To my daughter…and her future employers

International Women’s Day 2024

 ARTICLE BY Sarah Roberton

My 16-year-old daughter and I both had significant job milestones in 2023: I was promoted to Senior Vice President, becoming a member of Environics’ senior leadership team, and she got her first paid summer job.

We’re at either end of the career spectrum my colleague Susan Seto refers to in a recent article on women in the workplace. She describes how women in senior positions are among those most likely to report they are “highly thriving” in their later career years, while “young women, early in their careers, are the least likely of all the groups we surveyed to report thriving [at work].”


We can applaud and celebrate the success and fulfillment senior women leaders are experiencing – but it’s important not to be complacent about what the workplace holds for younger women.


Parenthood has a way of keeping you humble. I can encourage my daughter to advocate for herself, to make sure she’s appropriately and equitably paid and to learn from my mistakes. But she reminds me how hard it is to be the youngest and least experienced, taking cues from others in the workplace and not wanting to rock the boat. I can give her plenty of advice, but my pro tips alone cannot help her overcome society’s gendered norms and expectations.

It’s a good reminder that the necessary change doesn’t fall solely at the feet of young women; their success isn’t just about their willingness to “lean in.” Part of the responsibility rests with the workplaces they are entering. And I would tell the leaders of those workplaces: create space for young women’s ideas and perspectives. You and they will be better off for it.

For instance, research has shown that in decision-making groups, women have unequal talking time and when they do contribute, are routinely interrupted. As a result, they’re perceived to have limited influence on the group. These are deeply ingrained and often subconscious behaviours, for both men and women. But given the challenges facing businesses and organizations today, the idea that we would let these irrational habits systematically sideline the perspectives of 50% of the population – and the potential solutions they may identify – strikes me as, in a word, bonkers.

Correcting such patterns is obviously part of the thinking beyond the push for gender diversity in the boardroom, but the work shouldn’t be limited to the boardroom. There are countless small daily opportunities to welcome women and hold space for them – in team interactions, client meetings and informal conversations.


For me, the thriving as a senior female leader comes from having the space to share my unique perspective, and for that perspective to be heard and valued.


I never forget that I and other female leaders are being closely watched by our younger colleagues. I know because that has been me in the past, looking to senior female role models as examples of what my path would or could be.

It’s my job now to advocate for and help create the kind of spaces that I wanted and needed as a young woman – even as I encourage my daughter to seize opportunities, speak up, and take the risks that spur professional growth. How will you help to #InspireInclusion this year?


sarah chatting to kait in our office 2023

Candidly catching up with my friend and colleague Kait Moreau (Filer); did not know we were being photographed! For last year’s IWD, the theme was #EmbraceEquity and Kait wrote a great piece on the powerful women she’s had the pleasure of working with on our Financial Services team.

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