Expert panel to examine how successful women balance work and family

TORONTO, March 8, 2012―Broad Reach Communications President Andrea Lekushoff will participate in an expert panel discussion today on women, work, and family at the Richard Ivey School of Business (Ivey). Invited to share her insights on these topics with Ivey Honors Business Administration (HBA) students, she will be one of five panelists at the school’s innovative Women in Leadership course today.

Ivey’s Women in Leadership course debates many of the hard questions that will help build a more multifaceted understanding of why there is still a long way to go before gender equality in senior leadership positions will be achieved.  For instance, in 2011, 25 years after the passage of the 1986 Employment Equity Act, only 5.6 per cent of FP 500 CEOs are women, and only 6.2 per cent of FP 500 top earners are women.

Taught by Alison Konrad, Professor of Organizational Behaviour, the course also seeks to identify strategies for moving more women into senior leadership positions by answering many of these questions, including: Is family incompatible with a fast-track career? Can we and should we change organizations to become more woman or family-friendly? Are women bosses too controlling?

In addition to Ms. Lekushoff, a number of accomplished Ivey alumni have been invited to participate in this panel discussion, including:

  • Alyson Soko – President, Alyson Soko & Associates
  • Jill Roussy − Partner, Spark Ideas Inc.
  • Mollie O’Neill – Partner, Brigus Group

“Although we cover a wide range of topics in this course that relate to gender and diversity in organizations, it is the personal experiences of alumni that provide the real-world insight for Ivey HBA students who are about to embark upon their career,” explained Konrad. “This panel will help students explore the many conflicting priorities women have when evaluating career paths and how employers can potentially make careers more attractive to women of all ages.”

This panel discussion follows a study by Konrad in May 2011 entitled Report on 2011 Women in Leadership Class – Assignment: Connecting Ivey Alumni with HBA Students in which 69 Ivey HBA students (22 men and 47 women) interviewed and/or job shadowed two to three alumni in their chosen career. The resulting report shares a glimpse into the minds of the new generation of HBA graduates, provides insights into how to work with the millennial generation (students were all 21-22 years of age), and describes what they want from both their careers and future employers. It also showcases a few key ways in which employers could make student’s careers more attractive, including:

  • Flexible Hours: The number one factor Ivey HBA students mentioned as something they want from employers is flexible hours, including the ability to set their own work schedules.
  • Work from Home: Students also mentioned their employers should allow them to work from home. They mentioned that because they are hard‐working, their employers should trust them and not require them to be in the office all the time.
  • Face Time: Students stated they do not want to work for an employer who requires “face time” all the time. Instead, they wish to be judged on the quantity and quality of their work.
  • FamilyFriendly Culture: Students stated that employers should provide a friendly culture for families. They suggested that supervisors should be supportive when employees need flexibility, and that individuals who are successful in their career, while also being present for their families, should be held up as role models for everyone in the organization.
  • Supportive of Women’s Careers: Students indicated that they wished to work for an employer who is supportive of women’s careers, as reflected in this quote: “Some employers see past the time a woman may take off to start a family because of the value they bring to the organization. It has now become a priority for me when choosing a career to find an employer who sees me as an asset in the workplace and not a burden.”

“The question of whether or not women can ‘have it all’ is one that needs to be reframed because the definition of ‘all’ will be different for every person,” explained Lekushoff. “At Broad Reach, we let our associates define their ‘all’, and as a result, we have turned the traditional public relations agency business model on its head. Instead of focusing on billable hours, we focus on the number of hours each associate wants to work−and we plan their projects and compensation accordingly.”

About the Richard Ivey School of Business, The University of Western Ontario
The Richard Ivey School of Business at The University of Western Ontario is Canada’s leading provider of relevant, innovative and comprehensive business education. Drawing on extensive research and business experience, Ivey faculty provide the best classroom experience, equipping graduates with the skills and capabilities they need to tackle the leadership challenges in today’s complex business world. Ivey offers world-renowned undergraduate and graduate degree programs as well as Executive Development at campuses in London (Ontario), Toronto and Hong Kong. Visit