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Champions For Change Power of 5 Interview - Charmaine St. Ange

Women in Leadership Foundation is excited to introduce you to Charmaine St. Ange (she/her) who has signed the Transforming the Workplace Pledge on behalf of the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology.

Tell us about your career journey and how you ended up where you are today?

Originally, my aspiration was to establish my own travel agency. However, upon completing my Travel and Tourism certificate, I came to the realization that my true dream was centered around exploring the world, not necessarily working within the travel industry. This prompted me to make a significant shift and seek out a career that would afford this passion of mine.

My certificate encompassed some business courses, unveiling a knack for numbers, processes, and leadership within me.  Motivated by this discovery, I extended my education to the UK, honing and expanding my business skills. Eight years of working and studying abroad, coupled with extensive travel, enriched my professional journey.

Upon returning to Canada, I found myself in what might be considered a conventional role for females in male-dominated sectors such as Forklift Rental and Repair, Oil and Gas and Construction – working as a receptionist. Thankfully, I had the support of two remarkable women leaders who believed in me. With their encouragement, I continued my education, navigated the workforce, and gradually realized my potential for managerial roles.

Five years ago, a shift in the economy forced me to reassess my path, aware of the need for greater stability as I aged, I decided to explore industries that aligned with my passion for helping people.  In a moment's decision, I flipped a coin, considering a career in either healthcare or education.  The choice was clear – education had been transformative in my own life, making it the logical path forward.

Today, I find myself in a role that not only allows me to leverage my strengths in process improvement but also enables me to help others. This journey has reaffirmed the profound impact education can have on one’s life, and I am thrilled to be contributing to that transformative process for others.

What is the greatest challenge you have faced in your career path and how was this overcome?

One of the most significant challenges I’ve faced in my career has been navigating a male-dominated workforce. While I firmly believe in meritocracy, the reality is that certain industries or professions still grapple with gender imbalance. This situation has presented obstacles such as overcoming gender stereotypes and biases that can sometimes influence decision-making processes.

To address this challenge, I’ve focused on building strong relationships and fostering open communication with my colleagues. It’s crucial to break down preconceived notions and showcase my skills and abilities through tangible results. Additionally, I actively seek out mentorship and allyship to ensure that I have a support system in place.  

Emphasizing the value of diversity and inclusion, I strive to contribute to a workplace culture that recognizes and appreciates the unique perspectives and strengths that individuals, regardless of gender, bring to the table. While the journey may be challenging, I see it as an opportunity to pave the way for positive change and inspire others to pursue their goals, regardless of societal expectations. 

What shifts in transformation have you seen within your workplace to overcome these challenges?

Over the past 25 years, significant changes have occurred in the workforce landscape that have prompted a shift in how workplaces address equity, inclusion, and Diversity. Some Key factors include:

  • Globalization and Diversity Awareness:

  • The increasing globalization of businesses has led to a more diverse workforce with employees from various cultural, ethnic, and linguistic backgrounds.

  • Greater awareness and appreciation for diversity has prompted organizations to recognize the value of having a multicultural and inclusive workplace.

  • Advancements in Technology:

  • Technology has facilitated remote work and increased collaboration across borders, allowing organizations to tap into more diverse talent pools.

  • The use of data and analytics has enabled companies to measure and track diversity metrics, fostering a more data-driven approach to equity and inclusion.

  • Social Movements and Activism:

  • Social movements, such as “MeToo and Black Lives Matter”, have shed light on issues related to gender and racial inequality, sparking conversations, and driving organizations to reassess their policies and practices.

  • Increased social awareness has led to a demand for more transparency and accountability in addressing equity and inclusion.

  • Legal and Regulatory Changes:

  • There have been changes in legislation and regulations aimed at promoting diversity and preventing discrimination in the workplace.

  • Companies are now more cognizant of legal obligations and are taking proactive measures to ensure compliance and foster an inclusive environment.

  • Generational Shifts:

  • The entrance of younger generations into the workforce, such as Millennials and Generation Z, has brought a heightened focus on values like diversity, social responsibility, and corporate ethics.

  • Younger employees often prioritize workplaces that prioritize diversity and inclusion, influencing organizational priorities.

  • Increased focus on employee well-being:

  • Organizations are recognizing the importance of employee well-being, which includes creating a work environment that is inclusive and supportive of diverse needs.

  • A holistic approach to employee wellness considers mental health, work-life balance, and diversity as integral components.

  • Leadership Commitment:

  • There is a growing understanding that diversity and inclusion initiatives need strong leadership commitment to be successful.

  • Many organizations now have dedicated roles, responsible for driving and overseeing diversity and inclusion efforts.

  • Educational Initiatives:

  • Organizations are investing in education and training programs to raise awareness and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion among employees.

  • There is recognition that fostering an inclusive culture requires ongoing learning and dialogue.

These changes collectively highlight the evolving nature of the workforce that has opened my pathway.  Not to mention my will to never give up!

What support would you need for your career advancement with your organization or sector?

I am fortunate to be part of an organization that is already making commendable strides in the realm of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. As I consider my career advancement within this dynamic organization and sector, I believe that a continued commitment to learning and growth is essential. I would appreciate support in the form of ongoing professional development opportunities, mentorship, and coaching, along with encouragement and support to participate in projects and committees.  

Why was it important for your organization to sign Women in Leadership’s Transforming the Workplace Pledge?

Embracing and actively participating in the movement to transform the workplace is a matter of great significance to me personally and holds collective importance for the organization I represent. This commitment is rooted in the understanding that such a transformation is a pivotal step towards fostering a workplace characterized by Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion.  

Recognizing the inherent value of treating individuals with fairness and kindness, I believe that this approach not only aligns with ethical principles but also contributes significantly to the overall well-being of our organizational community. It represents a collective ethos that seeks to eliminate biases, encourage inclusivity, and create an environment where every member feels valued and respected.

Moreover, the emphasis on treating people fairly and with kindness extends beyond organizational benefits. It speaks to the broader narrative of creating a harmonious and supportive community, both within and outside the workplace.

In essence, embracing this transformative movement is not just a professional aspiration’ it is a commitment to shared values that resonate with the fundamental principles of equality and world peace. By collectively taking steps in this direction, we not only enhance the workplace experience for all but also contribute to a larger societal paradigm shift that prioritizes humanity and understanding.

Charmaine St Ange serves as the Manager of Delivery Services, a department at SAIT, overseeing a department dedicated to fostering transformative learning experiences that empowers people, careers, communities, organizations, and countries. Her profound dedication to assisting others aligns seamlessly with her role in the Education sector, making each workday a rewarding endeavor. Renowned for her adept leadership, Charmaine leads industrious and motivated teams that consistently deliver results with a blend of compassion and inclusivity. Within the workplace, she emanates a powerful and positive influence, utilizing her boundless energy to inspire others towards success. Charmaine draws daily inspiration from women in leadership, propelling her commitment to continual growth and lifelong learning. During her leisure time if she isn’t on an adventure outdoors, she can be found snuggled up on the couch with her fur baby planning her next adventure.

Women in Leadership’s Transforming the Workplace Pledge for Employers is part of our Bridge to Gender Equality Project. We engage with employers and stakeholders to create and amend diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging policies and procedures. We hope you will be part of the change! By signing this pledge, your organization commits to fostering an inclusive and equitable workplace, where all employees are valued, respected, and provided with equal opportunities for recruitment, growth, promotion, and success. To sign the Pledge, click here. 



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