Statistics show that men have a better chance of being promoted to the highest levels of a company’s hierarchy than women. But what happens when women reach positions of power? We have the answers of three partners who aren’t afraid of female ambition.
Geneviève Fortier and the Model of a Proud Stay-at-home Dad
In 2002, a few months after Geneviève Fortier and François Demers’ daughter was born, their nanny left. Soon after, Geneviève asked herself how their little family would organize itself now. François decided to go on parental leave, then become a full-time stay-at-home dad.
“I don’t think that every man would’ve been able to make this decision. It requires a certain character. And even if the traditional roles in our home are reversed, a mother will always be a mother,” says François.
Daily, he takes care of the laundry, cooking and grocery shopping, while a domestic worker handles the general housework. “This allows us to enjoy the entire weekend without obligations,” he says.
Now the Chief Executive Officer of Promutuel Insurance, Geneviève Fortier has an impressive track history. Her successive positions meant she had to travel regularly and work long hours, but she could also shoulder greater responsibilities over the years knowing her spouse was providing their children with stability and a presence at home.
“My spouse has had wonderful opportunities and I’m happy that she could seize them and further her career. Just as a wife will support her husband’s career, he can do the same for her,” François maintains, adding that his choices have often surprised people.
“Some were envious of my situation. To have been able to be there daily with my children, to capture precious moments, is gratifying and priceless.”
Stéphanie Trudeau: Support and Encouragement
Patrick Gervais is Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Lion Electric, while his spouse Stéphanie Trudeau will be managing new operations beginning January 1st, as Executive Vice President of Énergir Québec. They are two very busy professionals who are also parents to three children aged 18, 15 and 8.
“Work is part of our lives. Even when we’re on vacation, we answer our emails every day! We feel freer when we can solve problems morning and night,” he confides.
But family weekends are sacred, and he takes turns with his spouse to be back home for 6:15 p.m. The couple also sets aside time for activities together and treats themselves to time just for them.
“I’m very proud of Stéphanie’s strong reputation and all that she’s accomplished. We constantly help each other and when she experiences imposter syndrome, I encourage her to make a name for herself, to continue to outdo herself,” Patrick Gervais says, pointing out the lack of women at the head of major companies.
“They approach management differently, which is a very valuable contribution,” he declares.
In his opinion, it’s essential to tear down prejudices. Patrick Gervais regrets that although things have changed, many men still demand that their spouse put her career on hold once they have children. “And yet it’s still possible to combine a career and family life if both put their shoulder to the wheel,” he believes.
Élise Proulx : Chasing Away Guilt … Together!
Regional Director of UBS Bank for Eastern Canada, Pierre Czyzowicz is the spouse of Élise Proulx, Vice President of Communications and Government Affairs at Hydro-Québec. They are parents to four children aged 21, 18, 12 and 10. So what’s the couple’s secret to making the most of their situation and making time for themselves?
“We combine business with pleasure,” Pierre Czyzowicz explains. For example, sometimes they merge a personal vacation with a business trip, or even organize activities outside professional obligations.“Everything ends up falling into place, you just need to adapt to the situation and find solutions,” he mentions.
Managing all the family’s activities is a team effort, with help from their two eldest daughters and a caregiver. Pierre Czyzowicz emphasizes that the couple has been together since high school and that they’ve always made decisions together.
“We’ve always provided each other with mutual support. The key is to give each other the means so that each spouse can grow and fulfil themselves,” he explains.
He points out that women often feel guilty about not being able to be everywhere at once. “They take on too much. For example, when something is wrong at home, mothers think it’s up to them to fix it. We must establish a new dynamic. At our house, we share the chores and each of us is committed to those that will benefit the entire family to the fullest. Men have a role to play for their spouse’s guilt to disappear,” he advises. Definitely a recipe for success!