Vancouver event recap - Women & Men Lean In - Lean in Canada

As the year is coming close to an end, Lean In Vancouver celebrated their final event of the year: Women and Men Lean In (and it did not disappoint). This year’s discussion topic revolved around the progress that we may or may not be seeing for women in the workplace and the findings from the ‘Women In The Workplace’ study. The study is in its fifth year and is conducted by McKinsey in partnership with LeanIn.Org. The panel consisted of leaders from different industries with diverse backgrounds and experiences.

Our panelists included:

Tanis Jorge – Co-Founder, Board Member at

Paul Tournier –TPD, President and Co-Owner

Suzana Goncalves – MLA Canada – EVP Sales and Marketing, Partner

David Neale – PwC, Assurance Partner

The night started with a discussion on the importance of diversity in the workplace and how companies may improve this with their hiring practices. According to the ‘Women in the Workplace’ study, the biggest obstacle that women face occurs early in their career and it is the barriers to their advancement into management level. The panelists addressed this “broken rung” and the importance of companies to fix it. All the panelists agreed and identified that it all starts from the senior management team. It starts from the top down to support an inclusive culture that promotes diversity and advancement. A company needs to have a strong inclusive and unbiased hiring and promotion process in place. Tanis, who is the female co-founder of the tech company, Trulioo, said that having diverse founders has helped with their hiring practices. David shares that his experience as an auditor has provided him with a “hall pass into a company.” He said that companies without diversity and thought tend to struggle but does not believe that having a quota in hiring or promoting diverse employees would bring successful results. Industries need to be aware of its hiring practices and reflect on its results. They need to be looking for the reasons that their hiring may not be favourable for diverse employees and then re-examine these hiring processes. Suzanna suggests that it is a learning process and that it is important to be continuing to explore the right approach. Paul expressed the importance of employer branding and how companies need to live up to the image it portrays by being open to different talent pools.

The study states that a company also needs to invest in creating a strong culture through three important elements: equal opportunity and fairness, work-life flexibility and a safe, respectful workplace. The panelists shared that the employer’s role in supporting the transition between life and work is fundamental for the success of an employee. Managers also need to challenge all forms of gender-biased language or behaviour and ensure their employees that this is not tolerated.

The study shows that companies are encouraging diversity more than ever before. The study also recognizes that there has been an increase in female representation in the C-suite, as well as the difference that this makes in the business and culture of a company. The panelists shared that working on a diverse teams meant that a company could experience different ideas, thoughts and perspectives. All our panelists advocated that our attendees recognize their power as an employee and encouraged the confidence to speak up whether to a peer, manager or support group outside of work. This will help continue the conversation and may help turn a company’s diversity commitment into action.

Thank you to RBC for generously donating the space and providing catering for the event. Also, a big thank you to our panelists for joining us at our last event of the year. If you missed this event, we hope to see you at our next one in the new year!


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