As we head into winter and enjoy the festivities and end of year break, I have one question for you to ponder. Is the CSEG relevant to you? As a society we naturally have traditions and many things are done a certain way but I am asking whether you believe some things should be done differently or whether there are new things that we should be doing.
Over the past few years, the CSEG has undertaken some significant steps to enhance member engagement across Canada and to build relationships with fellow societies around the world. We have polled volunteers to see what keeps them engaged in their initiatives and are taking steps to ensure that they feel empowered in their roles. The RECORDER committee has gone to great lengths to ensure that publication is back on track and delivered to our doorsteps at the start of the month. The CSEG Foundation and Outreach Committee have multiple projects involving hundreds of members, students and the general public.
During my year as Vice President, I have taken it onboard to visit every CSEG sub-committee to both gain a better understanding of mechanics of the organization and to say thank-you to the vast network of volunteers keeping the CSEG chugging along. I’ve been impressed by the efficiency, the camaraderie and results produced by every committee visited. It is clear that there is a set of values and expectations that guide us all.
I wish that those values and expectations were more widespread within the industry as a whole. One of the values that I aim to promote is respect for our colleagues – all colleagues. Women are not generally on an equal footing in our industry, be it on the pay scale, the promotion ladder or represented in positions of authority. Personally, I have been yelled at in the workplace (and don’t believe that it wouldn’t have happened in that instance if I were male), groped at industry functions, asked when I would be taking a break for kids, and had the validity of my degree called into question. If you have a heartfelt conversation with a female colleague it is likely that similar or worse tales will surface. This is not ‘just part of this industry’, it is disrespectful and rude. That said, this isn’t limited to women and all of us face challenges – some people deal with them in different ways. Please, encourage respect in and out of the workplace.
Related to the challenges women face, when I became aware that Kathleen and Marian were running for Vice President, I asked a mentor ‘how will that be perceived by the membership – a female President twice?’. That question should never have even crossed my mind and I both apologize to all women that it did, and thank the wise man for pointing that out to me. We need to get to a point where it is not unusual for a woman to run the Executive, for a visible minority to sit at the head of the table, for everyone in the society to feel as if they are represented.
So I’m asking whether you feel that you are represented and get value from your membership? What would you like to see at luncheons, in the RECORDER, on the website? The CSEG is an organization led from the bottom-up, in that change is enacted by passionate members speaking up and leading the charge. The DoodleTrain, T-Wave Golf Tournament and MUG are just some examples of member led initiatives taking hold.
Have a voice, be active, join a committee (or as I like to know them – action groups), write something, speak or ask a question at a luncheon, lunch box or on a panel discussion, mentor, be mentored, write a letter or tweet, ask a question, start something new, help shape the society into what you want because the voice of every member is equally valued and we should all be represented.