Enterprise SK is Unfair to Women

The Sask Party government has been in power about two months. And SK women are already being shafted.

SK Enterprise and Innovation sent out 300 invitations to SK groups and businesses asking for their nominations for candidates to serve on the board of Enterprise SK. Of those 300, a grand total of two were issued to women’s organizations. Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan, an excellent organization which has helped many SK women to be successful businesspersons, received both of those invitations!

Membership in the Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan Inc. has grown to over 820 since the organization was founded in 1995. To date, Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan Inc. has assisted over 27,600 women with information and path finding services; has provided business training sessions for over 13,750 women; has scheduled over 20,550 business advisory appointments; and received over 318,000 unique visits to the website. In addition, Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan has lent over $13.4 million from its loan fund to help women start, expand or purchase existing businesses in the province and leveraged an additional $10.3 million in funding.

Not surprisingly, women’s businesses do very well in this province. In fact, women’s businesses do well all over. And it’s because women know how best to organize their lives for success. According to the book, Ladies Who Launch: Embracing Entrepreneurship & Creativity as a Lifestyle, women’s creative and intuitive capacities make them more successful and happy in their own businesses. Women think creatively differently from men. It’s part of the feminine process, according to the authors of Ladies Who Launch.

Ah yes, but we in SK are apparently too backwoods and backwards and sexist to admit that, to celebrate that. Instead, we’re supposed to be happy that women of Saskatchewan will be guaranteed a whopping .67 percent — yes, that’s right less than one percent — of the nominations to the Board of Enterprise SK.

I say, blow it out your ear, Brad! We want more. We deserve more. And it’s up to you, as Premier to all the people in the province  — women are people, too, you know — to honour our capacity and our success.

We have not come very far, good women, if this is how we’re treated by the powers that be. Our contributions to the economy, to the wisdom of enterprise continue to be soundly ignored by the men who are running the province. And this will continue to happen because the patterns already so deeply entrenched will be even more deeply entrenched by the body appointed to advise government on the economic policies for the future.

These policies will impact not only us, but also our daughters and our granddaughters and our families. We have to speak out on this; we have to change the course of history and make it our story, too.

Please add your name to the comments section below. I’ll forward the list to Minister Stewart and Premier Wall. If you have time to do more, please click on the links and send a message to the Minister and the Premier. I know they’ll want to hear from as many as possible on this issue.

And hey, thanks for stopping by!

The Regina Mom

PS:  Boys and men are welcome to sign in, too!

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25 Comments

  1. thereginamom

     /  January 10, 2008

    Bernadette L. Wagner, Regina SK

    Reply
  2. Saskatchewan women should be guaranteed at least 50% representation on the board of “Enterprise Saskatchewan”. If women are to be given a voice, it should be a voice on equal footing with men. Whether the women on the board of “Enterprise Saskatchewan” are from women’s entrepreneurial groups or not, it is important for Saskatchewan to remain progressive and move toward equal representation for both genders.

    Reply
  3. Why cenobyte?

    What possible impact does equal representation have on a committee that recommends changes to better the economic status of Saskatchewan? Do successful women have different views on the problems with our regulatory regime? Do they subscribe to a different economic model?

    I understand that reginamom cites a book that says women excel at business. Good. This is born out with the former North Saskatoon Business Association’s president being female. Two current board members are female.

    As we’re talking nominations, wouldn’t your activism be properly directed at the organizations that will be doing the nominations rather than the gov’t that will simply be picking the cream from the nomination process?

    Cheers,
    lance

    Reply
  4. Hey, lance, that’s THEreginamom to you! 😉

    Seriously now, what possible impact does having no men on a committee that recommends changes to better the economic status of Saskatchewan? Do unsuccessful men have different views on the problems with our regulatory regime?

    In terms of women’s real success in this province, the old boys have demonstrated a repeated lack of success to women, as a group, on most every level possible, regardless of the boy’s political affiliation or ideological bent. (I’ll leave it to you to dig up the abundance of stats on that one.)

    If this government is really about change, then let’s see it! Where’s the beef? And no ground chuck, either!

    And, in the future, lance, please think before you type.

    How can cenobyte or I possibly reach all the 300 elite — and why should we have to? This is a government-sponsored initiative, is it not? And if a government is to represent its citizens then it needs to make damned sure it represents those citizens who comprise 52% of the population as well as the others! Furthermore, we both have careers, volunteer commitments, homes and families who like to see us from time to time. (And one of us even has a backyard skating rink to maintain!)

    But that you have even suggested that we should be the ones taking responsibility for the government’s lack of respect toward women, now that I come to think of it, is rather sexist! And The Regina Mom does not tolerate sexism well.

    Please consider yourself forewarned.

    Reply
  5. The Sask Insider

     /  January 10, 2008

    Why do you seem so angry about everything, reginamom? Relax, life is great…

    Reply
  6. Tamara

     /  January 10, 2008

    Lance,

    yes in fact women do have different opinions and views than men, even on the same issues. The united nations has said that in order for their to be a relevant female perspective on boards, or in government there needs to be a minimum of 30% representation. As Reginamom has pointed out, women are more creative and have a different perspective on issues. Although the government is not the one putting forward the nominations directly I think they do have a responsibility to ensure they reach AT A MINIMUM the threshold of 30% that has been put forward by the United Nations. I am not someone that believes we should have women on the board ‘just to fill a quota’ but I think there has to be a better effort put forward to ensure there is a real representation of our provincial makeup on the board of Enterprise Saskatchewan.

    Reply
  7. Having men or not having men on an economic committee has as much impact as women or no women. Zero.

    Sexism, because I questioned the direction regarding cenobyte’s comments? What happens if no women are nominated? Should the gov’t abandon the nomination process then? Should they then pick xyz numbers of women and just appoint? Kind of defeats the purpose, no?

    And no, it isn’t hard to reach 300 organizations. It’s called email. And yes I do think that one or two committed individuals can change the way things work. However, if it’s just easier to call anyone who doesn’t share your fervour, a sexist, then I’m guessing you won’t be very successful in changing hearts and minds.

    Good luck though.

    Cheers,
    lance

    Reply
  8. OT, but are you interested in joining Saskblogs? I can set you up in very little time. The only caveat is putting up the image link to the Saskblogs Aggregator. (http://saskblogs.catprint.ca)

    Yea or Nay to me at lance@catprint.ca.

    Cheers,
    lance

    Reply
  9. Ashley tipped me off as to the existence of your new blog. I know you don’t see eye to eye with me on most everything, but I thought I’d wish you luck with your new venture anyway.

    Reply
  10. Dale Dewar

     /  January 11, 2008

    Gender proportions make distinctive differences in decision making. The first research on this issue occurred in the late 60’s and informed us that we create specific “cultures” around gender in professions such as nursing, engineering and medicine (98% female, 89% male and 85% male respectively at the time of the study). Producing a change in the culture requires a minimum of 17% of the opposite gender. (I believe that the profession of nursing would improve logarithmically if the profession were infused with some testosterone.)

    More recently, Mary Caprioli (US researcher) was able to show that increasing the numbers of females in boards and government (municiple, state and national) changed the culture from less confrontational to more cooperative, from less grandstanding (I forget the word she used) to more mediative decision-making and that participants left meetings more satisfied with their decisions. Not only that but she extended her work internationally and was able to show that the more women that were in government, the less military expenditures occurred and the more likely governments were to consider programs that benefited education, children and health.

    On a different note, I believe that the US has imposed a large (40% ?) female MP ratio upon Iraq. In any case, when we traveled in Iraqi Kurdistan, it was constantly pointed out to us that we, in Canada, had a lower proportion of women in government than they had.

    Does gender representation matter? Yep! Do we know exactly how? Nope. Is it a right/left political issue. Nope. It’s just the correct thing to do.

    So, I implore participants (including Reginamom) to NOT play the sexist (or racist or otherwise) card.

    Reply
  11. The Sask Insider

     /  January 11, 2008

    Dale,

    Correct by what standard?

    The fact is the reason why letters to send out to provide nominees to an economic development went to so few female run organizations is because there are so few out there. Is that the fault of males?

    People that sit on this board should be chosen based on what they can bring to the table, not gender. If the board was somehow comprised with nothing but females and they were chosen because they were the best, would there be as much argument from men, as there would be from people like reginamom if no women were chosen?

    This has nothing to do with gender equality. This has everything to do with reginamom’s misplaced anger with the conservative shift federally and provincially. (Which was quite evident in her CBC postings).

    If the NDP were in power and the same were to happen, would reginamom even notice?

    Reply
  12. Gina

     /  January 13, 2008

    Colur me confused: Is the assumption that the other 298 organizations asked to nominate representatives are only going to nominate MEN? That the other 298 organizations are so male-dominated that none of the women in their executive ranks are going to have any say in who is nominated? I agree with an early comment from Lance: If we want to make sure the female representation is more then 2/300 then it’s the organization’s we need to aim the lobbying at – not the government. To look at it from another angle: just how many women-only organizations ARE there in the province for the gov’t to request nominations from in the first place?

    Reply
  13. Gina

     /  January 13, 2008

    Oops – I mean organizations. Not “organization’s”.

    Reply
  14. Rickyg

     /  January 14, 2008

    I agree with Gina. Who’s to say how many women will actually be nominated? Out of the other 298 organizations there could be 200 or none, but can you wait until the process is done before throwing around “sexism”? When the whole process is finished I’m betting on about 35%-45% of the people nominated will be women.

    Reply
  15. Rickyg,

    The gender issue aroses when the request was sent out and targetted only two womens’s organisations. There are many womens’ groups who would have relished the opportunity to be part of the nomination process.

    It’s just my hunch, but I suspect there will be a token woman (or two, even) on the board and we’ll be told the board represents all Saskatchewans.

    I hope this isn’t a trend back to the times I grew up in.

    Being part of the nomination process matters!

    Good work, Regina Mom!

    Reply
  16. bookchick

     /  January 14, 2008

    Lance, to answer your question directly:

    Because any body or organisation that claims to represent my business interests (as a business woman), which does not have equal representation of women and men, does *not* represent my business interests and concerns. As a business woman, I know first-hand that there are still barriers women must overcome in order to play in the same game as their male counterparts.

    We will not need equal representation on boards such as Enterprise Saskatchewan, when women and men are paid the same for the same work, whether they are entrepreneurs, business owners, or employees. We will not need equal representation when women starting their own businesses get the same treatment at banks and loan companies as men (without the assistance of organisations like “women entrepreneurs”).

    What possible impact does equal representation have on a committee that recommends changes to better the economic status of Saskatchewan?
    Ensuring a better economic status for women in Saskatchewan.

    Do successful women have different views on the problems with our regulatory regime?
    Of course they do! Every individual person has a different view on the problems with our regulatory regime, whether they are women or men! ALL our voices need to be heard, in proportial representation.

    Do they subscribe to a different economic model?
    Maybe. Have you asked any?

    As we’re talking nominations, wouldn’t your activism be properly directed at the organizations that will be doing the nominations rather than the gov’t that will simply be picking the cream from the nomination process?

    Sure. But does it hurt to do both?

    I have enough words for everyone! The government, the organisations that will be doing the nominations, and people who are protesting the way things are done. One thing I’ve never been accused of is not being verbose.

    Reply
  17. er.
    That was me, logged in from a previous session.
    Heh.
    See!? So verbose I can’t keep my profiles straight!

    [great story in the L-P, blogger mom]

    Reply
  18. Richard_Cranium

     /  January 14, 2008

    IMHO as soon as you initiate a quota of any percent of anything, you are doing that group a dis-service. Merit and ability should dictate who gets and who does not, not gender or race, period.

    Reply
  19. Trent

     /  January 15, 2008

    TRM(The Regina Mom),

    I also have to ask why so angry? You write ‘There are many women’s groups who would have relished the opportunity to be part of the nomination process.’ Please list a few, six or seven maybe. You might also want to give a link or reference to the former NDP’s policy on including women’s’ organizations in economic committees, so we can see how it should be done.
    You have received some great publicity today and it has created traffic on your blog, if you want the traffic to continue I would suggest that you back up all your statements with links, quotes, graphs or whatever you can, otherwise people with dismiss your blog as just another angry rant. Telling people “I’ll leave it to you to dig up the abundance of stats on that one.’ will not gain you any creditability.

    Good luck! I have already bookmark your blog and look forward to reading it again!

    Reply
  20. peter puck

     /  January 15, 2008

    Let me see if I understand. Two invitations to the Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan means that only .67% of the board will be composed of women. That is assuming none of the 298 other invitees will nominate a woman. This is a rather large assumption.

    Reply
  21. “as soon as you initiate a quota of any percent of anything, you are doing that group a dis-service. Merit and ability should dictate who gets and who does not”

    Richard, the problem can be that those involved in picking are going by merit and ability, but are subconsciously (or otherwise) only picking from a pool of one gender. Having at least some quota of women nominees does not have to mean the merit and ability pools will be impacted negatively. They could be impacted positively!

    Reply
  22. Richard_Cranium

     /  January 16, 2008

    OK then if you are going on gender equality, what about race equality as well. I submit that you will not get the same input brought to the table by 50 caucasian women as you would from 50 aboriginal women. So if you are going to pick 100 persons, then 50 men and 50 women would be fair. If you are going to get hung up on gender equality, then race equality and representation is just as important. So now lets see, we need 50 women, 13 Aboriginal, 3 Chinese, 1 East Indian, etc…etc….same on the male side..etc..etc.
    I stand by my statement that filling quotas for the sake of filling quotas does a dis-service to any of the quota’d groups whether that is gender or race based.

    Reply
  23. BernieB

     /  January 25, 2008

    SO………………………….how many invitations were targeted specifically at men’s organizations????

    Reply
  24. jranae

     /  January 26, 2008

    I think I would agree with Gina and I find the comment by BernieB suggests an interesting angle to add to the many that have already been represented in this discussion.

    I think the most interesting thing I’ve seen here is how many angles there are, how many ideas, feelings, and assumptions (as well as “facts” or statistics, etc.) around questions (let alone lived realities) of gender, entrepreneurial business, government and group and individual responsibility, and just the logic of communication and decision making. After all this, I feel a bit exhausted. But I think some good points are being made, and I for one am being encouraged to think more about things that I (and I would suggest all of us) probably don’t think about enough. So thanks for sharing, and don’t forget to be kind to each other (and yourselves), whether you’re angry, confused, curious, confident or whatever. And keep talking, and especially keep listening. And ReginaMom, thanks for putting your energy out to try to give people a space to encounter and engage with issues related to women (and men, too, presumably…what ARE the boundaries between these categories? I think this question is also implied in the discussion we’re all having here, as well as What are the meaningful ways to honour and recognize these distinctions?…Certainly, gender is not the only categorical distinction that is meaningful when it comes to people and their differences, and to have a “quota” that is supposed to “represent” each distinct group might really be less than meaningful, but maybe it’s a place to start…or maybe not, I don’t know. Anyway…) I just celebrate that this conversation is happening, that people are engaging with the questions, and there are always more…at any rate, I think consciousness is being raised, just by the fact of this discussion existing.

    Reply
  25. June Johnson

     /  March 3, 2008

    Nominate a person based on their qualifications; not their gendre. More males than females? So be it.

    Reply

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