Why this advisor is closing her office

By Melissa Shin | March 7, 2017 | Last updated on October 27, 2023
3 min read

Betty-Anne Howard won’t be working tomorrow.

What she’s doing instead, she says, is an extension of her life’s work.

Howard, a Kingston, Ont.-based advisor, is closing her office to participate in March 8’s A Day Without a Woman, a movement billed as “a one-day demonstration of economic solidarity,” sparked in large part by opposition to U.S. President Donald Trump and a desire for gender equality. The day coincides with International Women’s Day and the International Women’s Strike, which is set to occur in 30 countries.

“I’ve always been an advocate for women and girls around the world, and I think it’s important that people know I’m taking a stand,” says Howard, who runs Making Dreams a Reality Financial Planning under IPC Investment Corporation.

Howard is no stranger to activism. “Back in the ’80s, I organized the first Take Back the Night March; I organized one of the first International Women’s Day marches,” she says.

She decided on Tuesday to close the office, so she hadn’t sent out wide client communications. But she’s rescheduled her client appointments and will put auto-responders on her voicemail and email to explain to clients why she’s not working. Tonight, she will post a sign on her door printed from the Women’s March website with a note saying, “We’re closing the office in support of A Day Without A Woman initiative, and if you have an immediate need, call me at home.” Howard adds, “I don’t want anyone to think that I’m deserting them […] but sometimes you just have to do what you think is right.”

Clients and community members have been supportive. “I had a phone meeting this morning, and I told [the client] I was doing this, and she said, ‘Right on, Betty-Anne, for standing by your principles.’ “

Howard obtained permission to speak out about why her office will be closed tomorrow. “There’s no point in me doing this unless I can go public,” she says. “Otherwise, it’s just a day off.”

Read: Higher diversity, higher returns

More women in top positions

The number of female executives at Canada’s largest companies has increased 14%, finds a report released Monday.

The Rosenzweig Report on Women at the Top Levels of Corporate Canada, now in its 12th year, tracks how many women hold the highest executive positions at Canada’s 100 biggest public companies.

There are now 48 women in executive officer positions, up from 42 the previous year (a 14.3% increase) and more than double the 23 women with those jobs in the first Rosenzweig Report in 2006. Women now hold 9.02% of these roles, compared to 7.9% a year ago, and only 4.62% in 2006. There are also six female CEOs.

“There’s still much room for improvement, but this is a positive signal when it comes to gender equality in business and society in general,” says Jay Rosenzweig, managing partner of Rosenzweig & Company, in a release.

Read: Why are most CFAs men?

Other stats include:

  • Of the 532 executives, 484 are men and 48 are women.
  • Of the 100 largest companies, 39 now have at least one woman in a top leadership role; this is up from only 34 companies the previous year.
  • In the 25 largest companies, there are now six women at the top level, up from four the previous year.

This research echoes a September 2016 CSA review that found more women on the boards of public companies. Among the companies studied, 55% had at least one woman on their boards (an increase of 6% over 2015), and the total percentage of board seats occupied by women increased from 11% in 2015 to 12% in 2016.

In the U.S., financial institutions are recognizing the need for more women on boards in the U.S., especially since one out of every four Russell 3000 companies have no female directors. On Tuesday, State Street Global Advisors called for the more than 3,500 companies it invests in to “take intentional steps to increase the number of women on their corporate boards.” The manager says these companies represent more than $30 billion in market cap. SSGA cites an MSCI study showing companies with strong female leadership generated ROE of 10.1% per year, versus 7.4% for those without a critical mass of women at the top.

Read: Leaders in women’s advancement to be lauded

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Melissa Shin

Melissa is the editorial director of Advisor.ca and leads Newcom Media Inc.’s group of financial publications. She has been with the team since 2011 and been recognized by PMAC and CFA Society Toronto for her reporting. Reach her at mshin@newcom.ca. You may also call or text 416-847-8038 to provide a confidential tip.