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#GirlBoss, Are We There Yet?
#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 forth episode we interview Jessica Armstrong, Vice President eCommerce At Maple Leaf Foods.
How do you define #GirlBoss?
Simply put, a boss that is a girl. More complicated, a term that has come to be to promote women who are successfully leading in a given field. A term that helps rally women together to push forward. A term I hope will not exist in the near future as gender will no longer be a factor.
Was there a moment of pride when a fellow female in a leadership role did something that really inspired you?
Yes. She was inspirational. She had been struggling with fertility issues for years. She became vocal, started a group within the organization for individuals facing similar challenges. I’m happy to say that she now has a beautiful healthy baby girl and has helped many others on their journey as well. She is a powerful woman who wasn’t afraid to be vulnerable and share something private and sensitive so that she could help lead others to get that much closer to happiness and balance between their work and personal lives.
Was there a personal moment of pride?
There have been many but I’ll speak to 2. First, the fact that I built a business and team from scratch in a tier 1 global company. Second, my most recent move has marked me being among the first of female VPs within my department and I’m proud to be a symbol of progress to more junior colleagues.
Any advice for aspiring women who aim to get into leadership roles?
Believe in yourself, you can do it. I like to quote Richard Branson on this one: “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!” I feel (generally speaking) that men have been acting this way moreso than women. It’s time to go for it.
Anything that you noticed that might stop more women from excelling to leadership roles?
Themselves. We are just as capable and just as qualified, but can often get discouraged by the past or what was, instead of focusing on what should be. Yes it’s hard and there are headwinds but we all have to play our part to build a brighter future. If your company has so much as eluded to wanting to get better in terms of gender equality, don’t just hop on the train, conduct it. If your company isn’t talking this language, then consider what you want your future to look like and make some decisions.
Two tips on how women can get recognized in the corporate world?
Build your brand both internally and externally making yourself both marketable and invaluable. Make this an ‘always on’ approach.
Don’t shy away from showcasing achievements, both your own and your teams’. Lift others up along with you. If you do so respectfully and humbly then people will take notice in the right way.
Who is a woman that you admire who has “crushed it” through successful having a strong work-life-balance?
There are many women I look up to and who have guided me as I entered my new world of ‘working mom’. While they’ve all ‘crushed’ it so to speak, it hasn’t come without some form of compromise. My goal is to minimize the compromise. It’s about being present and maximizing the time at work when you’re at work and at home when you’re at home. Our son is young and we get 2 precious hours with him once the work day is done and before he goes to bed, so my husband and I have instilled a no phone policy for those 2 precious hours. Balance is and will be an ongoing work in progress.
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?
More talk and more action. The more we open safe forums for women to speak up the more we will progress. I’ve heard of some companies strongly encouraging men to take some paternity leave which I love. The more we encourage this the more the pressures of finding work life balance is shared between genders.
Equal pay has been an issue is the news more and more, will there be a time where equal pay is universal?
Yes there will. I’m an optimist and feel the progress made to date is indicative of a strong future for all diversity and inclusion efforts.