From the very beginning our goal has been to create pieces that focus on a feeling instead of fashion trends, designing pieces that help women of all ages and body types live as their most confident selves. In addition to creating clothes that look good, feel good and last.
Throughout the years we have found ways to actively be involved in our community and support causes that go beyond a woman's wardrobe.
This Women’s History Month, we spoke with four women we admire about their work, how women coming together changes everything for the better, and their style.
Robyn Chisholm is the Vice President and Head of Commercial Banking for Scotiabank in BC and the Yukon. At the head of many tables, Robyn carries the weight of being a leader of her team and a role model for the women interested in leadership roles -- without getting smashed under glass ceilings.
Find out how Robyn uses her platform to create space for meaningful change, and how her style helps her stand out in the corporate world:
Tell us a bit about your current role (or career) and how it uplifts women around you and in your industry
In my role as Vice President and Head of Commercial Banking for BC & Yukon at Scotiabank,
I am responsible for providing strategic direction and leadership for Scotiabank’s commercial banking division for the BC & Yukon Region. I have the opportunity to support the women I work with, but also our customers, and female colleagues in the industry.
We have very strong representation of women in senior levels at Scotiabank. An achievement that (reflects) a long-standing commitment and active investment in mentoring, sponsorship, and policy development and implementation to ensure we build strong foundations to prepare and advance women into leadership roles.
I am proud to have played a role in these efforts and continue to champion them by setting up initiatives like the Women in Leadership Network, WeForShe Employee Resource Group, and most recently a national group mentoring program. This gives women coming through the organization confidence that diversity and inclusion are core values that we honour and act on, not just talk about. It’s important to me that we create an environment where everyone can succeed and bring their best to the table.
In speaking with women outside of Scotiabank (whether they are customers or part of my professional network), one thing that always stands out to me is how women are looking to network with other women. Something I read that has always resonated with me is “a woman alone has power, collectively we have impact”.
What achievement are you most proud of, personally or professionally?
While the achievement doesn’t only belong to me, I am incredibly proud of our collective contributions to the success of The Scotiabank Women Initiative (SWI).
This is a bank-wide, signature program for our clients who identify as women or non-binary and it’s designed to increase their economic and professional opportunities to be successful, both now and in the future. This globally expanding, unique offering helps thousands of women pursue their best professional and financial futures by providing unbiased access to capital and tailored solutions, bespoke specialized education, and holistic advisory services and mentorship.
Whether supporting women to take their careers and businesses further, collaborating with inclusion-focused leaders and companies, providing women-owned and women-led businesses with equitable access to funding or helping women take charge of their finances, SWI breaks down barriers to empower women to succeed on their own terms.
Most recently, SWI increased its commitment to helping fund women-owned and women-led businesses in Canada. The program will now aim to deploy $10 billion in capital by 2025, building upon its initial $3 Billion goal, which was fulfilled ahead of schedule.
We have created such an inspiring local network. When I’m in a room with women in our program, the energy is incredible! We’ve truly built a community, and for me, that is one of the most meaningful ways to give back.
If you could give your 20-year-old self-one piece of career advice, what would that be?
Take risks and expect that you will fail sometimes. Growth happens when you stretch yourself and try things.
Surround yourself with the people that will bring the best out of you – there will be a select few that you will look back on and know that they changed your trajectory.
What do you think women-led companies should encourage in their industries and why?
I strongly believe in the power of paying it forward and role modeling. As far as we’ve come, there are still hurdles like unconscious bias that impact how women feel about advancing or whether or not they have advanced. By being vulnerable, and talking openly about things like imposter syndrome, and the importance of sponsorship, momentum is created, and confidence rises. Look for opportunities to give the women you work with actionable feedback, which will enable them to grow at a faster pace than they otherwise would have.
How does style factor into your career?
I love my Sympli pieces because I can mix and match depending on what I have going on for the day, or into the evening.
For me, clothes that fit well and are professional build my confidence. Style, however, allows us all to be more individualistic and tells a story about your personal brand.
Please finish the sentence: "When women work together____."
When women work together, we own our voice, we ensure we are heard and not overlooked or ignored.
The road to success looks different for everyone partly because we each face a mix of unique and age-old challenges -- including the idea of how leadership is ‘supposed to look.’ While we may not be in charge of two provinces for one of Canada’s oldest institutions, we do have the power to inspire other women to follow in our footsteps, great style included!
The next woman clearing a path for meaningful change is Jen Rainnie, Founder and CEO of MALVADOS Lifestyle Inc., a company dedicated to finding the beauty in essentials. Stay tuned!