News and Announcements

Catalyst Names 2018 Catalyst Canada Honours Champions

Six Exceptional Leaders, International Trailblazer to be Celebrated for Advancing Gender Equality

Toronto, ON, June 27, 2018—Catalyst announced today its 2018 Catalyst Canada Honours Champions, six business leaders who have made exemplary contributions to help advance women and inclusive workplace cultures in Canada. The organization is also recognizing an “International Trailblazer,” a Canadian whose efforts this year to advance gender equality have resulted in meaningful change in a global context. All champions will receive their awards at the 2018 Catalyst Canada Honours Dinner on Monday, October 15, at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto. 

The 2018 Catalyst Canada Honours Champions are: 

Company/Firm Leaders:

Business Leaders:

  • Claudia Thompson, Managing Director, Health & Public Service, and Inclusion & Diversity Managing Director, Accenture Canada
  • Simon Fish, General Counsel, BMO Financial Group

Emerging Leaders:

  • Kona Goulet, Director, Inclusion, BMO Financial Group
  • Erin Davis, Director, Global Talent Engagement, Stantec Consulting

The 2018 Catalyst Canada International Trailblazer is:

  • Stacey Allaster, Chief Executive, Professional Tennis, United States Tennis Association 

“We are delighted to honour and celebrate the groundbreaking leadership and contributions of our 2018 Champions,” says Tanya van Biesen, Executive Director, Canada, Catalyst. “Each one of these individuals has taken bold steps to advance workplace cultures to the point where the same quality of opportunity is available to everyone. In today’s economy, it is vital that corporate leaders use all available talent to drive business success. Our Champions understand this, role model their commitment to it, and inspire others to do the same.” 

The Catalyst Canada Honours annually celebrates individuals who advance women and inclusive workplaces in Canadian business. Nominees are evaluated in a rigorous process, and this year’s Catalyst Canada Honours Champions have been named in three categories: Company/Firm Leader, Business Leader, and Emerging Leader. These leaders exemplify Catalyst research findings linking diverse, inclusive workplaces to innovation, team citizenship, productivity, and stronger business results.

“Congratulations to all of the leaders being honoured by Catalyst, who have each made a huge impact on their organizations and their communities. Their actions demonstrate how the advancement of inclusion not only leads to greater opportunities but also drives innovation in our workplaces,” says Dave McKay, President & CEO of RBC and Dinner Chair, 2018 Catalyst Canada Honours.
About the 2018 Catalyst Canada Honours Champions 

  • Aneela Zaib (Company/Firm Leader) is a seasoned electrical and computer science engineer whose transformational leadership is laser-focused on advancing qualified, diverse talent and putting inclusion first. Her immigrant’s resilience and ability to overcome adversity and achieve success—along with her experience working on cross-functional teams—allowed her to see a crack in the recruitment process. Aneela discovered that skilled immigrant workers, especially women, were simply overlooked because they hadn’t had the requisite “Canadian experience” to support their key qualifications and assignments in the country. With this insight, she founded emergiTEL in 2006 as a niche staffing vendor to large corporate clients in Canada. Currently, emergiTEL has placed women in more than 40% of the technical positions it has filled, and has a leadership team comprising approximately 75% women. 
  • Bill McFarland (Company/Firm Leader) is a passionate and committed leader who aspires to be the change he wants to see at PwC Canada. A true change-maker, he has leveraged his position as CEO to accelerate inclusion and champion women, including holding his leadership team accountable for advancing more women into the firm’s management, making each senior leader responsible for sponsoring at least two female partners and helping to achieve the firm’s target of gender parity among new partner admits by 2020. Since he began his tenure, there have been significant increases in women partner admissions in the two largest business units: from 33% to 42% in Assurance, and from 22% to 55% in Tax. Bill also sponsored the first woman to chair the firm’s Partnership Board, and influenced the Board to change its bylaws to require at least 30% female representation.
  • Claudia Thompson (Business Leader) is an action-oriented leader and passionate advocate for a workplace culture that values diversity and inclusion, because she believes it’s a business imperative for growth. Claudia has introduced several initiatives to build a more diverse and inclusive workplace at Accenture. One of these was the first voluntary employee census, launched in 2016, which led to a better understanding of the composition of Accenture’s Canadian workforce. The results have informed the firm’s inclusion and diversity strategy, including the introduction of a new cross-cultural and interfaith Employee Resource Group and the Canadian Diversity Council. Under Claudia’s leadership, the latter is now a primary driver to help move Accenture Canada towards its goal of being Canada’s most diverse and inclusive employer.
  • Simon Fish (Business Leader) is a bold, outspoken advocate for inclusion and diversity. He is an approachable and compassionate leader who takes time to get to know others and encourages them to learn from their differences. Raised in South Africa, he was the child of an active opponent of apartheid. This experience helped him become the guiding force behind BMO Financial Group’s five-year enterprise strategy to increase the diversity of its workforce at all levels. Simon has shepherded significant progress in increasing the representation of visible minorities (from 20% to 30.2%), persons with disabilities (from 2.2% to 3.8%), and women in senior positions (from 35.6% to 40.0%). His influence extends beyond the bank to the larger legal community, where he founded Legal Leaders for Diversity, a group of more than 120 General Counsels from across Canada committed to creating a more inclusive legal profession and workplaces.
  • Kona Goulet (Emerging Leader) is a fearless trailblazer and a proud Indigenous woman who has dedicated much of her adult life to breaking down barriers that stand in the way of the development and advancement of women. In partnership with the bank’s Leadership Committee for Inclusion and Diversity, she played a lead role in establishing inclusion and diversity goals across all BMO Financial Group’s business and corporate segments. An increased employee engagement score of 86% is just one example of the positive results Kona’s leadership has yielded. She also helped develop BMO’s Learn from Difference initiative, which aims to build inclusive leadership capability among 7,000 people managers. Within three months, 84% of people managers had completed the non-mandatory custom e-learning module, with 97% reporting they were confident they could apply their learnings to the workplace.
  • Erin Davis (Emerging Leader) is a committed leader who has contributed to growing the first formal employee resource group (ERG) at Stantec Consulting—[email protected]and helping to develop an additional 35 ERGs. Erin has had a significant impact on workplace culture, by first helping the firm’s women’s group to create a strategic and successful business plan, and then leveraging it as blueprint for all ERGs. A connector and change agent, she is also a founding member of Works for Women, a group that is committed to making Alberta a better place for women to lead. Works for Women leverages resources, experts, and a supportive community to accelerate progress for women in the workplace. The network grows monthly through targeted challenges designed to spark dialogue, build awareness, and inspire action. Erin also reaches the larger community by writing op-eds in The Globe and Mail about diversity and inclusion.  

About the 2018 Catalyst Canada International Trailblazer

  • Often referred to as one of the most powerful people in professional tennis, Stacey Allaster is a tireless advocate for gender equality and inclusion. Under her leadership and tenure as former Chairman and CEO of the Women’s Tennis Association, Stacey drove extensive global growth in the sport, played a pivotal role in increasing prize money for women, and achieved pay equity at major international tournaments such as Wimbledon, Roland Garros, Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, Beijing and WTA Year End Finals. She currently serves as Chief Executive, Professional Tennis, the United States Tennis Association, where she continues to provide leadership for the sport's national governing body in the United States. Stacey is a true trailblazer and role model for women around the globe.

The 2018 Catalyst Canada Honours Dinner will follow the 2018 Catalyst Canada Honours Conference, a unique and dynamic opportunity for business leaders across the country to discuss best practices in inclusive leadership initiatives and learn strategies to advance sustainable change in corporate Canada.


About Catalyst

Catalyst is a global nonprofit working with some of the world’s most powerful CEOs and leading companies to help build workplaces that work for women. Founded in 1962, Catalyst drives change with pioneering research, practical tools, and proven solutions to accelerate and advance women into leadership—because progress for women is progress for everyone.

French version.