How to support your team during Ukraine war and world conflicts

How To Support Your Team During Difficult World Events

By | Blog, WNORTH News
– 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.

Heather Odendaal of WNORTH named a Report on Business magazine Changemaker for 2022 by The Globe and Mail

By | WNORTH News

Changemakers is an editorial award program produced by Report on Business magazine at The Globe and Mail. It intends to showcase the emerging leaders transforming business today.

WNORTH is pleased to announce that founder Heather Odendaal has been named a top 50 Changemaker of 2022 by Report on Business magazine.

“Since its inception in 2015, my mission with WNORTH has been to have those tough conversations with leaders about nurturing the leadership pipeline and build out adequate support structures for working parents, female-identifying individuals, and people of colour,” says Odendaal. “The challenges affecting women from advancing to senior executive leadership were clearly highlighted over the course of the pandemic. It’s an honour to work in this space to provide women with the educational tools, virtual events, membership platform, and resources for them to keep pushing forward on their career trajectories”.

Changemakers were selected by The Globe and Mail’s award-winning editorial team for their ideas, accomplishments, and impact, as determined by their nominations, subsequent interviews, and reference checks.

“The world is facing more challenges than ever before – climate change, racial discrimination, income inequality, not to mention the pandemic,” says Dawn Calleja, editor of Report on Business magazine. “So it’s heartening to meet this year’s crop of 50 Changemakers, who are searching for solutions to many of these problems and offering some inspiration.”

Editorial coverage of all 2022 Changemakers can be found in the March 2022 issue of Report on Business magazine, distributed with The Globe and Mail on Saturday, February 26th, and online now at

About The Globe and Mail

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s foremost news media company, leading the national discussion and causing policy change through brave and independent journalism since 1844. 

With our award-winning coverage of business, politics, and national affairs, The Globe and Mail newspaper reaches 6.3 million readers every week in our print or digital formats, and Report on Business magazine reaches 2.3 million readers in print and digital every issue. 

Our investment in innovative data science means that as the world continues to change, so does The Globe. The Globe and Mail is owned by Woodbridge, the investment arm of the Thomson family.


WNORTH is North America’s premier organization dedicated to developing women on a trajectory towards senior executive leadership. WNORTH connects top female business leaders in corporate, public, and entrepreneurial sectors through The Members’ Club (application-based membership), which provides a 100% Virtual forum for online content and development opportunities, including workshops, leadership masterminds, events, and courses, in-person member meetups and events in 10+ cities and the 7th annual WNORTH Conference in Whistler, Canada taking place April 27-29, 2022.

WNORTH was named Innovative Business of the Year 2021 at the Whistler Excellence Awards. BizBash recognized the WNORTH Virtual Conference as one of the top 10 Most Innovative Meetings 2021 and Best Networking/Matchmaking Platform in their Event Experience Awards.

WNORTH Conference in Whistler British Columbia Canada

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

By | WNORTH News

“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 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 dedicated to advancing the careers of women in 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, in 2015, and brought 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 consider: because of their scale, these events leave little room for meaningful networking opportunities, tailored experiences, and learnings that come mainly from peer mentorship and the exchange between driven business professionals.

On the contrary, boutique-style conferences set the tone of community building in a small setting where everyone feels included and comfortable to connect. For this reason, it’s not a surprise that boutique-style conferences are increasing in popularity. Due to their size, they offer more intimate engagements for those who truly want to gain greater leaderships skills and make an impact for themselves and those around them.

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 8th-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 “Moving Mountains” for women on the track to senior executive roles.

The Conference will return for its 8th edition in October 2023, in a Hybrid format, in-person in Whistler, and virtually streamed worldwide.

WNORTH Announces the Return of Its Seventh-Annual Conference, Sponsored by SAP

By | WNORTH News

The 2022 WNORTH Conference promises inspirational hybrid programming ranging from panels, workshops, and an opening reception to high-level training and networking opportunities surrounding this year’s theme of The New Leadership Playbook for an Inclusive Economy.

Confirmed speakers include Shannon Platz, Global Vice President, Platform Solutions at SAP (live); Dr. Chitra Anand, Author of “The Greenhouse Approach” (live); Mita Mallick, Head of Inclusion, Equity, and Impact at Carta (virtual); Emily Chang, CEO, China at McCann Worldgroup (virtual); Amy Nelson, Founder of The Riveter (virtual); Dr. Roselle M. Gonsalves, Head of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging at ATB Financial (in-person); Jenn Harper, CEO and Founder of Cheekbone Beauty Cosmetics (virtual); Ashley Freeborn, Founder of Smash + Tess (virtual); Jane Stoller, Founder of Organized Jane and Author (in-person); and Hitha Palepu, Author of “We’re Speaking: The Life Lessons of Kamala Harris” (live). Read More

wnorth chapter cities networking event women posing

WNORTH Chapter Cities: Let’s Take Your Network to the Next Level

By | WNORTH News

​​As a professional woman looking to build your personal brand and make a name for yourself, we know that it’s hard to feel like you belong or have a place where you can grow your dreams and network.

Get together, network, and grow with your peers. That’s the premise behind our Chapter Cities – to help you connect with women in your area through intimate networking meetups that focus on key business and personal development topics. 

We’re excited to share what the WNORTH Chapter Cities are all about, the connections that are waiting for you, and how you can utilize them to your advantage.

Chapter Cities: How did it all come together

In 2014, Heather Odendaal, the Co-Founder and CEO at WNORTH, was working as a remote employee for a Fortune 500 company. She was the only remote employee on her team, making it challenging to grow and maintain her network.

Realizing the immense power of networking, she felt strongly about finding a group of like-minded women to connect with – both professionally and personally – but she couldn’t find one that fit and shared her values of women supporting women. And so, she decided to go ahead and create an organization that promotes women’s advancement to senior leadership positions – known as WNORTH.

Fast forward to 2021, WNORTH connects women virtually and in-person through high-level networking events and leadership development opportunities, including workshops, expert panels, and the WNORTH Conference.

WNORTH now extends its reach to 10 Chapter Cities worldwide – building strong communities of women in leadership.

Our Chapter Cities: A community of like-minded women in your area

Now more than ever, the need for connection and in-person networking is the priority of women in business and women entrepreneurs (let’s not forget women looking to re-enter the workforce after an extended leave). 

Our Chapter Cities are all about building a community through the power of networking. Each month, we host intimate networking events established to foster and develop your career and business connections.  

From finding a new mentor, sponsor, or a friend, WNORTH Member Meetups connect you with your next priceless networking connection. Here’s where you can find us:

  • Vancouver
  • Toronto
  • Seattle
  • London, UK
  • New York
  • San Francisco
  • Calgary (New)
  • Ottawa (New)
  • Kitchener-Waterloo (New)
  • Austin
wnorth member meetup vancouver networking event

City Directors: The unifying force of our Chapter Cities

Each Chapter City is led by a City Director that facilitates powerful networking experiences for women in your area. Each of our City Directors is an accomplished and brilliant woman with a passion for connecting driven and ambitious women in leadership. 

City Directors are at the heart of their local communities, assisting in creating opportunities for meaningful connections and conversations.

What kind of events can you expect in your Chapter City?

Member Meetups

Spend one hour each month networking with other professional women in your city! Led by our City Directors, Member Meetups connect like-minded women in our Chapter cities, support them to make new meaningful connections, and engage in inspiring discussions. Look forward to speed networking, group mentoring, and socializing.

In addition, our Member Meetups regularly feature speakers and special guests who share their expertise on relevant topics. The topics covered in the past include:

  • Why you’re not getting promoted and a blueprint to fix it
  • Developing a personal brand with impact
  • How to care for yourself so that you can care for others, 
  • And more… 

Connect Events and Specials

Connect in person with women who will support and encourage you on your journey. Some of the most popular Connect Events we organize include: Connect Over Cocktails, Connect Dinners, Holidays Specials, and more.

mastermind membership members at wnorth networking

Attending our next event and becoming a member of our community

Attending our Chapter City events is easy. Our Member Meetups are open for our Mastermind Members (free of charge). Members can claim their complimentary tickets using the links in this post on the Membership Portal. 

Not a Mastermind Member? You can join us, too! You can purchase Season Pass by selecting your Chapter City here, or sign up for membership (14-day trial included).

Find support from local professionals who want to help you succeed

If you’re looking to connect locally with other women, become inspired and productive during an eventful evening, and grow your network, then joining our next Chapter City event is the best step for you. 

This is YOUR chance to make a difference, build a community and align yourself with other professional women in a comfortable and supportive environment. 

Who knows where your new connections will take you? We can’t wait to help you find out.

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