Women are Leaders
By Sarah Flynn, Project Coordinator with NLOWE
Being a leader can take on many forms, whether it means being a volunteer with a local community group, running a business, or serving as director on a board of an association or organization. Women are leaders every day. As an organization that has been supporting women for twenty-five years, NLOWE remains true to its mandate to help women start, grow, and advance their businesses, and we know with certainty that you are all leaders. Women in this province are blazing trails, testing the waters, being bold, being community leaders and mentors, visionaries, innovators, and role models.
The pandemic has affected women both personally and professionally. Despite persistence, determination, and resolve, as the United Nations described in a policy brief during the early days of COVID-19, “a pandemic amplifies and heightens all existing inequalities” (UN Policy Brief: The Impact of COVID-19 on Women, April 9, 2020). In recent publications about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on women in the labour force, it is evident that women balancing home and work life—including child care and sometimes parental care, remote and hybrid work models, working directly with the public in areas such as service and health care—have faced worry, stress, and isolation as significant everyday challenges. Adding to that, the pressures women entrepreneurs have experienced throughout the pandemic of keeping their businesses running and reimagining and adapting businesses to work within the pandemic restrictions have been indisputable everyday considerations.
With all of this in mind, taking on or moving into new leadership positions at any level may not have been a priority in recent years. While some women have found new ways of working and new work norms to be of benefit, others have found change and new measures challenging and overwhelming.
When the workforce moves into new post-pandemic reality, it will remain important to discuss the value of increasing the number of women in leadership positions. While generally more women are moving into leadership roles at all levels, women are still underrepresented. As an example, in 2018, 18.3 percent of board members of Canadian corporations were women (”Representation of women on boards of directors, 2018,” Statistics Canada). To achieve equal representation of the population at all levels and in all activities, more women need to engage in leadership positions.
NLOWE is embarking on new initiatives to help create more gender-diverse leadership in the workplace. This article is the first in a series exploring the importance of women in leadership roles and how to encourage and help those who identify as women to pursue senior positions.
Sara Flynn is a Project Coordinator with NLOWE. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org