Why is it so important for Canadian women to be successful in both their personal and professional lives? What are the effects on the economy?

There’s a very simple answer to why success for women is important: GDP and economic productivity. Women whose careers provide them with personal satisfaction and a sense of purpose are more likely to stay in the workforce, resulting in higher economic participation.

Currently, the gender wage gap in Canada is 70 percent (women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s), which is sadly more severe than the gap in the United States.

Adjusted for industry and jobs, that gap is still 80.9 percent — women make almost one-fifth less than men. The biggest opportunity we have to increase our GDP is if we encourage more women to participate in the workforce and close the gender wage gap.

"Currently, the gender wage gap in Canada is 70 percent (women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s), which is sadly more severe than the gap in the United States."

For Canadian households, this would mean an increase in per-household income and spending power, as well as a decrease in the poverty rate (especially among single mothers), who make up a large percentage of people living in poverty.

One last thing worth mentioning is the benefit of diversity. Studies have been done that show including women on boards and in the C-suite leads to higher share price increases and better overall financial performance. And a study done by the Harvard Business Review showed that including women on teams results in higher collective team intelligence.

Simply put, diversity on leadership teams and in key decision making roles (and not just in the case of gender) means greater diversity of thoughts and perspectives. That is essential for our companies, our country, and our people to succeed in today’s global economy.

What changes can Canadians make to facilitate the success of girls and women?

We need to honour the diversity of our nation by having our companies reflect this diversity and the breadth of opportunities that it represents. However, it’s not enough to put a few people in place and say our job is done; we have to create a safe and inclusive space for all. That involves making sure that our workplaces are welcoming places that empower people to perform at their best.

The more positive role models we set into place for women, the more girls will see their potential as something to aspire to. We can also encourage girls to develop their leadership skills, take risks, and stand out.

If you could deliver one message to the women of Canada, what would it be?

One recurring piece of advice we have heard from many highly successful women is that to be successful, women need to build their own support networks. Arlene Dickinson writes that “even the best don’t make it on their own,” and we agree.

Women tend to attribute their success to the help of those around them, and while it’s important to celebrate your success as your own, we think recognizing those who have been a part of your journey is a wonderful thing.

There are many professional networks (including ours) for women, and they, in conjunction with networks of friends and colleagues, can provide you with much support and opportunity.