By Mike Leonard
Schools are reopening, a federal election is underway and COVID-19 continues to dominate the news. It is clearly a busy time of year but there is one important event happening that I hope will not be overshadowed: Gender Equality Week.
Sept. 20 to 26 is a time to raise awareness and celebrate the important contributions women and gender diverse communities make to our country, our identity and our economy. It’s a time to mark our achievements and reaffirm our commitment to address gender equality gaps in our province
Here in the north, the B.C. Maritime Employers Association is partnering with Minerva BC in hosting an important virtual workshop aimed at connecting business leaders to discuss and learn about gender equality, inclusion and equity. Minerva BC is a charity of “women helping women,” founded upon a vision to help advance women, girls and gender nonconforming British Columbians in our communities and workplaces.
This may seem like an odd partnership, coming from maritime employers, as our industry continues to be male dominated. But that is exactly why we have to commit to employment equality.
All across North America, maritime jobs like longshore workers have conventionally been held by men. But things are changing. Today, nearly a quarter of all maritime workers in Prince Rupert are women. We know we can do even better.
It begins by being open to change, identifying hurdles women face, promoting women to leadership positions and supporting their success. Access to safe housing and eliminating gender-based violence are also key components.
The COVID pandemic has taken a toll on all of us – but especially women. Burnout, the need to care for family members, and the desire to make a career shift has created a wave of resignations. The upcoming workshop, “Leadership Skills for Uncertain Times,” is about learning from those trends, helping business leaders navigate staff uncertainty, diffusing burnout and developing allyship in the workplace.
Advancing gender equality is not only the right thing to do – it’s also the smart thing. By learning and supporting practices that lead to gender equity, we contribute to thriving communities and help unlock our province’s economic potential. When women succeed, we all succeed, and our economy prospers.
There is still time to register for the free, upcoming virtual session on Sept. 20 at: bit.ly/NorthernBCWorkshop2021. Join us as we advance gender equality, eliminate barriers and create a world without limits.
Mike Leonard is the President and CEO of the B.C. Maritime Employers Association that provides services in human resources to 49 waterfront employers across the province.