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International Women's Day focuses on inclusion

Friday was International Women’s Day, with this year’s theme shining a light on inspiring inclusion.

J.D. Irving, Limited marked the day with a panel discussion about what it means to inspire inclusion, featuring panelists Gael MacQueen, Vice President of Supply Chain; Jim Ramsay, Vice President of Health & Safety; Rannie MacDonald, General Manager of Kent Building Supplies; Christine Lavoie, Director of Reporting & Analytics and Student Programs and host Linda Speedy, Vice President of Human Resources.

“International Women’s Day is about celebrating the achievements and how far we have come,” Speedy said. “It is also about recognizing there is still a way for us to go.”

The theme was especially poignant to Maryam Naser, an immigration specialist with corporate HR, as a woman of colour, who asked panelists what they did to inspire inclusion.


MacQueen, whose 25-plus career in a historically male-dominated industry has spanned two countries, said she’s noticed that female inclusion in leadership roles has evolved past a focus on just numbers to being more about participation, value, respect and diversity.

It’s important to be deliberate about inclusion, MacQueen added.  

“There is nothing like it when you get a group of diverse individuals with different backgrounds, different ethnicities, different genders, different experiences, different cultures,” she said. “The discussions, the decisions, how teams gel and progress, it is a beautiful thing.”

Naser said her takeaway from the panel was that the importance of inclusion being recognized.

“I think the biggest hurdle when it comes to change is when you think that you’re doing everything perfectly, then there’s no room for improvement,” Naser said. “But when you recognize that there is, you are actually going to be intentionally putting effort to make change.”