Live & Work

March 8 2019

Gastown and International Women’s Day 2019

 

This year’s INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY campaign theme is #BalanceforBetter encouraging all people everywhere to help build a gender-balanced world.

International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, while also marking a call to action for accelerating gender balance.

We spoke with six influential Gastown women who are making considerable waves in the neighbourhood and far beyond out into a world where the future (and the present) is most certainly female.

Gaby Bayona
Founder – Truvelle Bridal

 

How do you try to create gender balance in your workplace?

Truvelle’s never tried to create a gender balance. We’ve always aimed to hire cool people with great work ethic/personality, and who genuinely like the product we make. The long term goal for gender balance is for it to not be an issue but rather for people to truly see females and males on an equal plane.

 

Balance is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue. What does this statement mean to you?

Women weren’t born the problem. The problem was the society we were born into. Just like how it’s up to society to progress into equality, business need to do the same.

 

Gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive. Do you see/have you experienced this balance in Gastown (at least in some way), and if so, to what positive effect?

Yes! Just look at all the amazing women running businesses in Gastown right now. All of those storefronts would be empty, if not for them.

 

As a successful business woman in Gastown, what would you say to aspiring women working towards succeeding in a world moving towards greater gender balancing in all parts of life? 

If people don’t take you seriously because you’re a girl, don’t let it get you down. Instead, use it as a challenge to prove everybody wrong.

Bon Roberts
Co-Founder/Artist – Goldmoss Gastown Studio

 

How do you try to create gender balance in your workplace?

The Goldmoss Gastown studio operates because we never have to think about this. Imbalance for us would be like debating how the sun equals the moon. We wouldn’t know where to start, therefore thankfully, it just is.

 

Balance is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue. What does this statement mean to you?

Balance is everything. It permeates all beings, and everything we breath life into. Unfortunately, many abuse the obvious, so balance is unfortunately a women’s issue, a mans issue, and a business issue.

 

Gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive. Do you see/have you experienced this balance in Gastown (at least in some way), and if so, to what positive effect?

Gastown has always been in my blood. It’s a unique environment that is incredibly diverse. Today, the boundaries of both tolerance and intolerance are being tested, and like all communities, we need to respect one another by upholding the value of equality for all.

 

As a successful business woman in Gastown, what would you say to aspiring women working towards succeeding in a world moving towards greater gender balancing in all parts of life?

Outgrowing and moving past feminism, gender preference, and emulation of male roles in the work place, is a place we all know to be real and attainable; it’s staring us in the face. An awakening within the workplace is coming into being, and hopefully the days of men who’s main focus is about how much money they can make will shift, allowing us to focus on working together on world issues.

Alexis Cooper
Media & Communications – Coquille Fine Seafood/L’abattoir

 

How do you try to create gender balance in your workplace?

We run restaurants, and kitchens are still predominantly male-run.I think it’s so important to call out our incredible women that work amongst the guys and are paving the way for more women to dive into this career path.  Our Executive Pastry Chef (and my sister), Hilary Prince, is our longest standing employee with both restaurants and is an example to our young female leaders. Our small-but-mighty Sous Chef, Mygem Bernabe at Coquille is a force to be reckoned with.

Outside of the kitchen the majority of our leadership teams are made up of women from our L’Abattoir Private Dining Room Sales Manager, Lainey Cuff, to our L’Abattoir General Manger and Wine Director, Kristi Linneboe, to our Coquille Sommelier and Assistant Manager, Samantha Ross, to our newly promoted Social Media and Marketing Coordinator, Shannon Martell among others.

We don’t choose our team members based on gender, we choose them based on their skill sets and if they are the right fit for the role. What we are seeing, is more and more highly skilled, driven women in this industry, as well as women that we want to elevate within our business based on their own personal drive and work ethic. And the latter is something I will personally get behind every time.

 

Balance is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue. What does this statement mean to you?

In my current state of life this statement means everything me. I’m a mother of 2 small children trying to balance my career, our family, and the needs of the businesses (which are like 2 additional families.).  It’s not up to women to create balance, it’s up to businesses to understand the needs of 21st century employees and create work places that team members can find balance within, regardless of their life circumstances. Gone are the days of desk jobs and pensions, it’s about flexibility and creating an efficient and productive workplace for changing circumstances.

 

Gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive. Do you see/have you experienced this balance in Gastown (at least in some way), and if so, to what positive effect?

In my opinion women and men will always bring a different perspective and way of thinking to the table. I think that is obvious in all businesses and communities.  Gastown has a long history with a lot of men at the forefront but Gastown today is a very different place with a lot of incredible women working alongside men with a shared goal of giving this neighbourhood the character we see here today.

 

As a successful business woman in Gastown, what would you say to aspiring women working towards succeeding in a world moving towards greater gender balancing in all parts of life?

Keep at it ladies! It’s absolutely inspiring to watch other successful women in business at all levels of their careers.  While we still have some inequality in our society, I personally have encountered a lot leaders, both men and women who take the time to help mentor and provide guidance for young women and girls to help elevate them in their careers and aspirations.  The most important thing is removing any barriers for women in the work force. That starts with teaching our children that equality is the norm in all aspects of life, and that equality isn’t even a debate but a way of life for the next generation. In the meantime, women in business should, and often do, lead by example.

Sara Moshurchak
Founder/Owner/Designer  – Mosh Designs

 

How do you try to create gender balance in your workplace?

I don’t actively think about it.  I believe that treating everyone with respect and kindness regardless of their gender, race or economic background is the way I want to walk through my life.

 

Balance is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue. What does this statement mean to you? 

As a small business owner, I’m able to set the values for my business and to make sure that my employees feel valued and supported while being able make a good living. I try to foster an environment where everyone feels like they are playing to their strengths and where they feel inspired to grow professionally and personally. And, if I can inspire other women to someday own their own business, then that makes me happy!

 

Gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive. Do you see/have you experienced this balance in Gastown (at least in some way), and if so, to what positive effect? 

Yes!  Gastown is full of other female entrepreneurs, female creatives, and female executive directors.  There is a group of women down here who can relate to the same ups and downs as me, which has been so powerful in helping me grow from failures and celebrate successes!

 

As a successful business woman in Gastown, what would you say to aspiring women working towards succeeding in a world moving towards greater gender balancing in all parts of life?

Build a diverse network of support and find a mentor.  Figure out not only what you want to ‘do’ but who do you want to ‘be’.

Nancy Bendtsen
CEO – Inform Interiors

 

How do you try to create gender balance in your workplace?

I do not. I look at a good employee, not gender or any other differentiation.

 

Balance is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue. What does this statement mean to you?

Of course this is true, we all need balance, but I feel that “women’s issues” continues the differentiation that I am against.

 

Gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive. Do you see/have you experienced this balance in Gastown (at least in some way), and if so, to what positive effect?

I have not, in my present position with Inform, experienced any imbalance.

 

As a successful business woman in Gastown, what would you say to aspiring women working towards succeeding in a world moving towards greater gender balancing in all parts of life?

Live your passion, be true and honest and kind, and f**k those who don’t get it.

Let me share a quote that’s apropos:

Always there are things worth fighting for. Dreams worth striving for. Friends worth keeping. Strangers worth helping. Lovers worth loving. People worth forgiving. Never stop looking inside yourself for what you are really meant to do. Never stop looking around you for what needs doing. Shake the hand that helps you and offer your hand to help others. Go out the door each morning with your dreams on the tip of your brain and thankfulness in your heart. Want these things. Live for love.

Sabrine Dhaliwal
National Brand Ambassador – Belvedere Vodka & Hennessy Cognac
Bartender at Pourhouse

 

How do you try to create gender balance in your workplace?

Creating gender balance in the workplace is not as difficult as one may think. It is as simple as allowing your employees to have a voice. Men and women have different ways of approaching challenges and projects, and thus, having different ways of solving them; by listening to everyone’s voice, we are better able to have creative and more effective solutions.

 

Balance is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue. What does this statement mean to you?

It’s more than a business issue, it’s a life and well-being issue. I’ve had my share of moments of when I’ve said, ‘No problem, I’m happy to do it, or cover for you, or take that off your plate, etc, etc’. I’ve placed unnecessary pressure and stress on myself because I felt that was what was required to be considered successful. I had to be busy, on somebody else schedule, not my own to be successful.

It’s a well-being and life issue because it was only once I started saying ‘No’ and putting myself first did I start feeling successful and start seeing my successes, taking the time to step back and celebrate, even small successes are often paramount.

Once I found a balance that worked for me, everything else fell into place. Balance is more than work/life balance as we need to balance the ‘me time’, ‘family time’ ‘friends time’ and the ‘business/work time’. Great businesses recognize and understand the value of balance, thus attracting great talent and the cycle of business success and growth continues.

 

Gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive. Do you see/have you experienced this balance in Gastown (at least in some way), and if so, to what positive effect?

Gender balance is essential for economic prosperity. How can a community or neighbourhood flourish if it denies half its citizens? (paraphrasing Michelle Obama here). Gastown is a community with women in all aspects of business, from the front lines to managers, wine directors and business owners. Many of these businesses are continually giving back to the community,  through donations and hiring practices. East Van Roasters is one of Gastown’s business that provides on the job training for women re-entering the workforce. Empowering women has a lasting effect, and the potential is endless when we develop and nurture all of our citizens.

 

As a successful woman working in Gastown, what would you say to aspiring women working towards succeeding in a world moving towards greater gender balancing in all parts of life?

Keep trying and keep moving forward. Mistakes will be made and there will many success and many failures. Learn from both. Continue to ask yourself: How can I improve this, how can this be more effective and more efficient?Celebrate your successes and more importantly celebrate the successes of your peers and colleagues. Surround yourself with like-minded people who have the same values, ethics and morals as you do. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and never sell yourself short.