Canadian Occupational Safety

May/June 2020

Canadian Occupational Safety (COS) magazine is the premier workplace health and safety publication in Canada. We cover a wide range of topics ranging from office to heavy industry, and from general safety management to specific workplace hazards.

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Page 32 of 35 33 and more welcoming space for women in the sector. Our interviewees highlighted this piece as one of the standout moments of the event. Many women starting out their careers in the sector are looking to more established figures to help guide them. Sukdhoe says, "I spoke about many of my personal stories; and after my panel, I had so many women come up to me and say 'Wow, I felt that you were telling my story.'" Our cover stars each impressed the importance of mentorship, although the concept is not entirely a woman's task; men were largely present at the conference and are an essential part of the effort not only to learn about best practices but also to help inspire women to join the field. Benay explained that WOHSS has created a mentorship program and that male colleagues are invited to participate so that they can better understand a woman's experience in the workplace. Benson adds: "I'd say that we're dominated the conference. One thing that each of our interviewees highlighted were qualities that women are uniquely able to bring to the table in the safety sector; although the ultimate aim is that it is important to shine a spotlight on what makes women such essential players in the field. Sukdhoe says that "women display a lot of qualities that are very important in this role. People want to be able to connect with you." Benson tells a similar story. "Safety still has that stigma of being a safety cop or a safety officer, and I think that women bring that nurturing spirit to the table in those cases. What it comes down to is building trust. Being vulnerable in a professional setting has long been taboo… My focus is always on building those connections and establishing trust so [workers] feel comfortable speaking to me — I think that really bridges some of those gaps that we've seen." Benay concurs. "What we want is the same opportunity, but we need to embrace the fact that we're different, we bring some great qualities to the workplace." She continues, "It should be wonderful to be a woman in safety, and if it's not, we need to make it be." Guiding young hopefuls The topic of mentorship got a lot of traction during the event. There is a genuine desire to help each other out and to work together to create a fairer "You have to be twice as good and twice as smart. It's a shame that we are not given the privilege of making mistakes and being forgiven for them." Stephanie Benay, director of safety system & assurance at BC Hydro moving in the right direction. We see the men there supporting the women." Indeed, it is important for men to be a part of such an important conversation, as gender-based progress cannot solely be carried by women. This is an ever-growing conversation that needs to be constantly held by men and women. All specialists need to be involved to push forward topics that need to be faced and to find solutions that affect everyone in the space. Networking for success Another hugely popular part of the WIS event was the networking opportunities. One of her favourite parts of the day, says Benson, was hearing people so empowered and inspired during the networking breaks. "Seeing the level of engagement — I'd not really seen that before at a conference. It made my heart happy!" She continues: "I was surprised, I would say that I'm in a younger demographic and I had a lot of women WIS was hosted on March 5, 2020, at Delta Calgary Downtown The event featured 23 speakers across nine talks and panels throughout the day Dr. Johanna Pagonis, owner of Sinogap Solutions Leadership Consulting, was our keynote speaker and spoke about the importance of developing a personal leadership style Women in Safety Calgary has been accredited for seven Continuing Professional Development hours for CPHRs across Alberta WOMEN IN SAFETY KEY FACTS

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