Men’s Role in Levelling the Playing Field for Women

February 18, 2020
Revealing statistics and honest panelist viewpoints were presented at Toronto CREW’s sold-out breakfast event, #HeForShe: Men’s Role in Levelling the Playing Field for Women, on February 11th, sponsored by McCarthy Tétrault. In his opening remarks, Dave D’Oyen, Diversity and Inclusion Lead at Corus Entertainment, highlighted statistics bringing the context of gender inequality in the workforce to light.  
• At 37%, women – particularly women of colour – are under-represented in the commercial real estate industry.
• Women earn 87 cents for every dollar men earn equaling 47 days per year of unpaid work. 
• 23% of women are in C-suite roles compared to 77% of men.  

Moderator, Farrah Khimji, Futura Funds and Toronto CREW’s President-Elect initiated a frank discussion on the topic with panelists Kenneth Fredeen, General Counsel, Deloitte LLP, Duane Green, President & CEO, Franklin Templeton Canada and Dave Leonard, CEO, McCarthy Tétrault LLP.  All business leaders agreed that gender diversity, in fact all diversity, is good for business.  Creating an inclusive workplace requires a partnership of men and women to understand where inequality exists within the company.  Barriers such unconscious bias, micro-aggression and judgement, for example, within company policies, programs and practices needs to be acknowledged and addressed.  Panelists agreed that tackling gender inequity starts at the top to set the climate for meaningful change.  Recent movements like MeToo exposed the uncomfortable perspective of inappropriate relationships, impressing upon workplaces an immediate need to be inclusive and transparent.  The HeForShe movement encourages men to openly play a role in gender equity in all areas of their lives.  Historical women’s movements continue to influence today’s workplace practices.  Recent years have seen companies and governments support longer maternity leaves and has provided men with paternity leave, giving families better means to work-life balance.  The panel discussed that family leave is just part of it.  Working from home to manage a sick child or encouraging a parent to leave work on time in order to coach their child’s sports team reinforces equal treatment of both men and women.

Through moderator questions, the panel touched on ensuring equal opportunity for women to coaching, mentoring, professional development programs and entry points to higher-level positions based on merit.  This is all in the aid of bringing out the best in all employees.  In conclusion, the panel emphasized that creating a truly inclusive workplace is iterative.  It takes It takes buy-in, the right people around the table, ensuring people feel safe to express barriers to equality, and continuous evaluation of policies, programs and practices that ensure an inclusive, equitable workplace that embraces women and diversity.