The World Economic Forum’s latest Gender Gap Report predicted it will take 217 years to close the gender gap at the current rate of progress.

‘For the last four years, companies have reported that they are highly committed to gender diversity.  But that commitment has not translated into meaningful progress.  The proportion of women at every level in corporate America has hardly changed.  Progress isn’t just slow.  It’s stalled.’+

That’s not good enough.  We can do better, and here’s how.

I watched a very inspiring and informative talk by Bill Gates about solving global extreme poverty.  I loved the data he presented – here’s where we’ve been, here’s where we can go, and here’s how.

The process of how he is breaking down a seemingly insolvable challenge fascinates me.  What I can, as a leader, learn about his process and relate it back to the challenge I am looking to solve?

  • Start with an IMAGINE statement and put your audience in the middle of a desperate situation using descriptive storytelling.
  • Paint a picture of hope.  We are making progress.
  • Use powerful visuals to help us to see both the problem and the possibility.
  • Synthesize mounds of information into simple steps forward.
  • Conclude with a clear ‘I believe’ statement and what action is needed next.

IMAGINE:  A world where gender parity in leadership is clearly evident in significantly held positions in business, government, sport, healthcare, innovation… where positive role-models who are innovating solutions to the greatest issues facing families are the new celebrities; and, where annual advertising dollars (or even a small fraction of them) are redirected to fuel the mobilization of women with visibility profiling, inspirational storytelling, advocacy campaigns and direct calls to action.

Why should you care?

If women were to participate in the economy identically to men, they could add as much as $28 trillion or 26 percent to annual global GDP in 2025.*  This is roughly the combined size of the economies of the United States and China today.**

Every family deserves to feel stable and taken care of with the ability to provide what is needed to not only survive but to thrive.

We can do better, and here’s how.

Remember growing up to ParticipACTION commercials?

ParticipACTION was a pervasive communication campaign that promoted physical activity in the Canadian population for three decades.  Originally established in 1971, ParticiACTION is non-profit organization whose mission is to help Canadians sit less and move more. I was pleased to see this organization still actively doing work in the world!

  • Media to mobilize Canadians (literally!) happened for over three decades.
  • Media can also mobilize women (leaders) and help Canada achieve gender parity faster.  Why is this important?  Because, here’s the problem:

Gender Parity progress is actually slowing down.

We need a Mobilization Plan, a clear path to hit our targets.

According to Stats Can, there is a specific GOC target to:
Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life.  
However, I don’t see any recent updates (since 2015/2016) nor do I see any clear messaging on what the actual target is and by when?


Here’s what I see in terms of the four stages a woman walks on her path to becoming a great leader.


Stage 1:  Inspiration

If she can do it, maybe I can too.

Women must see what is possible as well as a clear Leader Path on how to get there. Hope requires clear evidence from others who are there or who have been there.

Celebrating and recognizing positive role models is imperative.

They demonstrate and humanize possibility.

If we can see it, we can be it.

Stage 2:  Capacity

What are you ready for next?

Building strength.

For more women to rapidly rise to the C-suit, as political leaders or hit the Fortune100 list, we must think bigger, play bigger and BE BIGGER, fully embracing a growth mindset and all of the uncomfortable uncertainty that goes with it.

When we are uncomfortable, we are GROWING!

Preparation: Steady, continuous progression requires consistent access to the opportunities women are ready for in order to continue building capacity:  capital, connections, clarity or confidence.

Traction occurs in the presence of access and readiness.

Stage 3:  Depth

Can I hold on?

Creating a solid foundation of expansive roots over time, with support systems, effective coordination and clear communication ensures sustainable success and the avoidance of staying small, giving up or burning out.

I will grow – stronger for longer – with a powerful foundation of support.

Stage 4:  RISE!

Great leaders make tough decisions.  Tough decisions make great leaders.

Realizing world-class impact, solutions for everyone.

It’s not about us. It’s so much bigger than us. The solutions we need most depend on us and our ability to rise.

Can we catalyze a huge wave of women’s leadership mobilization in Canada?

I believe we can with a clear path.

Because every leader deserves the opportunity to make a world-class impact.

The solution is right in front of us.  Dollars are already being spent and only need a slight redirection.

We can do better.  We have to.

Go back to ParticipACTION,  and this time, get active with PowHERhouse:

  • PowHERhouse is a national women’s leadership accelerator platform founded in 2013 after more than a decade of solid market research, network building and proof of concept. 
  • I was called to meet an obvious need evidenced countless times while working closely with women, and foundational work began in 2000.  Learn more about me here.
  • From the outset, PowHERHouse was built to last and has grown into a national brand with a solid reputation offering live events, publications and partnerships to help build strong women who lead. 
  • Our organization is modelled after a successful investment brokerage house. Our investments are targeted at advancing women leaders: our vehicle is media, and our fund development will target existing media-buy budgets, redirecting a small percentage to specific purpose-driven initiatives with clear goals and built-in measurables.
  • Our approach is highly functional, responsive and adaptable; a unique blend of storytelling, relevant programming, and events that enable women to connect with what and who they need to move forward.
  • Media is a powerful leadership progression tool. It is a mirror.  As women see themselves profiled and celebrated as leaders by a third-party, their confidence, clarity and courage escalate, and other women see what is possible.

We can do better.  Have a (mobilization) plan.  Act on it.  Speak about it.

+McKinsey & Company’s 2018 Women in the Workplace

*Anu Madgavkar, Kweilin Elingrud, & Mekala Krishnan in the Stanford Social Innovation Review.


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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.

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