Last night I had the pleasure of attending the program “Pathways to Power: Women in the Boardroom” hosted by the OBA Women Lawyers Forum, CCCA Diversity Committee, and the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association , Ontario Chapter. This was the second of the OBA’s Pathways to Power series, the first was on “Women in Politics” and I wrote a blog post on it here.
The program was co-chaired by Marlene Costa of the Ontario Securities Commission and Amee Sandhu of SNC-Lavalin. The speakers were Professor Anita Anand of the University of Toronto; Glenna Carr, a Member of the Institute of Corporate Directors, Ontario Chapter Executive; Carol Hansell of Hansell LLP; and Jane Pepino from Aird & Berlis LLP. All were interesting, engaging, and encouraging speakers who shared their insights on how to get on a board and the pros and cons that come with such a position.
Some takeaways from last night:
This program was very well attended and I was fortunate to meet some great women at the networking event as well. The next Pathways to Power program will be held in April 2016 and is focused on “Women on the Bench”.
Last night I attended the OBA Women Lawyers Forum event "Pathways to Power: Women in Politics". While I have never really thought about entering politics myself, I am interested in the subject, and have often wondered why there are not more women in Canadian politics and how we can change that.
The impressive panel consisted of: former MP (now Chief Legal Officer at EnStream), Martha Hall Findlay; Senior Advisor to the House Leader in the Government of Ontario, Amy Archer; former Toronto Mayor, Barbara Hall; and lawyer and former policy advisor, Gina Saccoccio Brannan. The panel was moderated by Jane Hilderman, Acting Director and Research Director of Samara Canada, a charity dedicated to reconnecting citizens to politics.
Ms. Hilderman started the evening with some sobering facts. While women make up 52% of Canada's population we represent far less than 50% of the elected members at any level of Canadian government. In Ontario, women represent 35.5% of the legislature and after the 2011 federal election women represented 25% of those elected to Parliament. In a recent survey 10% of men answered "Yes" when asked if they would consider running for office compared to only 3% of women. However, when asked if they "might" consider running, 12% of women positively responded, compared to 18% of men.
Some of the questions asked of the panel last night included: Why should more women enter politics? Why don't they? How do women get involved? Some take-away points:
At the networking event after the presentation I met many accomplished women interested in entering politics, either as candidates or behind the scene as political aides or advisers. I am confident that we can, and will, make progress in this area. Political decisions have an impact on women's lives, on our health, education, childcare etc. and we need our voices to be heard. We need to get our 52% at the table when legislative decisions are being made.
Besides checking out Samara, if you are a woman and interested in getting involved in politics, visit Equal Voices' website, an organization dedicated to electing more women to all levels of public office in Canada.
Also, if you missed this event, the OBA's Women Lawyers Forum will be hosting additional Pathways to Power events in the fall and spring addressing women in the boardroom and on the bench.
Erin C. Cowling is a freelance lawyer, entrepreneur, legal career consultant researcher & writer, and President and Founder of Flex Legal Network Inc., a network of freelance lawyers.