“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.
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.
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.