Women 4 Atlantic
Trisha Fournier-Hoyt, Nicole Whyte, Cindy Lanteigne, and Heather MacLean
We launched Women 4 Atlantic with the goal of becoming the most reputable not-for-profit organization for its commitment to research, advocacy, awareness, and promotion of equal female representation in executive level and leadership roles in all sectors of employment in the Atlantic region.
What are you most proud of professionally?
The growing list of collaborators and partners from across the country that we’re working with and learning from to move this agenda forward. We have discovered that there are pioneer groups and seasoned professionals moving this agenda forward. We believe in and prefer to collaborate with others and to adopt best practice where they exist. Working together results in a more powerful voice that fosters action and results.
What's your vision for Atlantic Canada in 10 years?
Our goal would be to see equal male / female gender representation in senior advisory and leadership across all industry sectors, as well as in professional association member representation at the board level in Atlantic Canada.
What's your favourite or most read book or podcast? Now or at each of your greatest stages of growth?
“The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell. This book is about major societal paradigm shifts that are triggered by engagement at the grassroots level leading to major change. People generally are no longer looking at feminism as radical, but instead are considering this societal shift as necessary to eradicate the injustices of yesterday in life, in career, in politics, and in society. Typically those who are early adopters are often ostracized as they are pushing the envelope on change. But, once a movement is triggered and embraced at the grassroots level, there is no way to contain it, and the pioneers become revered as leaders in their own right. We are in that movement now.
What's your deepest learning from this past year? How did/will you apply it?
Our deepest learning is that collaboration is key. We’ve been working with groups from across Canada and across the region to help us evolve into our mandate. There is no need to reinvent the wheel where like-minded work already exists. We hope to learn and grow from the experience of others. We have a great opportunity to use this knowledge as a base to foster the same opportunities in Atlantic Canada that have been actively taken on as best practices in other provinces. Further, this work needs to be taken on at the grassroots level by each and every person - make it female. Speak up when you witness a fallacy, stand up in solidarity for your colleague that you know deserves the chance to rise, and own the responsibility to be part of the change.
Who's inspired you, directly or indirectly? How have they inspired you?
We all have both positive inspirations and those not-so-positive ones that have pushed us to come together. For us, we think of the young girls in our lives that we hope to provide a better tomorrow for. We want to change the conversation for them when they get to where we are today - in life, in career, in all of society. They deserve it.
What would you have done differently?
We had hoped to move ahead with our mandate more quickly. But good things take time and thoughtful governance will prove to be lasting. We are hopeful this story will promote engagement and interest in our cause from individuals and businesses alike - inspired and strong men and women to step up to become engaged in the work we want to do with organizations, associations, and businesses in the Atlantic region that are willing to become industry leaders in this mission for gender balance in their organizations, industries and sectors.
What were your priorities and how did they help you overcome some of the struggles you've faced? What motivated you to make the choices you've made? What are the principles you live by?
The fact that our organization is in its infancy, and the sheer size of the region we serve presents logistical challenges for our team. Trying to grow a new organization in four provinces is our biggest challenge; recruiting like-minded and passionate change agents across the Atlantic region to take on our mandate and become the catalysts in their regions of Atlantic Canada isn’t an easy task, but we believe all it takes is a small and educated group to demonstrate the value. The good people, businesses, and associations of our region will become engaged and do their part as the pilot organizations step up and are willing to share the good work and the commitment they’ve made.
How have you recovered from fractured professional relationships? What uncomfortable truths have you learned about yourself in those experiences)?
Each of our working group members has come up against the glass ceiling in the climb up the proverbial ladder. We have all faced other gender bias in our daily lives as well. What we have learned to do is call it out as a first step toward change, since many may not be aware. Some offenders will never change and will continue to operate status quo. But many, once aware, become active advocates for change. This is inspiring. They know who they are. They’ve actively acknowledged and helped to remedy systemic issues in their workplaces involving themselves and others. Many of the most powerful feminists are the men we work with. This ties directly into the work in organizational behavior that we want to accomplish in our mandate. When you know better you do better. But, someone has to be the voice of change. We are happy to be that catalyst.