SFU Chancellor Anne Giardini.


Chancellor Anne Giardini named Influential Woman in Business

March 08, 2018

SFU Chancellor Anne Giardini is among six B.C. women to receive a 2018 Influential Women in Business Award from Business in Vancouver. The award recognizes B.C.’s most outstanding businesswomen in private or public-sector companies. They have each risen through the ranks to become senior executives or entrepreneurs and, through corporate board placements, are helping to influence and shape policy at some of Canada’s largest companies.

Giardini, an SFU alumnus, forestry executive, lawyer, corporate director and author, is an acknowledged national leader who has a distinguished record of community service.

As chancellor, she sits on SFU’s board of governors. She is also chair of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, and a board member of TransLink, WWF-Canada, and the BC Achievement Foundation. As well, she has served on various boards in Canada’s resource industry and literary community. 

SFU Chancellor Anne Giardini spoke at the 2018 Influential Women in Business Awards on March 8, 2018.

Here are her remarks:

Look at this room filled with remarkable women. Where did you all come from, so accomplished and hardworking and generous-hearted and just a little bit formidable?

I didn’t grow up with women in business as role models. Looking back, I think the only woman I knew who worked for herself was the industrious woman who came to clean our house for years while my father was at work and my mother was writing books.

I didn’t meet women lawyers or accountants or engineers or judges or physicians or dentists or landscapers or CEOs or CFOs or COOs and so on.  There were a very few women politicians – we lived in Ottawa.

So working women role models had to be looked for elsewhere.

I found one or two on television, starting with Mary Tyler Moore, who worked in television, and Diahann Carrol who was a nurse.

And I found a few in books. Jo March in Little Women worked for her aunt and then ran a school with her husband. The girls’ mother, also worked, leaving the house each day to do mysterious tasks having to do with the civil war effort.

By the late 1980s, when Chief Justice Dickson of the Supreme Court of Canada wrote two majority decisions for the court that emphasized the importance of work to a person’s identity, he used inclusive language:

“Work is one of the most fundamental aspects in a person’s life, providing the individual with a means of financial support and, as importantly, a contributory role in society. A person’s employment is an essential component of his or her sense of identity, self-worth and emotional well-being.”

Today, women, at least some women, some fortunate women, like most of us in this room, get a great deal of say in how we want to live our lives and we are able to chose work from the infinite scope of activities in the modern world.

Most women, like most men, want to do something or be part of something meaningful.   To bring to bear our ideas, creativity and even passion. We are strengthened when we find ways to take action in ways that feel authentic and important. Oh, and be paid for doing so.

Nothing I have done is world changing. Few of us will have extraordinary opportunities to take action on our own. But collectively. Oh, collectively. Women and those who are our fellow travellers. Collectively, this room shows us that we have changed the world.

At a time when the truth itself appears threatened, diversity is directly tied to the preservation and creation of the kind of culture we value, because the experiences of people with different backgrounds enable us to ask and help to resolve important questions that go to the root of who we are and how we act or should act.

There is a saying I like: “The truth will set you free. But first it will piss you off.”  (Who first said it is debated.)

And the truth is there is more to be done.

We live in a world in which disruption has become the norm, accelerated by new technologies, cultural shifts, demographic transformation, geopolitical affairs, climate change and other factors that sometimes work together, sometimes in opposition.  This makes us fearful. Some of us fear disorder. Some fear the established order.

In Canada we have a wealth of varied perspectives readily available to us.

Women are here to stay and we can now help to open the gates for people from across the range of cultures and backgrounds and beliefs and skin colours, and orientations and identity. Having already been the disruptors, we should be ready to do a bit more disrupting to ensure that everyone has a place.

Thank you.