Capital Context – The Era of Women
Now is the Time to Advance
By Sueling Ching
There is a renewed focus on the issue of gender equality. In some circles, it is simply touted as the right and fair thing to do. But for the Ottawa Board of Trade and our partners in community development, there is one key reason for our pursuit of gender equality—it makes good economic sense. As we enter the fourth industrial revolution, a time of unprecedented change both in pace and scope, it is agreed that diversity in approach, thought, and execution is our key strategy for success.
The Board of Trade has identified leadership development as a competitive edge for Ottawa and in particular the elevation of women as leaders in business, community, and in the public service arena. To this end, we have committed to a multipronged approach; to inspire individuals, create comunity, and promote policy.
Be The Change
The very reason we need women to step up in our world may well be the thing that holds back ourcause: self-promotion, or rather lack thereof. For every woman we see successfully navigating the traditional world of men in business, community, and politics, there are countless others with the same capability but without the confidence. We need to create a tsunami of women willing to step into their power, embrace risk, and accept their responsibility to make a difference in the world.
It is incumbent upon women who have achieved the success mindset to share their stories as a means of inspiring others to do the same. And all women must actively look for ways to grow as valued individuals, use their voice, and find their unique path to contribute to equality and community growth. The Board of Trade hosts events designed for women to share experiences, build relationships, and be inspired by local leaders telling the real story of their success. You will also find within these pages and our network many women who lead by example.
What is in the forefront of our minds is in the forefront of our actions. If becoming inspired as individuals is the first step, then becoming inspired as a collective is the next. In Ottawa, there are many opportunities for women to be connected to like-minded women as entrepreneurs, corporate employees, and politicians.
We gather based on sector, community issues, and just to connect. We have initiatives that promote women-led businesses, women-focused education, funding opportunities, and recognition programs. There cannot be too much done in this area. The key will be to leverage each of these networks to the one key goal of achieving equality.
The Board of Trade believes there is power in clear communication and true collaboration. We intend to keep the gender equality conversation going strong and create a community that is well informed of the real issues and synchronized in its approach. We encourage a broad range of thought leadership and request decision makers in all sectors and at all levels of government to add the lens of gender equality to every portfolio.
We are proud to work closely with like-minded organizations and businesses on this issue. Our future prosperity relies on it.
At a recent Ottawa forum on gender issues, Sir Richard Branson encouraged business and community leaders to implement policy that supports equality. He shared that some women deny the need as they can “get there on their own.” But it won’t get done.The majority of the influence and decision making remains in the hands of men. It is not to imply men intend to block equality, it is that it requires significant attention and collectively, it is not a priority. Unless it has to be.
Enter the world of advocacy, which promotes policies, programs, and initiatives that make gender equality an everyday consideration and non-negotiable. To make equity in leadership roles, pay grades, and acquiring capital so commonplace that the concept of equality is instinctive. To create cultures that prioritize flexibility, support family, and celebrate diversity rather than treat it as an obligation. And maybe to raise a generation that would not even consider treating another differently based on gender.
The Board of Trade is pleased to announce a new Women’s Council, which we created with the intention of speeding up the progress on gender equality. As the primary advocate of our businesses and vanguard for community prosperity, we are excited to add this lens to our policy positions and will be working with volunteers, community partners, and government to reach our collective goal of gender equality.
Men as Advocates
It must be said: gender equality is not a women’s issue. It is a community growth issue. It is not “women instead of men.” It is “women and men, as equals.” Men have an integral role in the fight for equality and just as much to gain. We are very fortunate to have many men within our community who have declared their support for equality, demonstrate it daily, and take meaningful action toward our goal. All Board of Trade initiatives on equality are inclusive of men. In fact, it is our winning strategy.
Finally, this edition is focused on gender equality from the first world perspective. The issue is completely different in underdeveloped countries and we are grateful to organizations with this important focus. It is our intention that the aggressive pursuit of equality in our community will have far reaching impact on global equality. Thank you to our members, local businesses, and community partners for continued dedication to Ottawa’s growth and prosperity. We hope you find this edition of Capital informative and inspirational.
We are honoured to serve you.
International Women’s Day is March 8 annually. It is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. In Ottawa, over 20 organizations have come together to create a calendar of events and initiatives during the week of
International Women’s Day and throughout the year. Each event is designed for those interested in advancing women as entrepreneurs, corporate, and community leaders. As Canada’s Capital, Ottawa is an economic and political hub for the world and so we are compelled to lead the way on an issue critical to our collective success: gender equality.
Thank you to Invest Ottawa for their leadership on this collaboration and to all the organizations who have enthusiastically contributed to the concept of working together to engage more leaders in this important conversation.
To learn more about the contributing organizations and to access the ongoing calendar and resources available, please visit and share the site at investottawa.ca/women. #WeMeanBusiness