International Women’s Day
– Five Ways Canadians Can Empower Themselves in the Workplace –
By Nancy Harris, Senior Vice President and General Manager for Sage 50 Accounting-Canadian Edition
Since 1908, the world has been celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8 by recognizing the brave and intelligent women have helped open doors for future generations and by empowering women to strive for more. Strong Canadian women have made great steps over the past century. Elsie MacGill, born in 1908, was the first woman aircraft designer in the world. During the 1928 Olympics, Canadian women competed in track and field for the first time. Maude Abbott wrote a book that surgeons used in the 1930s to create techniques for cardiac surgery. In 1993, Kim Campbell became the first female prime minister.
It is because of strong women like these that we have many of the opportunities we have today. It takes a lot to stand out from the crowd and go after one’s dream, and there are many things to be learned from celebrated women, especially in the workplace. The workplace is a space where women are still fighting their way to gender equality. Here are a few ideas that can help women continue to achieve their dreams in the workplace.
- Close the Gender Pay Gap: In 2012, for every $1 earned by a male worker in Canada, a female worker earned 72 cents, despite having the same job, experience and education. While there has been great progress over the years, this is still a significant gap. The big step women can take to close this gap is to ask for a promotion or raise. Research indicates that women are typically more timid than men when it comes to asking for this. However, most employers find a request for a promotion or pay increase – when done appropriately – to be a sign of motivation and drive.
- Insert the Right Attitude: Characteristics typically associated with men – being assertive, confident, aggressive, competitive and non-emotional – are traits that women also should demonstrate to empower themselves in the workplace. Knowing when to turn these traits on and off is key. While you need to be competitive at times, you must also know when to be a team player. It’s great to be assertive, but it’s just as important to listen to others and respect their thoughts and ideas.
- Eliminate Limitations: In most companies, you are your only roadblock to greater success. Employers generally encourage those who think out of the box and are not afraid to take risks. If you don’t have experience with a particular project, jump in anyway. The experience gained is bound to help you in similar projects or even in completely different projects down the road.
- It’s Up to You – Educate Yourself: In order to expand your business or role within a business, you need to become a perpetual learner by taking in knowledge from all around you – your peers, competitors, and through your own research with books or online. Having unique knowledge not only separates you from those around you, but it also establishes you as a reliable resource. Additionally, never forget to be adaptable. Women who can adapt to certain situations are able to smoothly transition success across multiple platforms and projects.
- Look to Others: Gaining experience from others helps you identify the pathways others have taken toward both success and failure. These are valuable lessons that are not easy to come by. Additionally, having a network of colleagues, friends or family also gives you access to receiving honest, straightforward feedback. If you have a new idea, utilize others’ opinions to gauge their thoughts on the demand of such an idea.
Let International Women’s Day be a reminder to all women to live up to their potential and aspire for more. While this day serves as a worldwide notice, it is important to remember these actions all year long to continue on to a brighter future.
Nancy Harris is senior vice president and general manager, Canada. Ms. Harris is responsible for driving the strategic and product direction for Sage 50—Canadian Edition and oversees key functional areas including sales and marketing and research and development. A primary focus of her role is strengthening relationships with and cultivating an exceptional customer experience for Sage small business customers, partner channels, accountants, and bookkeepers.