Over coffee one day, one of my colleagues and I sat with friends discussing Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In and our vision for Lean In Canada. As we talked about encouraging women to pursue their ambitions and potential, a counterpart to the phrase “Lean In” was forming in my mind.

Critics of Sheryl’s book have many complaints. One of them is that in focusing on telling women to lean in, Sheryl is ignoring the systemic cultural issues that prevent women from doing so in the first place. I wonder if they have read the book thoroughly. It’s true that addressing these issues isn’t the primary focus of the book, but to insist that one book must contain the comprehensive solutions for all women everywhere is an unrealistic expectation, and Sheryl appears to be keenly aware that we must work toward gender equality on all fronts.

This is where the concept of making space comes in. By writing a book focused on being a proactive and positive part of the solution, Sheryl has leveraged her position as a female business leader to create momentum around the conversation of “what can we do to help ourselves?” I truly believe this is the reason her message has resonated with so many people. Focusing on solutions is empowering. Focusing on problems is debilitating.

So what, indeed, can we do to help ourselves? Sheryl’s answer is succinct: “The more women help one another, the more we help ourselves.” Herein lies the message – as you lean in, also make space. Make space for productive, honest and courageous dialogue. Make space for each other to succeed. Make space for others’ voices to be heard. In this way, we can also move the needle in our societies and begin to break down the cultural barriers that still exist. Women can make space. Men, organizations, and policy makers can (and should!) do it too.

The mandate of this blog is to do just this. We endeavour to:

• make space for women and girls to dream big, by providing role models and examples of what can be achieved
• make space for women to be champions of one another, by highlighting/featuring women who are doing great things in our community and celebrating each others’ successes
• foster an environment for thought-provoking conversation and awareness in gender equality
• empower women to lean in and carve a path to personal success, with actionable knowledge and insights
• make space for women to claim their own authentic voices and share their unique perspectives, empowering women to build their own profiles and reputations as experts in their fields
• celebrate and drive awareness for the contributions of allies in our cause of achieving gender equality and improving overall diversity

I’m so excited to be on this journey with Lean In Canada, and I hope you’ll join us in leaning in and making space together.

With love,

Sarah

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