Honouring the Women Who Have Shaped our Organization
We are a woman-majority team here at Phil, because of the special space that our CEO and founder, Kim Fuller has cultivated at work. The women of Phil are heard, respected, uplifted, and most of all, provided opportunities to lead. From both anecdotal and statistical experience, it is clear that gender diversity in leadership is an essential part of an effective team. For Women’s History Month, we don’t have to prove that women can do great things when given the opportunity – it’s a fact.
The wonder women of Phil tackle each communications and fundraising challenge with a deep understanding of intersectionality: women are more than a gender. Women are incredibly smart, diligent, and loving. Women are Black, Indigenous, queer, disabled, and more. Women are leaders, family members, and volunteers in the community. Our intersecting, diverse perspectives are essential to building stronger communities and more equitable programs, systems and organizations.
To celebrate Women’s History Month, our team discussed what gender equity means to them.
The Women Who Make Phil Tick
Kim is a leader with a warm, strong spirit. She knows that work-life balance is difficult for a lot of women: statistics show that 69% of women employees claim society pressures them to put their career aside for the sake of their family. Unique to Kim is her human understanding of the unpaid care women engage in outside of work, and she makes sure that Phil offers flexibility so women can feel purposeful without having to sacrifice in other areas of life.
Kim explains, “Starting Phil was one of the best things I ever did. What turned out to be a self-serving way for me to carve my own career in a field and sector that I love, ended up providing a space for others to do the same. We have cultivated a company that celebrates women every day, not just March 8th!”
Today there still exists deep structural biases that keep women from positions of leadership in the social, non-profit sector. Despite modest progress, women with intersecting identities are still drastically underrepresented in corporate and non-profit leadership roles. Stephanie, our Communications Director, speaks to how her first female boss motivated her and encouraged her to take command in her role despite these pervasive biases.
“I started off my career in a very male-dominated environment. As a first-generation Canadian, I grew up surrounded by strong women, and wondered why I wasn’t exposed to more female leaders in my professional life. Then at 28, I started working for a woman. I was inspired by how she treated others, how she balanced her career and her family, and how she handled being the only woman in a boardroom full of men. She also saw potential in me and pushed me to grow, take charge, and lead.”
Creating an environment that celebrates and includes gender diverse identities is key to breaking the bias. Our Account Director Alaina finds that the workplace culture at Phil allows her to flourish and reach her highest potential, both personally and professionally.
“I have been encouraged to share my ideas and feedback openly – and the amazing thing is that I have consistently felt listened to and appreciated for adding my two cents. This openness and welcoming environment exists at Phil because a space has been created with purpose where my voice as a woman is valued.”
Every member of the team brings unique knowledge, and this space encourages the sharing of big picture ideas. For instance, Aurelia, our Strategic Advisor, pays close attention to systemic issues, applying her studies of critical race theory and intersectionality into her everyday work.
“My background as a researcher, embedding critical race theory and intersectionality in my previous academic work, means I can put into practice what I’ve learned, now in the context of not-for-profits. Recently, we supported the Conseil Québecois LGBT with their communications plan, and it was very important to them that we worked with an intersectional lens. By the end, the client felt understood and had the tools to effectively communicate their mission to different stakeholders.”
Amélie, our Art Director, brings to the table an amazing ability to weave in elements supporting justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion into her designs for our clients. She knows that including all people and constantly unlearning settler-colonialist perspectives is what makes her designs purposeful and authentic.
“I keep post-it notes around my monitor that have tips for justice-centred work, so that it is always top of mind when I start designing. I’ve deeply studied Indigenous communities in Canada and their history, beliefs and worldviews. It definitely helps me make better design choices for our Indigenous-led clients.”
Above all, our team consistently returns to a purpose-centered mindset, knowing that breaking gender stereotypes does not equal rejecting masculine or feminine approaches to work; instead, we keep our focus on advancing our mission to change the world.
What happens when an organization puts its values of diversity, equity, and inclusion to action?
Including the voices and lived experiences of Black, Indigenous, and other racialized groups, LGBTQIA2S+ people, and people with disabilities benefits everyone. Again, companies with higher levels of gender, ethnic, and cultural diversity are more likely to outperform their less diverse peers. This is because the major qualities that characterize diverse and inclusive companies are innovation and resilience: when you have a wider range of representation on your team, in which diversity is authentically celebrated, there are bound to be unique and exciting ideas to play with. Inclusion breeds hope, inspiration, and community.
As Kim puts it, “In welcoming other people’s diversity, we recognize and celebrate our own diversity. In aiming for equity, we learn what it means to be fair to ourselves. In being inclusive, we gain a sense of belonging.”
Regardless of your identity, we are all impacted by systemic racism, discrimination, and injustice. It takes self-criticism and self-skepticism to put the values of equity and diversity into action. Katherine, our expert in Fundraising and Communications, believes that the Phil team has a gut-driven desire to self-analyze and improve, and that is what makes us a special, successful company.
“When everyone feels valued for what they bring to the table the organization can grow stronger together. By bringing a diversity of voices, we are broadening our knowledge, which will benefit society as a whole.”
When all women have access to positions of leadership, priorities and value-alignment are communicated in a different way.
Alaina says, “There is a feeling of shared strength in achieving goals. Women bring different lived experiences to the table as leaders and remind those making decisions that there is inherent value in diverse perspectives – be they gendered, cultural, religious, ability, sexual, political, and more.”
A major piece of actualizing gender inclusion in the workplace is rallying behind equal pay for women. In Canada, women make .89 cents of every dollar men make.
Amélie explains, “Women in leadership ensure that everyone has a voice and is respected. It also means that you get paid for the job you do, not who you are, and that the most qualified person gets recognition for their hard work.”
Women’s equality for all
As a feminist business, we can see first-hand the outcomes of women’s equality, and how it can positively impact others.
Aurelia says, “We might not realize it at first, but when women’s equality is achieved, everyone will benefit from it. Having diverse leadership (whether that be gender, race, age, language, ability, or leadership style) results in more innovation and new approaches that directly contribute to our work with clients.”
Globally, there is still a long journey ahead for women’s equality and justice. This Women’s History Month, the women behind Phil are rediscovering our great achievements, and at the same time we are thinking critically about how best to tackle systemic gender inequities in the years to come.
Kim says, “Women don’t want to be in leadership roles to rule, they want to improve the communities they live in. More women in leadership is the best way to reduce marginalization and inequality, and we’re starting to see that all over the world.”