For Canada Powered by Women, Fostering Unity — While Still Having Real Conversations — is Key

by | June 2023

“We’re not just talking to each other,” says Sue Riddell Rose, to a packed house at the Calgary Petroleum Club on June 22, 2023. ”We have a mission to amplify your perspectives and common grounds solutions.”

One of the founders and board chair of Canada Powered by Women (CPW) was speaking at our June 2023 event, to 150 women eager to discuss ‘The common ground of energy transformation.’

And finding that common ground — as in, having unvarnished, but constructive conversations about a complex industry that’s in the midst of transformation — requires listening to the voices of many women coast-to-coast, says Riddell Rose.

Which is why CPW spent the last few months working with national research firm, Leger, to do just that.

Leger asked, and listened, to what 750 women across Canada had to say about the energy industry, the Canadian economy, and perhaps most importantly, the dialogue they want to have on those topics.

Their answers were explored in detail by Paige Schoenfeld, Senior Vice-President of Leger in Calgary, at the event.

Canada Powered by Women, Calgary, June 2023

In June 2023, Canada Powered by Women held an event for 150 women eager to discuss the common ground of energy transformation.

Women have more in common than you might expect, but need support — and a platform — to share their perspectives publicly

“We’ve completed three phases of research to date,” says Schoenfeld.

The first and second phases (which included market sizing and then focus groups across the country) helped establish who we were talking to: a group we’ve come to call “engaged women.”

“The engaged woman is someone who was either in agreement or neutral towards a number of attitudinal measures. Like, interest in influencing government. Wants to have a voice in the future of energy. Is interested in learning about the future and prosperity,” says Schoenfeld.

Paige Schoenfeld

Paige Schoenfeld, Senior Vice President at Leger, speaks at a Calgary event in June, 2023.

Then Leger conducted a national survey of this demographic.

They found that the vast majority of surveyed women, no matter the province they were from, believe a successful, affordable Canadian economy and energy security for Canadians is important.

“It’s rare to get averages above 90%. And so engaged women across Canada are very much aligned on these two pieces,” Schoenfeld explains.

Talk about unity, right?

Now of course, no one agrees on everything. The Leger research tells us there’s still slight regional disparity on other perceived positive impacts of the energy sector.

But that’s not a bad thing. It just means, “there’s an opportunity here to have conversations on these topics, within these different regions,” says Schoenfeld.

The thing is, not everyone is comfortable, or feels safe, having those conversations publicly. Only one in ten of the engaged women Leger surveyed were very likely to share their opinions beyond their circle of family and friends.

Tracey Bodnarchuk

Tracey Bodnarchuk, a founder and strategic advisor for Canada Powered by Women CPW, speaks at a Calgary event in June, 2023.

CPW is a trusted space for women to speak their mind, knowing their voices will be heard and amplified

Engaged women want to be heard, the research is clear.

But there’s some key barriers holding them back from actually … speaking up, says Tracey Bodnarchuk, a CPW founder and acting CEO. She listened in on the Leger focus groups and talked about the report’s findings with Schoenfeld, at our event.

“Engaged women are fully online — they follow news outlets, they’re really present, interested and read everything, but they absolutely do not engage outwardly. And it’s because they are concerned with the potential repercussions of expressing their opinion in a polarized environment, on a complex topic,” she says.

The Leger data backs this up, because when survey participants were asked if they would express their views on energy and economy anonymously, via a supported platform, their willingness to engage went up by a whopping 31 percentage points.

Canada Powered by Women, Calgary, June 2023

In June 2023, Canada Powered by Women held an event for 150 women eager to discuss the common ground of energy transformation.

Enter, Canada Powered by Women’s opportunity. And, responsibility, says Bodnarchuk.

“As an organization, it’s our job to ask questions, procure insights, and aggregate those insights then feed them back to the public. Because we want to be a movement that has influence. We want to influence policy, government and stakeholders.”

This all starts with facilitating trusted conversations, she continues.

“When you provide a framework for a tricky subject, it gives everybody a chance to speak — and then to actually hear what the other person is saying. We all really have to talk a little less and listen a lot more.”