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5 Women in business who #BreakTheBias


This is an image to celebrate International Women’s Day 2022 of women in business who are breaking the bias.


This year, the theme for International Women’s Day is #BreakTheBias. This theme resonates with me because as the founder and CEO of B2BeeMatch, and throughout my journey in the business world, I’ve had multiple experiences with gender-based bias and other types of bias. It’s almost easier to look at when I was not struggling! I’ve been passed over for promotions and then asked to teach the hired person how to do the job. I’ve often been taken for a man’s assistant, even though I’m a CEO. But that’s not going to stop me. I have worked hard to challenge the many types of bias I've experienced—and I know I'm not alone. Over the years, I've seen other women do the same.


In an effort to celebrate the countless women who endure gender-based bias in the business world and the countless ways that we push back, I asked the B2BeeMatch content team to reach out to some of the key women in our network who are breaking the bias. These women took the time to share their insight and experience with us, and I'm honored to share it with you. I hope you enjoy reading this collection of interviews and celebrating International Women’s Day 2022 with all of us at B2BeeMatch and with these women.



Karima-Catherine (KC) Goundiam

Founder and CEO

B2BeeMatch.com

Canada






Idalia Obregon



Idalia Obregon

Executive Director

British Canadian Chamber of Trade and Commerce

Canada





Can you share an example from your own life and career of how you have struggled with gender-based bias or discrimination?


About ten years ago, I attended a sales workshop offered by one of my clients to his sales associates. I was the only woman and the youngest person in a group of about forty older, mostly white men. At the end of the workshop, the speaker had us play a game, in teams. I realized there was a way to win, but when I told my team they didn’t want to listen to me, and they gave excuses like, “You don’t understand the game.” So I decided to play on my own, and I won the game. The only single-person team—me—won! All the men were furious and started yelling, “She’s a cheater!” But they weren’t yelling directly at me. It was as if they didn’t dare to face me. Instead, they asked the speaker not to give me the winning medal. The speaker said, "No. She found the strategy to win, and she won. If you didn’t want to listen to her, that’s your problem.” I felt sooooo good! I thought that my accent, my lack of English vocabulary, and the fact that I’m not a loud talker were disadvantages, but in the end, it didn’t matter.


How have you challenged gender-based bias and discrimination in your own life and career?


I’ve created events with female speakers and encouraged female participation on boards—I’ve encouraged women to speak up and be heard.


I launched International Women’s Day with the British Canadian Chamber of Trade and Commerce (BCCTC), a yearly event since 2017. It’s become a signature event in the Chamber’s program, featuring Canadian ministers, diplomats, and international speakers, and raising funds for local charities.


As well, in 2017, I launched the BCCTC campaign “Woman of the Day,” featuring a variety of women, from entrepreneurs to those established on the corporate ladder, and demonstrating the substantial results that have been achieved by women in Canada. Their interviews provided insights into the issues they faced and their opinions on issues that women in business still face in twenty-first century Canada.


What advice do you have for women in business who are facing bias and discrimination?


Continue your journey—your work, dedication and professionalism will show them.


Imagine a world free of gender-based bias and discrimination—what would that look like to you?


It is not easy to imagine, and it should be! But it would be a place where women feel safe, where we don’t have to watch our backs, where we don’t have to prove anything to anyone, where we don’t have to fight to be seen or heard, where we can just focus on our creativity and just be! We could create so many things if we didn’t have to be on the defensive all the time. Unfortunately, with some people and some situations, we have to be. But it would be a world of freedom and creativity.

Nancy Wilson



Nancy Wilson

Founder and CEO

Canadian Women’s Chamber of Commerce

Canada





What advice do you have for women in business who are facing bias and discrimination?


As CEO of the Canadian Women’s Chamber of Commerce (CanWCC), my message to women in business who are facing bias and discrimination is "you are not alone." Systemic gender inequalities exist and impact all of us, creating barriers to success. Don’t be distracted by rhetoric that focuses on individual deficits—there is nothing wrong with you. Instead, join an organization like CanWCC that supports women-identified entrepreneurs and advocates for systemic change to advance gender equity.


Imagine a world free of gender-based bias and discrimination what would that look like to you?


It’s difficult to imagine all of the spin-off effects that would result from eliminating gender-based bias because it is so deeply entrenched in our culture. One thing I do know, Canada’s economy would benefit. A 2017 McKinsey report found that by decreasing gender inequality, Canada could increase incremental GDP by $150 billion by 2026.


The pandemic has increased gender inequality on several indicators—the most obvious being women’s participation in the labor force. Presumably, an increase in inequality could decrease incremental GDP over time. The issue of gender equality is not just a women’s issue, nor is it simply about social justice—gender equality is tied to the economy.


Frances A. Post


Frances A. Post

Principal Partner

The OgdenPost consulting Group LLC

United States





Can you share an example from your own life and career of how you have struggled with gender-based bias or discrimination?


My father believed anyone could do anything—and that his children should and could do anything better than anyone else. He inspired me to see the world as wide open. But at the same time, he told me he would only pay for a university education for my brothers whilst holding the same expectations for my success as he did for them.


How have you challenged gender-based bias and discrimination in your own life and career?


I have challenged gender-based bias and discrimination in the workplace and professional spheres by refusing to accept it as a limitation and by championing and supporting women—mentoring those who worked for me and those I have encountered.


Working primarily in male-dominated industries, I actively supported performance-based promotions and recognitions and challenged the more common practices that typically left women unfairly excluded.


What advice do you have for women in business who are facing bias and discrimination?


My advice would be very different based on the specifics of the bias and discrimination and also the woman’s own personal situation.


Personally, I had to tolerate abuse from my boss while I supported my two children. In that situation, patience, keeping an eye on the long term and drawing upon my support group were how I survived.


In general, I would say the single most valuable resource for women in business is a robust, eclectic and truth-telling network. I’ve brainstormed with my network, I’ve drawn upon their expert advice and I’ve had my head knocked back onto my shoulders. They have been invaluable to me since the mid-point of my career.


Imagine a world free of gender-based bias and discrimination—what would that look like to you?


Highly rational! It would be a more equitable society, supportive of the same benefits for all while encouraging individuality.


Looking back to very ancient times, the Greeks and the Romans all philosophized about achieving a perfect world where knowledge, citizenship and character were valued above the ludicrously superficial and divisive elements that today’s world seems to highlight.


Annalee Sawiak



Annalee Sawiak

CFO

Prolucid Technologies Inc.

Canada





Can you share an example from your own life and career of how you have struggled with gender-based bias or discrimination?


This is a very nuanced issue. The expectations of how women communicate versus men play into the evaluation of whether women are leadership material—even whether they are competent. I found that if I was animated in my description of risks or challenges, I was seen as being nervous or uncertain. I also found that the male response to identified risk was to characterize the assessment as overstated. There is a lot of gaslighting (or, as my son calls it, “bro speak”) used to diminish the credibility of women.


How have you challenged gender-based bias and discrimination in your own life and career?


I have learned to deliver my analysis in a matter-of-fact tone so that the facts speak for themselves. I have learned to challenge the broad affirmative statements made by men (like, “this sales volume will triple EVERY year”) by using data-driven analysis. This shift has advanced my positions. I also developed targeted responses to the statements made to reduce women's credibility by focusing on the issue at hand and veering away from issues of personality.


What advice do you have for women in business who are facing bias and discrimination?


Some situations simply can't be improved or managed by individuals, and it should not rest on our shoulders to compensate for systematic biases and bad practices. That having been said, I find that being equipped with knowledge, data, credentials or any other measure of competence is a great first step. Drawing attention to your capability, rather than the unfairness of the situation is certainly useful. In addition, networking with other women who face similar challenges also really helps in thinking things out.


Imagine a world free of gender-based bias and discrimination—what would that look like to you?


A world free of gender-based bias would be a world based on meritocracy that valued a multiplicity of styles and contributions.


Anna V. Kamaridis



Anna V. Kamaridis

Owner and Vice President of the Board of Directors

Kamaridis GlobalWire Group

Greece





Can you share an example from your own life and career of how you have struggled with gender-based bias or discrimination?


It was some years ago at a business forum when I was asked what my occupation was. I started answering with full expertise, talking about heavy industries, metal products, industrial staff, business issues in general. A high-level commissioner looked at me in a suspicious way, saying, “You do not look like you are in this business! How come you are familiar with these things?” Imagine, I was in business attire, and I was very serious with my brochures in my hands. I used a sense of humor to cover my awkwardness, explaining that I couldn’t bring metal samples with me to the forum, while if I sold lipsticks that would fit me better—and it would be easier to prove why I was there. This commissioner eventually became my biggest fan.


I am not sure if this was a deliberate discrimination or just a reaction to unconcious bias. What I can tell for sure is that it is easier to get to the moon than it is to break these stereotypes.


What advice do you have for women in business who are facing bias and discrimination?


First, we need to make clear that these behaviors will not be tolerated or accepted. My advice for women in business facing bias is for sure to report the facts and to ask for support, and to choose companies with good procedures for discrimination. In addition, I strongly suggest that women get involved in women's organizations where they can get inspiration and mentoring, participate in teams supporting women rights, create communities with common ways of thinking and stand united. Women need these platforms to provide them with power and help them achieve economic success.


Imagine a world free of gender-based bias and discrimination—what would that look like to you?


Criticism will always be there. As we are taught by our philosopher Aristotle, you cannot avoid criticism—unless you say nothing, do nothing, and be nothing. But today there is the need to act, and International Women’s Day 2022 is a kind reminder to support and to elevate all women by keeping them next to us—like we do in the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), in ICC WomenHellas. Today, we celebrate the leadership, the strength and the courage of our gender because we all need to feel safe in an inclusive world by breaking the bias.


Help raise awareness against gender-based bias by sharing this collection of interviews with your network via email or social media.


For more information about International Women’s Day 2022, visit the International Women’s Day website.


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