You Need to Meet: Beth Borody, Mining Executive and Founder of the Femina Collective
Her business went from a video call to providing scholarships for women in the natural resources industry
Beth Borody is the Founder and CEO of The Femina Collective, an organization committed to radically changing the experience and representation of women in the natural resource sector. What first began as a Zoom call quickly grew into an initiative, reinforcing a need for a system of support for women in the industry. As a seasoned mining executive, Beth is celebrated for her innovative approach to developing progressive and forward-facing ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) strategies. In 2021, Beth’s exceptional work in promoting women and underrepresented groups in Canadian mining earned her prestigious recognition as one of the Globe and Mail’s Top 50 Changemakers in Canada. Her leadership and dedication to fostering an inclusive environment in the mining industry have positioned her as a key figure in driving significant change within the sector.
What inspired you to start your organization for women in the natural resource industry, Femina Collective?
Femina Collective emerged from recognizing a need for women in the natural resource sector, particularly those in senior roles, to connect and support each other. This initiative began during the pandemic, with a simple Zoom call to six women for a well-being check. The positive response was immediate, leading to regular quarterly meetings. Remarkably, within just four calls, our group expanded to 46 women from 16 different companies across Canada, all through word-of-mouth. This rapid growth highlighted the necessity for a dedicated community where women can connect, share experiences, and find support in a field often dominated by men. We aim to create a space where women feel safe, heard, and reassured that they are not alone in their professional journeys, whether navigating challenges or celebrating successes.
What were you doing before the Femina Collective?
Before and during the founding of Femina Collective, I held an executive position at a mid-sized gold mining company in Canada. At the age of 33, I was distinguished not only as a woman in a senior role but also as notably younger than all of my peers. My role in the mining sector was centred around developing people-first sustainability strategies, with a strong emphasis on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives. This included advocating for greater representation of women and fostering improved relationships with Indigenous partners. The challenges I faced were significant: skepticism from male colleagues, workplace gossip, and a disconnect from other young women in the industry. My diverse career, encompassing self-started businesses and various organizational roles, honed my ability to identify and address the professional support gaps for women. These experiences and my commitment to focusing on people to build strategies and competitive advantages were pivotal in the conception and development of Femina Collective.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned as an entrepreneur? How has this shaped how you conduct yourself in business?
Femina Collective, my third entrepreneurial venture, has been a journey of continuous learning. The most significant lesson I’ve learned is the power of acknowledging what I don’t know. Embracing curiosity and seeking help have become my greatest assets. While I possess the knack for transforming ideas into reality, I rely on others to identify blind spots and offer guidance. Entrepreneurship can be a solitary path, often challenging one’s ego. Recognizing this, I strive to maintain a questioning attitude and focus on building a company attuned to our members’ needs and informed by data. This approach ensures Femina Collective’s success, emphasizing that ego can often stifle creativity and hinder collaboration in entrepreneurial endeavours.
What are some unique challenges women face in the natural resources sector?
The natural resource industry continues to significantly underrepresent women, particularly in Canada, where we make up only about 15% of the workforce. This figure has remained stagnant over the years. Moreover, women tend to occupy junior roles, and their retention diminishes as senior positions are allocated. The industry has been slow to adapt to women’s needs, such as family responsibilities, caregiving duties, or the challenges of balancing professional and domestic roles. Furthermore, women in this field often face harassment, sexual assault, and bullying, and are frequently labelled as ‘troublemakers’ for addressing these issues. Speaking out can lead to being stereotyped as ‘loud’ or ‘abrasive,’ when their male counterparts are often commended for similar assertiveness. The situation is even more challenging for women of colour, Indigenous women, and members of the 2SLGBTQI+ community, who face additional layers of underrepresentation and obstacles beyond those encountered by caucasian women.
What is one of the most important things you’ve learned about yourself as an entrepreneur?
Through my experience with Femina Collective, I’ve realized that it’s acceptable if only some people support the initiative or approve of my role in founding it. The Collective, often criticized in the industry as a ‘feminist’ group perceived to work against men, has taught me the importance of filtering out negative feedback. I’ve learned to concentrate on the community’s purpose and the immense value it provides to its members. Often, criticism arises from a place of discomfort, signalling that we’re addressing important issues. I’ve embraced the idea that encountering resistance is a part of the journey and have chosen to move forward with kindness and resilience. My focus remains steadfast on positive impact and growth, rather than expending energy on countering negative opinions.
What do you love the most about running the Femina Collective and why?
The essence of Femina Collective, and what I cherish most about it, lies in the incredible women who engage with us — whether as members, event attendees, or participants in our virtual calls. These women are extraordinary, each bringing immense value to both the community and the broader industry. The sense of achievement I feel in having created a safe and nurturing space for them surpasses any other accomplishment in my career. It’s the depth of our conversations, the genuine support shared among members, and the connections formed that truly resonate. These interactions transcend typical networking; they foster lifelong friendships and meaningful bonds. This profound impact on individuals and the collective strength it generates is what makes Femina Collective profoundly rewarding and unique.
In addition to fostering personal connections, Femina Collective is deeply committed to giving back. In our first two years, we have proudly donated $25,000 in scholarships to women pursuing post-secondary and trade-related programs in the natural resource sector. This initiative underscores our dedication to not only supporting our immediate community but also investing in the future of women in our field. This dual focus on nurturing current members and empowering the next generation is at the heart of what makes Femina Collective truly special.
What advice would you offer to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Follow your intuition and pursue your passions. If you perceive a gap or feel a burning desire to drive change, trust that inner fire and take action. It’s crucial to build a network of mentors and supporters who can provide guidance and encouragement during challenging times. However, the most important aspect is to have confidence in your abilities. Believe in yourself and your potential to make a difference. You have the strength and capability to achieve your goals, so go ahead and seize the opportunity. Trust your gut — it often knows best.
What about you surprises people?
In a world that can sometimes seem self-centred and daunting, it’s uplifting to realize that people inherently want to connect, share, and support causes they believe in. My experience with Femina Collective has consistently shown me the generosity of spirit that exists. I am continually amazed by the individuals who reach out, whether through emails or at events, expressing their knowledge of and desire to contribute to the Collective’s success. While it’s easy to be swayed by negative remarks, the real magic lies in witnessing the genuine kindness and willingness to help that people possess. This positive aspect of human nature is not only heartening but also a powerful force driving the success and impact of initiatives like Femina Collective.
If you had an extra hour in your day, how would you spend it?
If granted extra time in a day, I would devote it wholeheartedly to my family and friends. Being an entrepreneur, especially when fueled by passion, can consume much of my life. Yet, my family and friends form my strongest support system. Balancing this dynamic requires intentional effort to be present for them. Extra time would be a cherished opportunity for me to step back from my professional role and simply be a mom, friend, wife, sister, or daughter. It would allow me to engage with my loved ones in a more vulnerable and authentic manner, strengthening the bonds that mean the most to me. These moments of personal connection are invaluable, providing a grounding balance to the demands of entrepreneurial life.
What excites you about the future?
The prospect of an unbounded future fuels my enthusiasm for Femina Collective’s growth. I aspire to see our expansion beyond North America, driving a transformative movement for women in the natural resource sector. This vision of radically changing both the experience and representation of women in our field is thrilling. Embracing the unknown, I am confident in my capacity to navigate future challenges, drawing inspiration from the achievements of both my career and Femina Collective over the past decade. The excitement lies in anticipating what we, as women in this industry, can accomplish in the next ten years. I foresee a rise in the representation of women in the workforce, a more inclusive sector for everyone, and a pivotal shift in the industry marked by an increase in women occupying leadership roles and influencing decisions. This future, replete with opportunities and advancements, is what energizes my commitment to Femina Collective and its mission.