For Immediate Release
March 8, 2019
Check Against Delivery

Mayor Crombie made the following speech at her third annual Mayor’s International Women’s Day Breakfast. 

“Good morning, and welcome to my third annual International Women’s Day breakfast!

We have nearly 200 people here this morning which is the largest turn out we’ve ever had!

Let me begin by thanking the teachers, staff and parents for ensuring all these vibrant, inspiring and remarkable young women could join us this morning.

I only wish we had more room to invite more people!

Today is all about networking, getting to know one another and brainstorming some of the big ideas that will bring about positive, bold change in Mississauga and beyond.

I want everyone to know that this is an open and inclusive environment…

I want you to feel empowered to be open, honest and speak your mind while of course, being thoughtful and respectful of others.

If you haven’t already, I’m going to ask that everyone please quickly go around your table and introduce yourselves.

I want to mention that we also have several dignitaries, community leaders and mentors joining us today. There are simply too many to announce but I’d like to single out:

  • Our keynote speaker: The Honourable, Jean Augustine
  • Ward 3 Councillor Chris Fonseca
  • Ward 6 Councillor Ron Starr
  • Ward 9 Councillor Pat Saito
  • Ward 10 Councillor Sue McFadden
  • Janice Baker, our City Manager, several of her Commissioners, Directors and senior staff
  • MPPs Natalie Kusendova and Nina Tangri along with
  • Several leaders from Mississauga Fire and Emergency Services, Peel Region, Peel Police and;
  • I also want to acknowledge all of the women (and some male) leaders who have taken time to meet and participate in today’s event. Please stand up to and give us a wave.

Many of you are getting ready to take the next big step in your academic careers..

I’m sure you hear this all the time from your parents and your teachers but I really cannot stress enough the importance of earning a good education – especially for young women.

The competitive edge you gain in college or university or in the trades will help lay the foundation for a bright and promising future…

Whether you want to be a scientist, engineer, public servant, an electrician a firefighter, or Mayor or you just don’t know yet, that’s okay too!

I know it can be scary and there are a lot of unknowns, but I promise you, it will not only make you smarter but better-rounded, worldly and will put you on the path to success.

Simply put – higher education opens doors.

It’s your passport to success and prosperity.

I will be the first to admit, being a woman isn’t easy.

Our plates are always full.

I know we always hear the saying that as women can “have it all.”

But can we? Without losing focus on what matters the most, our personal health and mental well-being?

I believe as women we can have it all, but not necessarily always at the same time.

Achieving balance isn’t always an easy thing.

Whether that’s at school, in the workplace…

Or at home, which is a struggle I hear from young women every year I host this breakfast.

While we are one of the most diverse cities in the world, I recognize that women’s rights aren’t necessarily as progressive in other countries as they are here in Canada.

Sometimes it’s as if you are living in two worlds… and it’s difficult to not only make sense of it all but to bridge that gap.

To feel comfortable not only pursing leadership roles in school or at the workplace but feeling accepted and encouraged to do so.

As any child of an immigrant family knows, on one hand, we want to fit in with our friends and be accepted at our school, but at the same time, we respect our roots and want to make our parents proud because we know how much they sacrificed so that we could have a bright and promising future.

I know our guest speaker, the Honourable Jean Augustine, will be sharing some of her personal experiences as an immigrant and as a woman of colour…

Bridging this gap and breaking barriers when she became the first African Canadian woman elected to Canada’s House of Commons.

Now, I’d like to share a bit more about my story, which has greatly shaped who I am today.

Before becoming a politician, I was a community volunteer, business woman and prior to that, a student at U of T.

Pursuing higher education and a seat in public office was my way of giving back and making my family proud.

After I graduated from university, I worked in advertising for some of the world’s biggest companies including Disney and the McDonalds Corporation.

After having my first child, I  went back to school to earn an MBA from the Schulich School of Business; starting working shortly thereafter in Government Relations at the Insurance Bureau of Canada;  had my second child, and then took a calculated risk and left to pursue an entrepreneurial opportunity… .

Cargo Cosmetics, a cosmetic company that I helped build back in the nineties.

Our mission was to make great quality make-up for the everyday woman.

We had a great run…

Our products were available in department’s stores nation-wide but when several Eaton’s department stores began to close, we needed to find a new market for our product or risk going out of business.

I quickly sprang into action, using my PR skills to generate interest and leads down south, successfully expanding our product line to the Middle East and into Barneys in the United States… saving the business.

While I cherished my experience as an entrepreneur, and the time I spent in the business world I left after I had my third child because I needed greater flexibility and a better work life balance.

I immersed myself in the community, sitting on boards and raising money for charities.

It helped prepare me for the next stage of my career as a public servant: first as a MP; then as a City Councillor; and now as second term Mayor.

The one thing I’ve learned over the years is that, more women in positions of leadership changes outcomes, for the better and it also makes good financial sense.

We know how to get things done.

I’m not sure if you know this but we are leading the way in Mississauga, with an equal number of women in leadership positions.

6 of our 11 Councillors – yes, that’s more than half! – are women.

Our City Manager, Janice Baker is a woman, as is our City Clerk, City Solicitor and over a dozen of our Directors.

Mississauga is unique…

We are leading the way…

When you look at the private sector, specifically at our corporate boardroom tables, only 14 per cent of directors are women, despite making up half of the work force.

And while those numbers continue to climb year over year…it’s a bit too slow for my liking.

As you can see, we still have more work to do to elevate more women into leadership positions and to achieve true gender parity.

That’s why this International Women’s Day, we turn our focus on achieving “balance for the better.”

Today and every day, we must work to strike the right balance at home and at work, while tackling some of the big issues that are preventing us from achieving true equality including equal pay for equal work, discriminatory hiring practices and sexism in the workplace.

The reality is that in addition to physically bearing the children, we are also still expected to carry the burden of caring for them… as well as our aging parents and our households.

Studies have shown that even in a relationship where men and women both work, women still do the majority of the work around the home.

Sky high child care costs are also forcing women to either put off having children or making the tough decision not to go back to work because it simply doesn’t make financial sense.

It’s ridiculous, it’s unacceptable and it’s unfortunately very much still a reality in 2019.

We need both levels of government to work together to make child care more affordable and make it easier for women to get back to work.

The workplace itself is often not always the most welcoming place for women.

It’s not for a lack of trying that sometimes women can’t get ahead, it’s a mix  of old and dated ways of thinking, archaic institutions sometimes known as “the old boys club” that perpetuate inequality.

On average, women make 26 percent less than men do for the same job.

This is simply unacceptable.

We deserve equal pay for equal work.

We also often face discrimination in the workplace, particularly when it comes to hiring women of childbearing age.

Why not just hire a man instead? They aren’t going anywhere?

We need to shift societal attitudes and we need to make it easier for more men to take paternity leave like they do in so many Scandinavian countries.

At the City of Mississauga, we’ve taken action to support women in the workplace.

We offer flexible work arrangements that help our employees find balance between their personal and professional lives.

We actively encourage male employees to take paternity leave.

We have also developed a diversity and inclusion strategy to ensure our workplace is supportive and that we are able to attract and retain a highly talented, diverse workforce.

And, we are also working to identify how many employees we have in each of these groups, including women, and in what positions which will help us address any gaps that might exist.

But, there is still more to do.

As a City, we will continue to take bold, progressive action to ensure women’s rights are not only protected but promoted in the workplace.

What steps can we take in our everyday lives to help achieve balance for the better?

It starts with having open and honest conversations.

With the people we look up to, whether that’s our mentors, teachers or bosses…

With elected officials at all levels of government…

With the heads of corporations and human resources…

With ourselves…

And most importantly, with each other…

As women, we are strong, we are determined and we are fierce.

We need to support each other.

We are better together.

I ask that you continue to be the first to raise your hand.

That you never accept that you cannot do something simply because you’re a woman.

Take calculated risks, volunteer, lean in.

Put in the extra hours.

Success doesn’t come easy. There are no shortcuts.

It’s the result of a lot of hard work and dedication.

I’m always surprised that the harder I work the luckier I become…

Have the courage to put your name in the hat or on the ballot.

Don’t be afraid to ask for that well-deserved promotion.

Work with, not against one another.

Use social media and technology, to advance our agenda, not to hold each other back.

Only by working together and lifting each other up, will we better the balance.

When we better the balance, we better the world.

During your group discussions, you will be asked to answer one question:

  • What actions can we take to motivate friends, colleagues and whole communities to build a gender-balanced world in our boardrooms, government, media, sports, etc.?

I know we all look forward to hearing from you.

Now, it gives me the great pleasure to introduce our keynote speaker, the Honourable Jean Augustine.

Ladies, we have a true trailblazer among us.

Jean’s story is a testament to the power of hard work and devotion in pursuit of social justice.

I asked her to be our guest of honour because I believe she is a role model for all the young girls here today and a shining example of what strong, fearless women can achieve.

Jean immigrated to Canada from Grenada nearly sixty years ago as a qualified teacher.

She earned her Master’s degree in Education, involved herself in several social causes from children’s health to housing to representing the Congress of Black Women of Canada as their National President.

She helped develop and launch Canada’s official multiculturalism policy and in 1993 made history by becoming the first African Canadian woman elected to the House of Commons representing Etobicoke-Lakeshore, winning four elections until her retirement from politics in 2006.

Amongst her notable achievements include becoming Ontario’s first-ever Fairness Commissioner and creating legislation to protect low-income individuals including single mothers.

She’s received countless awards including being appointed as a Member of the Order of Canada and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for her extensive contribution to Canadian society as a politician, educator and social justice advocate.

Without further ado, please join me in welcoming the Honourable Jean Augustine to the stage.”