Women’s leadership is undeniable in environmental movements, and it must not be discounted when it comes to the technology and energy industries.
For a while now, I’ve been convinced that a rise of “green consciousness” is influencing not only our individual choices, but also our decision-making that impacts the environment in the energy industry. And I don’t need to go far to find evidence for this feeling: the younger generations entering the workforce believe more and more that the unchecked consumerism of our natural resources that underlie our economic system no longer rhymes with the long-term well-being of the planet. (Here are only a handful of sources that show that the environment is rising as a concern among young folks: a Gallup study, a Yale study, and I cannot put aside the fact that Montreal saw nearly 500,000 people, many of them of high school age, who took to the streets on the 27th of September 2019 to march for climate change.) This aligns with many of my impressions: that millennials and those coming after no longer believe in companies they don’t see as sustainable — they want, from their point of view, better solutions. So a new way of doing business has to be found together.
Innovation and sustainability are crucial concerns for our governmental leaders. I recently had the privilege, as board administrator of the AIEQ, to accompany Quebec’s Minister for the Economy and Innovation, Pierre Fitzgibbon, during a presentation given on Quebec’s electricity industry at the Sheraton on the 21st of October. The Minister stayed on message: Quebec’s competitive economic edge has to be encouraged. In particular, he spoke on how necessary it is to attract further investment to the province. I believe that Quebec must firmly commit to gender equality and sustainable development in order to stay competitive — and attract that outside interest. (On that note, I’m hoping to be able to speak to you soon about a new project on this subject still in its development stages. Stay tuned!)
So, what about that diversity?
On the 16th of October, I was invited by an old colleague from my Montreal municipal politics days, Nadia Paquet, to participate in the TELUS CHLOE awards (Connections Honours Leaders of Excellence) gala. There, I gave a heartfelt talk about my career and my values right before the annual prizes were called out. The energy in the room was incredibly dynamic and warm! More than 100 young women as well as men were recognized for their innovation, leadership, dynamism, etc. I felt that together, we were looking forward and building the future.
We know that companies with the most women in decision-making roles rank amongst the most profitable and the best performing companies. So, my question these days is: will the presence of women lead to a shift towards sustainable development? When I take stock of the trends and disruptions in the world of work throughout my career, I’m convinced that the answer is yes.
And so a little later, on the 22nd of October, I had the privilege of meeting Serge Godin, the founder of CGI, as well as his daughter and executive vice-president of CGI, Julie Godin, during a benefit for the Fondation CÉGEP Édouard-Montpetit. The evening included an in-depth interview with veteran journalist Jean-Paul Gagné on the creation of CGI and Serge Godin’s incredible career, as well as his planned transfer of management of CGI to Julie, who has shown in her own career the dynamism, passion and humility required in an exceptional leader.
We don’t just think about acquiring companies by looking at their bottom line. We need to know their key people and take into account their leadership and communication skills.
Serge Godin’s business vision is reflected in his commitment to community-building, as demonstrated by the many witnesses recorded for a short film shown that evening, as well as by the fact that $217,300 was raised to support the next generation of student entrepreneurs during the 4th edition of the Soirée de l’entrepreneuriat for the Fondation du CÉGEP Édouard-Montpetit. Bravo!
The next night during an evening with IWF Montreal, I hosted two extremely inspiring women: Laura Aislin of ECS as well as Dr. Gina Cody, the engineer patron who donated $15 million to Concordia University to reinforce and encourage the presence of women in the engineering school. In fact, Dr. Cody is planning on launching an initiative to bring entrepreneurship to young girls in primary and secondary school. Designed for 7-17 year-olds, the program is built around Dr. Cody’s mentorship in order to cultivate the reflexes and instincts necessary for good entrepreneurship: financial know-how, creativity and collaboration, critical thinking, resilience, adaptability, and resourcefulness.
To conclude the busy fall month, on the 29th of October I had once again the pleasure of accepting an invitation by my old friend Nancy Cleman, President of CAN-TECH Canadian Technology Law Association, to participate in their annual Women in Technology Luncheon sponsored by Deeth Williams and Microsoft Canada. Two young enthusiastic lawyers moderated our panel: Jennifer Davidson from Deeth and Kristin Ali from Osler. From Microsoft, we also had their American general council Hemant Pathak who came all the way from Washington DC, as well as the American Sue Cheung from Microsoft Cloud Infrastructure. From Montreal, I was also joined by Marie Laure Leclercq of deGranpré Chait. Each one of us candidly shared our experiences and careers, discussing the need for a clearheaded, informed, egalitarian and inclusive discussion around diversity and technology.
Before leaving you, I want to share with you two great upcoming events that look very promising for November. The first will take place on the 6th of November at the Complexe Desjardins, the Cocktail des Présidentes to benefit the Women’s Y Foundation of Montreal, as well as the next CANTECH #MoveTheDial Global Summit 2019 in Toronto on the 14th of November.