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‘Only when we share our stories will we continue to learn from each other and improve’: Intl Womxn’s Week Ottawa

Intl Womxn’s Week Ottawa speaker encourages female entrepreneurs to accept 3 challenges

Sheena Brady speaks at International Womxn's Week Ottawa
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International Womxn’s Week is in full swing in Ottawa where female founders and funders from all different sectors share their stories and learnings to inspire others in a solid, supportive environment.

Sheena Brady, International Womxn's Week Ottawa
Sheena Brady

“It is only that if we share our stories that we continue to learn from each other and continue to improve” — Sheena Brady

In partnership with Invest Ottawa, International Womxn’s Week began on Monday and runs through March 9 with workshops, panels, and keynotes with the brightest in business.

It is no secret that women and men have different ways of conducting business and each have their own hurdles to jump through.

For women entrepreneurs, many of these hurdles, such as unconscious bias, fly under the radar of the average investor.

However, Sheena Brady, Founder of the Founders Fund Presented by Tease Tea and Merchant Success Team Lead at Shopify, encouraged all women in business to accept three unique challenges that she believes will help fund more female-led startups.

  1. Demonstrate allyship
  2. Check your unconscious bias
  3. Share your story

Here’s what Brady had to say about each challenge for women in business (you can find her talk in the below video starting at 1:01:51).

Demonstrate Allyship

“Demonstrating allyship,” Brady began.

“This extends to not just women entrepreneurs, but women in business. It is all of our responsibility to step-up and help mentor and coach and support and nominate women for opportunities.

“The confidence barrier is very, very real” — Sheena Brady

“If you see an opportunity that you think a woman would be exceptional for, tell her, and say, ‘I think you should apply for this opportunity,’ or, ‘I think you should go after this opportunity because you are exceptional at X.’

“The confidence barrier is very, very real.

“There’s data that shows if a job post is opened, a man who only has 60 percent of the credentials will still apply and just go for it. And that’s awesome. That’s what we should all do.

“But women feel like they have to have 100 percent of all the requirements before they even apply.”

Despite this, she added, “women are statistically more likely to get hired.”

Check your unconscious bias

While many may view gender bias as always coming from men and being directed at women, women, too are sometimes unconsciously bias against their own gender as well.

“Check your unconscious bias” — Sheena Brady

“We tend to naturally associate ourselves with people who look like us and people who think like us, and that is, at the core, a huge challenge with [un]conscious bias, so I ask you to check that,” said Brady.

Nita Tandon
Nita Tandon

Sometimes, the unconscious bias has humorous results.

In the captivating panel that immediately followed Brady’s inspiring talk, Nita Tandon, Founder and CEO of Dalcini Stainless elaborated on what unconscious bias can look like when it happens between two women.

“We all have it. I’ll give an example. It happen with me as well,” she said.

“My first shipment was coming from India, and I started my business out of my home. And the shipment arrives.

“Driver comes out and knocks on my door and says, ‘I’m here looking for the CEO,’ and I said, ‘Oh, that’s me,’ and I looked at her and I said, ‘You’re the transport driver?’

“She was a woman driving this massive truck, and, she said, ‘Yes!’ so we both gave each other a high five and said let’s do this!”

“But I, too, had an unconscious bias, and so I think we all have it,” Tandon added.

Share your story

Storytelling is a powerful tool. A well-told story of personal struggle, failure, or perseverance can inspire others to challenge themselves and give them confidence that they, too, can make a positive change in the world.

“Tell your family. Tell your friends. Tell your network… Tell the world!” — Sheena Brady

“If you had a positive impact in your life as a woman entrepreneur or women in business, tell your family. Tell your friends. Tell your network,” said Brady.

“Why? So that they may be inspired to step up and do the same.

“If you are a woman who has started a business, whether it was a huge success or a failure, or a combination of both along the way, tell the world!

“It is only that if we share our stories that we continue to learn from each other and continue to improve,” Brady concluded.

Disclosure: This article includes a client of an Espacio portfolio company.

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Tim Hinchliffe
Tim Hinchliffe is the editor of The Sociable. His passions include writing about how technology impacts society and the parallels between Artificial Intelligence and Mythology. Previously, he was a reporter for the Ghanaian Chronicle in West Africa and an editor at Colombia Reports in South America. tim@sociable.co