Top Five Takeaways from the 2019 Leadership Conference for Women in Energy

By Emily James, Communications Officer, Canadian Nuclear Association

On April 16 and 17, 2019 some of Canada’s most successful female energy leaders met in Toronto to share their industry knowledge and experience with professionals from across Canada’s energy sector.

Currently, 7.6 million women represent 48% of the working population in Canada. In the electricity sector, women make up only 26% of the workforce.

In addition to analyzing key trends in the global energy market, panel sessions and group discussions did not shy away from the issues facing women in a traditionally male-dominated industry.

Skill development workshops on mastering negotiation and activating your own power to change the world of work encouraged attendees to leverage their strengths to improve organizational performance and move up.

Here are five empowering takeaways from the conference that will encourage women (and men) in their professions:

  1. Dive in!

Don’t get caught up in the details when starting a project or presentation. According to Annette Verschuren, Chair and Chief Executive Officer of NRStar Inc., a progressive energy storage development company, and former president of Home Depot Canada and president and co-founder of Michael’s of Canada, 60% is ready enough.

Many women believe things must be lined up 100% before taking action, but that can hold you back from taking a risk that could lead to success. Instead, strive for a mediocre strategy and excellent execution.

  1. Use your networks

Aida Cipolla, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at Toronto Hydro presented on the importance of building internal and external networks. Cipolla suggests that networking is vital to career and personal growth. It can raise your personal profile, broaden your opportunities, and aid in working through industry challenges by learning from others.

Set a schedule and reminder for regular touch points with your contacts. Check in with those around you and see what you can do to help others reach their goals. Networking is about giving first and receiving later.

  1. Have a “growth mindset”

It’s easy to get discouraged as challenges arise but having a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset can make all the difference when there are obstacles to overcome.

A growth mindset promotes learning from mistakes, challenging oneself, and feeling inspired by the success of others. Individuals with fixed mindsets tend to give up when feeling frustrated, engage in negativity when things don’t work out, and back away from challenges. One way to combat this is by simply doing more and thinking less.

  1. Be aware of unconscious bias

An all-male panel from Hydro One Networks Inc. explained how they became champions for diversity and inclusion after attending a Men Advocating Real Change (MARC) workshop. The program developed by global non-profit Catalyst has been successful in bringing awareness to men and women about the unconscious biases that often exist in the workplace and how to transform them.

Catalyst research revealed that less than half of men in the workplace believe gender stereotyping is a barrier to women’s advancement. By stepping out of their comfort zone and attending a MARC workshop, the panelists gained an understanding for what their colleagues were experiencing and became allies for change.

  1. Don’t give up

Ariana Huffington says that, “Failure is a stepping stone to success.” In this light, challenges become opportunities to help you progress rather than hindrances that hold you back.

Fear of failure can be paralyzing. Speakers suggested building resilience by trying new things and being willing to make mistakes. Detach from the outcome and with each experience, you’ll build the confidence necessary to find the success you seek.

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