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Six years ago, McCarthy Uniforms, which has been making school and workplace uniforms since 1956, was struggling to expand internationally and teetering on bankruptcy.
Then, in 2017, the Toronto company conducted a gender-based analysis of their business, a multi-step process to investigate how gender and other identity factors may relate to a business problem and uncover potential solutions.
Through the review, the company discovered, among other things, that female professionals such as bus drivers were encountering issues wearing uniforms designed for male bodies. So, McCarthy added a uniform line for women, brought in products with more stretch and introduced fitting days so drivers could find the apparel that worked for them.
“They had one bus driver, a woman, who tried on her uniform for the first time and just started crying. It was the first time she’d had clothes that actually fit her,” says Sarah Kaplan, distinguished professor of gender and the economy at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto and co-author of a case study on McCarthy’s experience.
Read the full article to find out how gender analytics can uncover blind spots and hidden opportunities.
Closet confidential: Hiring a personal stylist can be a practical, time-saving investment
Let’s say you had all the time and money in the world to go shopping for clothes. Would you intuitively know how to choose clothing for our new hybrid working world? Or what about tracking down brands with a strong sense of corporate responsibility? What about choosing pieces from designers who are based in Canada? Or where to find vintage items that would integrate well into your mostly non-vintage wardrobe?
If you found at least one of these consumption conundrums relatable, you can see why personal stylists are experiencing an influx of clientele. While the needs of their consumers change from day to day, the core functions of the role – saving someone time and money, helping people out of a style rut or cultivating the courage to pursue a new look – remain steadfast.
“A big thing is efficiency, and I think people are seeking that in different ways,” says Toronto-based stylist Chanda Chilanga, who started the styling agency Dapper Style Mint (DSM) almost a decade ago.
Read on for why personal stylists aren’t just for celebrities.
The glass ceiling may be dinged, but study shows a new barrier for women – glass walls
A study published in the Harvard Business Review in April looked at the experience of freelance workers. When men broaden their experience they are rewarded, but when women do it they are penalized. This should be a wake-up call to both workers and organizations looking for the best outcomes.
U.S. freelance website Upwork estimates that as of 2022 nearly half of Gen Z and millennial workers did at least some freelance work. Although it is not always adopted by choice, freelancing is thought to have some advantages including letting workers be judged by the work rather than by how well they play corporate power games, but that might be a flawed assumption.
Read the full article for more on how women tend to be penalized for branching out into new areas of work.
In case you missed it
Looking for a way to reduce work stress? Try mountain biking
One afternoon in August 2021, Isabelle Faucher watched as a fellow Wild Betty pedaled her mountain bike up a giant boulder then down a steep, narrow wooden ramp. The Wild Bettys, a women’s mountain biking club (based in Toronto with two Ontario chapters) were together for a cycling vacation through Saint-Sauveur and The Laurentians in Quebec.
It was Ms. Faucher’s turn; nervous and a little shaky, she told herself, ‘I can do this. Just commit to it.’ In the background, she heard shouts of encouragement.
For a split second, she feared falling as the bike edged too far right; but instead of braking and launching herself over the handlebars to certain injury, she composed herself, relaxed and steered her bike safely onto solid ground.
Sitting at her desk the Monday morning after the ride, Ms. Faucher says she still felt the afterglow. As an environmental consultant working in recycling and waste diversion, her workday involves juggling many different issues and responsibilities. Mountain biking is her mental reset.
Read the full article.
Why young women should be on boards
Joanne Zhou had always wanted to serve on a board of directors. But despite years of volunteer involvement with community organizations, the Toronto-based health coach and registered dietician didn’t think she had the experience to land a role.
Ms. Zhou, 28, recalls envisioning the role of a director as something only “leaders in society” could take on.
“I wasn’t sure, as a young woman, how I would actually be able to contribute,” she says.
That changed when Ms. Zhou joined the 2020 cohort of Girls on Boards, an initiative facilitated by non-profit organization Fora: Network for Change.
Each year, Girls on Boards selects thirty diverse emerging leaders aged 18 to 25 who take on roles as full voting directors on boards of various non-profit organizations across Canada. Boards that have taken on a Young Director through the program include Habitat for Humanity Canada, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and Fora itself.
Read the full article.
Ask Women and Work
Question: I recently took on a new position managing a team of eight people. They are all in their early to mid-20s, and I’m nearly 40. I feel like there is a bit of a generational disconnect between me as a Millennial and my Gen Z team. What are my best moves to connect with them and support them to do their best work?
We asked Aleena Mazhar, SVP, managing director, partner at FUSE Create, to field this one:
This question resonates with me since I am close in age to you and I also manage many Gen Zers. Here are a few things that have been helpful for me.
First and foremost, always lead with authenticity. I’m proud of my Millennial-isms that make me truly me. I am candid about my life and career experiences and I like to share my learnings with Gen Z. I’ve found that they are open to hearing other perspectives and have high respect for learning and inclusion. As a leader, your first responsibility is to help them reach their goals – reminding them of that in an authentic way will help them open up to you about what they’d like to achieve.
That leads in to my second point: Gen Z’s goals are very different from what ours were at their age. They’ve grown up in a completely different world and their expectations of the workplace, society and work-life balance is different from our early experience. As leaders, we need to adapt but also be very clear about our expectations. Do you need them to stay at work until a task is done? Do you need some weekend hours from them? Do you want them to be more communicative about their schedules? Just say that. Gen Z team members may need direct guidance and instruction because work is not life for them. For example, if they know that a report is due today and they can’t log off until it’s done, they’ll understand that priority. It will also then allow for clear coaching conversations if your expectations aren’t being met.
Finally, knowing Gen Z don’t live to work is important because camaraderie and culture may not be built in the office. Understand what their passions are and connect over that. If it’s sport, head to a baseball game with the team. If it’s nature, go for a team hike. Team building may no longer happen in a boardroom with drinks afterwards, so we may need to adapt and be more flexible for the teams we have.
There are some amazing traits in Gen Z – their commitment to inclusion, their love for storytelling – and I do envy some of the balance in life that they believe in. I certainly didn’t have that when I first started in the workforce.
Our job as leaders is to help them be successful and to be clear on how we can help them reach their goals. We also need to build workplaces that adapt to their needs. Authenticity, open dialogue, clear communication and finding unique ways to build team culture will lead to a high-performing team with unique values and skill sets.
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