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Inspired by the theme of International Women’s Day 2017, “be bold for change,” we asked four of RBC Wealth Management’s female executives to share their thoughts on this question: In your view, what’s one bold move that women can make to effect positive change in the workplace or in the community? Their answers were, well … bold. Which should come as absolutely no surprise.

Ask questions

“Many women are wary of sharing their ideas and asking questions. We are great listeners – which is important. But I think sometimes we’re scared to share with others what we think, and that prevents diversity of ideas and dialogue. I don’t think men generally worry about that as much as women do. Right or wrong, it holds us back. 

Women in leadership positions have the opportunity to change this trend. Take that risk. Ask that question that’s sitting in the pit of your gut, or in the back of your mind, the one you’re worried is going to make you look stupid, or that people will disagree with. It’s OK if it’s not completely thought out, or you don’t articulate it perfectly. It’s just a question.

The more you model that attitude of ‘bring your ideas, we want that rich conversation,’ the thicker your skin will become, the less worried you’ll be about sharing that next idea, and the better the outcomes will be.”

Ann Senne, Head of Advice and Solutions, RBC Wealth Management-U.S.

Take risks

“For me, a bold move is to have the discipline to stretch yourself, to force yourself to get out of your comfort zone. It’s not a one-off event; it means regularly trying to do something that you might be unsure of or a bit nervous about, and pushing yourself to do it. An attitude like that can more successfully achieve sustainable change. For me, that’s a lot more meaningful.

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I think it’s important to try not to turn down opportunities, and to take calculated risks. Then you can see how you perform in different situations. You might discover you can achieve things you didn’t think you ever could. Focus on your area of expertise, but try to see the bigger picture as well. This can make you more valuable at work and in your community. And it can make you feel stronger and improve your confidence.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint. If we take risks and embrace opportunities, maybe we can inspire the next generation of women to go even further.”

Frédérique Carrier, Director, Head of Equities, RBC Wealth Management International, British Isles

Be confident

“One bold move women could make to impact workplace and community equality is to be unafraid to show their confidence. I think women pull back in the workplace; maybe it’s ingrained in us to be modest, to be humble, or to say what others expect to hear. It’s something I certainly struggled with as a young woman, and still do. What I perceive as modesty might come across as a lack of confidence. The reality is that confident women can come across negatively, whereas confident men are seen as strong and masculine.

Whether we’re talking about a volunteer role on a local board or at the office, women should not be afraid to be leaders and make sure our voices are heard. It’s not even about feeling confident, necessarily – it’s about projecting it. At work, in our communities, at home. Even mothers as role models for their children, or aunties showing their nieces that it’s OK to stand up, be heard, be confident in your abilities and say what you know to be true.”

Leanne Kaufman, Head of Royal Trust, RBC Wealth Management Canada

Be kind to yourself

“My bold move? Be kinder to yourself. Women tend to think we need to have all the answers. We come to the table and look around and think ‘These women are all so together; they’ve figured out the perfect work-life balance.’ And then we wonder what’s wrong with us.

The truth is, they haven’t. They all have the same challenges you have. And you’re not going to find all the answers, because just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, life throws you a curve ball.

I heard someone say they hate the phrase ‘work-life balance’ because it implies that once you find that exact spot, your life will be in perfect equilibrium from that point on. But that’s not possible; life is ever changing, ever evolving. That’s its challenge, and also its beauty. It’s a journey, and no one has all the answers. We need to be kinder to ourselves, and release ourselves from that pressure to do everything perfectly. If we can manage that, every aspect of our lives will benefit.”

Kristen Kimmell, Chief of Staff, RBC Wealth Management-U.S.