March 8 is International Women's Day, a global day of recognition celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and girls, and raising awareness of the work left to be done. This year's theme is Choose to Challenge—a challenged world is an alert world, and from challenge comes change.

We asked our employees what International Women’s Day means to them, and what action they will take to forge a gender equal world.

Majeski Summer round

What does International Women's Day mean to you?

It's much more than a day. It's a memory of all the brave and inspiring women that have helped pave the path forward. It's a reminder of the accomplishments but also of all the challenges, struggles and work that is still unfortunately necessary to forge the way to a truly gender equal world. It's a celebration of all the women that truly support each other, acknowledge other women's achievements, who collaborate together versus competing with each other, and to those that have each other's backs. It's a call to build each other up, empower each other and crush stereotypes and stigmas that are still systemic and so deep rooted that we don't even realize that it's there. It's a day that brings hope and tells us all that we are not defined by anyone else's limitations on us.

- Summer Majeski, Senior Project Manager

Rodrigues Andrew round

What does International Women's Day mean to you?

A day to recognize and celebrate Women’s achievements. To me, this involves acknowledging the multiple women role models within my family, personal and professional networks that have been and continue to be an inspiration to myself and many others.

- Andrew Rodrigues, Senior Project Manager

Campbell Steph round

What does International Women's Day mean to you?

For me, International Women’s Day is a time to thank all the strong, loving, inspirational people in my life for their contribution to making the world a better place for women everywhere.

What action will you take to forge a gender equal world?

I will talk about gender equality in a way that encourages continued dialogue and learning, and does not shut down the conversation.

- Steph Campbell, Senior Communications Specialist

Shihab Yamin round

What does International Women's Day mean to you?

In a constantly changing world, we have to learn to see things from different perspectives. I am proud to be working for an organization that supports gender equality and diversity in the workplace. Happy International Women’s Day!

- Yamin Shihab, Vice President

Reid Donna NEW

What does International Women's Day mean to you?

As a young woman, I was fortunate to have some great mentors. These men and women saw skills and potential in me that I didn’t realize I had. International Women’s Day is a perfect time to encourage, thank and celebrate those who help young women feel empowered and build their confidence – and to remember to always pay it forward.

- Donna Reid, Director

Cuter Romeo round

What does International Women's Day mean to you?

International Women’s Day is an opportunity to take a step back and reflect on the excellence of the women around us. We need to be empowering, encouraging, and elevating the triumphs of our mothers, daughters, sisters, and nieces not only today, but every day of the year.

What action will you take to forge a gender equal world?

Taking action is the key. It is not enough to applaud advances when they happen or when you see them. You have to be part of the solution proactively. I will consciously advance, empower and bring equity for women in the workplace and in life.

- Romeo Cuter, Vice President

Andrushchenko Olga round

What does International Women's Day mean to you?

I see Women’s Day as a reminder that we still have work to do. I am inspired by the incredible, accomplished women around me. I also recognize the challenges they had to overcome along the way.

What action will you take to forge a gender equal world?

My pledge is to lead by example and make the path a little wider for the next generation of women leaders.

- Olga Andrushchenko, Senior Project Manager/ Team Lead

Bedard Jean Stephane round

Que signifie la Journée internationale de la femme pour vous?

Que vous vous appeliez Kamala, Greta, Hilary, Farah, Malala, Serena ou Rosa, vous savez que pour vous, la route menant au sommet sera plus abrupte. Nous devons tous en être conscient et tenter de rectifier au quotidien et par chaque petit geste, cette inégalité. Et lorsque je regarde mes deux grandes filles de 17 ans, à qui le monde appartient, je m’engage tous les jours pour elles, à être ce vecteur de changement.

- Jean-Stéphane Bédard, Vice-Président

Dedier Arlene round

What does International Women's Day mean to you?

IWD is a celebration of the cultural, economic, political, and social achievements of women globally. It’s recognizing those who laid the foundations and those who continue to build opportunity for the future of women. Ultimately, it is a call to action to accelerate equality for women and girls. It means the freedom of choice and future full of possibilities.

- Arlene Dedier, Director

Sulewski Marilee round

What does International Women's Day mean to you?

I believe that this day is about resilience and opportunity for the women that have come before us, our colleagues of today and for future generations. As the mother of two daughters, I am proud to demonstrate to them what achievement can look like and teach them that opportunities are based on their capabilities, their strength, and their fortitude.

What action will you take to forge a gender equal world?

I will model the behavior that I want to see and that we all deserve in our personal and professional lives. Where individuals are respected and encouraged to contribute and thrive based on their capabilities and experience. I will encourage and advocate for the next generation of men and women so that we can all contribute to a gender equal world.

- Marilee Sulewski, Senior Project Manager

Paul Michael round

What does International Women's Day mean to you?

I want my daughter to be free to choose her career and succeed or fail on her own merits and be free from conscious or subconscious gender bias.

What action will you take to forge a gender equal world?

As a leader I’m committed to promoting an environment where everyone regardless of gender or race feels comfortable and fairly treated in comparison to their peers and that I will continue to listen to stories to understand how I can better serve my team. I was reminded of a good quote last week: “You need friction to get traction”. I see a gender and race equal world where everyone can share their opinions and thoughts. Sometimes those thoughts or approaches will cause friction but we will all be better for it once we work our way through to solve that issue and move forward. We need different perspectives to continually improve ourselves and those around us.

- Michael Paul, Vice President

Cravioto Amanda round

What does International Women's Day mean to you?

It is a reminder that our voices as women matter. It is a ‘tribe call’ we receive as a reminder to keep working towards gender equality, not only to the benefit of our daughters and the future world; but a commitment we have to honour the memory of all those beautiful souls like Viola Desmond, Frida Kahlo, Ruth Bader, Sally Ride, Malala Yousafzai, Susan B. Anthony, etc. who have fought for it and paved the road where we are right now.

What action will you take to forge a gender equal world?

I believe this begins at home. My commitment is educating my son and my daughter, teaching them that there is no better gender. We are all equal and there are no specific roles. We are a team, and we all work together and support each other to achieve our dreams and goals.

- Amanda Cravioto, Project Manager

Hiotakis Stelios round

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

I see this day as an opportunity to celebrate women's contribution to our lives, our society and to the world. I also remember that this is but one day in the commitment we all need to make to be deliberate and consistent about seeking out opportunities to provide women with career options and related conditions for reaching their full potential. Women have been overcoming several prejudices relating to their gender in the workplace and beyond. More action is required to reach a true level of equality, respect, and diversity.

- Stelios Hiotakis, Senior Vice President

Craig Bonita round

What does International Women's Day mean to you?

We have a long way to go. More than 80% of both men and women hold gender-biased views against women.

What action will you take to forge a gender equal world?

Small, every day actions tackling unconscious bias and gendered assumptions.

For example:

  1. When talking about a vacant role, correcting the conversation from… “We’ll need him to be…” to “We’ll need them to be…”
  2. Recognizing differences in communication styles and facilitating inclusive conversations. Summed up best in one of my all time favourite research pieces by Deborah Tannen "Who gets heard and why" from way back in 1995.
  3. Swapping pronouns in my kids’ storybooks from ‘The construction worker lifted his powerful shovel” to ‘her powerful shovel’ or ‘the unicorn pranced under her favourite rainbow’ to ‘his favourite rainbow’.
  4. Blind review of resumes (name is hidden).
  5. Charitable donations for women and girls lacking equal rights in many countries (Because I am a Girl Fund). We have it good in Canada.
  6. Promoting the great work from Rotman Institute for Gender and the Economy like this insight on the gender gap in STEM.

- Bonita Craig, Director