International Women’s Day is coming up on March 8th, and we can’t let it pass by unnoticed. As a small business led by our very own strong female CEO, supporting women in business is near and dear to our hearts here at AIS Solutions.
But you might find yourself asking, what exactly does it mean to support women in business? What does that support look like?
Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered.
Let’s Start with the “Why”
For many this may be obvious, but we believe it warrants repeating – especially in honour of International Women’s Day. Why must we extend specific supports to those women navigating the professional world around the globe, and here in Canada?
The proportion of women in senior management roles globally has grown to 31%, which is the highest number ever recorded. And it’s worth celebrating! However, it doesn’t mean we should stop striving for more – not by a long shot.
There’s the gender pay gap issue to discuss; there are different ways to measure the gap, but no matter how you slice it, the gap exists (and it’s especially significant for women of colour and women with disabilities). Did you know it’ll take an estimated 267.7 years to close the economic gender gap worldwide, if present trends continue?
A study by the University of Waterloo and Statistics Canada reveals that female first-time entrepreneurs in Canada see more success when they partner with experienced men compared to when they partner with experienced women or forge their own path. Why? “Research shows this is largely because women continue to face significant barriers, including negative gender-role stereotypes and difficulty gaining prior experience in executive positions at established companies, and challenges such as less access to financing.”
The truth is this is just the tip of the iceberg. We haven’t even touched on the barriers to accessing education faced by women around the globe, the disparity in household responsibilities faced by career women compared to their male counterparts, or the astonishing levels of sexual harassment experienced by women in the workplace. But the point has been made – there’s a very strong case as to why it’s crucial that we provide specific supports to women in business.
So, let’s explore how we can offer those supports.
1. Promote and Provide Women in Business Grants
Fortunately, there are financial programs dedicated to providing funding to women in business in Canada, and specific grants dedicated to supporting female entrepreneurs, like the Women Entrepreneurship Loan Fund.
By simply promoting these (and similar) programs to your network and ensuring that all women on your staff are fully aware of the opportunities available to them, you can make a difference. Providing these resources not only helps to connect interested businesswomen with helpful supports, but it showcases that you as an employer (and your organization) support women in business and are actively trying to counteract the disproportional barriers faced by women in business in Canada.
You could even take it one step further and go on to create your very own organization to support women in business. This could be in the form of a grant, or it could be an association which provides resources and information. You could institute a mentorship program or create a speaker series where you invite a successful businesswoman to give a talk once per month or per quarter – the possibilities are endless.
2. Support Women’s Education
Similar to women in business grants, there are a range of scholarships designed to support Canadian women as they pursue higher education, including the WEDO Canada National Scholarship Program. Acting as an advocate for these programs and raising awareness helps to connect women in need with the resources available to them, and that’s powerful in itself.
Along the same vein, you can take further steps to support women’s education if you’re able. That could look like your very own scholarship program, or it could simply be by showing support and encouragement to any women in your organization who are furthering their educational goals or considering it. By simply offering a flexible schedule to any employees – male or female – who are interested in growing their skills and going back to school, you’re showing that you support their endeavours and you remove one barrier that stands in their way. That’s a powerful thing!
3. Lift Women’s Voices
One crucial aspect to improving the setting for women in business is creating a space where women are encouraged to take the floor. No more boys’ club – we need to intentionally carve out room where women can speak freely, without fear of being interrupted, overlooked, objectified, or ridiculed.
When women speak in the workplace, we need to listen. It’s really that easy. That’s not to say that every point or idea put forth by a woman in the workplace is going to be a home run, but it deserves just as much respect and consideration as any other idea floating around the boardroom.
Another thing to consider is that women in business can benefit greatly from listening to those who have come before them, and successfully smashed through that glass ceiling. Being a woman in business is not an easy ride, and connecting with others who have shared similar experiences is a very valuable experience.
For any woman looking for that sort of camaraderie and guidance, we highly recommend these women in business podcasts. Hearing from intelligent women who have traversed similar landscapes is a great way to feel supported throughout your own journey, and you can pick up some really useful tips and tricks along the way. In fact, this is part of the reason we started our own Smart Man, Smarter Woman podcast!
4. Give Credit Where Credit Is Due
This one is simple: show appreciation for the women in your organization. Whether it’s a huge milestone achievement or something small that often goes overlooked, give credit where credit is due.
Demonstrate gratitude and let the women on your team know when you notice their achievements. It goes a long way to making them feel welcomed and respected in the workplace, and that alone makes it worthwhile.
Speaking of which… we’d like to take this moment to cheer on our very own ￼remarkable female CEO and entrepreneur Juliet, who was one of only three Canadian women to be named in the Top 50 Women in Accounting list in 2020! It doesn’t end there – thanks to Juliet and her endless determination and talent, AIS has also been named as a finalist in the categories of CEO of the Year and Female Entrepreneur of the Year for the 2023 BizX Awards. These are huge accomplishments, and we want to take a second to congratulate not only Juliet but all of the women who have been recognized in these categories. Find out for yourself what it’s like to work with an award-winning firm. Call us to schedule a free, 30-minute video consultation. 1-888-575-5385.
Women in business are slowly making strides, and we love to see it. Gender inequality can seem like an insurmountable obstacle (and to be fair, it is a doozy), but the truth is there are ways that we can support women in business that are really very simple to implement. So, from all of us to you, we wish you a happy International Women’s Day and we hope that you join us as we continue to support women in business in Canada and around the globe!