During this year’s Gender Equality Week, we took an opportunity to speak to women who have contributed to the growth, development, and identity of Canada & beyond; and to celebrate the significant achievements and accomplishments made in advancing gender equality.
The first powerhouse of gender equality we introduce to you is Amy Robichaud, the Executive Director of Dress for Success Vancouver & our valued Member of The Members’ Club at WNORTH.
Hi Amy, tell us about the work you do to help achieve greater gender equality in the world. What area of assistance are you most passionate about?
As the Executive Director of Dress for Success Vancouver, I lead a community of economic first responders helping women in need with gender intelligent pre-employment and job retention programs. This means that I spend my days (and sometimes evenings and weekends) working with others to empower women into the workforce – we lift as we rise.
We empower women into good jobs, financial independence, and personal success. This is critical work since a resilient and recovering economy must be inclusive of everyone.
This work is always ongoing and starts with trust. Our clients may come through our doors looking for a job or an interview outfit. However, they find that and so much more: a community and network of support and care that grows with them and because of them.
What do you wish more people knew about the fight for gender equality?
I wish more people understood the economic impact of gender equality.
In 2020 alone – in the midst of the pandemic – the collective economic value of the wages earned by Dress for Success Vancouver clients who found employment was $2.7 million.
What, in your opinion, should all employers do to positively impact gender equality within their organizations?
Run a gender analysis of your corporate benefits packages. Do your benefits cover all forms of contraception? Do they include flexible care options for families and leave options for caregivers? Is parental leave applicable to both parents? Do you have a loss of pregnancy leave for both parents? Do you have systems and care support for gender transition? Are your care days flexible for use and provided adequately? Have you asked your employees what benefits are most valuable to them?
And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that there isn’t any singular action to impact gender equality that is enough. We need systems and cultural change within our corporate and business communities and organizations. This will take time. This IS THE WORK. And it is worth it for us all.
What do you enjoy the most about your mission and your work?
Working towards gender equality is a daily practice. I’m honored to do this work with Dress for Success Vancouver – we have an amazing and diverse staff, volunteer, and supporter family. A group of gender equality champions who lift as they rise.
What I love most about this generous and ambitious community is that when you walk into a room with them, you simply cannot tell who a client, volunteer, or donor is – they are merely women surrounding each other with support and powerful opportunity.
None of us can do the work of achieving gender equality alone. My superpower is my community – all of you – my family – and the women and champions who keep going each day.
Connect with Amy & Explore Dress for Success
About Dress for Success
Founded in 1997 in New York, Dress for Success is an organization dedicated to assisting the women in our community who need help to make ends meet. Its mission is to empower women into the workforce by providing professional attire, career services, and skills development programs. And they do just that – since the start of their organization, Dress for Success has helped more than a million women worldwide.
Their work entails so much more than just a brand new outfit. What starts with appearance goes on to building womens’ confidence, defining what success means to them, and helping them tap into the knowledge that they have the full power to rebuild their life.