On the evening of April 4th, over 400 high profile government and business leaders gathered under one roof to celebrate, acknowledge and recognize excellence in the Canadian communications industry. It comes as no surprise that CBC/Radio-Canada was leading the way.
The Canadian Women in Communications (CWC) Gala is an annual event attended by the “who’s who” of the Canadian communications world, where the best in the industry are honoured for their leadership, diversity commitment and excellence.
This year was special. Not just because CBC/Radio-Canada was awarded the 2011 Employer Excellence Award, but because it is the first time an award recognizing excellence in a niche category – that is, ‘Change Champion’– has been given out. It may come as a surprise, but many organizations have yet to meet equity benchmarks when it comes to women‘s progression and presence in leadership roles – something that was pointed out by many leaders during the course of the evening.
By being the first recipient of the Employer Excellence Award ‘Change Champion’ category, CBC/Radio-Canada has set the bar high. We not only surpass the industry standard when it comes to gender diversity, but also showcase women’s leadership in non-traditional roles. We are also proud to boast an equal representation of women in our Senior Executive Team – one of whom, Kirstine Stewart (Executive Vice- President of CBC/Radio-Canada’s English Services), was herself named the ‘Woman of the Year’ by CWC in 2010. These ongoing accolades (among many others) bear testimony to CBC/Radio-Canada’s unwavering commitment to diversity, leadership and excellence – of which women form an obvious and integral part.
Rarely would the Fairmont Chateau Laurier, Ottawa, have experienced Indian Bollywood dancing as an opening act to a high-profile gala event. It was both refreshing and innovative. The evening went on to include an interesting mix of diversity in its decor, sounds (jazz, Indian, modern), presenters and award recipients. The fact that Canadian Women in Communications (CWC) chose to mark its 20th anniversary with a conscious effort to showcase cultural diversity throughout the event – in details big and small – is a clear acknowledgement of evolving times and the changing face of Canada.
What struck me particularly was when Italian-Canadian award recipient, Carmela Laurignano (Vice- President and Radio Group Manager, Evanov Communications. Inc.), mentioned that it was the first time her name had been pronounced correctly in an official event, and that attitudes and awareness had obviously come a long way. While the audience burst into laughter, there seemed to be a collective sense of acknowledgment of the ground that has been covered, even if the journey was not over.
The two tables hosted by CBC/Radio-Canada were diversely populated as well – French and English representation, a great mix of senior leadership (women comprising of four vice-presidents, six senior directors, three on-air hosts and one producer-coordinator), as well as a young diverse women like myself. This made me realize that CBC/Radio-Canada is truly committed to walking the talk. This commitment was further demonstrated by the fact that senior leaders took out the time from their busy schedules to be a part of this landmark evening acknowledging gender diversity: the President, Hubert T. Lacroix, accepted the award and the Executive Vice-President English Services (Kirstine Stewart) and Executive Vice-President French Services (Sylvain Lafrance) each hosted the tables respectively.
The end… and the beginning
Even though I was sad to see such an inspirational evening come to an end (yes, mine was the last coat remaining at the coat-check), I can only hope that this is just the beginning of positive changes to come in the area of gender diversity in organizations big or small. I also wait for the day when awards of this nature will no longer be needed.
As for us, in many ways our journey is only beginning as we continue to strive to be an employer of choice that attracts and retains the best, brightest and most diverse talent. Here’s to the future!
- Saumya Gautam, Senior Consultant, Recruitment Branding & Talent Acquisition, CBC/Radio-Canada