When Recruit Action partner Domenic was in high school, he delivered a presentation on Jeanne Sauve, the first female Governor General of Canada. She was an inspiring woman known for using her influence to promote issues of youth, world peace, and national unity. When asked by his teacher why he chose this figure, the answer was clear to Domenic: strong women inspired him. Domenic still holds this conviction and believes it is rooted in his strong relationship with his mother.
Coming from a Sicilian heritage, Domenic’s family has a solid matriarchal background where women are the family’s core. Domenic experienced his mother as both an entrepreneur and a friend. He watched as she successfully ran her own business, using astute negotiation and communication skills to develop loyal customers who would travel from all over Quebec to work with her. He attributes this not only to her business savvy but also her empathy. “She loved connecting with people and had an incredible capacity to build confidence in the people around her,” says Domenic. And she brought these same caring qualities to her relationship with her son. To this day, she calls every year to sing the happy birthday song to her son from start to finish. Her thoughtfulness and tenacity have inspired Domenic’s life and work and exemplified why women leaders are so significant.
Recruit Action Partner Kristyn Oleskewycz shares Domenic’s convictions towards female leaders. She believes women trailblazers give the younger generation inspiring people to look up to. It is also important to acknowledge the journey of women in society. Fifty years ago, gender equality was in a very different place. Kristyn says, “We have come a long way, and while it is still not perfect, the more women leaders we have, the more this dynamic can improve.”
Maternal support has come from her mom and friendships with women in Kristyn’s life. Kristyn’s mom inspired her always to dream and not be afraid to reach for more. She fondly recalls her mother repeating how important it is to be independent and never to settle for less than you deserve. Kristyn says, “Her love for travel and experiencing the world’s beauty also had a big impact on me.” Kristyn flew by herself for the first time at eight years old when visiting family in Vancouver. The unforgettable travel experiences she experienced sparked an everlasting passion for seeing the world.
Kristyn’s close friend, Steph Woo, has also become a vital mentor and source of support throughout Kristyn’s career. She has recommended invaluable books to explore and become a steadfast sounding board, inspiring Kristyn to overcome many career and life challenges. This valuable female bond has helped Kristyn understand the importance of women supporting other women and encouraged her to pay forward the support she received from Steph to cultivate more female leaders.
Much of the power, but also the challenge, of strong women is the task of forging a path for others. Domenic observes how women often have to take the extra step to achieve success alongside their male counterparts. For Kristyn, the process of becoming a partner and a leader was not without its challenges. She worked tirelessly to get to where she is now and developed her path until she found a home at Recruit Action. While these experiences were difficult, they helped her learn to trust her intuition. Kristyn felt that learning to foster interpersonal support was essential in this process because she noticed that women are sometimes more hesitant to reach out for help. She intends to attempt to remedy this obstacle by willingly offering support to young candidates and encouraging women to find balance when they are unhappy in their roles. “There is a unique sense of pride in helping another woman and seeing them accomplish a goal they were not sure they could achieve,” says Kristyn.
Kristyn and Domenic’s personal experiences illustrate that mothering and maternal care comes in many forms. No matter how the term ‘mother’ fits into your life, the word connects us all and expresses empathy for others willingly and tirelessly. It does not matter what gender we are. This affectionate behavior is an instinctual and invaluable human trait we all can strive to learn, practice, and inspire others to do more. For this reason, celebrating Mother’s Day is not just about praising the individuals who raised us. It is about honoring all women who strengthen us and tirelessly create positive change in our world. Amy Rees Anderson, a successful businesswoman, and author, once said, “Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. And may we raise them.” We must celebrate the women leaders no matter where we find them.