Where are the women? How a strong foundation of values & vision can naturally lead to gender equality
For eight years of my career I was a precarious worker, tweaking my resume and developing my skills so I’d be ready for my next contract.
As a young woman entering the workforce and always applying to new jobs, I continued to wonder and doubt if I would have equal access to opportunities or be held back by the infamous glass ceiling. If I would be respected as an equal contributor and if my experience and expertise would be taken seriously.
Finding a Gender-Inclusive Place to Work
Three years ago, I decided to take a purposeful pause to reflect on where I felt my career was going. For the first time, I learned to take a different approach to my job search. I asked for advice and coaching, then began a purpose-driven journey to lean into my strengths, passions and values.
There is something to be said for being in “the right place at the right time”. I saw the posting on libro.ca and I was ready for it. Libro was already on my radar. After all, I was intentionally looking for an employer whose vision, mission and values truly aligned with mine.
Before I was hired, I did my research. I knew that the company had gone through a lot of change over the years, but I learned that the co-operative values at its core never really changed.
In celebrating the international year of co-operatives, the United Nations (2012) shared that “co-operatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, co-operative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others.”
In the early 1960s, Vancity, a credit union in British Columbia, was the first financial institution in Canada to start lending to women in their own names, and without a male co-signer. They became a pioneer within the credit union system that recognized all customer-members as equals, regardless of gender.
Gender Diversity in the Workplace: Working at Libro
At Libro, I am surrounded by amazing women and our workforce demonstrates Libro’s commitment to gender equality.
- Elected board of directors: 45% are women; the industry national average is 20%
- Elected Owner representatives: 47% are women
- Executive leadership team: 44% are women; the industry national average is 21%
- VPs: 33% are women; the industry national average is 31%
- Managers & supervisors: 71% are women; the industry national average is 41%
- All employees: 79% are women
Gender diversity in the workplace is becoming more of a priority. But it’s still important to hire for fit —and to remember that that goes both ways. As Libro’s team continues to grow and evolve we naturally see about half or more of our employees are women across the organization from front-line to leadership. This sets the tone of Libro’s corporate culture as being women-positive and gender diverse.
In addition to valuing inclusivity, Libro is part of a global movement that sets standards to measure their impact on staff, customer-Owners, suppliers, the community and the environment. As a commitment to those standards, they became a Certified B Corporation. Libro values every employee’s basic needs and commits to the promise of paying staff a Living Wage.
With just these few examples, when values align, staff are more likely to have positive experiences which builds loyalty. Forty one percent of the employees at Libro have celebrated at least 10 years of service, which speaks volumes.
Joining Libro has been a great step for me personally and in my career. It’s just one example of how I’ve benefited from making decisions when I led with my strengths, passions and values. I encourage others to do the same.
Empowering Yourself & Building Gender Equality
Based on my experiences, which naturally led me to Libro, I encourage you to:
Ask for opportunities. Don’t expect them to fall into your lap. Be willing to go out of your comfort zone and grow.
Seek advice, mentorship and coaching. People are willing to help (if you ask). Be open to candid and constructive feedback. Hiring a Life Coach is great for a perspective that is truly objective (because your mom really thinks you can do anything)!
Learn to differentiate your values from your passions. They’re not the same.
Understand your strengths. You’ll be able to identify which are more mature and which need developing. There are great resources available to help you, some are paid services, and some are free. I liked the CliftonStrengths test by Gallup.
Respect your own ability to contribute. When you lead with your strengths, you will learn to recognize the value of your input.
Be willing to share your story and support others. We’re all in this together.
Tara Mohr, columnist, leadership coach and author says, “No one else is going to build the life you want for you. No one else will even be able to completely understand it. The most amazing souls will show up to cheer you along the way, but this is your game.”
For all of the women out there, wherever you are: just think about the possibilities of where you could go and what you could do when you seek opportunities that align with your values.
When choices matter, where you live, shop, work, or even bank can make a tremendous difference. If you’re ready to experience the values that co-operatives like Libro can offer, join me as an employee and an Owner.