My Passion Work
Female Empowerment (Long Post Alert!)
Many years ago one of my good friends invited me to go see Michelle Obama speak at an event. (Thanks Alix!!) I didn’t even know what the event was but jumped at the chance to go see Michelle Obama….who wouldn’t?? She is awesome! I arrived at what was the old Maple Leaf Gardens, in Toronto, for the event. There were so many women and young girls lined up and crowded around the door to get in. Of course, she would attract this crowd! We made our way in, grabbed some popcorn and drinks and sat down. It was fairly dark in the former arena so we really could only see a swarm of blurry bodies on the floor and around the seats. The lights on the stage came on and the Emcee announced her. Out she came onto the stage, big as life…looking confident and yet comfortable in her skin and her clothes! (FAN GIRL…LOVE HER!!) She sat comfortably in her chair and spoke in a way that felt as if she was speaking directly to you as a person, as a sister and friend, even though there were probably 5000 or more people. She was fun and funny and personable and totally likeable, no…loveable. So down-to-earth, yet so powerful. It was pointed out somewhere in the presentation that the event was catered to highschool women and other young women. To help them find their voice early in life, to make choices that can make a difference for them personally, but also because they have the best chance to influence their families and communities in a positive way. I can specifically recall that she called out women who have been able to climb the ladder and break through the so-called glass ceiling. She said that for those women, (I’m paraphrasing here..) it is your duty to then turn around and reach back and help other women climb too. To stop and pause and help. Not to keep going selfishly without bringing others along with you.
This was the moment for me. The moment that made me pause and think. I was in a senior management position at the time and I had the ability to turn around and help; so, what was I going to do about it?
I actually thought about it for longer than I care to admit. Eventually, I started doing things in a small way, like supporting the Because I am a Girl Campaign from Plan Canada, volunteering at women’s shelters, or donating to other women’s charities. It didn’t feel right and didn’t feel like enough. My biggest idea was to start a women’s group at my workplace….and it was great! This is when I really started noticing the power of women coming together to provide support and give each other a voice. There is a need. Women need a safe place to share ideas, feel supported and know they are not alone. I started seeing small wins, that were impacting these women’s lives both personally and professionally. They just needed a hand to pull them up the ladder.
We continue to live in a world where discrimination and harassment in the workplace is very real. I would love to burn my bra and break the system, but let’s face it, the system’s foundation is from BC times where women were not exactly consulted. Women really only have started making a small move in the last 50 years, 100 if you are being generous. So, it will take time to break it down so that we have equal rights for all….and we should not forget that is the ultimate goal. But, day-by-day, we can make a difference in our own lives, the lives of our children and our communities.
Here is my pledge:
1) Every 6 months, I will provided 1-on-1 complimentary coaching sessions for up to 8 sessions and for up to 2 women, who meet the following criteria:
Is starting or is early in her career
Is highly motivated and recognizes the benefit of coaching
Is feeling a bit lost or stuck in her current situation
Has goals and dreams but is not sure how to achieve them
Is prepared to commit both the time and energy to accomplishing her goals
Can not otherwise afford a personal coach
I will put the call out before each 6-month session and look for written applications. I will choose the 1 or 2 ladies who will participate based on the above criteria and who I believe will benefit most from the program.
2) I will further run women-centric group coaching groups that focus on empowerment and stepping into ourselves. As Glennon Doyle says…be a god-damn cheetah! That will be the focus. (BTW – Read her book Untamed…you will be inspired!!)
As I write this, I am reminded of the starfish story:
One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean. Approaching the boy, he asked, “What are you doing?” The youth replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.” “Son,” the man said, “don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make a difference!”
After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back into the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said…” I made a difference for that one.” THE STARFISH STORY – ORIGINAL STORY BY: LOREN EISLEY
I recognize that I can not help everyone, and it would certainly not be the financially responsible thing either. But for at least a small group of women each year, I can help to make a difference in their lives and the lives of those around them.
If you want to get on the wait list for these programs or have any questions, connect with me.