Last week, with the help of the Canadian Women's Chamber of Commerce (CanWCC), I hosted our first virtual town hall. Sixty-eight folks registered, between 35-40 attended for the scheduled hour and then 20-25 stuck around for an additional half hour after we turned the recording off. (You can listen to the highlights on this week's podcast episode).
If you'd like more info about becoming a member of CanWCC, connect with Catherine Chan firstname.lastname@example.org
We talked about men's perceptions of our ability to run a business, that to some, pregnancy meant women couldn't be both an entrepreneur and a parent. We talked about gender roles, colonization, broken systems, oppression, lack of representation and that some of the organizations that get government funding to provide us with resources, aren't doing their jobs. Racism, sexism, homophobia and the lack of access to resources are all still problems.
We listened to one another, let each other speak, and many municipal mayors invited to listen, showed up and did just that.
We talked about solutions: dialogue about gender roles and labels, removing funding barriers like membership fees or any form of financial compensation required to access some of the much needed resources. Make grant processes easier. Designate people who know how to write grants, to explain it to those that don't, on their level. Help people and businesses access services that aren't already 'a success'. If a business plan doesn't qualify, show someone how it could.
Basically, meet people where they are.
I think we all agree that more organizations, including government funded orgs, are putting more emphasis on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). But just because an organization or business SAYS its inclusive, IS it? What does that mean? What is it that provides a safe space for women, BIPOC, LGBTQ2S+, other-abled folks or any intersection of these?
As an organization, creating a DEI statement is simply not enough. Lip service is not sufficient and the jig is up. Actions speak louder than your policies.
What active steps have you and/or your organization taken to make your workplace, your organization, your website, inclusive? What constitutes a 'safe space' when it comes to businesses and/or organizations in rural Canadian communities?
I believe that's the focus for our next event. If you have thoughts, let's connect - email@example.com