama’s remarkable journey from a cautious, self-conscious girl from a working class neighborhood in Chicago to one of the most admired women in the world. One theme she returns to again and again is her desire to speak powerfully in public and express herself honestly.

And who among us doesn’t want to do that? Fortunately, Obama’s memoir gives us plenty of lessons to learn from.

get help

In the early days of her husband’s presidential campaign, for the first time in her life, Obama was expected to do a fair amount of public speaking. She spoke in living rooms, bookstores, union halls, and retirement homes, “energizing volunteers, and trying to win over leaders in the community.”

But she never got any guidance. “What they didn’t tell me was what my message in Iowa was supposed to be,” she writes. “I was given no script, no talking points, no advice.”

After her husband’s victory in Iowa, the crowds got bigger and the stakes got higher.

She describes her anguish when a line she tossed out while campaigning in Wisconsin — “…let me tell you something, for the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country” — became fodder for conservative radio and television talk shows.

That led to an surprise intervention with advisors Valerie Jarrett and David Axelrod, who sat her down and showed her videos of some of her public appearances with the volume turned down. That way she was able to focus on some less than flattering facial expressions that she would need to control.

This was a turning point. Afterwards, Obama insisted on getting support in the form of a communication specialist to help sharpen her message and delivery. In time, that helped her feel “a new ease, a new ownership of my voice.”

Like Obama, you don’t have to go it alone. Sign up for a workshop or program. Get a coach. Join a local chapter of Toastmasters or the National Speakers Association. No matter what our experience level, there’s always room to improve. Help is within reach.

get ready

Obama makes it clear that even in childhood she was hyper-organized and prepared — which is an asset when it comes to public speaking.

For her 17-minute speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2008, she “rehearsed and re-rehearsed until I could pace the commas in my sleep…”

She found huge comfort in preparation. A teleprompter was set up in a corner of her office in the East Wing of the White House, and she used it. She also pushed her scheduler and advance teams to make sure every detail of her public appearances went smoothly and on time.

The truth is, rehearsing for a speaking event can be uncomfortable, in fact downright stressful. But the single biggest mistake speakers make is to wait until the last minute, or wing it.

Put aside excuses not to prepare and commit to putting in the time until you feel comfortable and confident about your delivery. Enlist a friend to rehearse with, or record yourself on your smartphone. You’ll probably see ways to improve, like Obama did.

get real

The deeper Obama got into the experience of being First Lady, the more she felt comfortable just being herself. That brought a consistency to her communication style — whether she was speaking to college graduates, the homeless, hip-hop stars or massive, prime time audiences.

She writes that she established a strict code for herself “to only say what I absolutely believed and what I absolutely felt.” Over time, she began to feel urgency about not wasting the precious opportunity she’d been given to speak out — so she made the most of it, with lasting resonance.

Stumping for Hillary Clinton at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia in 2016, she wanted to deliver the message that “words matter.” She will forever be remembered for her eloquent call that night for civility in public discourse: “When they go low, we go high.”

Reading Obama’s memoir, you get the feeling she has a lot more to say. As she promotes her book and speaks to packed arenas around the country, she knows girls and women around the world will be watching and listening carefully. I hope she inspires more of them to step up and speak out.

What motivates you to use your voice? What issues do you care enough about to champion in public? Define your core beliefs and the causes you care about, and learn to speak about them persuasively. That’s power.



Dana Rubin is the CEO of VizibilityLab, a consultancy that develops female talent to be visible and influential thought leaders.