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How to support your team during Ukraine war and world conflicts

How To Support Your Team During Difficult World Events

By | Blog, Leadership Highlights
– Article inspired by a Community Letter shared by Manpreet Dhillon, CEO & Founder of Veza Global 


As the whole world watches the conflict in Ukraine unfold, it’s impossible to ignore the effect it has had on people across the globe. Understandably, the Russia-Ukraine war is causing concerns about the impact of this attack for many of us. We also know that these events can trigger hopelessness and PTSD for some members of our community.

During these difficult and uncertain times, employers should be aware of the toll the war and their actions may have on their employees. 

In the times of war, combined with the ongoing Great Resignation, this is your time to show that your workplace works for your staff, too – not just the other way round. This article focuses on what you can do as an individual to lead through complex world events.

What can you do to support your organization and team members?

Recognize signs of distress in your team members

In the wake of the attack, people experience different reactions, and there should be no shame in finding it difficult to return to a regular routine.

It is important to remember that those experiencing the shock of an attack may not function normally until the attack passes. Some people experience heightened emotions, irritability, exhaustion, or physical symptoms, while others may navigate through the experience a little easier. There’s no right or wrong in how we respond.

Check in with the individuals who may have family members in the regions of the world that are impacted. They may be worried about the safety of their family members. They also may be reminded of past wars that may bring up old memories, so it is important to show them support through these times. 

Create a psychologically safe environment to share experiences and feelings

Be aware that team members may have opposing political views towards the mainstream view in the office. Please give them a safe space to express their views and opinions, too. Work with managers and their teams to not exclude them for differing viewpoints.

This is an opportunity to foster an inclusive culture to help your employees feel supported, including stressing out your anti-discrimination policies.

When a disagreement occurs, show compassion and support. This can be done through virtual team meetings, followed by one-on-one discussions with individual employees who are directly involved and other employees in the organization to keep them informed about your efforts to resolve the conflict.

Lead the conversation to show your support

Understand the productivity of individuals may be a little lower as the situation unfolds. They may need to discuss and acknowledge what is happening in team meetings. Lead the discussion. Bring up the topic by asking people how they feel about what is happening. Give them an outlet to express their fears and concerns.

You can decide to establish a temporary support group for your workers to dedicate time to connect regularly and address the situation as it unfolds. 

Alternatively, you can decide where it’s possible to allow flexibility and an altered approach to deliverables or deadlines to avoid burnout or work-related stress.

WNORTH's Response

Like the rest of the world, WNORTH is appalled by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Our hearts go out to all victims of the attack.

“Every day, I feel the impact of the horror that Ukrainians are going through right now. As I navigate my day, I can’t help but worry about what happens next. I don’t have relatives in Ukraine, but most of my family resides only one, some two borders away from Ukraine, and are doing what they can to support – either through donations, or directly those who seek refuge around them. Some of my friends invited Ukrainian women and children to their homes. If each of us can do even one small thing, I hope it will make a difference for those who suffer,” shared Iva, our MarComms Manager.

We invite you to support one of the verified fundraising campaign for Ukraine, as shared below.

  • Canadian Red Cross: the local wing of an international emergency-relief organization. The federal government says it will match individual donations by Canadians.
  • Doctors Without Borders: a humanitarian group that’s been supporting Ukraine’s response.
  • Canada-Ukraine Foundation: a Toronto-based group that co-ordinates Canadian charitable aid to Ukraine.
  • Save the Children: an international NGO delivering emergency aid to Ukrainian families.
  • Voices of Children: offers psychological support to children affected by the conflict in Eastern Ukraine.
  • Come Back Alive Foundation: a Ukrainian NGO that supports veterans and co-organizes the Invictus Games in Ukraine.
  • Phoenix Wings: a charitable foundation that supplies the Ukrainian army with medical treatment and defensive equipment such as vests and helmets.
  • Revived Soldiers Ukraine: a non-profit that funds medical rehabilitation for Ukrainian soldiers.
  • Razom for Ukraine: a pro-democracy group that’s fundraising for medical supplies in Ukraine.
  • Kyiv Independent: a Ukraine-based, English-language independent news media outlet.
WNORTH Conference in Whistler British Columbia Canada

The Impact Of Boutique-Style Conferences On Building New Leadership Models

By | Blog, Leadership Highlights

“We need a new playbook that sees people again—that sees above and beyond profits.”
– Hamdi Ulukaya, CEO & founder, Chobani; founder, Tent Partnership for Refugees

Like an arrow, women are uniquely positioned for upward momentum, but the pullback is great. The past year has opened more eyes to the climate crisis, heightened inequality, and failures of governance in emergency response – and minority communities took the hardest hit. 

The 2022 Annual Report Card on Gender Diversity and Leadership shares that in Canada alone, women represent 41.9% of Senior Management roles and slightly more than half of the Pipeline to Senior Management roles (54.8%). 

In sharp comparison, women hold 23.4% of Corporate Director roles and 18.2% of Executive Officer roles of TSX-listed companies that provide disclosure as of July 31, 2021.

We are aware of the gender power gap and unequal access to opportunities for women leaders. The real question remains; “What has a proven record of igniting change?”

In this article, you’ll learn the impact that boutique-style gatherings have on making a tangible difference for women in the workplace.

Addressing the lack of accessible platforms

As we’re witnessing the post-pandemic return of in-person meetings, one challenge persists – the lack of accessible conferences for women’s leadership.

In 2015, Heather Odendaal, the Founder of WNORTH, worked as a Sales Executive for a Fortune 500 company. She looked for an opportunity to elevate her leadership game, navigate to her career, and double down on her confidence. 

To her surprise, finding such a platform turned out to be more complicated than it would seem. But, the lack of global women’s leadership conferences wasn’t the only problem. The accessibility of the existing ones turned out to be a more significant issue. 

When Heather’s application to a global women’s leadership conference, which was also out of her financial reach, was denied, she was left disappointed and out of options. 

Instead of giving up, she decided to fill in the gap and launched the WNORTH organization. Its first boutique-style conference took place in Whistler, Canada, bringing together global leaders business professionals and inspiring women to disrupt barriers that women face in the workplace.

WNORTH Conference 2022

Building A Greater Impact

Large-scale conferences have been around for a while now. They are commonly structured with an agenda, speeches, networking events, and lounges.

Yet, there’s an important drawback to be considered: because of their scale, these events leave little room for meaningful networking opportunities, tailored experiences, and learning that comes mainly from the exchange with experienced professionals.

On the contrary, boutique-style conferences set the tone of community building in a small setting where everyone feels comfortable to connect. Boutique-style conferences are increasing in popularity. Due to their size, they offer more intimate engagements for those who truly want to gain greater business skills and make an impact.

WNORTH Conference in Whistler British Columbia Canada

Promoting Bold Collaboration

When people talk about female leadership, they’re giving the impression that this is only something that matters to women. This goes back to the “women’s problem” or “women’s issue” mindset. 

Fighting the gender power imbalance isn’t a female-only problem. Everyone has the responsibility to catalyze a new leadership model that is inclusive, transparent, urgent, and boldly collaborative – one that places humanity at its heart. 

When we support the brilliance of women’s leaders, it benefits not only themselves but also the families they lead, the teams they manage, and the communities they serve.

We invite you to join the 7th-Annual WNORTH Conference in person or virtually, to engage with visionary speakers, industry experts, and diverse delegates for a powerful agenda surrounding this year’s theme of The New Leadership Playbook for an Inclusive Economy, that will profoundly change your perspective on the future of leadership.

The Conference will return for its 7th installment April 27-29, 2022, in a Hybrid format, in-person in Whistler, and virtually streamed worldwide.

Amy Robichaud: Dressing Women for Success – And More

By | Blog, Community, Leadership Highlights

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.

Amy Robichaud

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.

amy robichaud

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

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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.

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Carrie Gallant Conversational Secrets

Just Published: Carrie Gallant & Conversation Secrets for Tomorrow’s Leaders

By | Blog, Leadership Highlights

"If everything happens through conversations, then why not master it?"

Carrie Gallant is an executive leadership coach, a negotiation strategist, and our very own Mastermind Member at WNORTH. On top of leading The Gallant Leader™ Institute, she is also one of our Leadership Mastermind Facilitators, where she helps women leaders find more significant influence through impactful conversations. 

We sat down with Carrie to learn more about her newly published book Conversation Secrets for Tomorrow’s Leaders: 21 Obvious Secrets That Leaders Don’t Use Enough.

Together with Dr. Mindy L. Gewirtz and Steve Hamilton Clark, Carrie shares 21 “not so obvious” secrets to help tomorrow’s leaders embark on a journey of leading effective conversations – at work and at home.

Hi Carrie, congratulations on publishing your book! What made you choose the theme of conversations?

My co-authors and I have worked with numerous leaders throughout our careers – from emerging leaders to established CEOs. And, regardless of the client’s problem, it always comes down to how they’re managing their conversations.

In fact, research shows that more than 75% of work gets done through conversations. And yet, we find ourselves blocked in our conversations or afraid of having them. Because of that, we aren’t achieving the results we want. And so, we decided to bring awareness about conversational intelligence out in the world.

This book was written to empower leaders to build trust, spark innovation and bring people together. We wrote it for leaders who want to leverage the power of conversations into their leadership.

Carrie Gallant

What can we expect to learn from the advice shared in the book?

All of the 21 secrets illuminate the journey that a leader can go on as they develop throughout their career. The book is broken into three chapters – trust, connection, and collaboration. We see those as the fundamental parts of conversations. They leverage off of one another – we don’t get to collaborate effectively if we don’t build trust. And, there’s no trust if we’re not making connections with others.

To come up with genuinely innovative ideas, we need to feel safe to do so. Often, people have an addiction to “being right.” With that, we shut down others, and more so – we shut down ourselves. Trust in communication creates a safe environment to share yourself – to be innovative.

The 21 Conversation Secrets we share in our book aren’t rocket science – they’ve been around. That’s why we call them “Obvious Secrets’ – because people might know of them, but they aren’t using them enough. Their true secret is how powerful they are.

Tell us more about your journey to becoming the communicator that you are today.

I have a strong history in conflict resolution. I spent many years as a lawyer and mediator, bringing parties in conflict together. As a Leadership Coach, I’m certified in conversational intelligence and authentic leadership. I coach leaders to level up their careers by navigating their conversations, managing conflicts, and having effective conversations.

All three of us brought our unique points of view and experience into the book. All of our levels of expertise are layered on each other. I based my parts on what I have learned as a mediator and my conversational intelligence practice. 

My co-authors and I saw conversational secrets as a way to lead productive conversations – because if everything happens through conversation, then why not master it?

What's your advice on building powerful yet authentic conversational skills?

We learn how to communicate as children. Looking back, did I learn productive things while growing up? Absolutely. Did I learn unproductive things? Absolutely!

The key is to unlearn those unproductive things and replace them with effective ones. Personally, I learned a new way of communicating in law school – specifically an advisory communication style. Mediation exposed me to another form of communicating because all of a sudden, I was in the middle, trying to bring people together.

I always say to my clients that if you’re learning to be a better communicator in the work context, then use it in your personal life, too. The more you use it, the more natural it becomes. I am a big believer in bringing authentic leadership to the table. And the only way we can be authentic leaders is if we are the same person in all of our interactions.

Knowing your own system of values is a crucial factor of authenticity. If something bothers you, it’s likely because your values are being challenged. I encourage everyone to identify their top five values – and repeat this practice throughout their life. Authentic leadership starts by knowing yourself – and your values – well enough.

Which one of the 21 secrets is the closest to you and why?

The one that is particularly close to me is called “Yes, and..”, which is shared in the Collaboration Chapter.

“Yes, and…” comes from the improvisational theatre. It’s a powerful trust-building exercise where we accept the truth of the person we’re talking to and build upon that.

Think about what happens when you say, “Yes, but..” – what does the other person think? Human beings are wired to notice the negative. So, when we change the “but” to “and,” we look at ways to build something – and that’s when we get to start being creative.

When we bring this technique into the business world, we allow ourselves to show up as our best selves and cooperate with others.

Virtual Book Launch Conversation Secrets for Tomorrows leaders

Share with us more information about your Virtual Book Launch Party. Where, how, and what's to be expected?

I’ve just received the copy of the book, and it’s so exciting – it exists! Writing this book has been on my bucket list, and it’s a significant milestone for me.

I posted an unboxing video on our YouTube Channel, 21 Conversation Secrets – and it was a really fun way to share my excitement. In this YouTube Channel, we will be releasing insights into all Secrets over time, so keep it on your radar! 

I would love to invite everyone to our Book Launch Party: “Conversation Secrets for Tomorrow’s Leaders.” It’s a free event happening on Thursday, September 23, 2021, at 9 am PST and 12 pm EST. You can register on Eventbrite

Along with celebrating the book, we’ll also share people’s adaptations of these secrets – so that you can see how they’re used in practice. 

Those who join us at our Virtual Launch Party will get exclusive access to super-valuable bonuses that go together with the copy of the book – as well as a chance to win a signed copy! 

Where can we buy the book?

I’m pleased to say that all major publishers in the US, Canada, and beyond have picked up the book. The best way to get hold of the book, our Masterclass, and some freebies, is to visit our website 21conversationsecrets.com for more information.

If you’d like to leave a review in the future, visit our Amazon page and let us know how these secrets are showing up for you and how you’re working with them!

The last thing I’d love to share is that our book is not a long read – but it’s certainly a valuable one. One of the significant perks of the book is that you don’t have to read it all at once – you can always go back to the one secret you want to apply to your current situation. I’m confident to say that the book will be an invaluable ally to you as you’re managing conversations throughout your entire life. 

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WNORTH's "Just Published" with Fotini Iconomopoulos

Lotte Davis wearing a light dress speaking in a microphone

Goal Setting with Lotte Davis: The Key to Unshakeable Self-Confidence

By | Blog, Community, Featured, Leadership Highlights

Through our Woman-to-Woman series, we bring you interviews with accomplished women who share their key advice for women in leadership. Our first article of the series welcomes Lotte Davis, Canadian entrepreneur and philanthropist, who speaks about her advice on confidence building.

Born in South Africa, her family relocated to Canada when she was a child. Together with her husband, she co-founded a hair-care business AG Hair in 1989. Years later, her company was profitable, stable and her daughters were grown up. That’s when Lotte decided to follow her calling – fight against gender inequality. 

One day, Lotte attended a dinner party with a few friends. All of a sudden, she heard herself saying: “I want you to know that I am going to start building schools for girls in Africa, and I will work in gender equality.”

In 2008, without any prior charitable experience or contacts on the continent, Lotte founded One Girl Can. A Canadian and Kenyan registered charitable organization, One Girl Can is breaking the cycle of poverty and works to achieve gender equality through education and mentorship.

Lotte shares what role confidence plays in elevating the lives of young women, and her number one confidence-building tip for women in leadership.

Lotte davis wearing a white shirt standing next to a girl in blue shirt and a man in pink shirt pointing on object in the distance talks about self-confidence

Hi Lotte. What difference does building self-confidence make in young girls?

Lotte Davis: It’s all the difference in the world. Confidence is the foundation for success. In underdeveloped countries, girls don’t get asked what they want to be when they grow up. When we ask girls what they want to be, many can’t answer. They never looked into career opportunities, because it’s presumed that they’ll have multiple children and work as labourers. 

Our high-school workshops start with envisioning exercises. We ask girls to close their eyes and imagine their future conditions and environment. We ask them questions like: “What do you like doing? What do your loved ones say about you? What do you think you’ll be studying?”, or “How old will you be when you get married?”

The first round of workshops is called “Empower me,” the second is “I want to be,” and the third is “I will be.” The fourth year of high school is all about career development. We bring in successful business women who act as mentors and help girls navigate their career choices and craft a plan to get there.

Everything we do is based on goal setting. Goal setting is the only common denominator between a privileged white women leader from a peaceful, prosperous country and a girl living in extreme poverty in rural Africa. We can all move our lives forward by setting goals. If you start planning where you want to be in four years and then break it down into individual years, months and weeks, you begin to see progress. And, the progress gives you confidence. 

Goal setting has become highly successful with the girls – just as it does with women leaders. They realize that with vision, a goal, and a carefully constructed set of plans to get them to where they want to go, there is nothing they can’t do.

What's the best confidence building technique for women leaders?

Lotte Davis: Everything we do is based on goal setting. Goal setting is the only common denominator between a privileged white woman from a peaceful, prosperous country and a girl living in extreme poverty in rural Africa. 

We can all move our lives forward by setting goals. If you start planning where you want to be in four years and then break it down into individual years, months and weeks, you begin to see progress. And, the progress gives you confidence. 

Goal setting has become highly successful with the girls. They realize that with vision, a goal, and a carefully constructed set of plans to get them to where they want to go, there is nothing they can’t do.

How difficult does it come for girls to get started with building confidence?

Lotte Davis: Initially, it’s very hard. If a girl tells me that she wants to become a nuclear physicist, I go deeper and ask her, “Okay, how are you going to do it?” 

“I’ll work hard,” she answers. But, that’s not enough. I push her to go deeper by asking “What does it mean you’ll work hard? Can you break it down?”

Eventually, they start to understand that it is not about working hard. It’s about making specific goals to get where you want to go. And now, when girls are graduating, they come to me and say; “It’s the goal setting. That’s what makes the difference.”

Lotte Davis surrounded by Kenyan girls of her program One Girl Can teaching self-confidence to future women leaders

What advice would you give to women in leadership who want to become more confident in their careers and personal lives?

Lotte Davis: You need to put one foot in front of the other. It’s frightening to take the first step to launch a massive initiative or a new goal. But, if you break it into bite-sized pieces, you’ll be able to figure it all out – little by little.

The first step is to ask yourself; “What do you need to do tomorrow to get closer to your goal?” You’ll never get to the end result if that’s the only thing you’re focused on. 

Secondly, don’t take “no” for an answer. People might tell you that something can’t be done, and if you believe it can, then just keep going. Look for those answers, don’t stop when someone tells you it can’t be done. Generally speaking, it can.

And thirdly, act with conviction. I have never met a man who has as many doubts as a woman does. Men go after what they want without weighing up all the consequences and implications of potential failures. 

Go with what your instincts tell you to do – I learned this lesson a long time ago. You’re going to make mistakes along the way, but personally, I’ve never regretted anything I’ve tried. Failure is just a temporary roadblock, and you’ll find a way around it. There are so many roadblocks to becoming successful. Remember that there are so many ways around roadblocks, too. You need to go for it. Don’t overthink it too much.

Can you recall a time in your life when you struggled with self-confidence? How did you overcome it?

Lotte Davis: Like many other women, I suffered a lot with a lack of confidence in my life. But nothing has ever stopped me from moving forward. For me, the fear of failure is not nearly as great as the anxiety I get from not following up on my commitments. 

I am the type of person who has to get things done, and staying at home worrying about something is way worse than trying and failing. So, don’t fear failing – there’s no such thing. You need to keep moving on.

Lotte Davis wearing white dress and blue shirt hugging a smiling Kenyan girl future woman leader

What happens when you don't follow up on your promise?

Lotte Davis: I believe that my personal power is that I get things done. That’s what’s given me my confidence my whole life. And so, not following up on my promise has terrible consequences on my self-confidence.

I didn’t have much when I started, I come from a dysfunctional background. If I didn’t make the commitment to get things done, I’d never have been able to get where I am now. I wouldn’t have been as happy and confident as I am today. So, don’t be afraid to make commitments in front of people! I committed to making a difference for girls in Africa, and one day, I got on a plane to Kenya with a bunch of self-help books and I figured it out. Honestly, it wasn’t as hard as it seemed before I started.

If there's one thing you can do every day to become more confident, what would it be?

Lotte Davis: Goal setting. Every single day. Make lists, set goals, envision what you want to do, and start developing a plan. But, don’t spend too much time on crafting a perfect plan. The plan can be as simple as a to-do list for every day. And then, check your accomplishments off one by one until you get everything done on your list.

I guarantee you that you will get where you want. Once you realize the true power of everything that you can do, you’ll enter a stage of unshakeable confidence.

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