A panel on women in leadership was held in the Bronfman building on Tuesday, organized by Management students Ralph Jeanbart and Stéphanie Elsliger-Garant. The panel featured many prominent executives from Montreal’s business sector, the majority of them women.
Students gathered to hear the panel optimistically project the future of leadership roles for women. Panelists agreed that women have gradually become more important players in the business world, and that their roles will only increase in time. Ingrid Langlois, Director of Commercial Banking at Scotia Bank Montreal, stated that she has seen more women in prominent positions at Scotia Bank since she started her career.
“Statistically speaking,” Langlois said, “the percentage of women in managerial positions is on an upward trend.”
Yet some panelists stressed that while there certainly has been a noticeable trend of growing female leadership in the workplace, the progress is far from complete.
“There still exists an old boys club,” said Langlois.
Kirk Johnson, partner at the law firm Irving, Mitchell, Kalichman – and the only male member on the panel – pointed towards his own experience in seeing many women in his graduate class eventually opt out of the business world.
“Business is a tough, competitive place,” said Johnson, “and females are worried that they will be unable to complete.”
Panelists, however, were confident that the barriers toward women in leadership would finally be overcome by the current generation of students. Dana Ades-Landy, Senior Vice President of National Accounts at Banque Laurentienne, predicted that in twenty years talent will rise to the top, regardless of gender.
“The younger generation will accelerate the change,” said Ades-Landy.
Edith Luc, an associate professor in Psychology at HEC Montréal, agreed with Johnson, pointing toward academic scholarship that illustrates that women can help companies succeed.
Nonetheless, members of the panel stated that the change is not inevitable. They all maintained that action must be taken now by the current generation.
“You are the next leaders, it’s on your shoulders,” said Natalie Francisci, Executive Vice President at Mandrake Groupe Conseil, looking directly at the student portion of the audience.
“Women are an asset to any organization,” said Johnson.