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Moving in the Right Direction Step by Step

Have you ever wondered about the history of International Women’s Day?  Here’s a quick lesson …. International Women’s Day (IWD) began as a movement in New York in 1908 when 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter working hours, better pay and the right to vote.  Over the past century, IWD has evolved into a global movement recognizing and celebrating the efforts of women in establishing a more equitable society.  The 2022 theme for IWD is #BreakTheBias - a great theme to help us imagine a gender equal world.

Winpak is excited to celebrate International Women’s Day, especially as its 2022 theme aligns with our new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiative.  Our objective is to infuse Winpak’s values of “Respect” and “Inclusion” into our company culture and ensure that every employee, regardless of gender, feels a sense of belonging at Winpak. 

#BreakTheBias at Winpak
In 2021, Winpak began the first step of its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) program by conducting an employee survey to reveal the demographic makeup of our workforce.  The survey results were insightful and will provide the building blocks for Winpak to create policies, procedures and programs for a more inclusive and equitable work culture.  One very interesting aspect of the survey results is that it highlighted the positive contributions of women in various parts of the organization, especially in fields that are heavily male dominated.

Geneviève Tremblay is an employee who has made incredible strides in her career at Winpak.  Based in our Vaudreuil, Quebec location, Tremblay is an engineering and maintenance manager who oversees large projects at her plant.  As a mother of two children, she embraces the challenge of working in a demanding career while successfully raising her 17-year-old daughter and 21-year-old son. 

Tremblay has experienced her fair share of gender bias but has gracefully taken everything in stride.  “I believe that women should have the same opportunities as men, at a global scale.  I was raised by a woman who was a feminist and proud to say so”.  She continues, “I’ve dealt with “bias” as a project engineer when directing construction work and other large projects.  I overcame it by not letting myself be stopped and showing that I could do the work.  Actions speak louder than words”.

Mozerti (Zetty) Mohd Azrul is the director of technology at Winpak Films Inc. in Senoia, Georgia.  The oldest of four siblings, Azrul learned from a very young age how to work with people from different backgrounds, beliefs and religions. 

“There were times when it was not easy, and conflict arose, but at the end of the day, respect, compassion, and love always triumph over petty differences”, she shares.  Azrul carries these same traits into her leadership role at Winpak, especially when it comes to dealing with bias.  “To me, the first step towards breaking the bias is to stop THINKING discriminatively towards others. To quote Margaret Thatcher: Watch your thoughts, for they will become actions. Watch your actions, for they'll become habits. Watch your habits for they will forge your character. Watch your character, for it will make your destiny.”

Like Geneviève Tremblay, Azrul also looks to her mother as a role model. Speaking of her mother, Azrul states, “She taught me that a woman can have an education, a career, and a family, and excel at all these without sacrificing one or the other”.

From Canada to the United States and Mexico, Winpak is proud to have such strong female employees maintaining the movement to break the bias at work.

Supporting Minority-Owned Businesses
Winpak continues to widen this gender-equal mindset externally to the suppliers and businesses we work with.  One such example is Creative Benefits, Inc., a benefits brokerage and consulting firm founded by Ruth Graham in 1983.

Creative Benefits, Inc. is not only women-led and operated, but it is also a family-run company. The company serves its clients with a committed interest in structuring a well-rounded, forward-thinking benefits program.  These standards of service have been instrumental in building the business’s solid reputation among industry professionals.

Winpak has been a proud partner of Creative Benefits, Inc. since 2016.  We will continue to broaden our scope of suppliers and seek out more opportunities to work with minority-owned businesses.

The Unsung “Sheroes” of the Pandemic
Life changed for many of us when the COVID-19 virus took the world by storm in 2020.  We all had to adjust to living in a pandemic while balancing work and personal responsibilities.

According to the “Women in the Workplace 2021” Report by McKinsey & Company, “a year and a half into the COVID-19 pandemic, women in corporate America are even more burned out than they were last year”. The Report continues, “Despite this added stress and exhaustion, women are rising to the moment as stronger leaders and taking on the extra work …. women are doing more to support their teams and advance diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts”.

Zetty Azrul knows first-hand the daunting demands of balancing family responsibilities during a pandemic. Photo-of-Zetty--her-family.png “When COVID-19 hit, I had just given birth to my second son. Daycare and nurseries were unavailable for several months after I went back to work, so I juggled working from home, taking care of my newborn son, and stepping into the position I’m in now”.  Azrul adds, “What I could do on my own, I did. When I couldn’t, I sought help. No one can make it in this world alone, and I have a very supportive husband who’s there by my side. I am also blessed because I work with an incredible team. My team members are responsible, accountable, and very capable of performing their duties”

Step by step, women are showing that they are more than capable of overcoming the various types of bias they encounter at work while efficiently managing personal responsibilities.  International Women’s Day is a movement that shouldn’t be limited to just one day, it should be an ongoing commitment by organizations, both large and small, to provide viable opportunities for women to succeed.  In small and simple ways, Winpak is doing its part and our hope is that others will join in this journey to create a more gender equal world.

Sharon  Hooper
Sharon Hooper
Vice President, Human Resources
Winnipeg, MB Canada

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