An interview with Carmela Thomson

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Today we have the pleasure to hear from Carmela Thomson co-lead of BWT (Corporate Services and Sustainability Director from Telus).

What does gender parity mean to you? Fairness across overall sectors of diversity with a focus on competency, capability and commitment to be prepared for responsibility.  Equality is not the target.  The key underlying issue is to shift the paradigm to where every individual feels that they can develop their competency and capabilities to contribute and compete fairly in the marketplace and as a citizen of the world.

Recent studies predict that global gender parity won’t be achieved within our lifetime. A scary thought?  Yes this is a scary thought to me as this tells me that, as a society, our minds are not yet open to fully accept and believe in the capabilities of the individual regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, beliefs or sexual orientation.  This should not deter us from doing what we can as individuals and as a collective to try to accelerate global and local gender parity.

 Gender equality isn’t only for women – what can men do to help? Absolutely men can help in this journey and many want to help.  At TELUS many male leaders want to be part of this dialogue, however, they don’t always know how to make the best impact in this regard.  We jointly need to better explore the conversations and actions that will be the most impactful in bringing men into the dialogue. In addition, as a mother of two young men, I try to demonstrate the importance of gender parity/fairness by leading by example, define what respect and parity/fairness means to me and hope that they take the foundation that my partner and I have laid into their adult lives.  We need to ensure that we prepare the next generation of men and women with tools, opportunities and the mindset to also accelerate global and local gender parity and fairness. We’re all in this together.

In line with International Women’s Day and their Pledge for Parity, will you be making a pledge to promote gender-balanced leadership? My pledge to promote gender-balanced and fair leadership starts with me and my own sphere of influence and energy.  My commitment is to create opportunities for women and men from forward thinking organizations to come together to network, discuss and determine meaningful actions that we can bring back to our organizations and our communities.  My means to deliver on my pledge is through leading BWT (Bringing Women Together) Network and lead by example in my workplace, my home and in my community.

What contribution can non-leaders make towards achieving gender-balanced leadership? Everyone leads as individuals and has the capability of making positive changes.  We can all make a pledge to respect and allow fairness and opportunity for all, across all diversity segments.

Which of the other pledge topics resonate with you?  They all have value, for sure.  Two others the resonate with me are: Create inclusive, flexible cultures and Value everyone’s contributions equally. These seem to speak to the “we are all in this together” philosophy that I feel very strongly about.

What do you see happening in the workplace around gender?  I see that gender in the workplace will have its own path as well as being part of the larger diversity discussion that is so important in terms of ensuring that the dialogue around gender is not marginalized in the absence of the bigger picture.  I do see pockets of change and acceptance with respect to gender in the workplace, however, the deeper change needs to come from influencing the thoughts, behaviors, beliefs and actions through the next generation of men and women.  Opportunities need to be made available to both men and women and across diversity sectors in a manner that focusses on everyone’s ability to be capable contributors. Having a government demonstrating in very visible ways that they support gender parity can only positively influence gender parity across workplaces.  We’re very fortunate in Canada to have such a government.

 Are quotas useful? Quotas as guidelines and a means to motivate gender parity has a place.  However, quotas for the sake of quotas, without quality, capabilities and responsibility may influence the opposite affect to gender parity and fairness.

What would bring us closer to gender parity? Belief in overall diversity, believing in the capabilities of the individual and providing a mindset of hope, fairness and respect to our sons and daughters so they have the toolbox to pay it forward to their peers and each new generation.

Thank you Carmela for taking the time.  Remember only 19 days for the Marquee event. Get your tickets now!

Coming up next week: Find out who our speakers and panelist are.

All the best

Steph Redivo (co-lead Social Media)

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About BWTVancouver

Bringing Women Together is an event organized voluntarily by a group of women from various professional backgrounds in the Vancouver, BC, area looking to inspire leadership and networking opportunities among peers in their community.
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