Entretien exclusif avec Carolyn Lawrence, CEO et fondatrice de Women of Influence, un réseau canadien référent qui a publié récemment son classement annuel des 25 femmes les plus influentes au niveau national. J’en ai profité pour demander à Carolyn de commenter les résultats de ce ‘ranking’, l’occasion de dresser un état des conditions et perspectives de leadership et business empowerment dans la société canadienne, en VO.
Madame Business : What are some of the new trends revealed by this year’s ranking ?
Carolyn Lawrence : An interesting thing happened this year when we asked each of the Top 25 Women of Influence to answer the question: “Who is your champion?” A champion, we thought, was someone one looks up to, admires, and respects for their accomplishments, and they in turn “champion” a person or woman they believed to have what it takes, but to have not yet achieved their capacity, so likely more junior in career age and stage. So, we were surprised to see that some of our honorees had champions that were younger or junior to them in position. When we asked why, they responded with humbling advice that our teachers in life and our advocates have no age or seniority, it is their impact that makes them so influential in our work and lives.
MB : Have you witnessed major changes in the way listed women manage their careers ?
CL : What I noticed as a major change, was in 2011, when I started to see a trend emerging: women were starting to lead authentically, as women, and find their own voice – no longer feeling the need to emulate male behaviours in order to advance, or act in ways that were not true to their own nature or femininity. Simultaneously we started to see women feel brave enough to leave a corporation whose values were too different from their own. It’s an exciting evolution to be witness to, it’s certainly a slow one, but there is enough evidence to call it a trend.
MB : Is there any canadian specificities to take into account regarding possibilities, working conditions and career development for women ?
CL : Currently, women hold between 14 and 15% of the Board positions available in Canada. Some experts have said that Canada is in a better position than our neighbours to the south (US), but in both countries it is clear that the improvement of this statistic is non-existent. At Women of Influence this is what we endeavour to change; aiming to shatter the glass ceiling from both sides with executive leadership training and role models for women, and the tools corporations need to evolve their cultures into places that value women’s strengths and enable them to perform and succeed – I believe that ultimately this will be a win for us all!
MB : Is making it through entrepreneurship a (more) powerful leverage for women versus men ?
CL : I’m not sure exactly what you’re asking here, but I will say that being an entrepreneur is certainly different for women than for men. Consider the following:
1. Women often site different reasons for starting a business. While men often share their financial goals as the “raison d’etre”, women most likely will state that they are “trying to make something better”. Women want to have an impact on their community, their family, and their economy – for the better; that’s the point of entry.
2. Women also get access to much less funding, statistically, from venture capitalists, banks, or other lenders, often starting their business from savings, or family money.
3. Women bare children, it’s a biological fact, and in Canada, there are no benefits or maternity leaves for women entrepreneurs or small business owners, so it is challenging for sure (and I’m speaking from experience!)
MB : Are there any professionals that you had spotted before and are now in the highlights or maybe some young talents that you(d like to share about with me ?
CL : I am very delighted to have met Kirstine Stewart when she was a Vice President at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. She had been flagged as a potential “future woman of influence”, so she and I went for lunch and got to know each other. A few years later she was promoted to Executive Vice President of the CBC and was a key force in the launching some of the best known, celebrated and revenue generating shows for the station (that often competes with the big networks from the United States), and she also introduced digital media into this “old media” company’s foundation. As a result, we awarded her the Top 25 Women of Influence award. This year she announced she’ll be heading up Twitter Canada, and launching the new media company in our country. We are so proud of her accomplishments and momentum so we continue to celebrate her in our events, magazine and more: http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/kirstine-stewart-lovingit/
MB : I am very much familliar with Rotman’s initiatives for women, how do you consider this kind of factor can change the game ?
CL : Yes, there are many great educational institutions like Rotman, as well as Queen’s School of Business, among others, that address what women want, and need for their career advancement; information and resources in an environment conducive to learning among peers who face similar challenges. What we know is that women’s brains are different than men’s, and in some cases, we need to learn in our own environments, because we communicate differently and problem solve differently. What’s important is that in addition to facilitating women’s advancement in the workforce, we must also advance the business culture, or women will continue to hit the glass ceiling. What we continue to strive for is a Gender Intelligent culture that appreciates and values both qualities and strengths of men and women, and enables us to work better, together.
Mes remerciements à Carolyn pour sa confiance et son temps, félicitations @WomenOfInflnce !
Bien entendu vous pouvez retrouver ce classement en ligne :
Je vous conseille également cette interview d’Arianna Huffington, toujours avec Women of Influence :
A voir également : Fortune 50 Most powerful Women