While women represent 48 per cent of Canada’s labour workforce, they represent only 25 per cent of electricity industry employees, with a mere five per cent in the trades. Prompted by her own ‘untraditional’ background as a Certified Engineering Technologist, Kathy Lerette – who is also Alectra’s Senior Vice President, Business Transformation, is working at the community level and within the company to improve these statistics.
With over 30 years of technical and leadership experience, Kathy has generally found herself immersed in a male-dominated work environment. From the beginning, she recognized the need for more diversity in her field.
Encouraging young female students
“Gender diversity and diversity in general, is good for business,” says Kathy. “It adds skills, creativity and varied thinking to organizations. That’s what motivates me and many of my Alectra colleagues, and I’m pleased that our leadership, including our CEO, Brian Bentz, has been a great proponent of my activities – in the workplace and in communities within Alectra’s service territory.”
Kathy has always encouraged young women to enter technical areas of work, highlighting the many opportunities available to women in these fields. One of the biggest hurdles has been the lack of female applicants.
“My goal is to get girls to think outside the box, to look beyond so-called ‘traditional’ jobs and to think about whether the trades or other so-called non-traditional work within the energy sector is right for them,” she says.
Kathy regularly meets with young female students to make her pitch early on, so that they can complete the educational requirements at the high school and post-secondary levels.
For example earlier this summer, Kathy invited a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Girls Club to learn about career opportunities available to women at Alectra. Kathy was joined by female colleagues from Lines, Engineering, Conservation, Stores and Information Technology and Finance.
Active on many fronts, Kathy also collaborates with Women in Renewable Energy (WIRE), Women in Engineering Advocacy Committee (WEAC) to name a couple. She is also representing the Ontario Association of Certified Engineering Technicians and Technologists (OACETT) on a three- year project to address barriers that contribute to the under representation of women in STEM programs and careers.
Recently, Alectra signed the Leadership Accord on Gender Diversity for the Electricity Industry, a Federal Government commitment to promote the values of diversity, equality and inclusion in our sector. Signing the Accord commits Alectra to continuously improving policies and practices to ensure diversity within the company.