Sunday was International Women’s Day, so I am sure that everyone’s feeds are flooded this week with personal and professional stories about what this day means to them, and to the women in their lives. The theme for this year is #EachforEqual, reinforcing the importance of gender parity and a concept that deeply resonates with me — that equality is not just a women’s issue, but a business issue.
As the VP of Impact at a social purpose bank, I know firsthand that gender equality is essential in helping economies and communities to thrive, and that empowering women doesn’t just make ethical sense, it also makes good business sense. Our parent company, Vancity, also knows this well; they were the first financial institution to offer mortgages to women without a male co-signor, and Vancity’s very first loan was to a young woman for $100—at a time when loaning money to women was relatively uncommon. Today, both Vancity and VCIB have woman CEOs at their helms, working tirelessly to amplify the message that social impact and finance belong in the same sentence.
So, what does #EachforEqual look like at VCIB?
I am proud to say that our team at VCIB walks the walk of gender inclusivity and equality every single day. Here at VCIB, we are leading the way for our industry when it comes to representation of women in our leadership team, benefits and flexibility that allow women to be supported throughout life changes and not driven out of the workforce, equity in the workplace, and opportunities for growth and development.
I am fortunate to work with exemplary women in leadership positions within the organization. I recently spoke to several of my female colleagues, asking them how they think VCIB demonstrates the #EachforEqual ethos on a daily basis, and their answers all alluded every person not only being given a voice within the organization, but that they’re routinely encouraged to use it. Through mentorship and accessibility to C-suite female leaders, we make it a priority at VCIB to have women at all levels feel empowered in their role at the company and beyond.
To this end, a young colleague of mine pointed out she’s noticed that women are typically talked over in meetings, especially when they are underrepresented at the table. At VCIB, she finds that her leaders’ value and ask for everyone’s opinions equally, even from those who may not be the first to speak up or the loudest voice in the room.
This feedback is deeply encouraging to me as I reflect on how we’re implementing #EachforEqual values every day, making sure that we elevate the diverse voices of our team so that folks don’t have to struggle to be heard. It’s important to note that while we’ve made a lot of progress in this space, there is always more that can and should be done to amplify voices from women of colour, trans women, and gender non-conforming folks as well. A seat at the table for all is the key to a truly equitable workplace.
I know that personally, not having to fight anymore for every opportunity I want allows me to work at the most optimal level – when I’m not having to fight for my spot, which I have in the past, I serve my team better, I am a more collaborative leader, and I have the space and time to encourage everyone to be their best.
The future of #EachforEqual