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Inspiring all Women to Lead with Courage

Michelle Obama, a woman leader who inspires me greatly, once said, “History has shown us that courage can be contagious, and hope can take on a life of its own”. Inspiring all women to lead with courage is more important now than ever. I hope this blog inspires you to claim your courage as I share some opportunities and events that give me hope for new directions in women’s leadership in Canada.

While we have made progress toward improving gender diversity and women’s representation in leadership positions in Canada, a lot of change still needs to happen. In 2022 Statistics Canada reported women make up only 35.6% of management positions (Statistics Canada, 2022). Gender diversity in the workplace is important not only from the point of view of gender justice, but also because it has been shown by McKinsey & Company in 2020 that “companies with higher levels of gender, ethnic, and cultural diversity are more likely to outperform their less diverse peers on profitability” (Canadian Women’s Foundation, 2022). How fitting then that this year’s campaign theme from International Women’s Day on March 8th is #EmbraceEquity. To #EmbraceEquity means we must make gender equity a foundational part of our society – in our homes, workplaces and communities.

Part of my purpose and one of the ways I’m working to support gender equity is to bring like-minded women together to create connections. I’ve always believed in the power of networking and building community. However, I recently learned that networking can both help and hinder working toward gender equity in the workplace, according to a research study conducted by WXN and Western University showed. In this report, WXN shares nine key networking strategies to help organizations create more gender-equitable workplaces and support working towards meeting diversity goals. One of the nine strategies that resonated MO’st with me was that of asking for help, support and, or professional advice through networking opportunities.  Check out the full report to learn more about the research here.

There are several ways I will celebrate International Women’s Day and recognize the importance of women’s leadership this year, which are also great opportunities for networking. I am excited to share these with you below and welcome to join me!

First, I’m excited to be attending and sponsoring the All Women L.E.A.D.  Rise Up! Achieve – Celebrating International Women’s Day 2023 event on Monday, March 6th. I am attending this event with my girlfriends and, I am looking forward to listening to and learning from some inspiring and courageous women who will share strategies that have helped them move forward and achieve.

Inspiring all women to lead with courage goes beyond a single event, day or month, so I am excited to continue focussing on this theme and mission as I am working to organize this year’s canfitpro Women Who Influence event, happening Thursday, August 17th. Thinking back to the WXN report I referenced earlier, one of the key recommendations for effective networking is to “Actively create networking and mentorship opportunities; don’t wait for employees to seek such opportunities — develop them now to create leaders who are ready and visible for future advancement” (WXN, 2022, p. 5). This is precisely the reason I started Women Who Influence ten years ago. Back then, there were no opportunities for women leaders in the Canadian fitness industry to come together to share stories and support each other. I took a chance, believed I could make a change, and found the courage to create and run the first event of its kind for the fitness industry at our conference. Since then, Women Who Influence has become a legendary event at our conference and provided space for up to 300 women to connect, learn and grow stronger together. The theme for this year’s event is all about women’s LEADership and Inspiring women to lead with courage.

Speaking of courageous women who influence … one of the most courageous women I knew was the late Sharon Mann. Sharon’s energy and smile were contagious and being in a room with her you could not help but feel courageous in her presence. Her husband wrote the song Superhero Girl in her honour, which was the theme song for last year’s Women Who Influence event. Sharon certainly embodied the courage of Superhero Girl in her leadership in the fitness industry. Her courage in her four-year fight against cancer went above and beyond what is humanly possible. In dedication to Sharon’s memory and her influence in the industry, canfitpro created the Women Who Influence Sharon Mann Inspiration Award and Scholarship was created to honour what Sharon stood for, which includes but is not limited to — personal courage, growth mindset, influence, inspiration, and community impact. Kim Basler was the inaugural recipient of this award in 2022, and I can’t wait to see who will be recognized this year! I invite you to have courage and apply or nominate a woman that you feel is deserving of this recognition.

Stay tuned for my March podcast episode with Kim Basler on my new podcast – A Mo’ment with Mo.  I will be interviewing Kim about her ideas on women’s leadership, what inspires her to be a leader, and how receiving this award and scholarship has impacted her life and career.