OBoT Perspective: MY COVID STORY
It was March 11, 2020. I started my day early at the Hire Immigrants conference and ended it late at an e-Sax networking event. That day I was named the next President & CEO of the Ottawa Board of Trade. It was also the day Ottawa reported its first COVID case and WHO declared a global pandemic. The next morning, only one third of our expected attendees came to the Mayor’s breakfast. And so it began.
Thankfully, our team was set up to transition easily to remote working. Two days later, my husband moved in full time with his elderly parents one hour away. My nine-year-old daughter started March Break, never to return to her school again. And my life became a whirlwind of video meetings, homeschooling, take-out, TV, and single parenting.
Like many businesses, we immediately had to start doing more with less while transforming our operations and delivering greater impact for our business community. All this amidst uncertainty, followed by more uncertainty. Every day provided new announcements from government, new information from health officials, and new stories from local businesses.
Like many women, work-life balance became virtually impossible. The carefully designed systems I had in place to be a good community leader, a good mother, family member, and friend completely fell apart. I was up before the sun at my computer, taking interviews locked in my bathroom and conducting board meetings while our take-out was being delivered.
Then I started to hear more stories from women; executives, entrepreneurs, and employees alike. Every issue previously associated with gender inequality became exacerbated; child care, domestic responsibilities, workplace cultures, access to capital and traditional career paths. Almost immediately, it becomes apparent that this was a different crisis for women.
And I felt it. A year later, facing a third wave of COVID, I still feel it. I battle with doubt, exhaustion, and overwhelm. Then I think about the businesses, the communities and the families that need women to contribute and lead. And I feel determined, hopeful that despite the obvious setbacks, we have created a more compelling case for gender equality.
If so, then the future is bright. I hope you enjoy this edition dedicated to truly acknowledging and celebrating the women leaders among us.