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Women And Trust In The Workplace

Vanessa Eaton

We’ve seen from three years of our CanTrust Index data that Canadians are a trusting bunch. Each year, we use our study as an opportunity to look deeper into important issues affecting Canadians. This year, one of those areas we explored was trust based on gender.

We asked Canadians how much they trust in male- versus female-led organizations and found that trust is higher for an organization led by a woman (at 14%) versus a man (at 4%). Those who express higher trust in a female-led organization included female respondents (17%) and those ages 18 to 24 (25%).  Also encouraging is that eight in 10 Canadians indicate they trust male and female leaders equally.

As a professional who works in a corporate environment where females are supported, promoted and in leadership roles, I look at these numbers with optimism. From our data, young Canadians – female and male – are the highest ‘trusters’ of female-led organizations; this bodes well for our future.  These results could be interpreted as young Canadians being raised to value women and gender equality. It could also indicate that young Canadians with part-time jobs or those entering the workforce have had positive experiences with female leaders or role models.

Marketing communications is one industry where women succeed and hold leadership roles – although there continues to remain room for improvement.  At Proof Inc., about two-thirds of our leadership team is comprised of women – with many balancing heavy workloads and young families.  Proof Inc. has also been ranked as a top workplace for women by The Great Places to Work Institute published by the Globe and Mail.

Evidence shows that female leaders typically show greater compassion and empathy, and have more open and collaborative negotiation and problem-solving styles.  While this is not necessarily true of all women – there are many different leadership styles – these traits are hallmarks of great leadership. And while these characteristics are not exclusively held by women, they are qualities that should be developed and rewarded to foster greater team collaboration and trust in the workplace.

As for my advice for female professionals looking to build trust and advance their careers, here are three lessons that have served me well along the way.

While these tips are equally applicable for males and females in the workplace, young women looking to begin their careers should do their research and identify companies where women are well-represented and in leadership positions.  Seek inspiration – or better yet, mentorship – from leaders who have the qualities you respect, value and trust, to guide your development.  Most importantly we need to work together to support each other and the next generation of females to reach their potential as trusted and recognized leaders in the workplace.