Business owners share their best advice. Plus, does a dress code make sense in your workplace?

For many women, a new year brings new career goals, and that often includes entrepreneurship.FG Commerce

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As the new year approaches, it can be a good time to assess past professional accomplishments and make plans for the future. For many women, the idea of ​​becoming an entrepreneur is at the top of their ambitious wish list.

According to a 2021 study by ISU Corp, there are 3.5 million entrepreneurs in Canada and 72.4% of Canadians “consider entrepreneurship a desirable career choice”.

But in this age of impending recession, taking that leap into small business ownership can be scary.

Here, entrepreneurs Rumeet Billan, Amanda Schuler and Sue Henderson share their lessons learned and the secrets to their success.

Insecure gatekeepers are ineffective leaders. Here’s how to change that culture

If you’ve been around long enough, you’ve probably come across a “guardian” leadership character. One who doesn’t let anyone in their organization do anything without heavy and often painfully slow personal approvals from them.

The signs are easy to spot. The leader requires that all important communications with customer groups and stakeholders be reviewed or reported to them immediately with regular status updates or series of forwarded emails. Individual team members develop a protective “I’d better ask if it’s okay to do this” attitude based on past interactions that caused them problems for acting independently.

Clients have learned that the group with such leadership is often slow to respond and often seeks to circumvent the leader in question when initiating new assignments.

Unfortunately, this is an all-too-common problem for new or insecure leaders, and it impedes the development of an effective leadership culture based on trust and empowerment.

Learn more about Eileen Dooley, Talent Development and Leadership Specialist, here.

Should you find a balance between passion and pay at work?

Career advice books published in the 1950s and 1960s generally advised workers to find a stable, well-paying career and gradually learn to enjoy the work itself. The prevailing wisdom at the time suggested that fulfillment would come from mastering a craft, but made little mention of aligning career ambitions with personal interests.

It wasn’t until the 1970s that a narrative began to build around the search for interest and fulfillment as a centerpiece of career decision-making, says Erin Cech, associate professor in sociology at the University of Michigan.

“Having an interesting and meaningful job has been of paramount importance to workers at least since the early 1980s,” says Dr. Cech, author of The problem of passion: how the search for fulfillment at work promotes inequalities.

Forty years later, employment has become more precarious and more closely tied to personal identity.

“Even at this time when people are really struggling and reassessing their relationship with the paid workforce, many see self-expression and passion as the dominant way they want to think about making career decisions,” says Dr. Cech.

Read the full article to find out why mixing hobbies and professional ambitions can be risky.

In case you missed it

How workplaces are getting trans inclusion wrong – and what they can do about it

Last year, Adrienne Smith argued a case before the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal that, in her own words, was “a struggle.”

“I wish it hadn’t been necessary to discuss it,” says Smith, a Vancouver-based transgender rights activist and attorney who runs a boutique firm specializing in law that affects marginalized communities. “But really, [my client’s] working conditions are quite common.

The case involved a waiter named Jessie Nelson, a fluid, non-binary transgender person who asked her employer to use her pronouns for them in the restaurant where they worked. While most colleagues complied with this request, there was one obstacle: a bartender, who repeatedly used his pronouns for Nelson and provocative nicknames like “darling” and “honey.”

Eventually this resulted in a verbal altercation between Nelson and the person who deliberately misinterpreted them, although the outcome was not what you expected. It was Nelson, not the bartender, who got fired before their next shift.

“The director said to Jessie, ‘You asked too much, too soon,'” Smith said.

Read the full article here.

Cybersecurity is a hot career choice – why aren’t more women working in this field?

How many women do you know who are experts in cybersecurity? If you can only name a handful (or maybe none at all), it’s no surprise.

In 2021, women made up just 25% of the global cybersecurity workforce, according to an estimate by Cybersecurity Ventures, an organization that conducts research on the global cybereconomy. Meanwhile, it’s a high-demand industry — that same year, there were 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs globally.

This shortage of women in cybersecurity is an issue Cat Coode, a data privacy consultant based in Waterloo, Ontario, has experienced firsthand.

“When we walk into a room and start talking about cybersecurity, we’re supposed to be the sales people and not the people who know how to implement,” says Coode.

Read the full article here.

Ask women and work

Question: I am a business owner and my employees are gradually becoming more casual in the way they dress (eg sweatpants, sneakers, t-shirts). Should I institute a dress code or does it really matter more? We meet clients in the office. I’m about 30 years older than most of my team members. Am I overwhelmed thinking that what people wear to work is important?

We asked Sumana Jeddy, Founder and CEO, The well-being at work group and Jeddy Wellnessto align it.

Dress codes are always relevant for business, but how you enforce them depends on workplace culture and values ​​and what workplace wellness means to you and your organization.

As a millennial who grew up in the Middle East and attended a private school with very strict uniform rules, there was no ambiguity when it came to dress code. We had different uniforms for different days (blazer or no blazer, tie or no tie). I also spent over a decade in Canadian companies where work dress was always different than non-work dress. Casual Fridays explicitly meant no ripped jeans, no sweatpants, and no dirty sneakers.

Currently, as a business owner working primarily from home, the way I report to work on a daily basis has not changed. I start my day by dressing in my work clothes instead of lounging around in my pajamas – it’s a surefire wellness strategy.

Before instituting a dress code, you can think about the following:

1. Cultivation. What type of work environment do you want to create for your employees and how can a dress code reinforce your organizational values? Is your workplace culture fun, friendly, welcoming, relaxed, laid back (sportswear, solid color t-shirts, polo shirts or tops with no prints, clean and polished sneakers)? Or is it professional, innovative, fast and respectful (blouses, blazers, pants, skirts, dresses, dress shoes, loafers, heels)?

2. Values. A dress code reflects the values ​​of the company. What is your workplace’s mission statement and does the dress code you want to institute align with company values ​​and goals? Does it demonstrate the type of relationship you want to develop with your customers? As an owner, do you embody these values ​​and expect your employees to promote them in order to create trust, harmony, equality, authority and cohesion at work?

3. Well-being at work. Burnout and work stress can impact an employee’s appearance and demeanor. Companies that have well-being on the agenda encourage employees to engage fully at work. A great workplace wellness strategy is one that promotes employee mental health and personalizes work attire to the occasion. Can an employee effortlessly join a yoga session or join the Peloton and effortlessly return to a meeting with a client?

It’s not so much about instituting a specific dress code as it is about providing guidelines on work parameters. Can you create dress guidelines for client meetings vs. one-on-one deep work vs. Scrum vs. in-office meetings vs. Zoom meetings?

Whether you choose a formal, business, casual, elegant, casual or sporty dress code, examine your personal biases to ensure that you are implementing a non-biased and gender-neutral dress code policy for your employees. This will ensure that you provide a more diverse, fair and inclusive workplace.

Submit your own questions to Ask Women and Work by emailing us at [email protected].

Want to know more about women at work? Find all the stories on The Globe Women’s Collective hub hereand subscribe to the new Women and Work newsletter here. Do you have any comments? Email us at [email protected].