In February, the Lean In Canada community filled the Arts Gallery of Ontario and trended on Twitter Canada with our event: An Evening with Katie Telford, Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. This sold-out event was Lean In Canada’s largest yet.
The atmosphere in the room was exhilarating as Katie Telford discussed gender equality both within and outside the realm of politics. The evening started off with a behind-the-scenes Facebook live interview between Katie and TV Host Amber Mac. Amber quizzed Katie on her role in Canadian government, her career journey, and her inspirations. She also asked Katie some questions submitted through our social media channels; if you’re wondering, Katie’s reading What Works: Gender Equality by Design by Iris Bohnet.
Sharon Irwin-Foulon, Executive Director at Ivey Business School, then took to the stage to make a special announcement – a new partnership between Ivey Business School and Lean In Canada. Katie followed with her speech, and the evening came to a close with a fireside chat with both Katie and Amber.
On Gender Equality and Diversity
The evening’s discussions focused on gender equality and diversity. Katie conveyed her excitement about seeing more women becoming politically involved by taking on active roles in politics and public services. However, she expressed that this is not enough.
On the same note, Katie spoke proudly about Prime Minister Trudeau’s gender parity cabinet but swiftly explained that this is just the first move in a lengthy fight to increase the number of women represented in every field. In every meeting she attends, Katie takes note of the number of women and men that are in attendance. She notes how she is often one of only two women in the room.
On Fighting to Incite Change
How do we incite change? Katie suggested that management needs to be involved in actively recruiting and hiring more women. Organizations need to start publishing their numbers in order to increase transparency about diversity in the workplace.
Katie also emphasized that women are going to need to be ready to take some heat. She asked us to be stubborn and persistent, and to keep leaning in together to win the fight. “You need to build a plan around diversity and inclusion,” she said, “it doesn’t happen naturally.”
On Work-Life Balance
In talking about work-life balance, Katie explained that she prefers to seek the “right mix” rather than a precise balance. Sometimes, certain aspects of your life will take up more time. She also attributes her success to her willingness to take risks. She took a page from Shonda Rhimes’ book and mentioned that saying “yes” to opportunities provided her with the path that got her where she is today.
Check out our event video here.