It’s no secret that women remain underrepresented in decision-making roles globally. In Canada, while nearly half of the workforce is female, only a quarter of executive positions and a fifth of board positions are held by women. However, many studies show this: companies win (literally!) by appointing women to their management teams. According to an analysis of 21,980 companies from 91 different countries, the presence of women in leadership positions helps to increase a company’s profitability.
We discussed the contribution of women to the job market with five professionals who are standing out in the communication, marketing and production sectors. Here’s what emerged from our discussions, with supporting evidence.
A lever for change
Women offer different perspectives and approaches than their male counterparts. By breaking the status quo, they spark new ideas and drive innovation.
Per Dafina Savicagency co-founder uena, each person, depending on their experience and skills, brings something unique to the company. This diversity of ways of doing and thinking is due to a set of factors, including gender, but we must be careful not to limit ourselves to that. In fact, it’s the mix that really makes things happen.
“If female leadership is increasingly influencing the business world, it is because women finally have access to positions and the means to do so. The presence of women disturbed environments that were, and sometimes remain, homogeneous. The presence of women made it possible to analyze things differently, bring even more ideas and bring about innovative changes. The same logic applies to people of diverse backgrounds.”
To corroborate her observations, the businesswoman cites the principle of work-family balance as an example. “This is an issue that has been around for years but was not considered a major concern as it was felt to primarily affect women, who at the time were much less present in the workplace. Today, the presence of women has led to a better understanding of the realities and needs related to work-family balance and enabled the adoption of management practices that promote a better work-family balance for all”.
Mutual help and solidarity
At all levels of management, women support their employees more regularly and promote more diversity within their teams.
Genevieve Cabana-Proulxpresident of SUM, does not have the usual profile of a production house manager. The one who started out as a receptionist at the cashier learned the tricks of the trade thanks to the generosity of her mentor and founder of SUM, Jacinthe Arsenal.
“I don’t think I would be where I am today if I didn’t have a wife like Hyacinth as patroness. She never saw competition in me; she saw the succession. She passed all her knowledge to me before passing the torch to me, as if I were the heiress to a family business. I think by helping each other like this, we can go further.
In such a competitive environment as the production one, the spirit of collaboration was not always welcomed, according to the business manager.
“When I started, 15 years ago, I was looking for underwear and found myself in the elevator with men who never spoke to me. Everything was done in secret. Today, I don’t mind having lunch with the competition. I think the women brought that aspect of openness there. Healthy and respectful competition is possible!”
A resilience model for the next generation
More women in boardrooms means more women in leadership roles and more girls and young people inspired by all the possibilities available to them.
Between 1972 and 2018, the number of women-owned businesses in the United States grew from 402,000 to over 13 million. In 2013, France-Aimy Tremblay got on the trend when he co-founded Romeo and Son with your partner, Martin Henry. At the time, she was just 25 years old.
“I have a very unusual past. I did my pure sciences at Cégep, then I was admitted to the doctorate in chiropractic at Trois-Rivières. It really wasn’t for me. One day, I gave away all my books and moved to Montreal on a whim. It was working in bars and meeting many people from the world of music and cinema that I got to know the production. It was difficult, I had to be very resilient to get here.
In the last few years of the pandemic, several studies have shown that women are particularly resilient in difficult situations – especially in times of crisis.
“For me, there is never a problem. I’m still in solution mode. As I learned my job at work, I have this ability to adapt to all situations, like a chameleon, and to be conciliatory. I’m ready to surround myself with the next generation and train them, as long as they have the right attitude and determination to help us move forward.”
Traditionally, society encourages girls to be empathetic, to use the right words to express their emotions, and to develop deep and sincere relationships. Those ones interpersonal skills or soft skills are used more by female leaders than by male leaders.
Sports presenter and columnist Genevieve Tardif has often had the opportunity to observe the difference women make in an industry heavily dominated by men.
“I think we’re looking for a little more excitement. I realize that I probably use my sensitivity and empathy more to carry out projects or ask questions. By talking about sport differently, we allow people to discover athletes from a different angle.
Since she started the show Sports, point! with his friend and former Olympic diver Roseline Filion, genevieve also notes that the presence of several women around the table often leads to greater transparency.
“Sports, point!, is a 100% female project. We wanted to break out of the mold by surrounding ourselves exclusively with women behind and in front of the camera. This allows us to work differently. We are more confident, we feel that our opinion matters more and I think respondents feel good about discussing some more sensitive topics with us.”
The search for harmony
The participation of women in the establishment of peace agreements increases the chances of lasting more than two years by 20% and by 35% the chances of lasting fifteen years.
Let’s transpose this data to the world of work as we know it and it summarizes in a way the approach ofAnnie LaroucheVice President of OperationsMontreal Alliance. With over 30 years of experience, A-N-A is a big name in Quebec’s sporting world, but she’s also one of the few women to have earned an important place for herself.
In 2018-2019, women held just 23% of board seats and 19% of industry seats.
“The reality is that men had to open doors for me. Men had to believe me, and I always understood that. It is important to claim our place, but we have to do it the right way, precisely by provoking reflections that break stereotypes and promote inclusion.”
In 2018, the former director of the community component and head coach of cheerleading Montreal Alouettes made the decision to add a handful of men to his top flight team. In addition to helping to diversify the group, the initiative, which surprised many, made it possible to redefine the image that the public — including the administration — had of these athletes. More recently, she has also brought her male colleagues from Canadian Elite Basketball League consider fan needs and wants in your overall strategy.
“As women, I think we’re used to being asked from all sides, from all sides. Traditionally, we are called upon to play several roles, so we quickly learn the importance of flexibility and synergy. Our track record means we may be more inclined to consider multiple points of view, want to rally people around our decisions and explain our actions. Not everyone will always agree, but they will understand. I think counting the real deal, we get a more harmonious atmosphere.”
A growing influence
Fortunately, across the world, including in Quebec, many talented women continue to demonstrate the importance of female leadership and equity in the workplace. Just think of leaders like Sophie Brochu (president ofHydro-Quebec), Isabelle Hudon (Manager and Canadian Ambassador to France) or to Valerie Plant (Mayor of Montreal) to trust that things are going in the right direction.