International Women's Day

International Women’s Day gives us cause to reflect on the great strides that have been made toward greater gender balance at all levels of organizations, as well as how far we still have to go. 

KBRS is committed to embracing practices that encourage greater diversity among the candidates we recruit and to challenging processes and biases that have historically disadvantaged select groups. In fact, in the past two years 45% of the candidates placed by our executive search practice have been women. Three out of five of our Managing Partners are women. We believe where there is focus and attention, there is the possibility for change. 

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we asked a few of the women in our networks what inspires them to challenge bias and champion change, and what advice would they give to aspiring change leaders. 

What inspires you to champion change? 

"In my history of front-line community work I was privileged to be let into the lives of marginalized women, bearing witness to their strength, resiliency and resistance. Community work and community advocacy must be based in the lived expertise of our most stigmatized community members – women who use drugs, women who have histories of criminal justice involvement, women who do sex work. The women I’ve known in those circumstances don’t experience stigma and discrimination passively; they speak truth to power, they resist society’s misinformed understandings of them and their lives and they have sophisticated critical perspectives of systems that need changing. Recognizing that resistance and elevating their voices is the job of women leaders in the community sector. My awareness of that responsibility inspires me to champion change."
Dr. Laura Winters, CEO, Stella’s Circle 

“When I think about the profound impact of the female leaders and mentors who have provided advice, encouragement and opportunities for development to me, I am inspired to pay that forward. As women, I truly believe we have a duty to play an active role in supporting the advancement of other women.” 
Andrea Forbes-Hurley, Managing Partner, KBRS 

“My grandson and youth today inspire me to advocate for decolonization of education for the Seventh Generation. Decolonizing the academy is about dismantling the damaging colonial ideologies, narratives, theories, methodologies and systems that have excluded, marginalized, and erased some of the rich diversity of Indigenous knowledges, languages, lands and ecologies. Decolonization also requires the balancing of these knowledge systems, including the recovery, restoration and advocacy for Indigenous languages that are the main tools of IK and that has in its main purpose for learning the sustainability and protection of the lands, ecologies, water, and the relationships within for the Seventh Generation.” 
Dr. Marie Battiste, Special Advisor to the Vice President Academic and to Unama’ki College 

“I’ve always found there is reward, energy, excitement gained in championing progressive and worthwhile change.  I’m motivated by the risk balanced by the potential and by the desire to forge a legacy.  I’ve learned not everyone has the same enthusiastic response. So I find it essential to harness this drive with realism and carefully learn from others who are on the path but may be at a different place. “  
Catherine J. Woodman, Associate and Elevating Women in Leadership Facilitator, KBRS, and Chair, IWK Health Center Board 

"I strongly believe that we need to pave the way for future generations and to build on the wins gained from previous generations. Citizenship means engaging in thoughtful and helpful ways to make the world a better place and it is through this lens that I live, work and play.” 
Amorell Saunders N'Daw, Partner and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Lead, KBRS 

"Although there is incredible growth and many pockets of prosperity in our community at the moment, there are many people left behind. We are not a truly prosperous community until every resident has an opportunity to be warmly welcomed to participate in such a moment of change, and that is the excellence and inclusion we all need to strive to achieve.” 
Sara Napier, President & CEO, United Way Halifax 

“I marvel when I see the openness and acceptance that comes so naturally to my young children and many in their generation. They do not think in terms of gender but rather with a fluidness in which everyone may be different, but we are all equal. I want to bring this spirit into my work and actions every day, not only to lead by example now but also so that our legacy will make them proud when it is their turn to lead.”
Natalie Hand, Managing Partner, KBRS 

“For me, it’s not ‘what’, but ‘who’. I am so inspired when I speak with students – their energy, curiosity and thirst for knowledge is so inspiring. A day well spent is when I have been able to support them in finding ways to overcome barriers, to increase their confidence, or even just to be a ‘sounding board’.”
Denise Pothier, Vice President of Indigenous Relations, Stantec
Named among WXN’s 2018 Canada’s Most Powerful Women. 

“My inspiration comes from two things. First, the recognition that I have had strong female leaders in my life that have impacted me greatly. Not all women have these networks. I recognize this privilege and others that I have.  Second, I firmly believe that gender-based inequalities such as fewer opportunities, lower pay for equal work etc, should not exist in the workplace.” 
Dr. Tamara Franz-Odendaal, NSERC Chair for Women in Science and Engineering, Mount Saint Vincent University 

“It’s the power of the potential of a change that inspires me. It’s the excitement generated from asking yourself the question “why not” and realizing there’s a missed opportunity to better the lives of others if you don’t do something. When we have access to resources and networks, we have the power and responsibility to leverage the collective knowledge towards positive change.” 
Katherine Risley, Managing Partner, KBRS and Meridia Recruitment Solutions 

“I believe that by addressing everyday inequalities we can collectively make the world a fairer and more equitable place. I grew up in a poor east-end neighbourhood in London, England where many brilliant young people had little access to post-secondary education. I was fortunate that several secondary-school teachers encouraged and mentored me to attend university as a first-generation student. Their investment in me profoundly changed my life. My mentors told me there would be a time when I would have the opportunity to “pay it forward” and, with gratitude, I promised I would.” 
Jennifer (Jenney) Massey PhD, Partner, KBRS 

What advice would you give to others who want to support change? 

“Each of us has a specific purpose in life and ultimately it is about learning. There is a spiritual energy attached to that journey. Learn to listen to your learning spirit to provide inspiration, guidance and nourishment.
Dr. Marie Battiste, Special Advisor to the Vice President Academic and to Unama’ki College 

“Don’t lose the humanity in decision making. Every time we implement a policy or make a decision there is a person - or people – whose lives will be impacted by our actions.” 
Jennifer (Jennie) Massey, Partner, KBRS 

“If time is our only true currency, then I would suggest that we invest in the future now. Spend your time being an active agent of change – be a mentor, sponsor, and champion!  Collectively, we will reshape the mold.” 
Denise Pothier, Vice President of Indigenous Relations, Stantec 
Named among WXN’s 2018 Canada’s Most Powerful Women. 

“Never forget the potential impact of your day-to-day choices and interactions – even the small ones. Meaningful change requires a series of thoughtful decisions made over time rather than a single sweeping action that fixes everything. Everyone can ignite progress but sometimes we need to step out of our comfort zone and be fearless.”
Natalie Hand, Managing Partner, KBRS 

“As a scientist, I am all about data collection. If you notice something not equitable, collect data. With data, you can present a stronger case and actions can then follow.” 
Dr. Tamara Franz-Odendaal, NSERC Chair for Women in Science and Engineering, Mount Saint Vincent University 

“Have a clear, focused, and animated vision and keep polishing it. Communicate that vision generously and frequently.  Your vision is your north star during the sets backs and push backs."  
Catherine J. Woodman, Associate, and Elevating Women in Leadership Facilitator, KBRS 

“I'd encourage peers to continually think beyond self and have ambition for a greater good. Being welcoming, open, thoughtful, and compassionate are imperative if we are to create the best possible community for everyone." 
Sara Napier, President & CEO, United Way Halifax 

“Moving forward with a change can be exciting, but it’s important to pause along the way and engage others to make sure you haven’t missed a potential outcome of the change you’re championing that you need to consider to make sure it really has the positive impact you hoped for.” 
Katherine Risley, Managing Partner, KBRS and Meridia Recruitment Solutions 

We all have the potential to be a catalyst for change. We hope International Women’s Day inspires you to reflect on how you can use your influence to create change for the greater good.