Morrison Hershfield staff celebrated International Women’s (IWD) with a company-wide “Choose to Challenge” virtual event. We examined what the IWD 2021 theme means to us and what we are doing and can do, as an organization and as individuals, to challenge gender bias and inequity, celebrate women’s achievements, and build momentum toward achieving an inclusive world.
The interactive session began with a few words from our President & CEO Anthony Karakatsanis, “I’m very inspired by the opportunity to challenge the bias and inequity that exists in our world, and to work together with our Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council and all staff to develop solutions for our firm and the industry that promote equity and inclusion.“
The focus of the session was this year’s “Choose To Challenge” theme, and how our individual and collective thoughts and actions can make a difference. We want to make a difference by raising our own levels of awareness and understanding, driving positive change and modelling the right behaviors. As an engineering firm, we have many women who have faced and overcome challenges throughout their careers, and we wanted to hear from them. We also wanted to give women and men across the company the opportunity to ask questions and share their ideas on how we can accelerate change.
Our COO and trail blazer Catherine Karakatsanis shared her inspiring story of building a successful career in engineering by consistently and constructively choosing to challenge. She noted that she relied heavily on her own strength and resiliency but feels fortunate that she was supported and felt valued at Morrison Hershfield and by the engineering profession.
In Catherine’s words “International Women’s Day is a day of celebration, but it is also a call to action. We have come a long way, but we still have work to do. I look forward to the day when International Women’s Day is JUST a day of celebration.” She stressed that women need men as allies, and acknowledged that in her experience, they want gender parity as much as women do. “We need their active enrollment, their involvement, support and voice.”
Staff also shared their experiences and insights about how we can all help each other become Change Champions. One participant commented that the chain of women leadership in her department, right up to the executive level, played a large role in her choosing to join Morrison Hershfield. She believes that keeping the gender dynamics top of mind in our management structures and corporate leadership will influence other people’s decisions to join.
Some of the male participants noted their appreciation for the gender intelligence training rolling out across the company. It has helped them to consciously consider different ways of approaching situations, and they are now looking for ways to leverage these differences and strengthen their teams.
IWD is a global day of awareness that has been celebrated for well over a century. It is an important day for Morrison Hershfield to reflect on our responsibility to celebrate and advocate for our female colleagues and act. This is critical in our drive to provide a more inclusive employee experience for current and future generations of employees.
A special shout out to all the talented and dedicated women at Morrison Hershfield, and to their supporters. Together, we #ChooseToChallenge to eliminate bias and accelerate equity and inclusivity for all.