Letter to the Future from Tanya van Biesen, Executive Director Catalyst Canada

Tell us about your role and how you are contributing to the society:

Letter to the future from Tanya van BiesenCatalyst has been researching the issue of gender parity and workplace inclusion for more than 50 years. Legislation can only take us so far. Business leaders can and should start making change happen – today.

That requires innovative leadership that starts with transparency, open dialogue, and a true desire to make room at the table for everyone to succeed at work.

The facts speak for themselves. It’s 2017 and yet in their first post-MBA job, women in Canada still earn $8,167 less than men. Only about 12% of TSX listed board seats are held by women, women represent less than 5% of Canadian CEO roles, and women of color are nearly invisible in the seats of economic power.

It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s good for business. Our research shows that diverse and inclusive workplaces are more innovative, collaborative, and stronger financially.

My role as Executive Director of Catalyst Canada is to inspire a new level of conversation, engage organizations in shifting their focus from “why” to “how”, and arming them with the research and tools to effect sustainable change.

Presently, what do you like about Canada?

Canada acknowledges and celebrates that it was built on the strength of immigrants and the power of people coming together. This country is made up of a diverse group of people with backgrounds and experiences that make Canada one of the richest in the world.

Canadians hold dearly our values around the importance of diversity, inclusion, openness and our freedom of thoughts and expression. We take the time to acknowledge and celebrate our unity.

Canadian leadership is being redefined through the power of inclusion. The ingredients of what has created this country today will help create sustainable development goals.

Letter to the Future from Tanya van Biesen:

We are at a significant point globally where the importance of securing equal opportunity for all has never been more discussed or more critical to our future. It is a worldwide conversation.

As we turn to the future, there is a strong belief that Canada is uniquely positioned to lead the world as the most inclusive society, by harnessing the full power of its ever evolving talent base. This talent will be of benefit to all and will propel economic growth and prosperity.

Our greatest first step is to ensure equal opportunity for women. In Canada, women represent 50% of the population, over 50% of university graduates, 47% of the workforce and make over 75% of household purchase decisions, yet continue to be the most underrepresented and underutilized talent pool in the world.

In breaking down these barriers, we will move a long way towards inclusion for all.

The next generation is already more inclusive, collaborative, open to the exchange of ideas, and familiar with the global world and what it offers. They are committed like no generation before. There has never been a better time to be Canadian. I am ever confident that the generation ahead will embrace and build on that sentiment.

I believe in Canada. I believe in equal opportunity for all. Take this ground swell of momentum and deliver us across the finish line.


Tanya van Biesen
Executive Director
Catalyst Canada Inc.