From politicians to bankers, charity mavens to retail entrepreneurs, these are the leaders who are having a big impact behind the scenes and at centre stage in British Columbia
If you’re a reader of the business press—or any story featuring the power brokers in our midst—you’ll be struck by one thing above all else: the paucity of women. While some may argue that “them’s the numbers”—and yes, women are poorly represented in the boardrooms and backrooms of B.C.—the fact is that we in the media bear some responsibility. The evidence of powerful and dynamic women leaders abounds. It’s just not being reported as frequently.
THE PANEL OF EXPERTS
• Jennifer Berdahl is the Montalbano Professor of Leadership Studies: Gender and Diversity at UBC’s Sauder School of Business
• Brittney Kerr is account director at Earnscliffe Strategy Group
• Meriko Kubota is director of strategic partnerships and community investment at Telus
• Sarah McCullough is director of external affairs and communications for Spectra Energy
• Matt O’Grady is editor-in-chief of BCBusiness
• Jennifer Podmore Russell is director of Deloitte Real Estate
That, in part, is why BCBusiness decided to do this survey of B.C.’s Most Influential Women: to put a distinctly female face on power and influence in B.C. And how exactly did we do it? First, our editorial team consulted with a variety of authorities and created a long list of names. Then we took those names to an esteemed panel of experts. The panel both contributed new names for consideration and also helped us evaluate and explain the influence of the women on our list. From there we came up with the final 50 names, in six categories, you see in the pages that follow.
This is not a ranking—nor is it an exhaustive list of those women wielding influence in the province. Indeed, our panellists were adamant that we consider the complexity of what it means to wield influence—and among the panel itself, the complexity of opinion was evident. Jennifer Berdahl of UBC argued against a “superwoman” model, saying that we don’t hold men to the same standard (asking whether they are a good father, or a charitable citizen, when discussing their power or influence). Meriko Kubota of Telus, meanwhile, said that evidence a woman has a family life—and has managed that tough work-life balance—is critical: “That’s something that I’d want to read about.” One thing everybody agreed on, however, was that women define success differently than men.
“If you listen to every single speech given by women—whether it’s Anne Giardini or Christine Day or Carole Taylor—I think they don’t talk about success the same way,” says Deloitte’s Jennifer Podmore Russell. “Influence—when you think about what it means to success as a woman—it’s influence over your community, influence over your corporate life, influence over your career, influence over your family. Equal doesn’t mean the same as men.”
Spotlight profiles (click to read)
>> Monique Mercier, Executive vice-president, corporate affairs, chief legal officer and corporate secretary, Telus.
>> Christina Anthony, Vice-president, director, portfolio manager and investment advisor, Odlum Brown; chair, Forum for Women Entrepreneurs
>> Carol Lee, President and CEO, Linacare Cosmetherapy Inc.
>> Kathy Kinloch, President, British Columbia Institute of Technology
>> Kazuko Komatsu, Owner and CEO, Pacific Western Brewing Ltd.
>> Janet Austin, CEO, YWCA Metro Vancouver; Chair, Vancouver Board of Trade, British Columbia Institute of Technology