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Prime Minister and top executives gather at Rotman, discuss how to get more women in the boardroom

This event took place Wednesday March 07, 2018

What’s the key to growing the country’s economy for decades to come?

One solution involves getting more women in leadership positions and engaged in the economy at the highest levels — and that starts with public action, according to a discussion among senior executives and thought leaders at the Rotman School’s International Women’s Day 2018 #PressforProgress event.

“Everyone in this room understands that the active participation of women in our businesses and our governments has the transformative power to change our societies for the better and to strengthen our communities,” said keynote speaker Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “Let’s commit to doing better.”

International Women’s Day #PressforProgress

The event, hosted by the Initiative for Women in Business (IWB) at Rotman, brought together a who’s who of corporate Canada and trailblazers on the issue of gender equity. Tanya van Biesen (EMBA ’00), executive director of Catalyst Canada, spoke with Trudeau about the importance of a gender-balanced cabinet and the focus on women in the recent federal budget.

Panelist Lindsay Patrick, a director with RBC Capital Markets, described her work in helping launch Canada’s first, gender lens-focused ETF. Patrick is also a graduate of Rotman, having completed the Back to Work program offered by the IWB after taking a six-year leave.

“[The program] gave me my confidence back,” she said. Patrick added that “there still is a great opportunity for a career in capital markets for women. You can have a family and have a career too.”

Fellow panelist Beatrix Dart, a professor of Strategic Management at Rotman and executive director for the IWB, agreed.

“Keeping women engaged and supported throughout their whole career will make the biggest difference in terms of getting women in senior management roles,” said Dart. She also went on to describe how putting the pressure on organizations to advance women is critical.

Victor Dodig (BCom ’88), president and CEO at CIBC, urged attendees to leave the event with a question: “What are you going to do about advancing the diversity agenda in Canada to strengthen our economy?”


This event, held on March 7, 2018 at the Rotman School, was hosted by the Initiative for Women in Business, 30% Club Canada, Catalyst Canada, and the Canadian Gender and Good Governance Alliance and sponsored by RBC.

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