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Women in leadership have proven they can achieve incredible results –during the COVID-19 pandemic, countries headed by women have tended to fare better in managing and adapting to an unprecedented health crisis – but we can’t deny they also still face many challenges. On this year’s International Women’s Day, I wanted to take the time to reflect on what this day means, not only to me, but also to my colleagues at Telfer Executive Programs, our community of practice, and the incredible individuals that make up our Centre for Executive Leadership.

This year’s theme is #BreakTheBias. It’s a particularly timely effort, as we all strive towards a more equitable world –one where differences are celebrated instead of viewed as obstacles to success– and where everybody can thrive as a leader. At Telfer Executive Programs, we’re committed to highlighting and promoting purposeful leadership, and to ensure our participants have the tools they need to become effective leaders in the workplace and to #BreakTheBias. With this in mind, Boundless Leadership: A Breakthrough Program for Women aims to help women acquire the skills needed to face the multiple challenges of the workplace and make their unique value and perspectives shine.

Everyday, I am inspired by my team members and the folks that make up our broader community of practice, who serve as great examples of leadership. Here is what International Women’s Day means to our community, and how we’re committing to #BreakingTheBias in our day-to-day lives.

“In the context of leadership, International Women’s Day (IWD) to me is about recognizing the pre-conceived notions and behaviors that women are still often subjected to in many roles. It’s also about being mindful of the progress we have made in pushing past attributing qualities and skills based on gender. I take this time to reflect on all the leaders and mentors I’ve encountered along the way who not only made me more confident in my abilities (#impostersyndrome), but have also shaped the way I approach my career journey.”

Erica Principe, Marketing Officer, Telfer Executive Programs

So many times, I introduced myself and assessed a patient, only to have the patient ask me, "when is my doctor coming to see me?". In 2022, and beyond, I hope my daughters will face a future free of bias. This is our task, our mission and our responsibility.”

Jean Chen, Undergraduate Program Co-director, Department of Emergency Medicine, The Ottawa Hospital

“The team here at Telfer that I get to work with a team that includes so many amazing professional women in higher educationasked me to contribute my own perspectives to this post. Honestly, I struggled to do the assignment. I am learning every day how important my role as an ally can be and I have so much more to learn. I am lucky to have amazing women in my life at work and at home that gently show me every day their unique power and insights that make my world our world a better place.”  

Glen Orsak, Director, Telfer Executive Programs

“As a Program Officer at Telfer Executive Programs, I have been fortunate to engage with many women in positions of leadership, learn about their career journeys, and even watch them progress to hold more senior roles. I have the opportunity to see women like Dr. Virginia Roth graduate from the Telfer Executive MBA and become the first female Chief of Staff of The Ottawa Hospital. I see so much to celebrate, to pause and reflect on, before taking a deep breath and tackling the work still to come.”

Stephanie Thompson, Program Officer, Telfer Executive Programs

“As a young woman entering the workforce, I’ve often felt afraid to speak up or assert my opinions due to my lack of experience. At Telfer Executive Programs, it’s been very inspiring to see not only how open communication is encouraged, but also how various perspectives are actively sought. I hope that every work environment can become a place where everybody can be free to be themselves and bring their unique perspective to the table.”

Sophie-Aude Boily Theriault, Administrative Assistant, Telfer Executive Programs

“Growing up in a small town, I was not exposed to many different ways of thinking. My ideas were largely unchallenged, and as a result, I developed world-views that, today, fill me with a sense of deep shame and embarrassment. I remember the excitement I felt on the first day of university, during my Intro to Philosophy course. My professor was going through the syllabus and the topics we would cover in the course, and as she arrived at the end of the list, she informed the class that "I am a feminist. I will be exploring these topics through a feminist lens, and anyone who has an issue with this can leave the class now". I remember rolling my eyes, concerned that the topics would somehow be polluted by her feminist ideologies. I have never, since, been so wrong in my life. She challenged my way of thinking at a fundamental level and forced me to evaluate my own biases. Without people like her in my life, I may not have ever had the opportunity to step outside my own small ways of thinking. Today I am privileged to be surrounded by incredible women who challenge and inspire me, every day of my life. These voices have changed my life, and the people behind IWD remind us that the world is full of these voices, that work to do the same for society.”

Jacob Robert Morrow, Senior Business Operations Officer, Telfer Executive Programs

What does #BreakTheBias mean to you? Let us know in the comments below- we’d love to hear your thoughts!


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