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For many years I did not think of myself as a feminist. After all, I’ve got a thriving business, and I’m definitely the boss. I firmly believe that I’m the only thing that could hold me back, and I’ve lived that way.
Now I’m embarrassed, because I realize I have lost perspective on the state of my gender in my own country. Sure, there are women in third world countries who suffer persecution and limitations because of gender, but not in Canada – right? Well, I’m gobsmacked. I couldn’t be more wrong.
It wasn’t until I had a conversation with my business coach, Angela Sutcliffe, who hammered me with some shocking facts about real-life, today, inequality for women that I realized how lucky I am. I also realized I have to own my place as a fempreneur in a business world that is still dominated by men.
I’ve never considered gender, or gender preference, in my business dealings. Any time I’ve hired talent, I’ve never considered gender in my choices or in my determination of what I’d pay for the work. Naively, I thought bra-burning was a thing of the past, and we were past all that. The reality is that right now, in 2017, women working full-time in Canada are typically earning 74.2 cents on the dollar, compared to men. This is ridiculous.
Fortunately there are women, besides Angela, who are paying attention. Samantha Kelly founded the Women Inspire Network in Ireland so that women entrepreneurs can support each other in business, and she’s doing it right. Samantha says, bluntly, “No bitching.” Something is going right in Ireland, because the number of women leaders of companies has doubled since 2011 to a whopping 14%. Okay, doubled is good, and ladies, we have a lot of potential still available. Keep up the good work!
I spoke at the Women’s Inspire Conference in Dublin last week. The theme for the conference was self-care, and the attendance included amazing fempreneurs who are changing the face of Irish business. Self-care sounds like a girly topic for a conference, doesn’t it? The guys are probably talking about something else, because for most families, women still carry the family management role in addition to their workplace duties. Regardless of who is taking out the garbage, women are still ‘managing’ the family, including extended family and social life, and still making sure that everything that can get done gets done.
How much of the disparity for women in the workforce is because we are the mothers? I know families who have made a commitment to the man’s career because for her, the priority would be the family. That translates to mom taking days off when the kids are sick, and mom making job choices that allow her to spend more time with the kids. But wait a minute – if individual women choose to make their family a priority over their career, does that mean females should be paid less for their work? Somehow that logic is not working for me. If someone is doing their job well, shouldn’t they be paid the same as anyone else doing the job well? In all the years I’ve hired or fired, evaluating a worker’s performance has never had anything to do with their plumbing.
Let’s speculate for a moment. These days there are lots of single parents, including male single parents, and lots of joint custody so that men are taking care of their kids on alternate weeks. Do you suppose that employers will reduce male incomes because they’re taking care of their kids? Or maybe they should alternate pay scales, so that the men are paid less on the weeks that their kids are with them… now there’s a plan. Come on, this makes as much sense as women being paid 74.2 cents on the dollar – it’s the same logic.
I enjoyed my sojourn to Dublin and meeting the amazing women of WIN. I’m inspired as a fempreneur – ladies, we can and are making a difference.
As The Dalai Lama said at the Vancouver Peace Summit in 2016 – “The World Will Be Saved By the Western Woman” and he called for “increased emphasis on the promotion of women to positions of influence.”
We’re in this together. Let’s go, girls.
An amazing whirlwind tour for which I offer a word of thanks…
Aer Lingus Airline
Calligraphy by SOUL SCRIBE Jagdeep Sahans, Calligrapher