When Laura White had to leave her job for a few days last year to take care of her ailing father, one thing she didn’t have to worry about was what they would say at the office.
“No one batted an eyelash. And when I returned the first question wasn’t, ‘Did you get this done?’ It was: ‘How is your dad doing?’” says Ms. White, the chief financial officer at Ottawa-based Royal LePage Performance Realty, which has ranked as Canada’s Best Workplace for Women 2013 according to the results of this year’s Great Place to Work Institute survey.
Ms. White describes the company she joined four years ago as empowering for women – and men – of all ages and experience levels. That includes the 28 salaried staff and the more than 280 commission-based employees, who are the real estate agents working in Ottawa and surrounding communities.
About 60 per cent of the staff are women, compared to about 40 per cent men, and Ms. White says equality for either gender is never an issue.
“There is no difference across the company about how men and women are empowered to do their jobs,” she says.
She attributes the strong culture to the company’s owner and his management team, which includes both men and women.
“I have worked in many different companies and industries in my career and can say that they didn’t all have such an empowering, respectful and caring culture.”
For Ms. White, it’s like working with family, while at the same time maintaining a professional atmosphere.
“If I have a personal problem, I don’t feel like I have to drop it at the door,” she says. “There are avenues at work to help you deal with it, while also doing your job well. There is that family feeling, where people care about you personally and professionally, while keeping that respectful corporate culture at all times.”
The atmosphere at Royal LePage Performance Realty is driven by the company’s vision, mission and values that include; respect, honesty, integrity, professionalism and caring for others.
These are values that Brenda Helmkay, branch administrator at the company’s Cornwall office, says have kept her working at the company for the past six years.
As a mother of four children, Mrs. Helmkay appreciates being able to do her job without having to feel like her family is a separate part of her life. It’s also a place where women have no trouble advancing their careers.
“Everyone is treated the same; there is no difference between a man and a woman here.”
What’s more, the workplace is fun, Mrs. Helmkay says.
“They’ve worked very hard at Royal LePage Performance Realty to foster a good working environment,” she says.
That includes company events such as picnics for staff and their families, and Christmas parties, as well as an annual barbeque where the managers serve food and drink to the administrative staff.
“They make sure that we know we are appreciated,” Mrs. Helmkay says. “The way you feel valued is excellent. I enjoy going to work every day.”
NOT ON THE LIST?
If your workplace isn’t on this year’s list but you think it should be, we encourage you to participate in the 2014 list of Best Workplaces in Canada. We are now accepting nominations at www.greatplacetowork.ca.