Giant Tiger Celebrating Women
Girls are strong like tigers. That’s the message Giant Tiger puts out for International Women’s Day, and it is reflective of the campaign for change they champion. From charitable giving and partnerships to opportunities within their organization and stores, Giant Tiger celebrates and supports women in their operations, in the community and in their customers across Canada.
Giant Tiger is a discount retail chain that began right here in Ottawa in 1961. They have now grown to 250 locations across Canada with over 9,200 employees. “We realize that we’re serving very diverse communities across the country,” says Jessica Godin, Senior Vice President of Supply Chain at Giant Tiger. “No matter where you work within this organization, no matter if it’s at the home office or in a store, if we don’t represent that same Canadian diversity, then we’re not going to connect with Canadians. We recognize that who we have working at Giant Tiger needs to represent the Canadian population, whether that’s women or any other type of diversity.”
Giant Tiger has donated $100,000 to the Canadian Women’s Foundation to help facilitate the Girl’s Fund which helps girls challenge stereotypes and build confidence, and they have contributed $1.2 million to the Cure Foundation by selling merchandise with inspiring messages that allow customers to make a difference with each purchase. They also have a program called Giant Tiger Giant Steps, which partners with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada. At Giant Tiger, giving back and creating stronger Canadian communities is a part of the company’s DNA.
To coincide with International Women’s Day this year, they held an event at their Montreal Buying Office, inviting a group of girls from one of the clubs that receives their funding through their partnership with the Canadian Women’s Foundation, to learn about the math and science that works behind the scenes in the fashion industry. The girls were challenged to make purchasing decisions that would be profitable, and learned about not only STEM but also business leadership.
“We believe in giving back to our communities not just with monetary donations but with our time and talents as well,” says Cindy-Lynn Steele, Senior Vice President of Strategy & Integrated Marketing. “There’s no hierarchy when it comes to serving our communities and inspiring change. Everyone within Giant Tiger has a responsibility to do our best for people, to give back, to inspire and to lead by example. I think that’s true whether it’s in our Home Office in Ottawa, our Montreal Buying Office, our Distribution Centre in Johnstown or in any of our 250 stores across Canada; we all hold true to our core values of being a people first organization.”
Giant Tiger promotes change from within. They have an internal talent development program, and although it’s not exclusive to women, women make up 67 per cent of participants. The three levels of the program, SEED, LEAD, and GROW, help participants find out how they learn best, and focus on their personal goals and skills development to help them move within the company.
Their senior executive team has three women, including Godin, Steele and Julia Knox, Senior Vice President and Chief Purchasing Officer. They all care very deeply about how they can help the communities they are a part of, both at work and beyond.
When it comes to advancing your career, Godin advises to stick to your convictions. “Generally speaking, women tend to be unsure of themselves – their value, their contribution, their worth – especially in a male-dominated industry.” she explains. “My advice is to find something that you’re passionate about, know your stuff, own your opinions, and be true to whatever your style of leadership or communication is. Be true to yourself and try to make that work for you, and find people that can help you.”
“And sometimes,” she reflects, “it comes to not caring that you’re the only woman in the room.”
Knox agrees, saying “I think it’s very important for women to build strong analytical and communication skills. Especially if you’re in the business field, it’s important to understand finance and accounting. Be curious and be committed to learning and growth.”
Finally, Steele’s advice is simple. “It is okay for women to humble,” she says, “but never be afraid to let your best moments shine.”
Giant Tiger is committed to championing growth opportunities for women at work, and creating better communities in which women can flourish. With so much focus on big players in e-commerce, Giant Tiger is well positioned within the Ottawa, and Canadian, business communities as a retailer that stays true to their values. When it comes down to it, Giant Tiger helps Canadian families by helping them save money and meet their families’ budget.