“Powerfully Empowered” isn’t just our theme; it’s our mission

Every year, we pick a theme for our Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Awards.

It’s a challenging process because the theme represents many aspects of what we do. It reflects who we are as an organization, the accomplishments of our winners, the diversity and inclusion environment as it stands today, the challenges professional women face and the amazing work we’re all doing together to break down barriers for each other.

Picking this year’s theme, “Powerfully Empowered,” was no different. It’s about women who show their power not through their standing, but rather through the way they inspire and champion others, share their knowledge, create change and help others achieve their best. In short, it’s about celebrating women who don’t stand up just for themselves – they stand up for all of us.

As owner and CEO of the Women’s Executive Network (WXN) and the Canadian Board Diversity Council (CBDC), I often travel across Canada to speak with leaders across roles and industries. Through those conversations, I hear one thing over and over: “I don’t feel comfortable with the word power. I don’t feel powerful.

In fact, for many of us, we’re just plain uncomfortable identifying with the word “power” – we may even feel ashamed of it. We equate it to the car we drive, the office we hold, our physical strength, the money we have or the influence we exert. Some of us even attach negative connotations, especially when it refers to a woman.

Should we stop using the word? Quite the opposite – we should use it more, though in a different way. We need to toss out our old relationship to the word and start celebrating real power.

What is real power? It’s not how we lift ourselves up; it’s how we lift up everyone else around us. It’s quiet in its confidence. It’s unselfish and giving. It’s authentic, humble and honest. It’s kind and joyful. It’s shared, not hidden. It’s brave in moments of adversity and difficulty. It’s pushing forward when you feel like giving up. It’s the way we help other people feel powerful.

When I think of some of our most powerful leaders – leaders like Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Michele Obama – I realized they all have these traits.

And so does every one of the 110 winners of this year’s Top 100 Awards. They personify this kind of power, across our country and across arts, business, sports, science, entertainment, entrepreneurship, technology, the skilled trades and the public sector. They’re making an impact in their industry while inspiring and empowering others to follow in their footsteps.

Thank you to KPMG in Canada, an empowering organization, for their support and leadership as the Presenting Partner for the Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Awards. As with everything they do, KPMG gives 100 per cent of their support to the recognition and advancement of women. They also give 100 per cent in their partnerships and we are grateful.

This year, “Powerfully Empowered” isn’t just a theme. It’s a call to action for all of us to redefine the word “power” itself, to change the way we think about power in our lives and help others feel powerful in theirs.


To learn more about our 2019 Top 100 Awards, presented by KPMG, visit our Top 100 page.

Presenting Partner:

KPMG Top 100 Presenting Partner

No Greater Force on Earth than Passionate Intent

I loved school. And fell in love with history. As a kid, and later a university undergraduate and graduate student I read chapter after chapter of the lives of great people who shaped us.

But so often voices were missing. For centuries women really didn’t get noticed…didn’t get written about….rarely appeared at all and when they did it was in supporting roles or cameos.

We’re living in a new era where we are noticed, are heard and are celebrated – not despite the fact that we’re women but because of it. It isn’t right, or fair to the amazing women that preceded us that this is a new era, but the point is that we’ve arrived.

I was beyond moved and in awe when I found out the company I get to keep with the other 99 powerhouse women receiving recognition this year, and the hundreds before them in years past. I am so appreciative that women have moved out of the margins of history onto, literally centre stage.

But the true power of the group that’s assembled through this award isn’t who we are as individuals, it’s what we represent as a collective. There is no greater force on earth than passionate intent. If we all collectively support and celebrate the accomplishments of women – in all of our diverse forms – not only will women rise, but we as a society will be better off.

The number of powerful positions out there may be finite. But power is not. I look forward to seeing what this group of women and the many around us do to plug in and use our positions of influence to affect positive change for years to come.

Sevaun Palvetzian, one of Canada’s leading experts in civic action, is a Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner in the RBC Champions Category for 2018. She has been honoured because of the describable difference she has made to the advancement of women in the workplace.

On November 21, 2019, we will honour new women in the RBC Champions category. Click here to learn more about Top 100, as we celebrate these exceptional women. And don’t forget in 2020 to nominate a powerful female or even yourself!

 


About Sevaun:

Sevaun Palvetzian is Chief Executive Officer for CivicAction.

Palvetzian, Sevaun portrait

2018 Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner
RBC Champions

One of Canada’s leading experts on civic engagement, Sevaun Palvetzian has been CEO of CivicAction since January 2014. Under her leadership, CivicAction has focused on building inclusive cities with the launch of the CivicAction Leadership Foundation to change the face of leadership in our region and initiatives focused on youth unemployment and mental health in the workplace which level the playing field of opportunity and access. Throughout her career, Sevaun has advocated for new voices at the tables of influence including championing the next generation of leaders. During a decade of senior executive leadership within the Ontario Government she launched a strategy to attract and retain future generations of leaders which included the award-winning Learn and Work Program for at-risk youth and lead the team responsible for the new Trillium Park at Ontario Place. She has also held positions at the University of Toronto, the World Bank Group, and Presidential Classroom – a civic education organization in Washington DC.

A voice of influence and advocacy on many urban issues, Sevaun is frequently called on for print, radio and TV commentary.  She’s active in a range of community roles including serving as a member of the Premier’s Community Hubs Advisory Group, the Toronto Police Service Board Transformational Task Force, and as a member of Mayor John Tory’s Advisory Panel for International Hosting Opportunities. She sits on the Board of Directors for the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council, NPower Canada, Waterfront Toronto, and is a member of the Ivey Business School Leadership Council. She has an M.A in history from the University of Western Ontario, and has completed executive programs at the Ivey School of Business and Harvard School of Business.