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Career cushioning – giving yourself a fall-back plan in case of a layoff – might involve actions like taking courses, refreshing your LinkedIn profile, connecting with recruiters or testing a side hustle.South_agency

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The past few years have brought us some catchy work-related phrases: the great reset, resignation and reshuffle, hybrid working, productivity paranoia, quiet quitting, quiet firing, quiet hiring and anchor days to name a few. The latest in a long list of work alliterations is career cushioning, which seems to have made its debut just before the holidays.

Career cushioning is giving yourself a fall-back plan, to “cushion your landing” in case of a layoff. It can involve anything to prepare for your next role: building new skills, taking courses, looking out for opportunities or refreshing your profile on LinkedIn, raising your networking game, keeping in touch with recruiters or testing the market for an entrepreneurial venture.

How far career cushioners push toward actively seeking new employment may vary depending on how secure they feel in their current role or company, how enthused they are by their current role or company, and how valuable they believe their skills to be in the current environment.

But is career cushioning a bad thing for employees, and workplaces too? Read the full article.

The four-day workweek is going from experiment to inevitability, survey of senior managers shows

Quinn Ross had long been intrigued by the concept of a four-day workweek. But when the COVID-19 pandemic made a noticeable impact on his employees’ mental health and well-being, he felt the time was right to move his full-service law firm to a compressed schedule.

At first, the 50 employees of The Ross Firm, based in Southwestern Ontario, moved to a staggered schedule of four 10-hour days – ensuring that all six locations were fully staffed five days a week.

“We rolled out the compressed week and immediately had a really great uptick in productivity and overall psychological wellbeing, based on our weekly surveys,” Mr. Ross said. “Then that quickly started to drop as people burned out on 10-hour days.”

A couple of weeks later, the firm implemented a schedule of four eight-hour days, which has remained in place ever since.

According to a recent study conducted by Robert Half Canada, 91 per cent of senior managers support a workweek of four 10-hour days for their team, and 69 per cent anticipate their company will implement it within the next five years.

Read more about why the condensed schedule is gaining momentum among business leaders.

Toronto production company behind Alice, Darling looking to the future

When the producing duo behind Babe Nation Films, Katie Nolan and Lindsay Tapscott, along with the screenwriter Alanna Francis, pulled up to the Toronto International Film Festival premiere of their film Alice, Darling last September, Francis took one look out the car window and said, “Nope, I’m not getting out.”

Alice, Darling stars Anna Kendrick, who’s best known for the Pitch Perfect films, and her fans thronging the entrance to Roy Thomson Hall were doing a lot of excited vocalizing. “I don’t think any of us were prepared for the Anna Kendrick power on a red carpet,” Nolan said in a recent video interview with Tapscott and Francis. But the women pushed each other out of the car and waded in.

It’s an apt metaphor for what’s happened to Babe Nation in the seven years since Nolan and Tapscott joined forces to create a boutique production company that develops and produces character-driven movies (and soon, they hope, television series) from women and under-represented international filmmakers.

The producers are “driven by gut instinct,” Nolan says. “Our first human response to a project is the one we use to make a decision. All signs point to yes when something resonates deeply within us as women, when it stirs us to ask, ‘Am I like that?’”

Read more about Babe Nation in the full article.

In case you missed it

The challenges and rewards of building a business with your best friends

Coming up with a killer idea and then building a business from the ground up alongside people you care about can be an extremely rewarding experience. Just ask Garvia Bailey, co-founder of Media Girlfriends, a Toronto-based podcast production company.

“When we talk about our goals and we talk about what we want to accomplish as a business, we know our motivations a little deeper than just what you might find in a [typical] working environment,” Ms. Bailey says of her relationship with founder Nana aba Duncan and fellow co-founder Hannah Sung.

“Our motivations and what we do as a business [are] intrinsically linked to who we are as people, as individuals,” she adds.

Best friends Shelby Weaver and Abby Albino met while they were both working for the Toronto Raptors; together, they founded Makeway, a sneaker boutique “for women, by women” located in Toronto. They both agree that there’s something special about their business relationship.

However, no relationship – or business – can flourish without overcoming challenges along the way.

Read the full article.

DEI needs to be about more than written reports and empty promises

Conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in Canadian workplaces aren’t new. Many discussions have been had, reports have been written and promises have been made – but has there been any real change for marginalized groups in the workplace over the past 20 years?

“There’s such a gap between how corporate spaces look at [DEI] versus what it needs to be,” says Kimberley John-Morgan, a Toronto-based DEI content writer and equity educator. “I feel like corporate culture is stuck. It’s stuck trying to appease the powers that be. DEI is looked at like a professional development activity, when really it’s a human rights mandate.”

Many organizations started the discussion by talking about the business case for diversity in the workplace – the idea that DEI wasn’t just a nice thing to do, but a business imperative due to globalization and the changing face of the talent pool.

It’s an argument that many people, including Ms. John-Morgan, take issue with.

“Are you kidding me?” says Ms. John-Morgan. “We have to have a quantifiable, monetarily-based reason for which we are going to treat people like humans? That’s disgusting. That just shows how much they don’t know and how much work they haven’t done.”

Read the full article.

Ask Women and Work

Question: I am loving my new job but not my new manager. She is a nice person, but she is indecisive and often slow to respond, so I am frequently waiting on answers to questions which hampers my ability to complete my work. I feel I need to say something to her, but she is very well-regarded in the office and I don’t want to damage our relationship. How do you give your boss constructive criticism?

We asked Montreal-based career strategy coach Tiffany Uman to tackle this one:

Dealing with a manager who is slow to respond to your requests or indecisive can create inefficiencies for you and lead to negative impacts on your deliverables. This is certainly an instance where constructive criticism is needed to improve the situation moving forward.

Here is my 3-step approach that you could use to address this situation effectively, without any risk of damaging the relationship with your boss.

Step 1: Show your boss an empathic understanding of where they’re coming from.

Example: ‘I can certainly understand that things are quite busy right now and that there’s a lot of different projects you’re overseeing for the team.’

Step 2: Shift into the issue at hand and bring forward a concrete example to build on.

Example: ‘That said, there have been a few key projects lately where I’m waiting on your feedback or approval on how to proceed, and this runs the risk of missing my deadlines which could compromise the business. Of course, that is something I want to avoid. For example, on X project which is due this Friday, I haven’t yet received your approval on A, B and C, and that approval is needed so I can finalize the last steps of my deliverable. Perhaps there is an opportunity for us to adjust how I share this information with you that can allow for a more timely response, especially for urgent projects.’

Step 3: Offer a solution that will help you both move forward most effectively.

Example: ‘Moving forward, I’d like to suggest that every Monday in our status meeting, I highlight specifically the things I need your approval or alignment on for that given week to treat as a high priority. This way, we can speak about it live and you’ll know what to be on the lookout for amongst the other projects you’re supporting. Would this work well for you?’

The key is to end this communication template with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question to ensure you get their buy-in on your proposal. If they are pushing back or suggesting that this option doesn’t work well for them, you can then follow up to say, ‘OK then, given what I shared, is there an option you’d recommend instead to help us move forward best from here?’ This will allow your boss to then suggest a recommendation that you can align on together.

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