by Deron Johnston
A local businesswoman was honoured at the International Women’s Day Celebration held at Equinelle on Thursday evening. The theme for the evening was #pressforprogress, and it was organized by the Leeds Grenville Small Business Enterprise Centre (LGSBEC), with support from Kemptville Women in Business and the Government of Ontario.
The evening included a trade show of local women in business, cocktail hour, 3-course dinner, and a presentation by Jodi Wright, the National Manager for RBC Global Asset Management as the keynote speaker.
Jodi’s presentation was eye-opening and engaging, as she talked about the reality of women in the Canadian workforce. According to her statistics, the wage gap in Ontario is 27%, higher than many other countries in the world. “Canada is sixth from the top, as far as the gap is concerned,” she said. Although women have made many strides over the years when it comes to breaking into traditionally male roles, only six of the top 100 CEOs in Canada are women.
That being said, Jodi also noted that women are controlling more of the global wealth, starting more businesses, and driving more consumer spending than ever. Companies are realizing that they are having to target women more often, because they are the ones controlling the household finances. Strides are also being made when it comes to equal pay, with pay equity legislation being proposed in the government.
“We need to understand where we are, where we want to go, and how we’re going to get there,” Jodi told the audience, tapping into the evening’s #pressforprogress theme.
Jodi also encouraged the women in the room to get involved in investing and to seek out a financial advisor to help manage their money and plan for their future. “Nine in ten women would rather shop for a bathing suit than meet with a financial planner,” she said. “Confidence builds with knowledge and money, and knowledge is power.”
Jodi’s presentation was a great part of the evening, but the highlight came at the end of the celebration. Every year, the LGSBEC honours one woman in business with a Lifetime Achievement award for their achievements as a business leader in the community.
This year, the honour fell to North Grenville’s Cathy Sheppard, who has been the owner of Sheppard and Associates in Kemptville for the past 34 years. She has grown her business from a home office, to a staff of over thirteen women. Sheppard and Associates manages a roster of around 3,000 clients, which includes corporate, personal, and U.S. businesses.
Cathy supports many local charities, including the Kemptville Youth Centre, the Kemptville Snowmobile Klub, Jumpstart, women’s shelters, and the food drive in North Grenville. She also knits toques and mitts for the Ottawa Mission.
“It is our pleasure to present Cathy with this award,” Wendy Onstein from LGBEC said, as she handed Cathy her trophy. MPP Steve Clark was also there to present Cathy with a certificate and congratulations from himself and MP Gord Brown.
Cathy was clearly overwhelmed, and very thankful for the honour. She got up to accept the award from a table full of her staff from Sheppard and Associates, who were all beaming. “I want to thank everybody,” Cathy said. “I care a lot about this community, and I want to lead you all into equality and success in your careers.”