Monica Whiteley, Coordinator, Client Strategy
“An increase in female leadership can improve a company’s profits,” (Peterson Institute for International Economics + EY, 2016). And yet last year, according to Forbes, “only 4.2 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs were women.”
“Based on current rates of growth, workplace gender parity could take 170 years” (EY, 2017). 170 YEARS. We cannot sit back and wait.
Recent studies have also shown female athletes are a particularly effective catalyst to bridge this disparity. EY’s Women Athlete Business Network (WABN) and espnW found “that more than 90 percent of top female executives in the study had been involved in athletics.”
In response to this opportunity, a select few organizations are committed to fast-forwarding women in the workplace to reach the highest levels of business acumen. Among the best are companies such as EY and the work they do with International Women’s Forum Leadership Foundation (IWFLF).
As part of their work the International Women’s Forum, in partnership with EY’s Women Athlete’s Business Network (WABN), have organized a World Leadership conference. The conference facilitates open discussion around topics such as transition, managing change, and individual strengths. As well, EY’s WABN offers an annual mentorship program that pairs elite female athletes from around the world with executive mentors.
Executive mentors like our own founder and fearless leader Andrea J. Shaw. Those who’ve met this warm, strong and brilliant woman, admire her humility, but let me tell you, you need to meet this person.
Andrea is no stranger to the resilience and perseverance of entrepreneurship, having built several successful companies from the ground up. This includes the Landmark Group, A.J. Shaw and Associates and finally our strategic marketing and sponsorship agency TTG Canada. All of whom brought excellence to the space of sponsorship, marketing and communications.
Prior to launching TTG Canada and its subsidiaries TTG Partnerships and TORQUE Strategies, Andrea was Vice President of Sponsorship, Sales and Marketing for the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC). Andrea led the team that generated over $760 million in sponsorship revenue, an amount that was, for its time, unprecedented worldwide for a Winter Olympic Games. She also oversaw the longest domestic Torch Relay in Olympic history.
“I could easily focus on Andrea as a business woman: driven, vision clear, honest and a leader who motivates through example, work ethic and trust, but it is how she conducts herself as a woman in the modern world that most inspires me,” said Rhian Wilkinson, Andrea’s WABN mentee and 2x Olympic Bronze Medalist.
“From the day we met, Andrea has gone above and beyond what has been expected, she not only believes in women helping women but puts action to it every day. I am at the very beginning of my post soccer career, but I am not frightened. With Andrea alongside me, showing the way but also demonstrating through action how you can be both successful and a good person. I know this is going to be one heck of a ride.”
So it’s quite understandable why Andrea has been chosen to speak at the conference in Houston, Texas next week. Andrea and other mentors will share the choices they’ve made that have shaped their careers. They will draw upon their journeys as entrepreneurs, leaders in business and for Andrea, as an advocate for sport, culture and community.
It is critical that we as a nation have a deep understanding of the power of women in leadership positions. And understand just how far we are from achieving gender parity.
There are many steps that need to be taken, but the steps taken by organizations like the International Women’s Forum and EY are incredible leaps forward by building more female business leaders and accelerating the process to bridge the gap.
And they should be commended.
170 YEARS. Not if we build more business leaders like Andrea.