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Energizing High Potential Women at Forward Together

Fiona Stevenson and Shelli Baltman

April 23, 2021

We’re honoured to be participating today in the annual Forward Together Conference! For this year’s conference (the first virtual version in FT’s history), Fiona will act as Emcee, and Shelli will facilitate a session for conference attendees on how leaders can effectively create a virtuous cycle of team energy.

Forward Together started as an idea conceived during a casual coffee chat by two incredible women and former colleagues at Procter & Gamble, Irena Kahn and Jessica Leung.

Their vision was to bring companies and professional women together to share the best practices and resources internal to one organization with all women, to enable best in class learning across industries. Whether it’s world class training, top-notch speakers, or excellent facilities, companies have internal resources that, when shared broadly, can be used to benefit and impact significantly more women within our greater community.

Eight years later, their energy and persistence has grown Forward Together to a movement that involves 14 partner organizations including Facebook, Samsung, PepsiCo, Canadian Tire, and Salesforce, and has positively impacted thousands of high-potential women at some of the world’s leading organizations.

This year, initiatives aimed at supporting and positively impacting women in the workplace are needed more than ever before, given the disproportionate toll that the pandemic has taken on working women.

Since February 2020, women have experienced nearly 54% of job losses versus men – with some economic experts referring to this as the ‘she-cession’ due to women finding the need to leave the workforce as a result of bearing the brunt of managing household duties and home schooling.  This impact is even higher for women of visible minority groups with black women and Indigenous women experiencing 13 per cent and 17 per cent unemployment rates, respectively, compared to an average national rate of 8.5 per cent for the same period, according to Statistics Canada.

With statistics like these, we feel it’s more important than ever to empower women at every professional level to take control of their own experience so that they can maximize their resilience and ability to cope with even the most challenging circumstances.

As female entrepreneurs and working parents ourselves, this year has challenged us in ways we might not have imagined.  Without the ability to bring in additional support and help – we’ve had to find creative ways to keep our families strong and our minds healthy.  Making our physical and mental health a priority and bringing our team together to support one another has helped us to make it through some of the most challenging experiences of our working lives.

Now we’d like to help other female leaders to reenergize themselves and their teams in the face of the pandemic and its impact on our working lives. Sharing our Energy for Growth toolkit with the next generation of female leaders, and donating our time to support women in the workforce feels like a small but impactful way to give back – and we hope one of many opportunities to do so during these unprecedented times.

We’re extremely grateful and honoured to be part of Forward Together, and are inspired by so many of you who are actively finding ways to support the women in your personal and professional lives.

Fiona & Shelli

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