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.

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

By | Press

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 tgam.ca/Changemakers.

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.

About WNORTH

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 | 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.

WNORTH Conference 2022 Influential Women in Leadership

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

By | Press

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

Women, It’s Time To Invest Your Money To Build Wealth – Interview with Janine Rogan

By | Blog, Community, Featured

Meet Janine Rogan, a CPA, Financial Advisor, Keynote Speaker, Podcast Host, and Financial Educator based in Calgary. A valued member of the WNORTH community, Janine established a niche in helping women become financially independent through financial education and training.

Passionate about coaching women on their financial matters, Janine has over half a million dollars invested, and works with women who want to grow their wealth to achieve their financial goals, such as retirement planning, investing for long-term growth, and managing a growing portfolio.

I had the opportunity to talk with Janine about her approach to helping women become financially independent, and the key financial lessons that she teaches her clients.

Hi Janine! Tell us a bit about yourself, where did your journey start, and where it is now?

My journey started during my studies at the University of Alberta. My friend lent me the book “The Automatic Millionaire,” which piqued my interest in personal finance on the notion that your money could make money for you. Since that point, I started doing a lot of research by myself because there was a lack of resources.

Fast-forward to the present. I’m passionate about building educational tools for women to learn how to build wealth. It’s something that people don’t talk about enough. 

Women, in general, aren’t encouraged to invest their money. Considering the fact that white women are paid 84 cents on the dollar for the same work as men, whereas women of color get only 62 cents – plus, women live longer than men – we have to start educating and empowering women to invest as one of the tools to close the Gender Gap.

Let’s talk about “Financial Feminism.” What is it, and what makes you passionate about it?

To me, the core of Financial Feminism means financial equality for all. Feminism means equality between sexes, which I want to see from the economic perspective. 

Sometimes, we forget that financial management is not just about saving more or spending less. As a society, we have to address many issues to get to the point where we can treat men and women equally when it comes to their finances.

What, in your opinion, are some common mistakes that women make when it comes to their money decisions?

The common mistake is that women don’t talk enough about money, and they don’t invest enough. One of the societal misconceptions is that we need to save more money for women to provide for their children. 

Specifically with the increasing cost of living and inflation, it’s dangerous to leave a lot of money sitting in your bank. You should have an emergency fund, but you’re never going to reach your financial goals by simply saving money.

Have you ever been guilty of any money management mistakes? If so, which ones?

Of course! I made a lot of mistakes, and I still make mistakes sometimes. For example, early on, I didn’t understand the Contribution Room reset limit for the TFSA – it resets every January 1st. I thought you could pull money in and out as you please. And then, I received a letter from the CRA saying that I’d gone over my contribution limit and had to pay a fine. I remember being like, “Oh God, I shouldn’t be making mistakes like this. I should have known that.”

One other mistake from when I was getting started was not understanding investing in general. I pretty much just trusted the guy at the bank to do it for me. And that was a mistake. A couple of years later, I realized that those investments were not in line with what I wanted to have in my portfolio.

Where is a good place to start with investment?

Education is the foundation for everything, from books to educational content shared online. There are a lot of free resources available, whether it’s on YouTube or Instagram, or Facebook groups.

It might seem overwhelming, but I want to caution everyone – you don’t have to go from 0 to 100 in one day. Try to learn one thing at a time, whether learning how to set up an automatic savings transfer or following a Finance Coach on Instagram. One thing at a time will help you move forward.

I teach an investment course called The Wealth Lab, where I walk women through how to start investing. I cover investing from the very basics, like what is a stock, what is a bond, what is a TFSA, all the way to executing your first trade.

Can you tell us more about The Wealth Lab course?

Yes! It’s a 6 module, 40 + lesson course that walks you through everything from the basics of investing to creating a profitable, safe, and sustainable investment portfolio.

Many people are worried they’re going to lose all their money in the stock market, but the entire stock market would have to go to zero for that to happen. If it did, we’d have more significant problems as a society because money would lose all its value. It’s a very abstract concept, so I’d say – don’t worry about that and know that the stock market’s average return has been about 10% per year. So, if you’re not running close to that, it’s time to start looking into getting an investment education.

The Wealth Lab is there to walk you through easily digestible mini-lessons – you don’t have to sit there listening to me for an hour – unless you want to. The course provides you with worksheets, a Facebook support group, and live sessions with questions. I’m supporting participants every step of the way. 

You just recently released your TedX Talk! Tell me about it. It’s so exciting!

It was super exciting – and super nerve-wracking! I pitched TedX in 2019 on this topic. But due to the pandemic, all TEDx talks were postponed. At the end of 2020, I had my baby, and I still haven’t heard from them. And then I completely forgot about it!

Early 2021, they reached out to me and asked if I wanted to participate – they loved the topic and thought it needed to be heard! It was a really exciting discussion. I enjoy talking about the issue of Millenials and Money. I am a Millennial myself, and we face different barriers in building wealth than our parents’ generation did.

I think that Millenials, and Gen-Z, too, often feel pressured to buy a house – because that’s what our parents did. And that’s not doable for everybody, and it’s also not always the way of how we can build and accumulate wealth as the next generation.

If you’re thinking about investing in real estate, there are other ways of doing it. Instead of investing all your cash into one asset – a house or a condo, you can invest in real estate investment trusts with companies like Addy Invest. These are trades in the same way as ETFs are. You can invest anything from $20 for a unit without building a million-dollar property.

I started looking into them and invested in two projects, one in Toronto and one in Calgary. They’re longer-term projects, it takes about two years to see a return, so I’m curious to see how it will go. 

You’ve got a one-year-old son at home. When do you think it’s a good time to start educating children about money, and how?

As parents, we have to be mindful that we talk to our children about money early on. I’ve seen many people NOT talk about money or think that their kids are not picking up on it, but kids are smart. If they see you always paying with this magic card at the store, they think that you can have anything you want for free. They don’t understand the concept of money, cash, and how you get it.

My good friend, Robin Taub, based in Toronto, has written a book called “The Wisest Investment,” which is all about teaching your kids about money. She breaks it down into what you should be teaching children at various stages of their childhood. It’s powerful and impactful. Start there.

Susan Steffens

Susan Steffens: After Losing My Job, WNORTH Was a Game Changer

By | Blog, Community

Susan Steffens loved her job in the events industry. As she watched the pandemic unfolding and events canceling at a rapid rate, one thing was clear to her – the entire industry was going to take a harsh hit.

Early in spring of 2020 Susan unexpectedly lost her job that she was deeply devoted to. Losing your job is emotionally draining and devastating, but to go through it in the pandemic environment of heightened uncertainty adds additional stressors to the mix.

Susan’s story has a happy ending. Not only did she bounce back, but she also elevated her career, her leadership skills – all while finding a community of women that supported her through the difficult transition.

Susan is our inspiration – and so, we’ve decided to sit down with her to find out how she managed to make the shift over the past fifteen months.

Hi Susan! Tell us a bit more about who you are and what you do.

I am a Mom to two boys, I am a wife and I have a deep love for family, friends, music, and wine! I work in the live events industry as a Sales Director. I have worked in this industry for about 25 years – I can’t believe it, wow! My past position involved booking concerts, family shows, film, and trade shows into arenas, amphitheaters, and buildings.  I worked in the non-profit world for a few years as well, organizing fundraising events.

By far, the biggest professional challenge was being unexpectedly let go from a job that I loved and poured my heart and soul into.

I am now working back in the live events industry as it slowly ramps back up.

WNORTH Member Spotlight Susan Stefens events

What is your take on networking and building relationships through community memberships?

I have always loved networking in the business world. Connection means everything to me on so many levels.

This is actually only the second time I have been involved with a community membership.

I have found being a member in WNORTH has been so rewarding and inspiring to connect with like-minded people and generate ideas and have meaningful or poignant conversations.  

What is your experience with The Members’ Club at WNORTH?

An industry colleague told me about WNORTH a few years ago and she raved about the annual Whistler Conference.

During the pandemic, I was looking for connection and inspiration and it was important to me to connect with women specifically, so I decided to check out the first online conference (called Pivot). I found it inspiring, the speakers were so engaging and the range of topics was relatable and timely.  I was hooked!  I promptly signed up for an annual membership.

The advantages of the membership, especially during the pandemic and without a job, really helped me mentally by connecting with like-minded women. I felt like it was a safety net that provided me with inspiration and new ways to look at where I am on my path and how I want to define it going forward.  

Tell us a bit about the connections you’ve made inside of the membership - do any of them stand out?

The connections inside the membership have been fantastic.  Last winter, I was involved in the Leadership Mastermind Program with Deborah Stellingwerff as a facilitator.

We had such a wonderful group of talented, fun, honest, and supportive women, I was so excited for the weekly Zoom sessions and to explore where we were at individually and collectively.

Through these sessions, I decided I wanted to dig deeper and hired Deborah as a business and life coach and that has been a game-changer for me on both a personal and professional level over the last 6 months – I am truly grateful for the opportunity and connection!

What are some of the features of the membership that you enjoy the most?

Definitely, the Mastermind group is a wonderful and inspiring feature that I want to participate in again. 

Also, having the ability to go back into the WNORTH online library and experience some of the sessions that I am not able to attend in real-time is beneficial.  

I really appreciate the range of topics offered in the live sessions, I always leave them inspired. 

Plus, Heather, the CEO, is a gem; I love her energy, insights, perspectives, and her commitment to providing consistently timely and relevant topics, as well as incredibly talented and inspiring presenters.

If you could give advice to yourself 5 years ago, what would it be?

Be gentle on yourself, trust your instincts and get yourself out of the weeds so you can lift up the women coming up behind you.

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

By | Blog, Community, Featured

​​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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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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Dress for Success Vancouver
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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

deborah gillam spotlight

Deborah Gillam: It’s not who you know. It’s who knows you.

By | Blog, Community

Through our WNORTH Member Spotlight, we share unique insights and advice of our Members with you. 

Meet Deborah, an Entertainment Coach of 25+ years specialized in coaching professionals in the entertainment industry to move their careers forward. 

Since joining WNORTH in June, she’s become an incredibly insightful member of our community. As a warm welcome on board, we sat down with Deborah and asked her about her career and development – both professional and personal.

Hi Deborah! What brought you to our community, and how is WNORTH treating you so far?

I fully align with the mission statement: Elevating Women in the Leadership Pipeline. The slogan has caught my attention right away, along with the amazing networking opportunities.

The courses and workshops all provide a safe and productive space to grow and refresh your focus, leadership skills and build foundations to work things out with like-minded women that really encourage you to do well and help celebrate your achievements.

We’d love to know more about the work you do. How did you get into your field of work?

My work has many layers, but all seem to be related in one way or another. Over the past 35+ years, I’ve been extremely passionate about Career Coaching. I launched my career in the fashion industry, which sparked my interest in starting a Model & Talent Agency – I was only 19 at the time!

A few years later, I moved to Vancouver and started a Film/TV Extras Agency that built itself into the prosperous Principal Talent Agency that it is today.

I have built a reputation for helping people achieve their dreams and aspirations both in front and behind the camera. I retired as a Talent Agent at the age of 45.

Now, I’m working as a career coach within the entertainment industry.

Have you had any career setbacks that have made you stronger or wiser?

I don’t relate to the word “setback” – I call them “roadblocks”. Roadblocks are helpful because they redirect our attention and push us to adopt a different approach – an approach that usually allows more doors to open up. 

When you hit a roadblock, I strongly recommend you to join a Mastermind – a group of like-minded people who can help you overcome it. It works wonders.

What is your opinion on the future of work post-lockdown?

I believe that offering a hybrid approach, such as allowing people to choose the way they want to stay connected and receive services, is the best way forward. 

If it makes more sense for someone to work remotely, it should be accepted on all levels. After all, “lockdown” does not mean “shutdown” – the important thing is to remain connected. In the past year and a half, we’ve all learned how to use the tools we need to stay connected.

Have you drawn professional inspiration from other women?

I am constantly inspired by other women. I have a strong support system and have always tried my best to be around positive people. People who not only encourage me to do well, but allow me to be of service to them when they need help.  

One particular woman who has inspired me is Nastasha Baron. She’s a successful film writer, and one of my clients. She’s always had a real passion to direct, write and produce. We teamed up in the late ’90s to produce film projects. I worked with Nastasha for many years and it was her passion and dedication towards her goals that really kept the fire lit in my career.

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?

l would advise women to be active listeners. Ask people to share their concerns by asking “What do I need to know?”.

Once you ask this question, listen with the intent of hearing them out – rather than planning on how to respond. Sometimes, people just need to be heard in order to figure things out.

What is your greatest achievement to date?

I’ve been fortunate to score many professional achievements along the way. But, to share one of the most meaningful achievements in my life, it’s the blessing of having a partner, best friend, and soulmate along my side for the past 30+ years. When going through any roadblocks, he has been there to help me grow stronger and wiser.

What is your motto or words you live by?

“It’s not who you know. It’s who knows you.”

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