What are the big ideas and specific policy actions that will be needed to close Canada’s gender gap? This event provides a summary of what advocates, experts and policy makers in Canada are currently doing to improve the wellbeing of women and girls – and showcases efforts emerging out of COVID towards achieving gender equity.
Big Ideas to Close Canada’s Urban Gender Gap
Mind the Gap:
The Post-COVID Gender Gap in Canada’s Cities
Read CUI’s conversation primer, which provides a snapshot of what we know today about gender and COVID in Canada’s cities
A roundup of the most compelling ideas, themes and quotes from this candid conversation
Rethinking maternity leave, Sonja Foley
We talk a lot about the wage gap and the power gap, but those conversations never include the maternity gap. Mothers are 8.2 times (820%) less likely to receive a promotion compared to women without children, and their starting salaries are 7.9% lower than those of women without children. Sonja Foley, intergovernmental relations director at the City of Vancouver, is launching a project that treats maternity leave not as a sudden removal from and jarring reintroduction to the workplace, but instead as a period of extended yet connected leave. The experience of having a child can be isolating and overwhelming, and the pressures women face to perform well in both motherhood and the workplace can be devastating. Women and mothers are invaluable to the creation and evolution of resilient businesses. Rethinking maternity leave is an opportunity to keep new mothers connected with their work and reintegrate them empathetically, treating their absence and maternal responsibilities as benefits rather than liabilities.
Intersectional data collection, Maureen Jensen
Maybe “collecting intersectional data” doesn’t sound like a big idea, but what gets measured gets noticed, and what gets noticed gets changed. While it is a truth universally acknowledged that women deserve the same chances and lives men have access to, gender itself is not a sufficient measure to track the gains women are making (or losing) in our society. Race, socio-economic background, region and culture are all factors in how women fare in the workplace and how high up the ladder they are able to climb. Women are half the population but hold less than 20 percent of executive positions in Canada, and women of colour, are barely represented in the figure. Gender and race-based data must be gathered. Setting targets for female representation in the workforce, as well as setting and publicly disclosing targets for racialized women in executive and board positions, is a strong start, but deepening and broadening the talent pool throughout the business world with readily available skills development is also required so that women can be prepped to fill and keep these positions.
Economic empowerment of women, Michi Komori
Everyone has blind spots and biases that can impact our decision making without our conscious knowledge. Blind spots in the eyes of people in power have a huge negative impact on women in the business world. Not only are women less likely to approach banks for loans, but banks are biased against women-owned businesses and have been shown to require much more proof of traction before approving their applications, compared to male-owned businesses. As we look to build economic and societal systems that use regenerative rather than extractive capital, we have to ask how can we empower women to build companies that embrace these models, so everyone thrives? The answer is in community interaction. Removing barriers to women’s prosperity relies on empathy and trust, which can be built from the ground up within communities. Focusing on regional impact investing and prioritizing involving local stakeholders will create opportunities for long-term prosperity as businesses focused on raising up women and nonbinary people see the ripple effects of such work. We can choose not to perpetuate the old rules, and intentionally invest in a future where nobody is left behind.
Hiring Indigenous women and girls, Sheila North
Like several on this list, this may not sound like a big idea at first. However, we are simply not seeing the hiring and retention of Indigenous women right now. Shutting this group out of the job market keeps Indigenous women vulnerable, feeding into an insidious cycle. Call to Action 92 of the TRC asks corporations to monitor their policies for clauses that might impact who they hire and who they keep on. For example, are you shutting out certain groups from success at their jobs by prioritizing experience over education? Requiring certain education levels can limit experienced workers, particularly Indigenous workers who often have had less access to formal education. At the moment, Indigenous women and girls are starting from way behind the starting line. Rather than asking them to find their own pathways to success, starting to offer them tools to access and retain meaningful work will ripple out into healthier families and communities. It’s time to start building ships: allyships, mentorships and partnerships to empower Indigenous women and girls to be entrepreneurs, workers and mentors to other women. The equitable hiring and training of Indigenous women is absolutely key to economic recovery and reconciliation.
Childcare, Brooke Richardson
The pandemic has radically increased the awareness that we need to start thinking collectively rather than individualistically and accept that we have a core responsibility to one another. The current model of childcare is not working, and without urgent funding there will be even less available childcare in Canada than there is now. We have the opportunity at this moment to rethink the provision of childcare services. Childcare currently meets the needs of few women and is nearly entirely inaccessible to many women whose requirements are different from what is perceived as “the norm”. This is unacceptable. A pan-Canadian childcare system has already been announced, but the initiative must be developed in conjunction with women from diverse experiences and backgrounds such as nonstandard work hours and racialized communities, not just able-bodied 9-to-5 working women. Where the money to develop this system goes and how it will be spent is also very important. Children and families deserve responsive, high-quality childcare within the public infrastructure, and the development of that infrastructure can itself jumpstart the economic recovery of women care workers and educators.
Making women their own storytellers, Kadie Ward
When women participate equally and are recognized for the contributions they make, their organizations and communities flourish. But not only this, when women are included in the story of their organizations, the narrative itself changes. Men talk more than women in nearly every professional context from boardrooms to media panels. There is a widespread and continuing culture of sidelining and silencing women that makes it more difficult for our ideas to be recognized, our contributions to be uplifted, and even our salaries to be equalized to those of men. While the past few decades have seen a drastic increase in women’s contributions to and visibility in most professional fields, more needs to be done to center and uplift women’s voices if wage equity, among many other goals, is to be achieved. Policymakers must continue to create legislation and programs that focus on women’s economic justice and closing the gender wage gap, and institutions must show enthusiastic support for women to return to the labour market. If gaps go unnoticed, they go unfilled. For women to truly become equitable in the workforce, we must embrace talking loudly about our positions and barriers.
Note to readers: This video session was transcribed using auto-transcribing software. Manual editing was undertaken in an effort to improve readability and clarity. Questions or concerns with the transcription can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org with “transcription” in the subject line.
Katy Boychuk [00:00:48] Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you so much for joining us today. We’re here on the second half of the SHEcovery summit. My name is Katy Boychuk, and I’m the communications specialist at Libro Credit Union. I’m proud to be here moderating this discussion on behalf of Libro. Libro credit Union is South-Western Ontario’s largest credit union and more than just a banking institution. We believe that one hundred percent of our profits are to be put back into the people, businesses and communities we serve. And we do this by getting involved in important conversations and supporting organizations like this one, helping to address some of the most challenging issues facing our region, including employment and financial resilience. As a living wage employer and certified B Corporation, Libro will continue to use our business as a force for good in supporting an economic SHEcovery. I’m joining you today from the territory of the Adawanderin Annishnabec, Haudenashonee and Leni lenape peoples, who have long standing relationships to the land, water and region of London and southwestern Ontario. The first, sorry, the first excuse me, the local First Nations of this area where I’m joining you from include the Chippewa of the Thames First Nation, Oneida Nation of the Thames and Muncie, Delaware Nation. Today, we have people calling in from communities across Canada and in territories of many indigenous peoples across Turtle Island and beyond. So we would also like to recognize the contributions of the Metis, Inuit and the First Nations have made both in shaping and strengthening communities across the country. We are grateful for the opportunity to be on this land. Please reflect on the territory you are privileged to be enjoying today. We thank all generations of people who have taken care of this land for thousands of years. We are delighted that you have chosen to spend your afternoon with us for what is going to be a really important conversation now. And ahead, we have an exceptional panel here today for you to learn from, but also we’re here to learn from each other. So, we encourage you to take part in the conversation through the chat. Share your ideas, experiences and perspectives. To kick it off, say hello in the chat and let us know where you’re calling from today. Today’s conversation is being recorded, and just like all of the Canadian Urban Institute’s city talk events, the event will be available online with transcript and summary following today’s event. We’ve also enabled close captioning. So if you would like to, you’ll be seeing that at the bottom of the screen. If you would like to disable this function, you can do so by clicking at the bottom of your screen and disabling the function. In the chat also, we’d like to share a link to the Mind the Gap report that was prepared by the organizers. We’ll be continuing our conversation that took place this morning that looked at understanding what exactly the post-COVID gender gap looks like. And they took an intersectional look at how women may have been impacted over the past 15 months. For this afternoon, we’re switching gears to discuss and focus on solutions. We begin with a rapid fire presentation from each of our exceptional panel of experts who I will be introducing. They will share their big ideas on what Canadian cities should be exploring to improve the well-being of women and girls across the country in addressing our gender gap. We’ll open things up to a moderated discussion, and we’d love for you to participate. While you’re listening to the presentations, f,eel free to share any comments or questions or big ideas of your own in the chat. We’re going to get started because we’ve got a full panel here and not a lot of time we want, to make sure that we give everybody an opportunity. So I’m going to turn it over to our very first speaker, Sonja Foley, director of Intergovernmental Relations and Strategic Partnerships at the city of Vancouver. She’ll be sharing her big idea on transferring maternity leave, which I’m quite interested in as an expectant mother. Sonja.
Sonja Foley [00:04:53] Thanks so much, Katy, and congratulations to you. My name is Sonja Foley. I’m a mother of two. I’m a leader. I’m a board director. I’m a feminist. I’m an immigrant. I’m a woman of color. And I’m a settler on the unceded territories of the Coast Salish people, in particular the Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam also known as Vancouver BC. Before I share my bit, I’d like to acknowledge the devastating news around the seven hundred and fifty one unmarked graves. My heart aches for the community and the families and everyone who is impacted by this. So I’m with you and I stand by you and it’s really important we never, ever become desensitized to this. So, thank you for holding this important event today. I’m honored to be on this panel with my distinguished panelists. My big idea to close the gap is an issue that has gone unaddressed for far too long, and that is the maternity leave. As soon as women have children, they’re immediately put at a disadvantage. But more than that, the way our systems and our organizations are currently set up, they haven’t been done so in a way that considers the mother in a holistic way. We continue to talk about the wage gap and the power gap, but what we never seem to talk about is a single point in which women offramp corporations and that’s the surrounding years around maternity leave. Why is that? Because women have children and that is, can be a transformative, isolating and challenging experience that no one quite prepares you for. And our current systems don’t support mothers during this pivotal time. From a mothers perspective, this is a pivotal year in a woman’s life where her career comes to a halt and she presses pause to begin a family. This pause can impact a woman’s career trajectory, and her ability to progress her career as being a new mother presents a whole new set of challenges she’s never had to navigate before. And as she tries to find herself in this new chapter of life, she questions her priorities her identity, and how will she continue to build her career and care for her baby? The pressure to do it all and make it look good is felt by many new mothers who often face extraordinary pressures on themselves and their return to work. As maternity leave ends and women look to return after after a year with their baby, the transition can be fraught with fears and unknowns, including a decrease in confidence, new pressures and overwhelm on how to manage your career, how to be a mother, how to do it all. Some numbers for you to digest. According to Harvard, a new Harvard study, mothers are eight point two times less likely to receive a promotion versus women without children. Starting salaries for mothers versus non mothers are on average seven point nine percent lower, which has them three years behind before they reach the starting salary of non mothers. On the other hand, the fatherhood bonus since men’s earnings increase more than six percent when they have children. This is a problem. And in order to challenge the existing disparities mothers face and the contribution they can have and our organizations and our economies, we need to make deliberate efforts and investments to further support mothers and their career trajectory. And that starts with maternity leave. In Canada, there’s approximately three hundred and seventy five thousand women who take maternity leave per year. That’s a lot of women who are penalized for growing our population in the economy. For women, having a child is single handedly the largest financial risk they can take in their lifetime. This is also best known, many have heard of this as the “motherhood penalty” or the “motherhood tax”, which can play a big part in holding women back from leadership positions and contribute to the wage gap. But we also know is that Indigenous women and women of color face a disproportionate wage gaps and opportunities to advance in the workplace. So, these numbers are typically much, much worse for for women of color. So, investing in improving the maternity leave journey and experience represents one of the single biggest opportunities to close that gap and continue to move women forward. We need to implement specific programs and supports and resources to support mothers, during this time. The missed opportunity is too great. We cannot afford to idle. We need women and mothers in particular to help build strong, resilient, progressive and smart businesses which contribute to our greater economic productivity. When mothers rise, all of society writes. And that’s it for me.
Katy Boychuk [00:10:11] Thank you so much, Sonja. I’d like to thank you also for raising awareness of the tragic news that was shared today about the Indigenous children that were found at a formal residential school. Thank you so much for bringing that forward. Your talk is going to be really interesting to see what how we move some of this into action that systems and organizations don’t consider women in a holistic way and the additional pressures that are put on women when they become mothers. So thank you so much for sharing that. Next, we’re going to invite Maureen Jensen, Prosperity Project funding visionary and former chair and chief executive officer of the Ontario Securities Commission to share her big idea on intersectional data.
Maureen Jensen [00:10:52] So I’m very, very pleased to be here today, and I just want to say that I found Sonja’s big idea great. And as a mother of two, I have to say that, you know, I have been fighting this issue now for over 40 years. I’m at the end of my career and and I don’t see that much has changed. So you’re absolutely right. We have to start thinking about women holistically, not just how they can fit into the workplace. But what I want to talk to you about today is about the prosperity project and specifically about collecting intersectional data. It doesn’t sound like a big idea, but it is. And so, I think one of the things that everyone on this call knows is what gets measured, gets done, what gets measured, gets focused on. And so I want to talk about measuring things, but I’d like to start just to talk a little bit about the Prosperity Project. So, I’m going to pose a question. What do 62 women from different backgrounds and ethnicities, including 45 mothers, four black women, eight women of color, two Indigenous women and one lesbian, what do they all have in common? Well, they got together at the beginning of this covid pandemic and they said, we think that women are going to go backwards. They’re going to lose the gains that they have worked on so hard for the last 60 years. And we said, what can we do? So we got together and formed the Prosperity Project. And Pam Jeffrey is leading that. And we’re all working to help women in Canada get ahead and plan the lives that they want, regardless what they look like, where they come from, and whether or not they’re mothers. We need to have exactly the same chances and lives as men do. So together, we formed this project, we rolled up our sleeves and we put our hands in our pockets and we started to work. So we created an action plan. Part of it was advocacy. Part of it was mentoring. We also have webinars. We’re trying to get women into trades. We’re trying to help women make the connections they need to have and live the lives that they want to live and not just the lives that they are living simply because they don’t have access to either training, professional development or promotions. So on May 22nd of 2020, we launched, we had a virtual launch and the founding visionary shared this plan to mitigate the impact of covid on Canadian women. And four days later, George Floyd was killed. So, we knew that to ensure that our project not only collected just gender data, but intersectional data to ensure that we could track all women’s progress, what’s had to be fundamental to our project. So, we got together and we have worked with many different sponsors and I won’t go through them all. But one of the the groups that we are working with is the Black North Initiative. And that was very much where we’re talking about, people need to be able to get ahead of all backgrounds, not just what corporate Canada looks like today. So we’re one year old now and all of our projects are underway. And in February of this year, we released our report, our first annual report with data from 48 companies. And we tried to get 120 companies to work with us. But most did not want to collect the intersectional data or about women in their pipeline. So, this report to me underscores the importance of collecting data and asking very tough questions. We’re not only measuring the number of women at the executive level or at their direct reports, but also women in the pipeline. And in addition, we looked for intersectional data so we could measure the actual numbers of white, black, people of color, and Indigenous women in each level of business. So, we launched our report and it’s called the Zero Report. And that was not a surprise to a lot of the women, but it certainly was a lot of it was surprise to a lot of the companies. So, we called it the zero report because number one, it’s our starting point. Number two, we want zero barriers. But most importantly, many of the companies that we have measured and these are the best companies in Canada still have too many zeros. So in our study, women held forty point nine percent of the board seats and six point nine percent of companies had no female directors at all. That’s down substantially because we’ve been pushing for this for the last five years. However, on TSX listed companies, women only held twenty one point five percent of the board seats. On S&P TSX, the largest companies, they held thirty one point five percent. But surprisingly, eighteen point five percent of TSX companies have absolutely no women on their board. So let’s look at executive officers. In our study, thirty point eight percent of executive officer positions were held by women and twelve point five percent of companies had no female executive officers. But, on the TSX listed company, seventeen point one percent of executive officers were women. And in the TSX 60, the largest companies, 19 percent of executive officers were women. But, 33 percent of all TSX listed companies had no women executive officers, we’re half the population. And we’re still not making it to the upper levels. In our study, we also looked at racialized women, only six point two percent of board seats were held by racialized women, only eleven point four percent of executive officers and eleven point four percent of pipeline positions were held by racialized women. So, if you look at the results, it looks like some women are getting ahead and others are not. If you look deeper and you combine all of our results, forty point three percent of all of the board, executive officer and pipeline positions were held by women. So women are moving up in over 40 percent now. However, only ten point five by racialized women, nine point eight percent women of color. Point seven percent for black women, three point two percent for Indigenous women and two percent for women with disabilities. So, I’m saying to you, let’s not waste a crisis. What can we do? So we can change things. First of all, gather gender and race based data. We should stop being so afraid to measure things because it’s easy to pretend there isn’t a problem if you don’t collect the data. Two, set female representation and workforce targets. Three, set and disclose progressive aspirational gender and non gender target for women’s representation at the board and executive levels and at the pipeline and apply a gender lens to the return to premises plans for workers. It’s going to be much more difficult for women to go back to work with children at where they can’t rely on schoeing open in daycare is being open. It’s just too difficult. And fifth, I would say deepen and broaden the talent pool throughout. The all businesses through talent and skills development, and that’s what the Prosperity Project is trying to do. So remember, I’ve-
Katy Boychuk [00:19:14] To let you know you’ve got about 30 seconds remaining.
Maureen Jensen [00:19:17] So remember, what gets done, gets measured, gets done. So collect the data and let’s change the world with the facts.
Katy Boychuk [00:19:27] Thank you so much, Maureen, it’s incredible to hear that the Prosperity Project has come together with 62 women representing a lot of different diversity and the importance of intersectional data and what exactly what you said, what gets measured gets done. So let’s let’s move on to our next speaker and we’ll talk more about your big idea in the panel discussion. I’m going to introduce Michi Komori, who’s also with the Prosperity Project funding visionary and innovation and sustainability consultant. She’s sharing her big idea and economic empowerment of women.
Michi Komori [00:20:10] You hear me? I’m going to shut off my video because I often have broadband issues and I don’t want that to freeze. So thank you, Katy, for the introduction. And I’ve got a nice entry, following Maureen, about what the Prosperity Project is all about and what our objectives are. So, let me start with each of us have blind spots and biases that impact how we make decisions. Studies have found that our susceptibility to blindspots is unrelated to our intelligence and self-esteem. What role might blindspots play for women business owners seeking support from traditional financial resources? We at the Prosperity Project have conducted some research. I’d like to share some of the findings. Women are half as likely to approach a bank for financial support, especially women entrepreneurs of color. Men were biased in their concepts of women owned businesses as well as projects and not long term businesses. Women needed considerably more proof of concept and traction than male owned businesses. Small business women of owners of color were more likely to be denied credit and pay higher interest rates. Immigrant women needed assistance are becoming familiar with the processes for establishing a business. To me, this information reflects a system built on fear and ignorance. There are indicators of the next 10 years will be the most consequential in human history. One driver is the emergence of ecosystems as a dynamic framework, reimagine the future that we want. I think the last year has demonstrated that when one of us isn’t safe, none of us is. Throwing money at problems in isolation probably has limited impact over time. System and mindset change is what’s needed. In the context of a future fit economy, a shift in thinking would include moving from GDP to planetary and human well-being as a measure of prosperity. From jobs to mission driven entrepreneurship as a measure of employment engagement. From extractive to regenerative capital as the economic model for the twenty first century. For private property to share views and ownership. So,, how might we create the conditions to empower women business owners to build successful companies, be resilient and sustainable? In my view, the an economic model that embraces curiosity, empathy, courage, interconnectedness and trust,nd shared awareness as key factors in removing the barriers to women’s prosperity. There’s lots of evidence that community interaction on the ground. Drives innovation, and that diversity is a critical success factor. Could a place based impact investing framework with a forward thinking, inclusive, gender smart lens be a catalyst for systems change that would close the earnings gap and enable women business owners in their communities to not only raise money but empower them to create innovative products and solutions, develop partnerships, scale their business and add value by being stakeholders at the Decision-Making table, creating jobs, building capacity and leadership skills. Place based, based in impact, investing intentionally places capital into social enterprises in a specific region. It involves engagement and collaboration with local stakeholders, is a patient capital, with a focus on long term returns. A gender smart, placemaking investment platform for women on owners, business owners will be inclusive and support women identified and gender non binary entrepreneurs, underserved and underrepresented communities. This could include Indigenous women, women in rural and remote regions, racialized women, newcomer, women, LGBTQ plus, and women with disabilities. Each investment platform reflect the community, unique culture, demographics, values, and could generate opportunities to reinvest, thrive and prosper. Over 19 percent of Kenyan women live in rural or remote areas, but only 20 percent are self-employed. Will women earn an income of twenty thousand dollars more, which is exactly half of their male counterparts? Agenda smart, placemaking investment platform could be a solution to drive sustainable entrepreneurship. Only the human species can consciously reshape the future. We have a choice to perpetuate the old rules or with intention, invest in developing new ecosystems for a future where no one is left behind. Back to you, Katy.
Katy Boychuk [00:25:52] Thank you so much, Michi. I love the themes and your big idea about supporting economic empowerment of women, knowing that our systems are built on fear and ignorance, as you said, it’s important to identify the blind spots, build safety and gender smart plan. Thank you so much. I’m next going to call on Sheila North, a previous grand chief of the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakinak, who’s going to share her big idea on hiring indigenous women and girls?
Sheila North [00:26:23] Thank you very much, *speaking in Indigenous* Hi there. My name is Sheila North from the Bunibonibee Cree nation. And I’m calling you from the treaty one territory also known as Winnipeg. And an elder told,taught me not that long ago that we have to start using our indigenous languages more and more in public to honor our sovereignty. So I do that when I can, when I remember when I have time. And also, of course, to all of you in whatever territory your you’re in. I acknowledge that as well, and the ancestors from from each of your families as well. Today is a big day that I have to admit. It’s a little hard to concentrate, and because of what we’re hearing news of this past few weeks and then today with the seven hundred fifty one in Saskatchewan, we knew that this day would come at some point. And it’s here, and I think that that reminds me of of what my what my big idea is when I say hire indigenous women and girls, it sounds like a simple idea, but it is a big idea. It’s a big task because we don’t see that that much. When I look around here in Winnipeg, which has the largest, probably one of the largest Indigenous urban indigenous populations in Canada, aside from maybe Regina. But here in Winnipeg, you come to Winnipeg, downtown Winnipeg, you see a lot of us and everywhere throughout the city. And we’re in the malls when they’re open and things like that. But you don’t see a lot of our kids or young people or adults working in any of the service industries or or any of the windows that you pull up to get a quick coffee. You don’t see that. And that’s really troublesome to me because that tells me, and reinforces to me that Indigenous women and girls are not being hired and of course, men and boys as well. That’s another that’s another part of it. But we’re talking about the gender gap here. And I think that Indigenous women are disproportionately affected by all of this discrimination and economic shut out, that we become vulnerable to predators and elements that make us live in poverty, that keep us there and and keep us reliant on other people to for basic things. And that’s what makes us vulnerable. So my big idea is, is if we’re going to support and injustices like the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, I say that we have to be serious about hiring and call to action 92 the TRC call to action, 92 says that corporations and businesses and governments have to look at their policies and that includes hiring policies, but also all the policies that affect someone’s employment. Are they inadvertently or maybe on purpose, shutting people out of getting jobs or being successful in jobs? And that also includes looking at, you know, what kind of education they’ve had. Maybe they’ve had more experience and education. So what what is more valuable, their experience or their education? And and for me, growing up in my community in Bunibonibee, I have to say, I can probably find the report card, but I was one of the smartest kids in class all the time in my home community. Top, top honors and grade four the governor general came and gave me an award. I still have the picture. But anyway, that didn’t mean anything. When I came to the city to go to high school, I thought I was smart enough to to finish high school, a grade 10, 11 and 12, and then go into fulfilling my dreams of becoming a doctor or being an entrepreneur. And the other dream I had was being a journalist. But it was virtually impossible because when I got here, I was one of the smartest kids in class at home to be one of the dumbest kids in class in Winnipeg. And I couldn’t even keep up with the homework. And I didn’t know what algebra was or even writing an essay. I could write stories, but I didn’t know about the process of writing an essay. So, all these basic things. And so I think we can’t expect Indigenous women and girls to be successful if we don’t give them the proper tools that they need to be successful. So, those are the basics and education is huge and also, of course, supporting entrepreneurship. I think that’s another big idea. And I think if if we are serious about changing the course for indigenous women and girls, it’s good for Canada. It’s not just for us, it’s good for all of us. I think that we’ll see to start to see healthier families in our communities. We’ll start to see healthy entities themselves, because an Indigenous women will be empowered and will will be better off. The Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business says that about 50 thousand there are fifty thousand small, medium sized Indigenous owned businesses in Canada. So it is already a fact and a reality. So let’s start using these businesses and more of them. And I think that we are able to do that. And that in turn makes our communities healthy. I think we also talked about the the wage gaps. And one CEO that I know who’s very, very strong, one corporation that I work with here in Winnipeg, her counterpart, compared to her counterpart, she gets paid 40 percent less on the same job that she does in the company. And, you know. And what is that? Why is that? Why do we still put up with that? So a lot of questions and a lot of more answers. But lastly, I’ll leave it with this that we have to start also building ships. I seem to be saying that a lot more allied ships, mentorships, partnerships, we need to do this, do this to empower each other, empower our women, Indigenous and Indigenous, women and girls as well. My daughter is an entrepreneur and I think that one of the things that she would like to do as she’s building her company is to also mentor other young people and for her to have that idea already as a budding entrepreneur, you know, I think she’s she’s right. She’s right on the money. She wants, she doesn’t want other women and girls, younger girls and her to struggle. So I like that idea. And I’ve benefited from being mentored by other people. So I’ll leave it at that. My big idea, again, is to hire indigenous women and girls, and we’re funny and cute at the same time.
Katy Boychuk [00:33:26] Thank you so much, Sheila. You speak, you sharing your big idea with such compassion and conviction today. Thank you so much for that. It is troubling that we don’t see enough indigenous women and girls and men and boys, as you did, mentioned, in work settings that we interact with on a daily basis. So that’s definitely something we look forward to discussing further. I’ll just mention, if anybody knows any women or BIPOC led businesses that you’d like to show support of, please drop them in the chat. We’re going to move on next to Brooke Richardson, who will be speaking about her big idea on child care. Brooke is the president of the Association of Early Childhood Educators of Ontario. Brooke we’ll just ask you to take yourself off-.
Brooke Richardson [00:34:14] Sorry, have my screen share, I forgot to do the new piece. Thank you so much. I’m so honored to be on this panel today. I’m joining from the traditional lands of the Annishnabec,, the Chippewa and the Haudenasaunee and the Mississaugas of the Credit in the colonial lands now known as Toronto. So my big idea, and I’m going to be really conscious of time here, is child care. Not a new idea. It’s been around for a while, but it’s still a big idea and there’s some exciting things happening. So, I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this. We saw on the panel earlier today that the impact of the pandemic has been gendered. And there’s it’s it’s very clear women are already represented in precarious part time work or more likely to lose their jobs. Mothers absorbed a massive amount of the care labor and took major career setbacks and mental health costs. And then another thing that’s a little less talked about is that, you know, the early childhood education sector is one of the most highly gendered sectors out there, and the sector has been thrown into chaos. So while the need for child care became much more evident in the public consciousness, so like we were talking about earlier in the war, I was the panelist earlier. There’s an increased space and awareness that we have to think in a collective way. We can’t just keep going on with this neoliberal individualize track. And I think the pandemic is all those horrible things that happened. At least maybe there’s a there’s a shred of we do have some responsibility for each other. So, like I said, that the child care sector has been hit with this double whammy. Everyone needs child care, but child care centers are really struggling and enrollments down. We have a market model and the market is, has never worked and it’s not going to work now. And in fact, it’s it’s if there’s not some urgent funding, we’re going to have less child care than we had before. So we have to, I’m going to talk a little bit more about how to find in a minute. But I do think this is an opportunity. So, I have a picture here from the from the war period where literally mothers were tying their children to fence posts. And I feel like in the pandemic, we are not, we have not been that far away from that. I mean, I personally am a mother of four an academic, working full time. It’s it’s it’s been almost impossible. Right. And I and I thought of this picture often as I thought about my three year old and just hoping she’s still in the basement, you know, watching her show, if that’s what has to happen. But what we did see, again, for the first time since World War Two was child care that was publicly funded. And that happened with the municipalities in the city of Toronto. So the first emergency childcare centers that were opened were 24/7, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They were run by municipalities because there was already the infrastructure, both in terms of people, infrastructure and physical infrastructure to be able to respond and provide the service. And then those those original four municipal centers in Toronto is unique in that we are one of the only cities in Canada that still has a, I wouldn’t say large, it’s less than about four percent of child care in Toronto. But we still have some municipal child care where municipal child care and other regions has closed en masse. So we have this announcement of this this Pan Canadian child care system, which is great. Oh, sorry, I skipped this, which is fantastic and exciting. But we have to think really critically about where this money is going and how it’s going to be spent, because money in and of itself was not going to provide a gendered response and a gender recovery. So, I do think we need to think about where municipalities are at, probably most importantly, and as I listen and reflect on all of the presentations I heard earlier, now we need to be aware of whose needs we’re meeting and how. So that needs to be developed in collaboration with women who are working nonstandard work hours, racialized communities facing other systemic barriers. And these things all have to come together. None of us are really working in separate policy areas. I think we’re all working for the same, for the same school. And I think one of the things that also has to be central to this is where does the workforce in the workforce fit in because parents and mothers don’t want a parking lot for their children? That’s not the solution here. We need and I really hesitate to use the word high quality because it’s way overused and way under theorized, but children and families and educators deserve a place where they can experience good, responsive, caring relations. And, we need to think about how we can come together within a public infrastructure to be able to offer that because there’s an opportunity now. So I want to jump off. Thank you.
Katy Boychuk [00:39:18] Thank you so much, Brooke. It’s you know, we’ve hear you’re the second speaker to now saying this idea is not new, but it’s certainly needing more more support, more resources, but in the right direction, in the right time and the right way. It’s really interesting to hear your thoughts on how highly gendered the sector is, but that the current model is not meeting needs. So looking forward to hearing more about action on your idea later today. I’d like to next invite Carmina de Young, young fashion designer and entrepreneur who’ll be sharing her big idea and entrepreneurship. And I’m going to give her a quick shout out that Libro Credit Union to the partnership not that long ago with Carmina before the pandemic hit. And this vest that I’m wearing today was designed by her. Coming over to you.
Carmina de Young [00:40:06] Thank you. Hello, everyone. So. I’m going to have to drink some tea. I apologize, I didn’t realize my throat got so dry when I’m here waiting on the conversation, but it happens again and it was. So today want to share a little bit of my story. And as I was listening to the conversations, I think my story resonates with Michi Komori because a lot of the challenges that I face as a entrapreneur, you were talking about them. So I’m the founder of Carmina de Young Fashion Design Inc and it’s a women’s clothing line that started in two thousand fifteen. And we started developing, and we started selling through the local market. And, in 2018 we incorporated and we started to introduce a product to the southwestern Ontario and other retailers in Canada, we started selling a product for sale. When I came to Canada, 20 years ago, the challenges were huge. I came with the idea of becoming an entrepreneur. I have a goal in mind and slowly I started working on milestones. So, as a new immigrant at the time and as a minority, I faced a lot of challenges and I was also a single mother. And so that other event, the complexity of wanting to become a business owner. So, childcare was definitely one of the challenges. Finding the right resources for me, was very, very difficult because there were no there was no other place work that I can go on can guide me. And I found information through Google. I visited the business centers. But it was it was definitely challenging finding that my mentorship was also another challenge that we had, that I faced through my through my experience as an entrepreneur. I think that facing sorry, I’m a little bit nervous. I’m not used to speaking in public, so I’m a little nervous. Yeah. So one of the things that I feel like is very needed for entrepreneurs to fill the gap is a place where people can navigate resources. Immigrants need support to understand the culture. It is it is a new place. It is the new, new experiences. No, no, we don’t have networks. And so for that, we need systems that can embrace immigrants and then can help us find new ways, understand the systems that are the Canadian systems on them is another another thing that is lacking in the in the support for for women. So the support is there for for businesses that are a size that are so obviously and for very small businesses, there is not enough support to to take your idea into the market. And once you feel like you have accomplished one goal and then you are at a certain place then, so I’m a little bit nervous. I wanted to tell my story because it’s from the bottom of my heart, but I just got a little nervous. If you can continue with the next one.
Katy Boychuk [00:44:23] And absolutely, Carmina, you’re doing wonderfully. And I think some of the sentiments that you shared, you know, really aligned with what is the successful immigration story. The difficulty of finding resources that will help a person settle so they can focus on their business goals and looking at what are those resources that are really needed. So, navigating where to go to find support for child care, understanding the new culture that you’re living within, building relationships and network. So really great points to bring forward and very important when you’re starting a new business as an entrepreneur in a new country. Thank you so much. I’ll pass it on to Kadie Ward then, but Carmina, if you have anything to add, we’re more than welcome to bring you back in. Thank you, Kadie Ward is the commissioner and chief administrative officer with the Ontario Ministry of Labor Training and Skills Development, and she’ll be sharing her big idea on pay equity.
Kadie Ward [00:45:25] Thank you very much. Also add specifically and with the pay equity office, also wanted to let you know that I’m joined today from treaty 13 lands and traditional territories of the Annishnabec, Haudenesaunee and Metis. And thank you, Sheila and Sonja, for your very compassionate words calling attention to the recent tragic news, I echo those. And so I’ll go straight to my my big idea, which is to make women the storytellers and to make the story be about women reclaiming their value and reclaiming their worth. And the story’s subtitle could be The Power of equitable compensation in employment. Employment that pays well and offers new opportunity for personal and professional self actualization. Pays well part is central to our work at mthe Pay Equity Office, we focus on women and work and inequalities that persist based on the historic evaluation of work historically or typically done by women or worse work that is stereotyped as women’s work. Our office addresses this by making sure that work of equal value is compensated for equitably within an organization. Our office understands that the gender wage gap is a result of a whole host of complex, interconnected structural issues that several of our panelists outlined today. Thank you. For our part, we focus on compliance with Ontario’s Pay Equity Act, education and outreach to close the wage gap. Many of you have likely seen the Power Gap investigative series published by the Globe and Mail. This series leverages data to provide an undeniable narrative of the wage and power gaps across our nation. Perhaps more importantly, though, the personal stories of Gabriela’s sakova, Jenette Zabo and Dr. Anthony McDonald and others give depth and meaning to the data that help us understand the tacit ways in which women are excluded from the story of power and equitable compensation. Throughout my career, I have heard countless similar stories. I’ve also been lucky enough to witness the other side of these stories, the transformative side where women are included and recognized equitably. Previously, I worked in international economic development, focusing on women’s political and economic participation in their communities and had the opportunity to work with the team who led the Bryant Park Restoration in New York City. This was a derelict park that was transformed following 10 years of investment. I asked what was the turning point? The answer? Women. When women made up at least fifty five percent of the park patrons, crime dropped, cleanliness and patronage increased. So, when women participate equally and are recognized for their contributions, societies and organizations flourish. I will add to this, that when women are included in the story or better are the storytellers, the narrative changes. From boardrooms to bleachers to media panels. Men often talk more, tell more stories, interrupt and mansplaining. And due to the widespread culture of sidelining and silencing women, is perhaps unsurprising that women are less likely to speak up and negotiate their salary benefits than men. This is an often cited but completely unacceptable factor related to the wage gap. So, what do talking and storytelling have to do with pay equity? Well, over the past few decades, even in my lifetime, women have increased the range of where we talk, what we talk about in the fields we contribute to. I was born in the nineteen hundreds, makes me feel old every time I say that. But in the beginning of the nineteen hundreds, women were not considered persons in Canada. It wasn’t until nineteen twenty seven that we were included in the legal definition, opening the opportunity for us to participate in public economic and political discourse. So, I can’t help but imagine how women’s contributions would have been valued if women were considered persons before nineteen twenty seven and their stories were told from their point of view, if hunger for knowledge was celebrated rather than cast as the fall of men. If Cleopatra’s ascendance to the throne was framed as the result of a strategy negotiation, rather than being dismissed as the luck of a temptress. If Joan of Arc had not been burned for wearing men’s clothing but recognized as an equal for the successful military campaign she led. If the scientific community hadn’t waited a century to pay attention to Ada Lovelace’s notes on Charles Babbas analytical engine and well, there are way too many women to name here. But, if women running for government hadn’t been judged by their hair and pantsuits, but rather on the substance of their platforms, I could go on. But it’s clear. Men’s voices on women’s stories lead to distorted and equitable truths about the value of our contributions and our worth. So,. This brings me back to talking and storytelling. One big idea to achieving wage equity is to reclaim and tell our stories of accomplishment and articulate our worth. We need to talk and tell more stories, not just about the problems, but about the progress. For instance, Ontario is the first government globally to pass a pay equity act. In nineteen ninety seven, the gender wage gap in Canada for Ontario for salaried employees was 18 percent. Twenty eighteen, those gap measure twelve point two with Canada at thirteen point three, progress is being made. Never in my lifetime have I read and seen so many stories about women and work and so many reports looking at the economics of inequity. Over the past year, we’ve coined the terms she session and shecovery, with governments talking with a feminist post-COVID recovery. The Federal government table, that’s twenty twenty one budget, a document that mentions women no less than six hundred and sixty five times. And Ontario has established a task force on inclusive economic growth with a mandate to address the unique and disproportionate economic barriers facing women, particularly post-COVID. Governments are paying attention, and there’s an opportunity to capitalize on the singular moment in time. So let’s keep the conversation going so policymakers continue creating legislation and programs that address women’s economic justice and closing the gender wage gap. If your province does not have a specific policy tool or program to address the gender wage gap, gather your colleagues, consult with stakeholders, talk about and propose a solution. If your province does have a tool addressing pay equity, learn how you can promote it. The team that makes up the pay equity office is committed to this and to enhancing women’s economic empowerment through enforcement of our act, the first of its kind globally and through education that edified and elevates the equity conversation. We’re grateful for partners like the Canadian Urban Institute leadership and talking about and spreading big ideas about pay equity demonstrates that the future need not replicate the past. Thank you.
Katy Boychuk [00:51:56] Thank you so much, Kadie. So, folks, you’ve heard all of these amazing big ideas, and we’re going to now move into our moderated discussion. If you have any questions, we’ll do our best to address them with the panel with the time that we have remaining. And we have some questions ready for the panel now. The sentiment was already shared today, but I’d like to share this quick quote from Nelson Mandela, who once said that “,vision without action is just a dream. Action without vision just passes. The time and vision with action can change the world”. So let’s move into the panel discussion now to see exactly how we can turn these big ideas into action. We’re going to start our first question, and I’m going to pose this to Sonja, Sheila. Kadie and Michi, I’ll call on you in that order. If we have time, we’ll invite some other panelists as well to address this question. Each of you have shared a concrete idea to address gender inequality. Some of your ideas are not new and have been needed for a long time. How have the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic created and now more than ever, sentiment? What do you see as being the necessary ingredients to move your idea into action now? So I’d like to call on Sonja first.
Sonja Foley [00:53:08] Me again? Can you just repeat the last part of your question?
Katy Boychuk [00:53:14] Absolutely. So we’re looking at what is, how we rebuild around an action around your idea in this now more than ever, a situation in post and in the pandemic and post pandemic. And what are those necessary ingredients to move that idea forward?
Sonja Foley [00:53:30] Yeah, so I think it, I think covid has when I’m when I speak to my big idea specifically as it relates to mothers, obviously I advocate for all women. But within the context of speaking specifically to mothers during the maternity leave, I think it begins with everyone, to be honest. I think I’m doing some work around this and actually creating the solution to this issue because why just sit and watch it continue to happen. So, I’m happy to share more about that later offline. But I think I think it starts at the government level. I, I think it starts with corporations. It starts with a exposing the issue, stating it, and then showing what the impact of that has holistically on not just women, but on families, on communities, on the country as a whole. And so there’s absolutely ways to address it. And it’s probably not been done before because it’s it’s thicky, it’s how do we do this? But through my own research and surveying mothers, one in, less than one percent of mothers felt confident going back to work. That is a really big problem. And these are women in leadership roles. Right. So, to have less than one percent feeling confident when they return back to work, that has a ripple effect. Right. So we have to do something about that. And so, my action idea to the big idea that I’ve spoken to is where I’m creating in partnership with someone else, in collaboration with someone else. This is putting the pressure on and the onus on organizations to invest in programs that will support mothers during this time. And another little tidbit from the survey was the most used word in our survey was isolated. Right. So, how do we build a community for mothers who are on maternity leave so that they don’t feel so isolated when they’re going through this very transformational time of their lives? So, yes, the larger the action is that there needs to be specific supports for mothers. And I think it starts at the organizational level. And of course, I know someone had mentioned in the chat that policymakers need to be women. Right? Like it starts at that level, too. It’s not just putting the onus on the CEO and the elected officials. It needs to be the people who are actually writing the policies. And in order to have a more inclusive, inclusive policies, we need we need everyone at the table.
Katy Boychuk [00:56:45] Really great point, Sonja. Thank you very much for sharing that. I’m going to pass it on to Sheila and pose the same question to you, Sheila. How do the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic create a more now more than ever sentiment? And what do you see as the necessary ingredients to move your big idea into action?
Sheila North [00:57:02] Thank you very much, and I’m really enjoying the chats, by the way, thank you for all the good ideas, new ideas, old ideas. I think it’s pretty simple. We have to start hiring Indigenous women and girls at every level of business and organization. But that also means boards, inviting them to be on boards. If you have the ability to add people on boards, invite them, or even if you have ability for hiring or having the ability to influence people that are hiring to to start to challenge them to to hire Indigenous women and girls so they can also participate in the economic recovery going forward. But it’s also about economic reconciliation. We’ve been shut out of a lot of things. I’m just about 50 years old and it took me this long to be independent enough to buy my own home. Whereas many young women half my age, and even younger have been homeowners for many years. And you just have to peel the onion from that statement to understand why. And a lot of it has to do with the haves and have nots and having privileges and non privileges. And where where can we start closing some of these gaps within our own communities and families? And I think that it’s important to remember and to start also acknowledging the truths that are hard to hear sometimes. And the only way we’re going to move forward in reconciliation and call to action, I do, too, is very clear. Start looking at your policies. Are they racist in any way? Are they are they leaving people out? Or are they disrespecting their beliefs? And by that I mean, for example, in indigenous communities and families, I could probably go to one hundred funerals a year. Because that’s how we relate to each other, but also that’s how our mortality rates are very low compared to non-indigenous people. And so we can go up to one hundred funerals a year, whereas non-indigenous people maybe go to 10 in their whole lifetime. So what does that mean in workplaces too? Right? How does that affect not only the emotional impact, but in workplaces? We get three days usually for bereavement or if you have a generous employer, maybe longer. But technically, a lot of places only allow a couple of days for time off to go to the funeral and grieve with your family. But if that happens a hundred times in one year, does that make him a bad employee? I don’t think so. I think that just means that they have a different history and we don’t always make room for for some of that. So I would say start looking at ways that we can be more inclusive and also be compassionate allies, not in the in a patronizing way, because that’s not going to help either. We are beautiful, powerful people, as you are all as well. And I think people have misconceptions of us that we’re constantly groveling or crying and and, you know, the news titles and stories sometimes don’t help with that. But you don’t hear enough about the powerful women that have overcome many obstacles to get where they are. And I applaud all of them and honor them and and, of course, all of you. So dream big and set goals.
Katy Boychuk [01:00:43] Thank you so much, Sheila, it’s interesting that both you and Sonja have mentioned policy, so just a reminder to all of us here listening in today to invite women that, you know, in your network to run in politics, whether that be at the local, municipal, provincial or federal level, to ensure that we have that good representation to support those policies that will help these ideas moving forward.
Sheila North [01:01:07] And I’m running for the assemblyman AMC Grand Chief. By the way, the election is July 14th
Katy Boychuk [01:01:13] Wonderful, throw the details in the chat, Sheila. Thank you so much. I’m going to call on Kadie next to answer the same question. So with the sentiment of now more than ever, what are those necessary ingredients to move your idea of storytelling and pay equity into action?
Kadie Ward [01:01:31] Thank you. Thank you very much. From my perspective and from the perspective of the pay equity office, covid has made it very clear that the action we need to take or the necessary ingredient going forward is gender neutral compensation, which we call pay equity. And the conversation is growing to help us understand that, that also needs to be racialized. So, taking and looking at all the experiences we’ve heard from Sonja, the experience of women going on to leave and coming back into the workforce transitioning and the gap that that that widens in that moment. Indigenous women and girls, the challenges they face in growing their career. So we have to look at gender neutral and racialized compensation. Covid has given us a very definite sense of urgency because we are seeing we’ve talked about I don’t need to go into the stats rollbacks in gender equality, in the gains it has brought our workforce. Prior to the pandemic, women’s participation in the labor market was increasing dramatically. And this is was fueled by a recognition that women’s representation had great social and economic benefits that drove gender inequality, workforce productivity and increasing household income. RBC and I sorry, I don’t have the labor numbers, but I will get them Katy. RBC predicts that women just having them participate in the labor market equally with men could give an economic output of over one hundred billion dollars per year. So Covid has created this whole now where women are exiting for various reasons. We’ve heard about the economy and all of the issues surrounding that. But the action is really returning and ensuring that women return to the labor market and in actively supporting their participation. This is the critical thing that has to happen. And this is the thing, not to take wage equity from idea and action is bringing women in as equal, to participate in the labor market and addressing gender neutral and de racialize compensation structures.
Katy Boychuk [01:03:24] Absolutely. Thank you so much, Kadie, great, great thoughts about putting these ideas into action, gender neutral compensation, the economic output of women, it’s definitely huge. I’d like to ask Michi also to weigh in on this question, the necessary ingredients to move your idea of identifying blindspots, building safety and a gender spart plan into action now. OK, Jamie, sorry, I’m calling on Michi Komori. If she’s having technical issues, maybe I’ll ask if Maureen or Carmina have anything to add to this question for your big idea, what are the necessary ingredients to move your idea into action?
Carmina de Young [01:04:18] Yes, so. So I think, gee,
Katy Boychuk [01:04:27] I’m sorry, Carmina, let’s go back and video.
Carmina de Young [01:04:33] OK, so I think the organizations and both organizations and government need to create tools and programs that support women that can help them to get funding that is available. A lot of times the funding is still available for people to start their entrepreneur career, but they don’t have the right guidance. So that’s a very, I think that is one of the biggest challenges that women have. And I say that because I talk to other women entrepreneurs and a lot of the times, they do not know what to do or work to call it. I also think that, I’m an entrepreneur and I also see the gaps with we have a team of about 50 people and we see the gaps. And when with men and women, women have more support, women have less support than men. And women are also always they don’t have the right, they don’t have, they are afraid to ask for wages. As someone mentioned earlier, when they come, they say, how much are you going to pay me? As men, they come and they say, this is how much I want to get paid. So from the perspective of leadership and confidence in them, I feel like if women have more support in those aspects and women will feel more more confident to come and say, this is what I’m offering to do as an employee, but they don’t because they are afraid.
Katy Boychuk [01:06:17] Thank you so much, Carmina. I think the sentiment aligns with Sheilas comment about what ships we’re creating allies, ships, partnerships and mentorships. So really ensuring that when we’re working with other women in our network to help them understand and want to dress and how to talk about what what those things are to ask for, whether it be, you know, vacation time or or payment, I think Kadie brought that idea forward with how we’re we’re looking at pay equity. I just will call also on anyone else in the panel if you’d like to answer this question. And we’ll move on to question 2.
Brooke Richardson [01:06:58] I’d like to see the discussion happening in the chat if anyone else is interested. Sorry, John. Is that OK?
Katy Boychuk [01:07:10] Yeah, absolutely.
Brooke Richardson [01:07:11] OK, I want to jump in there. Yeah, I just think I just want to problem, problematize this idea of gender neutrality, because this is something and what I’m teaching comes up a lot with my students. I think, you know, young people raised today have kind of been raised with this mentality that, you know, girls and boys are the same. They can all do the same things. We’re all equal. We’re all it’s all about go get them. And I think that idea is problematic because the reality is, is that the load that women and men are carrying are different. And we have to acknowledge that. And that takes active policies and active advocacy to intervene in the status quo because the status quo is not equal, as we know in so many ways, shapes and form and as the pandemic has revealed. So, a really classic example is related to paternity leave. We know if men are given daddy days and paternity leave where they use it or lose it, then all of a sudden start taking paternity leave. Shock and amazement. And then over time, we have fathers who are more involved in their children’s lives. So it’s you know, it’s not enough to say, well, we can have men or women can use it. If that’s our mentality, women are going to probably use it because that’s the status quo. But if we want to actually encourage more equitable sharing of social reproductive labor, which is the crux of everything all of us are talking about, then we have to have policies and infrastructure in there to help lighten the load for women. And yes, to some degree, men can pick up some of that. Right? Like and we’ve seen that during the pandemic. Yes, my husband does more now than he used to do, but I’m still fundamentally at the helm of the ship. Right? And I think that’s a really important. Yeah, gender neutrality cannot be I don’t see color. It’s this, we really have to look at differences. And related to that, I just want to say one other thing. In relation to child care, there’s often a very strong misconception that universal child care is a one size fits all model and nothing could be further from the truth. Child care needs to be developed within localized communities. That’s why I was kind of giving the plug to municipalities who understand the needs of those communities and can. And because it’s not the same Indigenous child who has endured ongoing systemic trauma cannot trust public systems in the way that my children can, right?. These have to, we have to be listening to people. We have to be sharing our power. We have to be just out there. That’s what we’re really trying to do with the ACEO is, again, hearing stories.
Katy Boychuk [01:09:44] Thank you so much, Brooke. I think I’d like to call back Kadie to clarify when she was mentioning gender neutrality, I think regarding compensation and I’d love to invite Maureen to comment when we’re looking at the intersectional data of this
Kadie Ward [01:09:57] Thanks Katy, in the in the process of of pay equity, we use gender neutrality to address gender bias. So, we’ve heard many conversations about women’s work or work that is stereotyped or historically done by women and the challenges that men’s work and women’s work, and what we need to get rid of is labeling. That’s a woman’s job. That’s a female’s job. So, we know that the caretaking economy formalized like nursing and personal support workers, is dominated by women in the service sector. And so, because those jobs are dominated by women and historically been held by women, they’re compensated less. So, when a job is gendered or as a job is gendered, and that it’s compensated because of its gender. This is what we seek to redress. So, when we talk about gender neutrality in jobs, we say look at, we are looking at and comparing, comparing skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions. And this should be the same compensation wise, regardless of whether a man or woman or a racialized person is doing the job. So, in pay equity language, we just recognize that there’s a historical bias around women’s work, in men’s work. And we actually have a very scientific method of doing this. There’s lots of regression analysis involved, but we can break that down and say, no, it’s just not, compensation should not be based on the historic idea of who should do that job and how much value that brings to society. So, that’s that’s what we mean as by kind of taking using gender neutrality to take out gender bias in the compensation efforts of jobs.
Katy Boychuk [01:11:35] Thanks, Kadie, for clarifying, one of the best things about events like this is that we can have great dialog and debate respectfully, I’d like to call him Maureen as well. Can you speak to this as well, Maureen? When we’re looking at the intersectional ,data and what gets measured and how.
Maureen Jensen [01:11:51] Yes, so I have to say that that one of the most important things, I believe, is that we have to measure what’s actually happening today. And, one of the problems that we had, I’ll just give you an example. Very early on, starting about five or six years ago, we said, how could it possibly be that we have as many women graduating from professional, with professional credentials and yet somehow they never seem to reach the top. So, we started measuring that and we got all of the public companies in Canada to start reporting on it, on the that were listed publicly in Canada, to report on how many women they had at the board table, how many women they had in executive positions. And it was, it was shocking. 11 percent of board positions were held by women. Now, if a woman, a young woman, Aboriginal, you know, racialized woman, anyone starting their career joins a company and sees only white men at the top. I mean, do they believe they can ever get anywhere? No, we felt it was really critical to do this. Also, what we found was if you, again, using data is that companies that had more women on the board and more women in senior management, not only did they do better, their stock prices were better, but the people within the companies were better and people wanted to work there. So, what I’m saying for intersectional data is you really need to know what today’s reality is, because you’re going to have I mean, what Sheila was talking about was really important is that, you know, we have a reality. And yet if Sheila goes and talks to a CEO of a company, I can guarantee you most CEOs don’t have any idea if they have any anyone Aboriginal in their company and don’t have any idea on how to encourage, you know, entry level positions for Aboriginal girls. So, I think you have to collect the information. You have to put it out there. And then on top of that, you have to challenge people and say this needs to improve and then set targets. So, I’m saying that there’s a very practical way to do this. When you hold up a mirror to reality, people stop pretending that everything is OK. It’s not OK. Companies make better decisions when they have multiple viewpoints and women have to be at the table.
Katy Boychuk [01:14:35] Thanks so much for weighing in on that.
Sonja Foley [01:14:39] If I could just add to what Maureen said about having so many educated women not making it to the top, and I really believe, like, again, from the maternity leave perspective, before you break the glass ceiling, women have to climb the maternal wall. Not the real thing that we don’t talk about. Right? Like we hit that maternal wall. And it’s a shocker. So, yes, it’s possible to shatter the glass ceiling, but the maternal wall brings a whole set of new and unexpected challenges when it comes to progression.
Maureen Jensen [01:15:18] That’s so true. And I have to say that part of the difficulty is that in corporate culture and I’m only talking from a corporate point of view, face time has always been so incredibly important, being able to stay late, being able to come in on the weekend, you form all of those bonds. How can you do that when you have two children at home? You can’t do that. And so that is the problem. It’s it really should be about the work and the value of the work. I love what Kadie said. It’s really about the value of the work. Whoever’s doing the work, they all should be paid the same. It’s hard to walk up the maternal wall with a baby in your hand, high heels on and try and break that glass ceiling. It’s really tough. You need help.
Brooke Richardson [01:16:10] And can I just add something too? I think the other thing that’s important to think about is this concept of being a good mother, right? This is something that’s really shifted over the past couple of decades. Right? We know women now who are working full time are spending more time with their children than mothers were in the 1950s, like one on one direct interaction time. So, it’s not only a question of mothers trying to work in the paid labor force, but it’s also the expectations of mothering have gone through the roof. Right, with with knowledge of child development. So, what made me think of that is just this idea that your kids have to come first so, even making their insinuating or suggesting in any way or you won’t take maternity leave or that you are going to be career oriented, that can easily be painted as a bad mother. And that’s really scary, right. Do you fathers face that same? Are you a bad father if you work full time and your career oriented? No. But are you a bad mother if you decide you want to pursue your full time work or whatever? I think we have to also problematize those discourses. There’s, again, there’s intersections of a lot of different things happening.
Katy Boychuk [01:17:21] I had to step in to give Michi an opportunity to share her thoughts, I think she was having some connection issues with her microphone. So please jump in if you have anything to add to the conversation at this point.
Michi Komori [01:17:39] I don’t have anything in this in this topic, but thanks for asking.
Sheila North [01:17:43] Can I just say something really quick?
Katy Boychuk [01:17:46] Yes, go ahead, Sheila.
Sheila North [01:17:49] It just jogged my memory that, you know, when we talk about making room for moms and making sure that we’re not excluding them, I think that’s really important. And also, I’ll add to that, that, you know, Indigenous women usually and it’s the case for me and a lot of people that I know Indigenous women, we have our kids first and we take time and make sure that our kids are OK in a healthy environment that’s ideal for us. So, but I also makes us late bloomers. When I got into my ideal career and my dream career, I wanted to be a journalist and it wasn’t until my mid 20s I finally got into it. And the the senior journalists who are famous right now, like Lindsay Duncombe from CBC, Crystal Goomansingh from Global. Now she’s in London. I worked with all these ladies and they’re much younger than I am. And they were already senior reporters. But that didn’t hinder my ability to be able to do the job. But, you know, it categorized us and it made, you know, made us compete in different ways. So, I think that we have to make room for people that have other priorities, socially and culturally, and making sure that we are including them as well.
Sheila North [01:19:09] Thank you, Sheila, for adding to that. I’d like to move in to with these ideas in this conversation in mind, we’ve heard time and time again that these issues are not new, but during the pandemic, we’ve seen them really erupt and bubble into more of the visible space. So I’d like to ask the panel to to move into this next portion of our discussion to think about what do we think will be the most troubling inequalities left in the pandemics wake of this big ideas that we’re discussing today and how should we prioritize these solutions? So what is at stake if we don’t act now? I’ll maybe call on Michi if you’d like to jump in to give you an opportunity and we’ll open it up to the panel.
Michi Komori [01:19:57] Thanks, Katy, can you hear me now? Thank you. These are such complex problems, and I don’t pretend to have any solutions, but I think what maybe we need a playbook in different sectors and what we need collectively, the big we, is have to decide, come to some collective agreement about what needs to be repaired, what can be repaired in this these inequities? And what needs to be reimagined? Do we reimagine day care? To reimagine hiring practices and what needs to be left dismantle what is not going to work now, hasn’t been working, and then make priorities and then decide which groups are the most valuable and this time in terms of equity. It seems to me that the health care workers and those of low-Pitched need to need to sort of feel a bit more included in the economic recovery since a lot of them are women. And how is there a reckoning? How is this going to straighten out? So that’s that’s just a very general perspective of mine. I think we just have to decide where we need to be maybe in the next two years, five, 10, and what our priorities are over that time to see us where women and there was equal balance of wages and opportunities. That’s, that’s my comment.
Brooke Richardson [01:21:29] I’m just thinking of something that the panelist this morning said Kadie talked a little about it, too, just this economy, because one thing I worry about, I have to say in in the post pandemic in this era, yes, we have a lot of government funding coming into different areas. But, I worry about health care being pitted against child care, being pitted against education. And I think I wonder if we can kind of try and put the brakes on that, because that’s how our system is set up. Right? Which groups are we going to prioritize over other groups? But why can’t we what if we took a step back and say, OK, we’re going to prioritize care? Right? How would that change things if we actually valued care and we created the infrastructure in which care was accessible and good and high quality? Right. I think that’s and, I really think in order to do that, we need to be allies. We can’t be fighting against each other. There’s no space for that. Right? We’ve got to those who of us who want maternity leave and pay equity and childcare, we are all on the same team here. And I think the problem is, is that the social reproductive labor remains invisible.
Kadie Ward [01:22:41] I can I can build off that, Katy, if you don’t mind, please,
Katy Boychuk [01:22:44] Katy, come on in.
Kadie Ward [01:22:47] You know, just on the economy, because it’s so interesting, because it’s all related to women in the workforce and broadly you ended your first question with what’s at stake? And what’s at stake is either one hundred or one hundred and fifty billion, depending on whose report you read, which is how much it costs, which is what we lose in GDP by excluding women from the economy and so supporting women’s participation in the workforce. I think this builds off of the Brooke’s point, because it’s also related to women’s unpaid work and what that contributes to economic growth and what that enables in our economy. And the point Sonja poignantly made saying women are penalized for rearing the the population growth and rearing the next generation of the workforce. So for me, it’s an interesting question. And I think it does all come together in a broader discussion on women’s participation in the workforce. And, we know that since the beginning of the pandemic, one point five million women in Canada lost their jobs. And they’re coming back at a much slower rate and they’re opting out. I don’t want to say voluntarily because they’re not, they’re opting out because of the what they have to do at home now with education and other forms of care is not enabling or participate in the labor market. And, so far from what we see is that bringing women back in and so to increase household income, household spending, GDP, all the things that the economists and policymakers look at, this is very intimately linked to women’s participation and ability to come back into the workforce. So, it means that infrastructure that we’re all talking about, be it care, health care, child care, all of the stuff that needs to come in as a foundation to to do that.
Katy Boychuk [01:24:34] I’m going to ask if we have time for one more panelists, if you’d like to weigh in on this thought, and then we will go into our closing a wrap up as we’re closing to coming to the close of our event today.
Carmina de Young [01:24:45] I just like to make a comment here. So, I have my experiences and inequalities as an entrepreneur, but I also have experience as an entrepreneur, and in hiring people and looking for people with the skills. So we are a company that has values as a massive US company that has values. And so we’re always trying to find the balance between the skill needed. If it’s a man or a woman where is needed and trying to to find the balance to the quality of the work. We know that, for instance, that for some of the work, men can do better and they know that that work is women can do better. And it’s going to make us feel like, are we doing the right thing? Because now we want to have a person unveiled here. We want to have a woman here. Sometimes that is needed, is not all the time. But, you know, there are some occasions when we have to make a decision based on the needs of the business as well. And, it’s a debate in certain locations.
Katy Boychuk [01:26:07] Thanks Carmina, I think we have time actually, for one more, if you keep your answer to it about a minute, does anyone else have anything to weigh in? Sonja, I see you went off mute.
Sonja Foley [01:26:17] I think Maureen was before me. So go ahead, Maureen.
Maureen Jensen [01:26:20] Oh, I just want to say that I think I’m going to hark back to what I just heard from Brooke, and that is I don’t think that we value the care. I see the need for care in our communities and motherhood, we are always talking about how important it is to grow the economy, but you can’t grow the economy if all of the people needed to grow the economy don’t have that support and care and motherhood behind them. And so it’s really important, I think, that we value motherhood and that we value care, elder care, child care, people care. And because without it, your economy will crumble.
Katy Boychuk [01:27:11] Sonja, do you want one last word? I saw you off mute and then I’ll I’ll go to close.
Sonja Foley [01:27:17] This is opening up another can of worms, but just really briefly, one of the things that I think is very concerning for me and our return back to normal is how workplaces are implementing their post-COVID policies of where you work from. Right. A lot of people have shifted and changed their lifestyles. And, I know a lot of mothers have enjoyed the benefits of being able to work from home, and many have not. However, I think there’s got to be, some people have to be organizations need to implement policies that are inclusive and sensitive to people’s lifestyles and have to understand that we’re not just these siloed employees. We come as a whole. We have other lives. We wear many different hats. And I think moms will be impacted a lot in this return back to work.
Michi Komori [01:28:15] I’m just going to add training and retraining to that. And that’s all. We need more of that.
Katy Boychuk [01:28:21] Thanks so much, Sheila. Thanks a lot, Sonia. Folks, it’s really difficult to cram in all of these amazing panelists into the time that we had, but we hope that you found this this conversation insightful and motivating today. Some incredible ideas were shared, action based, and some of the sentiments that have kind of stuck with me over the conversation were building ships, our ships, mentorships, partnerships. So, continuing to lift ourselves and each other up to call out mansplaining, to make sure that we are at the table and feeling comfortable and confident to share our own voice. The support and care that’s needed around women and the post-COVID policies that are going to help build the foundation that we need to move on from these gender gap inequalities. So, whether or not those policies are things that you yourself can implement as a government official or advocate for in your business, I encourage you to take that back. We do have a live poll that we will share with the audience. So, please respond to that before you go today to give us your feedback of today’s event. I’d like to thank all of our speakers and panelists for making the time to share your events, your ideas here today. Truly insightful, very inspiring. And I think just the beginning of conversations to come. There is no recovery without a she recovery, and addressing inequality must be part of our post pandemic plan. Each of us has the opportunity to work towards this in communities, organizations and spaces where we live, work and play. So, together we must work to close that gender gap. I’m Katy Boychuk, communication specialist from a credit union on behalf of our organization. I’d like to thank everyone for joining us today. Thank you to the organizers who are monitoring and the chat and supporting our tech today. And we urge you to think about what role you can play in moving these solutions of ideas to action. Stay safe. Take care. And we look forward to seeing you at our next event.
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From Canadian Urban Institute: You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at https://canurb.org/citytalk
00:17:36 Canadian Urban Institute: Welcome! Folks, please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments. Attendees: where are you tuning in from today?
00:18:15 Deborah Edoo: Oakville
00:18:19 Anne Antenucci: Thunder Bay Ontario Canada. Located in Northwestern Ontario. I”m the Co-chair of Women in politics Northwestern Ontario
00:18:26 Wendy Koo: Calgary, AB
00:19:25 Canadian Urban Institute: Today’s session is hosted jointly by the Canadian Urban Institute and the Pay Equity Commission of Ontario, and made possible by the generous support of Libro Credit Union and Advanis.
00:19:38 Toby Greenbaum: Toby from Ottawa
00:19:47 Kate Graham: Hi from London Ontario!
00:20:10 Sarah Kaplan: Greetings all! Sarah Kaplan zooming in from Cape Cod, Massachusetts which is the traditional land of the Wampanoag and Nauset peoples.
00:20:14 Canadian Urban Institute: MIND THE GAP: The Post-COVID Gender Gap in Canada’s Cities: https://canurb.org/wp-content/uploads/Mind-The-Gap-CUI.pdf
00:20:35 Rutendo Madzima: Hello from the unceded ancestral lands of the Lheidli Tenneh in Prince George
00:20:53 Matthew from St. Catharines: Hi there from Matthew in St. Catharines
00:21:11 Sydney Taylor: Hi everyone from Toronto!
00:21:42 Katy Boychuk – Libro Credit Union: Thank you everyone for joining us today!
00:21:50 Katy Boychuk – Libro Credit Union: Welcome Sonja!
00:21:53 Canadian Urban Institute: Meet our panel: Sonja Foley, Director of Intergovernmental Relations Director and Strategic Partnerships, City of Vancouver @SonjaBFoley https://www.linkedin.com/in/sonjabaikogli/ Maureen Jensen, Prosperity Project Founding Visionary & former Chair and Chief Executive Officer, Ontario Securities Commission https://www.linkedin.com/in/maureen-jensen-846a1136/ Michi Komori, Prosperity Project Founding Visionary & Innovation and Sustainability Consultant https://www.linkedin.com/in/michi-komori-5259357/ Sheila North, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief @TheSheilaNorth https://www.linkedin.com/in/sheila-north-45a2615b/
00:22:07 Canadian Urban Institute: Brooke Richardson, President, Association of Early Childhood Educators of Ontario https://www.linkedin.com/in/brooke-richardson-b4363923/?originalSubdomain=ca Kadie Ward, Commissioner and Chief Administrative Officer, Ontario, Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development @StrongCities https://www.linkedin.com/in/kadieward/ Carmina de Young, Entrepreneur and Fashion Designer at Carmina de Young Fashion Design Inc. @Carminadeyoung https://www.linkedin.com/in/carmina-de-young-54089810/
00:29:55 Abigail Slater (she/her): So important
to collect disaggregated data. As Canadians we have been reluctant to actually look at this in the false belief that we do not have systemic issues around race and gender.
00:32:21 Anne Antenucci: I also believe that more needs to be done to get women into elected roles and policy writing roles. Everything starts and ends with laws and policies. And if only men (and white men in most cases) are writing the policies….we will be left out.
00:33:30 Matthew from St. Catharines: Agreed!!!
00:34:35 Abigail Slater (she/her): These are terrible statistics. Board and executive diversity should be required to be listed.
00:47:27 Canadian Urban Institute: Read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Calls to Action: http://trc.ca/assets/pdf/Calls_to_Action_English2.pdf
01:01:00 Rutendo Madzima: Its important to make our voices heard and challenge the view that we are in a post-gender era here, these statistics and issues should be more visible . We should commemorate International Women’s Day, 16 Days of Activism etc. Ensure policies mainstream gender and have as much gender activism as developing nations.
01:04:02 Canadian Urban Institute: Detailed breakdown of gender wage gap by province (data taken from StatsCan) o BC: 18.6% (2018), 20% (1997) o AB: 17.6% (2018), 24% (1997) o SK: 15.3% (2018), 20% (1997) o MB: 11.6% (2018), 19% (1997) o ON: 12.2% (2018), 18% (1997) o QC: 10% (2018), 16% (1997) o NB: 7.4% (2018), 20% (1997) o PEI: missing data o NS: 9.4% (2018), 19% (1997) o NL: 8.4% (2018), 22% (1997) o CAN: 13.3% (2018), 18% (1997) Data speak to evolution of the gender gap in average hourly wages since 1998 for both full- and part-time workers in the 25 to 54 age group. StatsCan research examines hourly wages, as opposed to other measures of earnings, to highlight gender differences in pay for an equal unit of work.
01:04:31 Petra Mutch: Women entrepreneurs also experience a wage gap of 27%. Research shows women entrepreneurs have less take home pay as entrepreneurs than male counterparts. Part of that Is due to fact that undercapitalization of women-owned enterprises which results in their businesses being small,er, longer. We don’t talk enough about income gap in women’s entrepreneurship space when we talk about pay gaps.
01:06:54 Petra Mutch: @katie agree we need to elevate women’s stories and in order to do that, we need to start building a strong women-led/majority owned media enterprise landscape in Canada. Media outlets including indie media are still 90% led /owned by (white) men. We need a strong feminist media space to publish those stories
01:07:24 Anne Antenucci: But how do we get into those positions? I can talk all day (I’m pretty good at it) but unless I”m in the building where decisions are being made, it’s useless
01:07:50 Petra Mutch: We try at www.liisbeth.com but we are tiny. Would like to see many more women-led, and in particular feminist media outlets to tell the stories of women from their point of view, via an intersectional feminist lens.
01:08:41 Sarah Kaplan: Amazing interventions by all of you! Thanks so much.
01:09:02 Sydney Taylor: Thank you all for sharing your ideas!
01:09:18 Anne Antenucci: thank you for making me think about different ways of getting things done
01:17:45 Canadian Urban Institute: Attendees: Please let us know any questions you have that we can incorporate into the panel discussion!
01:19:47 Brooke Richardson: I would argue that gender neutrality is a dangerous concept.
01:21:03 Matthew from St. Catharines: What is gender neutrality??
01:21:38 Brooke Richardson: As I understand it that men and women should be treated the same…but that may not be how others understand it
01:23:16 Matthew from St. Catharines: “Treated the same “: is that what is dangerous?
01:25:14 Abigail Slater (she/her): Gender neutrality cannot be “I don’t see colour”.
01:25:51 Anne Antenucci: Let’s also discuss the mental load that women carry.
01:26:22 Anne Antenucci: I want to be in politics someday but somehow I”m already prime minister in my house
01:26:33 Matthew from St. Catharines: So : who does what and who does more
01:27:17 Brooke Richardson: That’s helpful
01:27:27 Anne Antenucci: it’s not a competition. I think that’s the point of gender neutrality
01:27:46 Brooke Richardson: Essentially broadening understandings of “productive” labour
01:28:00 Matthew from St. Catharines: Acknowledge Mental health needs and issues
01:28:51 Abigail Slater (she/her): So gender neutrality refers to the job not the person. As. I understand.
01:29:00 Matthew from St. Catharines: What is intersectional???
01:29:32 Brooke Richardson: As defined by Katie it’s resisting gendered stereotypes of paid labour
01:29:54 Anne Antenucci: perception and representation is everything.
01:30:06 Brooke Richardson: Intersectionality is a way of talking about the intersection of marginalization: race, class, gender, Indigeneity etc…
01:30:57 Brooke Richardson: https://www.ted.com/talks/kimberle_crenshaw_the_urgency_of_intersectionality?language=en
01:31:17 Matthew from St. Catharines: Thanks!!
01:32:07 Anne Antenucci: quite often it assumed that my family will come first. and of course my kids do, but don’t underestimate whether or not I can multi-task. That’s my decision, not yours.
01:33:23 Abigail Slater (she/her): Family coming first should not penalize any family member.
01:36:33 Anne Antenucci: The mental load of women when sharing parenting, education and working is the biggest take away
01:37:45 Matthew from St. Catharines: Seems desirable to have both men and women use parental Leave after baby is born; not only does baby get time with both mom and dad; hopefully the absence from the work place is more equal and people see the illogic of harping exclusively on the women
01:38:41 Abigail Slater (she/her): Great comment Brooke!!!
01:39:10 Abigail Slater (she/her): Love concept of general care.
01:40:18 Brooke Richardson: https://thecareeconomy.ca/about-us/
01:40:42 Canadian Urban Institute: Today’s session is hosted jointly by the Canadian Urban Institute and the Pay Equity Commission of Ontario, and made possible by the generous support of Libro Credit Union and Advanis.
01:41:08 Abigail Slater (she/her): Not to
mention the care that will be involved
In The aging demographic. Not just children but leaving the work force to care for parents or aging relatives.
01:41:20 Canadian Urban Institute: Read our primer “MIND THE GAP: The Post-COVID Gender Gap in Canada’s Cities”: https://canurb.org/wp-content/uploads/Mind-The-Gap-CUI.pdf
01:42:00 Abigail Slater (she/her): Millennials are having fewer children as parents are living longer. (Sandwich generation)
01:43:22 Brooke Richardson: GOOD care is the foundation of all production
01:43:34 Anne Antenucci: millennials are having fewer children because of everything we just discussed. The cost, the stress and lack of support. Post Partum depression is real and can last for years.
01:44:18 Anne Antenucci: I have not enjoyed it
01:44:40 Brooke Richardson: That’s okay Anne! It’s been really hard!
01:44:47 Karen Sequeira: Thanks for opening this “can of worms” Sonja – this has been weighing on me a lot lately, as we wait for more information on “return to work”.
01:45:20 Anne Antenucci: PLease do a later discussion on getting more women into policy making roles in their communities. whether elected or not
01:46:11 Kate Graham: This was terrific! Thanks all!
01:46:12 Brooke Richardson: Thanks so much for bringing us together
01:46:26 Anne Antenucci: Fantastic discussion