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#GirlBoss Are We There Yet, With Judy Lewis (Strategic Objectives)

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#GirlBoss, Are We There Yet?
Judy Lewis

#GirlBoss Are We There Yet? Over the next few weeks will are taking a moment to interview members of the PR In Canada/ Profectio community as we discuss gender diversity, and have our guest share advice and thoughts on how women can excel in the business landscape. In our first episode we interview Judy Lewis | Co-Founder and Partner of Strategic Objectives.


How do you define #GirlBoss?

The hashtag #Girlboss has taken on a life of its own, and as I discovered in speaking with many young women before writing this, it is a term that is hotly debated. Some love it for its no-apologies-necessary mantra to be the boss of your own life and believe that anything is possible with hard work. Others feel it is alienating, patronizing and demeaning: what confident professional woman wants to be called a girl?
Originally coined back in 2014 by entrepreneur and author Sophia Amoruso, #GirlBoss has become a rally call for a generation of young women “who mean business”. GirlBoss is intended to indicate an attitude founded on a commitment to take charge of your own life. A GirlBoss has big dreams and is proudly willing to work hard to achieve them. While the word feminism is seen to carry baggage, #GirlBoss is now considered by some to be an anthem for empowerment and inspiration. She believes in learning every day, keeps her goals in sight, takes risks and personal responsibility for her own future. For the GirlBoss, there is no room for entitlement,attitude or negativity. Common qualities of a GirlBoss are confidence, collaboration and creativity. She is ambitious and fiercely proud of it. So, of course I appreciate the spirit of the hashtag, and its more than 14 million Insta posts. I encourage women to embrace themselves as valuable visionaries in charge of their lives, who make things happen!
And yet, #GirlBoss is not a term I use; in fact I avoid it. I think it is too often misinterpreted and can undermine the equity of respecting women as equals in business and in life. I prefer Leader and not to segregate Leaders by gender or call accomplished women, girls. While some may consider this a bit overboard in the “PC” department, I think we should recognize and celebrate women who have worked hard to achieve their position. While among girlfriends it may be a cool term of endearment and respect for those who have shattered ceilings, I don’t feel it is appropriate in professional circles. BTW #Boss has 18 million. And most women I know are Boss, meaning awesome and outstanding!

Was there a moment of pride when a fellow female in a leadership role did something that really inspired you?

Our agency, Strategic Objectives, is honoured to work with many progressive companies that have many accomplished women in important leadership roles. Often I find there are common traits that I adore: their openness to creativity and doing it differently; not being tied to convention but rather working to improve, innovate and invent; and their honestly, determination and willingness to listen and discuss. I also see these traits among our staff. Leadership is not limited to a leadership role. I’ve been inspired by women at every level of Strategic Objectives, as they confidently bring new ideas and solutions forward. Collaboration and respect shown to all team members, regardless of position or gender, is inspirational as it develops passion, commitment and trust for everyone to work toward the same goal. The women I am lucky enough to work with, practice this every day and live these values.

Was there a personal moment of pride?

For several years SO propelled a client campaign to Stop Sex Trafficking. It changed attitudes, changed minds and contributed to changing laws in Canada. The campaign won numerous awards and was a major part of a global presentation to the UN. A very special moment of heartfelt pride came a few years later when I visited the Canadian Museum of Human Rights with my children where I showed them a letter on display from a Senator recognizing this powerful communications program. When you can impress your kids and propel positive change, that’s very special 🙂

Any advice for aspiring women who aim to get into leadership roles?

Go for it! Follow your heart and follow your dreams. Being ambitious is a positive value, regardless of gender. Never apologize for it. Strive to be a leader and invest time in reading and learning about leadership. Find a mentor for yourself and be generous with your personal time and mentor someone else, as you will always learn from those who inspire you. I have found that the best leaders are kind, respectful and live in the moment, always with an eye on the future and a vision of where their business is going. Champion your team. Don’t settle for second best, whether that is the work you are doing or work that is presented to you. Trust and value your instincts. Recognize the current realities of inequities and work to change this in your own small (or big) way. It offers lasting purpose for your colleagues, community, country and the world.

Anything that you noticed that might stop more women from excelling to leadership roles?

Self-deprecation. Never undervalue yourself with negative comments such as: this may be a really, really bad idea but…This a watch-out for any leader.

Two tips on how women can get recognized in the corporate world?

Go above and beyond to make a meaningful contribution to the business and to the success of your colleagues. Document, celebrate, highlight and discuss your achievements with those who have influence on your career path. And if you feel you deserve a raise — ask for it and explain why. What’s the worst that could happen?

Who is a woman that you admire who has “crushed it” through successful having a strong work-life-balance?

Ruth Bader Ginsberg. And Deborah Weinstein and Adriana Lurz of Strategic Objectives. As the Chair of the Canadian Council of Public Relations, I interact with many agency leaders who are women who run highly successful businesses and I am so inspired by them as they keep hobbies, deep friendships, volunteer, raise families and balance it all. Work-life blending is very achievable and can be very satisfying.

2018 brought us #metoo and other movements, there has been some change, but more is needed. What would you like to see happen in 2019?

I will keep this to the sectors where I am involved: marketing and communications. I would like to see more women in Senior Creative and decision-making marketing roles. I would like to see greater sensitivity to the images and marketing messages that actually often undermine and diminish the value of women. Silence makes you complicit.June 3-6, 2019 Vancouver will be the host of the world’s largest conference on gender equality: Women Deliver. Now is an ideal time for all of us to come together to see what more our organizations and our communities can do to make a difference.

Equal pay has been an issue is the news more and more, will there be a time where equal pay is universal?

We have a long way to go on a global basis. In many countries, girls are still denied education, forced into marriages, sold as property and worse, simply because of their gender. I am hopeful for Canada. We have a shared responsibility to achieve equity in our own country, while also working to improve the possibilities for the most vulnerable. The more women we promote to senior roles the better chance we have for a strong, productive and happy country for everyone.
Now is an ideal time for all of us to come together to see what more our organizations can do to make a difference.




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