CATALYST | It’s what You DO, not what You SAY

An open letter to the leaders of Catalyst Canada

Let’s talk about leadingleading by example.  I’ve read this week’s Catalyst announcement regarding the appointment of Victor Dodig as their new Board Chair.  Let me get this straight:

  1.  The Mission of Catalyst Canada is to ‘Accelerate progress for women through workplace inclusion’.
  2. This is the second man Catalyst has appointed to this position.

Mr. Dodig sounds like a pretty cool guy and a great advocate for women.  In fact, a few months ago I reached out to him for a PowHERhouse interview to get a better understanding of who he is as a leader, what he’s up to in the world, and how he is working to move women forward in Canada.  Little did I know the deeper why I was reaching out then.  Now it’s quite apparent.  I’m thinking he should have taken the interview.

As one of our core values at PowHERhouse, it isn’t what we say, but what we do as leaders that drives our mission forward.  Through action, we lead by example.  In fact, the entire reason we chose media as our vehicle in building strong women who lead is its inherent ability to tell their stories and create visibility as we celebrate positive role models.  To honour women who are leading, in how they are showing up in their lives, the intentional action they are taking, and resulting impact.  That’s what motivates and mobilizes Canadian women.

Does it feel like a slap in the face when the very organization – “dedicated to accelerating progress for women through workplace inclusion in Canada” appoints a man at the top?


In a recent article, Punt It To The Penthouse, I talk about how women continue to circulate through the same ten floors, rarely – if ever making it to the “Penthouse” of executive leadership and senior management positions, and what it’s going to take to finally get them there.  Unfortunately, this week’s announcement provides a shining example of this happening yet again.

Catalyst | PUNT it to the Penthouse

As a strong woman who leads an organization dedicated to Punting Women to the Penthouse, I’ve been passionately committed since 2000, working closely with hundreds of powHERful women across Canada and networking with thousands.  I would summarize the three key components below as what need now more than ever to realize their potential and reach the C-Suite positions they are so often passed over for:

If I had Mr. Dodig’s ear for just 20 minutes, here’s what I would most like to communicate:  Wisdom  |  Connections  |  Opportunity

  1. Role-Model Wisdom:  There’s much talk about the need for more confidence to reach upper-level positions in the workplace, but where does that confidence originate? It comes from wisdom.  And where is that wisdom found?  In quality relationships with those who have walked the path before us.  Role-model insights, best practices, lessons learned, and personal stories of maneuvering through life’s circumstances to achieve goals are what we most need to hear and understand to instill this confidence.  Why? Because that powerful role-model wisdom demonstrates possibility – the underlying, foundational essence of PowHERhouse.  #walkwithwisewomen
  2.  The Right Connections:  We don’t need more connections, we need deeper ones. Most powHERful women I know have an average of 2,000+ connections, growing steadily through offline networking, effective use of social media, and online relationships.  Where we fall short, is in the type of connections deeply rooted in a level of trust and intimacy where we feel comfortable enough to ASK for what we need.
  3. Optimize Opportunity:  I agree with Alex Johnston, Catalyst’s former executive director, when he said about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau naming a gender parity cabinet, it isn’t talented women who are in short supply. It’s the demand for them that has been lacking.*  The talent is there.  It’s so there.  I am continually blown away by the incredible abilities of the powHERful women we meet, interview and represent as collective media partners through PowHERhouse.  What lacks is access to opportunities to match them.  Opportunities to consistently build their Profile as leaders with access to Podiums for sharing their message and building their brand, and access to capital and deeper, strategic connections to grow their business.

This lack of access fuels our work at PowHERhouse as we continue to partner and produce opportunities for great women through our Profile, Podiums, and a nation-wide media Platform.  #visibilitycultivatesopportunity

We’re open and ready for more partners!

As an independent Canadian women’s media organization run by women for women, we would like the opportunity to work with Catalyst.  This has been expressed to your management team in the past but I’ll simply hang it out here again as a reminder in case our voice wasn’t heard at the top.  #beingbold  

We believe that you need us, and we’d welcome the opportunity to work together.

*Reference credit:  The Star opinion editorial, September 17, 2017

Graphic ©Jana Curl 2017

Opinion Editorial

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About Charlene SanJenko

Charlene SanJenko, Founder + CEO of PowHERhouse Impact Media Group, has worked intimately with thousands of women over the past 20+ years to understand what they need to fully integrate excellence and fulfillment in all areas of their lives.