power of the pen: how women are transforming the workplace

I’ve never been the loudest speaker. The one who moves mountains. Like Greta Thunberg, the young Swedish woman who teaches decision makers around the world about climate change, or Malala Yousufzai, the young Pakistani activist who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. I’m not running an empire like Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, or Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube.

women changing the world

When we hear examples of women, young and old, accomplishing extraordinary things, we often think (and all the more so if the impostor syndrome – so insidious and recurrent especially among women, even the most admired like Michelle Obama – tends to stick around like winter on Montreal’s sidewalks) that these leading women form an elite, that they are the exception, an ideal unattainable by most mortals.

And yet. Last fall, Randstad Canada commissioned a study from Ipsos to survey more than 1,000 Canadian women to ask about their opinions and perceptions on the impact of automation on jobs and the importance of innovation in the workplace. The survey revealed that although 30% of women admitted being worried about automation, 54% of female students said they chose a field of study that will prepare them for the future.

Another 61% of the women surveyed viewed themselves as risk takers. A statistic that may seem surprising at first glance. But when you think about it, it’s true that women are constantly taking risks in their careers. The risk of losing a possible promotion to go on maternity leave. The risk of starting your own business. The risk of choosing a profession traditionally dominated by men. The risk of reporting inappropriate behaviour or unfair practices at work.

The #metoo movement is a vibrant example of this risk-taking. One hashtag, a couple of words, and here we are with a powerful message, a movement for change that is gaining momentum on a large scale in small and large organizations, across all industries.

Last fall, we discussed innovation at a roundtable bringing together women from all walks of life to exchange views on the results of the survey. The importance of broadening our definition of innovation is one of the key points raised during the conversation. Innovation can be found everywhere, in any field where there is a desire for change.

I too take risks on a daily basis, to the best of my ability. I innovate, I try new ways of doing things, I propose new ideas, by using the raw material of my work as a communicator: words.

Perhaps we should stop systematically linking innovation to Apple or Amazon. Each woman innovates in her own way, from major advances that will revolutionize the world of technology, science or social justice, to small changes that will have a positive effect on her immediate environment.  

As we celebrate International Women’s Day this week, let us do our very best to acknowledge the human and innovative contributions made by women to organizations, workplaces and to the world of work as a whole. Happy International Women’s Day!

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