October 11, 2021 is commemorated as International Day of the Girl 2021, which coincides with the release of this special episode of the Holistic Wealth podcast with special guest Heather Odendaal, CEO of WNORTH Connect, where we discussed ensuring an equitable return to the workplace after COVID-19. According to the UN: “Empowering women and girls and promoting gender equality is crucial to accelerating sustainable development. Ending all forms of discrimination against women and girls is not only a basic human right, but it also has a multiplier effect across all other development areas”.
As Millions of women across North America continue to leave the workforce, and workplaces embrace flexible and remote work arrangements, we will need to be mindful that “workplace returnship” policies should be equitable, considering that minorities, women of color and people with disabilities will overwhelmingly choose to embrace remote work. As I stated in an earlier episode of the Holistic Wealth podcast entitled “Black Women’s Equal PayDay (Only 3% Of Black Professionals Want To Return To The Office) & Strategies To Navigate Life Transitions”, in part based on an article that indicated that 97% of Black employees surveyed not wanting to go back into the office full-time after COVID – only 3% of Black professionals would opt to go back in the office full-time. What we are seeing is a fundamental shift and we’re potentially talking about that split being very large in terms of sheer numbers of workers, including minorities, who suffer from discrimination at the workplace, as well as people with disabilities and other workers with chronic illnesses, not only with childcare responsibilities, but also aging parents. It’s going to be a very large split, and we need to ensure that these employees still have equitable opportunities such as promotions and advancement opportunities.
Heather had this to say on the Holistic Wealth podcast: “What I would like to see is a more equitable spread of how those remote employees or those hybrid employees get treated when it comes to promotion, when it comes to opportunities for advancement, women and women of color, people of color, people with disabilities, all minorities, will be more likely to select remote work and hybrid environments than non-minorities. And, so we’re going to see a fundamental shift in the makeup of who is going to be remote and who is going to be in the office. And seven years ago when I was a remote employee, it wasn’t good for advancement opportunities. That’s what I hope that organizations will really focus on strategies that will be inclusive of all types of workers, whether they’re in the office 100% of the time or not”.
As Heather further stated in the interview: “There’s no one size fits all strategy for this approach. And I think this is where that human centric leadership comes in, where we start to look at a number of factors with regards to that individual. What is the role and the responsibility of that individual? How often do they need to be in the office?“
In 2014, Heather Odendaal and her team recognized critical business challenges many professional mid-career women face, who lacked fundamental organizational support, often resulting in leaving the corporate workforce. To address the issue, Heather and her husband, Mike Odendaal, created the WNORTH conference. Specifically focused on elevating more mid-management women to senior leadership roles, the WNORTH organization has since challenged the status quo, provided support, and driven change within the corporate environment.
WNORTH Connect, based in Whistler, British Columbia, has worked with companies including Aritzia, HSBC, AstraZeneca, and more, on developing retention strategies for high-potential leaders in their organizations. Through these partnerships, WNORTH has strengthened and expanded on the internal support for women in the workforce – supporting an overwhelmingly underserved community of women – especially minority groups, including women of colour, and indigenous women. Tune in to listen in to this exciting episode of the Holistic Wealth Podcast with special guest, Heather Odendaal.
Resources Mentioned In This Episode:
Holistic Wealth: 36 Life Lessons To Help You Recover From Disruption, Find Your Life Purpose and Achieve Financial Freedom by Keisha Blair is Now Available for Preorder.
What You’ll Learn in This Episode:
- Heather’s amazing journey, and leaving the Corporate World to pursue WNORTH Connect full-time.
- Heather’s experience as a full-time remote employee, prior to COVID-19, and the lessons we can all use in the return to the workplace after COVID, especially for minorities and people with disabilities.
- Heather’s thoughts on thriving through a global pandemic, and how moms and women can thrive at the workplace and in senior executive leadership positions.
- Heather’s personal financial identity (based on Keisha Blair’s Personal Financial Identity Framework and Quiz, and how it affects her everyday finances and money decisions.