Judi Hess, Copperleaf® CEO will be chairing the YWCA Women of Distinction Awards for the second year in a row. We asked Judi why these awards are important to her, what we can do to champion women in leadership, and how to get involved in supporting this event.
What are the YWCA Women of Distinction Awards?
The YWCA Women of Distinction Awards began in 1984 as a way to honor the trailblazing women and organizations across Metro Vancouver that drive positive change in our community. Until that time, even though many women had made significant advancements in the workplace, few were publicly celebrated. To date, the YWCA has celebrated more than 330 award recipients and more than 1,900 award nominees.
Why did you want to be event chair for the second consecutive year?
I had a fantastic time chairing last year’s event and celebrating the outstanding achievements of local women and organizations from a variety of industries. I wanted to chair the event again this year to bring an even greater focus on these inspiring finalists!
Copperleaf is also delighted to once again support the YWCA and all of the important work they do as a sponsor of the event.
Why do you feel it’s important to support fellow women leaders?
As the CEO of Copperleaf for almost 14 years, I have seen firsthand that the women in our organization are capable of doing anything when given the chance. And that’s the key—more women need to be given the chance to ascend to leadership roles. The visibility of female leaders is important to inspire other women and the next generation. Additionally, an increase in women leaders can influence high-level decision making that will help pave the way toward greater diversity and gender equality.
What can we do to improve gender diversity at the top?
Gender diversity at the top has been proven time and time again to make great business sense, however 92% of Fortune 500 companies are still led by men. And last year, Copperleaf was the only woman-led tech company to go public on the Toronto Stock Exchange. We need to ensure that we continue to change that picture by:
- removing our unconscious bias against women in leadership
- ensuring our candidate pools for leadership positions are 50/50 female/male
- making sure that as women, we say ‘yes’ when we have the opportunity to take a leading role in our organizations
How can people get involved with the YWCA Women of Distinction Awards?
The YWCA has two volunteer committees that assist throughout the year, the Nominations Committee and the Auction Committee. The Nominations Committee meets every 2 to 3 weeks from July to January to brainstorm and identify women who would make great nominees. The Auction Committee works from December to June to secure donations from local businesses for the silent and live auction, both of which are important revenue generators for the YWCA.
If you are interested in donating or volunteering, please contact [email protected].
Watch Judi’s speech to this year’s nominees, originally aired during a special live stream event at the YWCA’s Announcing the Nominees Celebration on March 4:
The 39th Annual Women of Distinction Awards will be held in person on May 26, 2022, at the JW Parq Mariott in Vancouver. Learn more about the event.