Previously, I believed my perspective on the world was comparable to everyone else's, especially in Inclusion & Diversity.
However, after careful consideration, I now realise that my background has influenced my three views when working with clients on gender diversity issues. These approaches directly result from my experience as a leader with two genders of experience.
Allow me to elaborate on each approach and its significance.
C-Suite Executive Lens
This is my first lens, which is not unexpected, as it was my career. For 20 years, from 1999 to 2019, I held an executive title and undertook much education during this time.
As the company-wide technology function leader, I had a great responsibility. For six years, I held a second executive role in digital marketing. Even after hiring a new executive to manage sales and marketing, I continued to be involved in digital marketing conversations for the first year.
I also had an executive portfolio that involved both internal and external responsibilities. I realised the importance of Brand reputation management and learned how to develop community relationships through a systematised process of relationship building.
Although initially focused on system and process management, I expanded into income-related activities, developing new solutions and working with sales and marketing. This helped me develop a risk management approach in my client work.
Although my C-Suite career ended based on a mutual agreement and a Non-Disclosure Agreement, the lessons I learned remain valuable. I am now focused on gender diversity at the intersection of human rights, sexuality, gender, privilege, and psychological safety. These experiences have shaped my professional outlook and approach to organisational challenges.
Although it is my second lens, it is equally crucial to the first, representing a part of my identity that was cemented before I came out as transgender.
I was married for 32 years and had a daughter and a son from that relationship. I strongly believe in a woman's right to make decisions regarding her body, and my journey has only affirmed my belief that everyone should have the right to make choices that are right for them.
According to Gloria Steinman in a recent podcast interview, reproductive rights and bodily autonomy are currently the most important feminist topics, but discussions should not be limited to these issues. Pay equity is also essential, but feminists should prioritise the environment's health. We cannot exist without caring for Mother Earth, as indigenous peoples refer to the planet.
Feminism was one of the first discussions I had during my journey. When asked if I was a feminist, I was unsure what the term meant. But a few years later, I was asked to be a national leader for Women's March Canada, a feminist organisation that leads local chapters in the fight for women's rights. The organisation was founded on the principles of Feminism 4.0, which emphasises inclusion.
To date, there have been four waves of feminism. The first wave took place in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and fought for women's suffrage, property rights, and the right to education. The second wave addressed issues beyond suffrage and focused on equal pay, reproductive rights, domestic violence, and sexual harassment. The third wave aimed to broaden the scope of feminism to include the perspectives and experiences of women of different races, classes, sexual orientations, and gender identities. Finally, the fourth wave, which began in the early 2010s, uses social media to amplify the voices of marginalised groups and focuses on dismantling systemic oppression in all forms.
During my time with Women's March Canada, they taught me the importance of the four foundational pillars of Acceptance without Understanding™. These pillars are lack of access to appropriate healthcare, economic equity, lack of representation in places of power and privilege, and safety. All marginalised people, including women, are impacted by oppression in today's society, and these four areas are shared among all marginalised people.
Although I am a woman with a transgender history, my experiences as a woman have impacted me to a greater degree. Therefore, I see the world through this lens before my lens as a transgender person. This statement reflects my superpower of being one leader with two genders of experience that I use to help women and organisations.
For me, transitioning gender has been a journey of breaking down my core beliefs to transform into my authentic self. As a certified mentor, I can use this experience to help others find their authentic selves, regardless of whether they transition their gender.
The difference in how society and the corporate world treated me as a woman versus a man was a shock to my system. It made me wonder if I was blind to it before or if it was worse because of the power and privilege I experienced. However, opening my eyes to social justice issues and broadening my view of the world has helped me observe the world of business in a new light.
One vital lesson I learned early in life is to practice acceptance without understanding™ everything. I have since applied this principle to recognise and appreciate the unique aspects of my identity and better understand and accept those who are different from me. And now, I even share this valuable lesson with others.
The memories of my experiences with power and privilege are ones that I carry with me and use to uplift others in their lives and careers. I have learned to overcome the Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt that come with being a woman with a marginalised intersectional identity and move forward despite them.
This unique insight is my final lens, which pairs with understanding business, society, and human relationships to help organisations develop intentional cultures where people can feel they belong.
I possess these three lenses that I utilise to assist others. Diverse experiences and perspectives are advantageous when it comes to leadership. The flexible and adaptable use of these lenses allows for non-linear approaches to various situations. This unique ability, I refer to as "one leader with two genders," highlights the significance of acknowledging and utilising individuals' distinct strengths and perspectives to lead organisations on a journey to develop intentional cultures that promote a sense of belonging.