Skip to main content
Open this photo in gallery:

Many organizations are unlikely to make change unless whatever is happening harms the bottom line.Getty Images

Content from The Globe’s weekly Women and Work newsletter, part of The Globe’s Women’s Collective. To subscribe, click here.

Ask Women and Work

Question: I work in a fast-paced environment. I have noticed stress mounting for several employees in my workplace, but I feel helpless to change the situation. What can I do to compel management to make changes?

We asked Roxanne Francis, psychotherapist and CEO at Francis Psychotherapy and Consulting, to tackle this one:

First of all, it’s important to recognize that many organizations are unlikely to make changes unless whatever is happening is harming their bottom line or productivity in some way. If you go to your leader and you say, ‘Everyone is stressed out,’ the leader may say, ‘I’m really sorry, but there’s nothing we can do about it.’ And if nothing is being affected, no one will be willing to listen. Even if they mean well, your leader likely reports to someone else, and they may not have the authority to make any changes.

However, what you can do is take stock of not just the stress, but the wellness of your team. Ask these questions: ‘How many people are going on stress leave? How often are they going on stress leave? Are we stretched because half of the team is constantly calling in sick? How is that hampering productivity? Are we missing deadlines? Are mistakes being made when we are providing service?’ These are big indicators that your staff isn’t well.

This kind of information is what management is most likely to respond to. If you point these issues out to them, they might do their own investigation and then go to the director and say, ‘Stress is a big factor on my team. Staff members are often absent and we can’t service all of our clients because of this.’ That may prompt management to think about what can be done to remedy things, such as increasing the coverage for therapy in the employee benefits plan, increasing vacation time or putting more people on the team to reduce the stress.

Leaders are also more likely to pay attention when you bring some kind of solution to them. I’ve heard many leaders say, ‘Don’t just bring me your problems – what do you think we can do to fix it?’ Otherwise, it just sounds like complaining. So, you could say, ‘Everyone’s really stressed out. Could we bring on a student to relieve some of the workload? Or, can we extend the deadline on our big project?’

As a staff member, it’s important to pay attention to how your manager reacts to your concerns. Are they really listening to what you have told them, or are they brushing you off? It will be either a green flag or a red flag. If they are just brushing you off, you have a decision to make about whether this is the right place for you. I know the economy is challenging right now and people don’t want to find themselves out of work, but you can stay in your job and apply to a different department. Or, you can stay in your job while you apply for another job.

It’s been said that people don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad managers. If they’re transparent enough to say, ‘I understand what you’re saying and I’ll mention it to the director, but my hands are tied,’ that’s one thing. But if they say, ‘Suck it up, buttercup,’ that’s a whole different story.

Submit your own questions to Ask Women and Work by e-mailing us at

This week’s must-read stories on women and work

Why are women still underrepresented in non-profit leadership?

When Kimberly Carson took on the role of CEO of Breast Cancer Canada, she became part of a select club – the minority of charitable and non-profit organizations in Canada headed up by female CEOs.

Despite the fact that women make up 85 per cent of non-profit support staff in Canada, they hold only 70 per cent of senior executive positions. In the U.S., a 2019 study of large human service organizations (with budgets of $10-million or more) found only 35 per cent had female CEOs, although again, they made up the lion’s share of employees. And U.S. non-profit data organization Candid found that male leaders in the sector typically hold more power and resources than female leaders do, leading organizations with roughly twice as much revenue and getting paid 27 per cent more, on average.

Ms. Carson, who has been vocal about the leadership gender gap in the charitable sector (and wrote a master’s thesis on the topic), has spent her career working her way up through the ranks, starting as a co-ordinator in the events field.

Read how the gap can be closed from leaders in the non-profit space.

How private podcasting can help solve one of the biggest problems within businesses – engagement

“As podcasting celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, the medium can be credited with solving a lot of big problems: exonerating the wrongly convicted, bringing justice to cold cases and helping reconnect long lost family members,” says Amanda Cupido, CEO of Lead Podcasting and adjunct professor in the School of Media at Seneca Polytechnic. “They’re also widely popular; Statista cites there are now more than 500 million podcast listeners, worldwide. As someone who made their first podcast in 2010, I’ve been invested long before they were mainstream. Now, I’m confident a new slate of business problems will be solved with podcasts.

“It’s no surprise that leaders and organizations have taken advantage of the medium to help establish their reach and credibility. Podcasts have been proven to be an effective marketing tool; they are the most trusted medium and 75 per cent of the U.S. podcast listeners surveyed say they have listened to a podcaster for a product endorsement, according to a 2023 study done by Acast.”

Read how podcasts can provide connection and instill trust.

With 3-D printing technology, this designer adds contemporary flare to traditional Inuit designs

At the Indigenous Fashion Arts Festival held at Toronto’s Eaton Centre, spectators attending the event’s scheduled runway shows on June 2 will notice something novel on Inuvialuk and Gwich’in designer Taalrumiq’s runway: 3-D printed versions of the snow goggles that are traditionally worn by folks from Inuit communities.

Historically, this practical eyewear has been crafted by hand from materials like animal bone and driftwood. But Taalrumiq, who is currently participating in a residency program at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, will showcase styles made with plastic filament or UV resin. The pieces definitively possess a sleek high-fashion aesthetic that’s expected on catwalks, while delivering functionality – the narrow slits for looking through are shaped so as to eliminate the sun’s glare during the period in which northern regions experience 24-hours of daylight. For Taalrumiq, the opportunity to merge her interest in fashion design, technology, and preserving and promoting Inuit cultures is hugely appealing.

Read how Taalrumiq hopes to influence young people with her contemporary spin on traditional items.

In case you missed it

I’m an ambitious Gen Z who’s been told to slow down. How can I get the advancement I want?

“Because you’ve been told by your manager to slow down, I think your first step should be to have a conversation with your manager to understand a little bit more about where this is coming from,” says Lena Lebtahi Courcol, an acquisitions manager at Montreal-based New Market Funds and a Gen Z. “It may be that your manager has some pain points in the current responsibilities that you have on your plate and they want to see you hone your skills within that. If the manager says, ‘No, all is good, your performance has been great,’ then I would be interested in prodding the manager and asking, ‘In that case, how can I progress? How do you see my evolution in this role at this company?’

“There are some other things you can do to boost your chances of advancement. In my own experience, I’ve found that saying yes, putting my hand up and taking opportunities for new projects has shown success for me.”

Read the full article.

From the archives

How playing sports can make women better leaders

Kristina Yallin might not be playing as much basketball these days, but she still likes to get her blood pumping on the regular.

When the senior finance director at Unilever Canada in Toronto isn’t leading her team of 30 employees or running after her two young children, she’s lacing up and hitting the road.

Training for marathons and half-marathons is a way to keep active while still staying on top of a jam-packed schedule, says Ms. Yallin. It also fills the gap left open after nearly two decades playing team sports as a young girl and into her varsity years as a basketball team captain and all-star at the University of Guelph.

“It was a huge part of me for the first 20-something years of my life,” she says. “It was so ingrained and a constant.”

Read the full article.

Open this photo in gallery:

Interested in more perspectives about women in the workplace? Find all stories on The Globe Women’s Collective hub here, and subscribe to the new Women and Work newsletter here. Have feedback? E-mail us at

Follow related authors and topics

Authors and topics you follow will be added to your personal news feed in Following.

Interact with The Globe