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Photo: Jose Coelo, Stocksy


Don’t look now, but International Women’s Day (IWD) is only five weeks away. Planning is well under way.

Last week, I received a call from a Canadian subsidiary of a $1B+ publicly traded, global behemoth company. They were looking for a keynote speaker and someone to run a workshop on a subject befitting a day that is about gender equity. 

I was eager to pursue the opportunity.

Before returning the call, I checked them out and was impressed with the corporation’s commitment to gender equity in the workplace. Their Europe-based CEO was a four-year and counting “He for She” impact champion. They had been recognized by Women in Governance, received a 2018 Parity Certification and have a global family leave policy. They had an active foundation doing what appears to be meaningful work.

In short, the company sounded amazing.

I spoke with the enthusiastic, all-female organizing committee to get details and see if there was an overall fit. They told me they were looking for something that would align with their “Dare to Disrupt” theme for the day. Ideally, a 40-minute motivational talk plus questions and possibly a  follow on workshop for 60+ staff. It was to be an all-gender event. To hit the mark, the talk needed to mesh with the culture of the organization. They wanted a speaker who could inspire, motivate and ensure that women employees would be left feeling confident and empowered. Why? Improved employee satisfaction, retention and brand reputation.

In other words, they were looking to bring in the Holy Trinity for a day and deliver a corporate miracle.

They also expected this–pro-bono.”  

With unpaid labour being one of the issues for women everywhere, does anyone else find it ironic that a company who touts their support of women can’t pay an entrepreneurial woman for her work—on International Women’s Day?

As IWD approaches, a lot of corporate and institutional committees will be looking to demonstrate their support for gender equity. They will be sourcing dynamic entrepreneurial, “disrupter” women of all backgrounds to speak on panels, or as keynote presenters at a variety of IWD events…often without real compensation. Those magical “exposure dollars” don’t help to pay staff, the rent, or buy groceries. Unlike their salaried sisters, entrepreneurs work without extended healthcare benefits and are ineligible for the same social safety nets that even minimum wage salaried people enjoy, like employment or disability insurance, paid sick days, or maternity leave (not eligible if you own more than 40% of your company)…

Preparing kick-ass content takes time. It requires research. Preparation. And taps into years of hard-won expertise and, likely, some personal cost along the way. Like vampires, these “exposure” gigs feed off the blood of your story. Your experience. Your soul. Leaving you with nothing more than a swag bag and a shout-out on Twitter.

This year, let’s say no. Not just as individuals, but as a community. I know it’s tough out there. But it’s only going to get tougher if we don’t push back. It’s time we send a message.

If an enterprise wants to benefit from your expertise, or get their shine on by asking you to speak without pay to honour IWD, tell them that you have just signed a petition denouncing unpaid labour and are too busy working to stop the exploitation of women, trans, and queer entrepreneurs to oblige.



Feminists at Work : Illustration by J.J. Steeves

Ever wonder what the three most popular articles on LiisBeth were in 2018? Drum roll please….

1. Woman is Wolf to Woman, by Maria Basualdo, published August 9
2. How to Unlock Billions of Unrealized Growth Led by Women Entrepreneurs, by PK Mutch, published October 17
3. Another Brick in the Wall: Anti-Feminists in Canada, by CV Harquail, published March 15

And here is what’s coming in February…

Liisbeth is about to get even better.

We have recently updated our editorial strategy for 2019.

The new acquisition strategy will prioritize queries and articles that offer insights and practical advice about how to operate as a feminist entrepreneur.

In anticipation of a material increase in reader donations, we commit to dedicating these funds towards increasing the number of profiles and well researched, hard-hitting issue oriented essays we publish.

We will continue to work with both emerging and experienced writers and source 20% of our content from outside of Canada.  We we are looking to add several new contributors to work with us in 2019.

We pledge to ensure our content is global in nature.

We begin implementing our new plan with our February refresh line up. Watch for a sex-positive playlist by Sadé Powell, a feminist look at the billion dollar content marketing industry, and a profile we know you will love!  Watch for release dates on @liisbethhq.

2019 is the Chinese zodiac Year of the Pig.
In Chinese culture, pigs are the symbol of wealth.
Pigs, we ain’t. We need your help.

LiisBeth is open access and relies 100% on reader donations. Our impact is measurable. So if social justice and economic transformation are on your intentions and gratitude list this year, here’s your chance to donate.

If you find our content of value professionally, we hope you will consider contributing to us on Patreon. Each online magazine refresh and newsletter takes a community to create and disseminate.
We have 2,000+ subscribers, but less than 30% contribute financially.



Remember the Canadian Women’s Entrepreneurship (WES) Fund Grant?

We called the Ministry of Small Business and Export Promotion to find out what’s up. They were quick to respond. Recipients will be contacted in March and announcements made soon after.  Cash however, won’t flow until contracts are crafted and signed. Likely April through June. Stay tuned. And run to the bank as soon as you get your first instalment. It’s an election year. As those of us in the United States, and now Ontario, know all too well, programs advancing women can be cancelled with the stroke of a new leader’s pen.

How Emily Hustles 

We could all take a few lessons from Emily Mills, founder of “How She Hustles”, a vibrant network of diverse women that connects through social media and special events, each with up to 400 guests, in Toronto.

For eight years, How She Hustles has hosted a range of buzz-worthy events, including: a wildly popular women’s brunch and a pop-up shop exclusively for women-led startups, and seasonal networking events.

How She Hustles led the creation of HERstory in Black, a digital photo series of 150 black women as seen on CBC. The project earned the attention of the Prime Minister on social media, received national press coverage, became a one-hour TV documentary, led to an unprecedented celebration at the CBC Broadcasting Centre, and earned the prestigious CBC President’s Award.

February is Black History Month. 

You can catch Mills as the MC at the Ontario Black History Society Black History Month Kick-off Brunch and as a panelist at U of T’s Hart House Black Entrepreneurs & Visionaries Round Table.

The Fearless Girl statue was first installed on Broadway in March 2017 as a marketing campaign by State Street Global Advisors ( a division of State Street Corporation with over $2.8 trillion dollars under its management) in honour of International Women’s Day.

Mastering Finance is a Feminist Act 

The Fearless Girl statue was removed from her position facing the Wall Street bull, but that doesn’t mean feminist entrepreneurs should stop facing down the iconic “Charging Bull” –a symbol of 20th century capitalism if there ever was one.

While we take a conscious critical approach to how money is made, distributed and used, and bust our butts leveraging our enterprises to end oppressions generated by modern capitalism, we know money is fuel–at least for now.

To help you think about alternative streams of revenue for your enterprise, download this super useful “26 Sources of Revenue” checklist on Eve-Volution Inc (LiisBeth’s sister enterprise.)

It does not include non-monetary value streams–something feminist entrepreneurs include when assessing the weight of their enterprise, but it does offer 26 good ideas worth considering if generating more cash is a priority for you in 2019.

Photo: By Canadian Women’s Chamber of Commerce


The Canadian Women’s Chamber of Commerce (CanWCC) celebrated its one year anniversary on January 23.

In co-founder Nancy Wilson’s address to the 50+ crowd, Wilson introduced the 2019  CanWCC advocacy agenda adding “Achieving gender equality requires a wholesale shift in mindset and social and cultural norms. It involves re-engineering the way we conceptualize gender itself.”

CanWCC is the only women-led/women-focused Chamber of Commerce in Canada. Up until their launch in 2018, Canada was one of the only countries in the world without a Chamber of Commerce specifically representing the interests of women in business.

Women’s March, Toronto, 2019


Hmm. By our estimate, at least 1,000+ people of all genders participated in this year’s Women’s March in Toronto, despite the fact that your fingertips froze in seconds if you took off your gloves. With blowing snow and -20C weather, not even pussy hats (of any color) could keep heads warm. Sure, this year’s number was down from 2017 (60,000) and 2018 (a few thousand, despite great weather), but don’t take that as a sign that the fight for equity is in any way slowing down. If not on the streets, feminists of all genders were in front of the fireplace—getting ready and laying down plans for advocacy work during a federal election year that will undoubtedly have the feminist agenda as a central issue.

Always wanted to learn how to bucket-drum and march at the same time? Who hasn’t? Hooray! Now’s your chance.

LiisBeth has partnered up with Women on the Move, The Canadian Women’s Chamber of Commerce, and Harlow Studios to offer TWO marching bucket-drumming classes in time for the Toronto International Women’s Day march planned for March 8 in Toronto. Classes are open to all genders and ages. Tickets include bucket, strap, drumsticks, two lessons, snacks and refreshments—plus a whole lot of fun, as we work out our songs for the march. FEMINIST FREEBIE! LiisBeth subscribers (this is the honour system) receive 10% off the ticket price! Use discount code PARTNERPASS. Space is limited, so sign up soon.

We would LOVE to see a #drumforequity bucket-drumming corps form in your community. To help, we decided to videotape the classes and post them, once edited, on LiisBeth’s YouTube channel. We can’t be there to hold your hand (or your bucket) in person, but we can at least show you how it’s done.


Well, 79M women in the U.S. apparently think so. For many years, Ms. magazine (owned by the Feminist Majority Foundation, based in the United States since 2001) has been tracking an important statistic: How many people who come out to vote identify as feminists? The recently released report based on the 2018 U.S. mid-term election voter survey shows another increase in the number of people (all genders) who identify as feminists.

Efforts to collect similar statistics in Canada in the past show that Canadian women still live largely in fear of the word—but Canadian men, not so much. Given that  women in the U.S. have Trump, while women in Canada have an openly feminist prime minister with a feminist budget, does anyone find that strange?


Win 2 TIX to the February Spoken Lives Toronto event at Mustard Seed on February 25th (info below) when you complete ONE ACTION ITEM from our EFF top six takeaways here.

Tell us which one you did in an email to receive your FEMINIST FREEBIE.


DO THIS: Treat yourself to four minutes of artistic splendour.

“Work re-imagines the familiar image of people commuting to work as a moving portrait. This video is the result of the hard work and collaboration of many intelligent, strong and compassionate women, genderqueer and trans folks close to Charlotte, myself and our crew, who invited their friends, family and complete strangers to come together in support of one another with lovewarmth and hope.” – Fantavious Fritz, Director


We asked, you answered. Tack! That’s “thank you” in Swedish.

Stay tuned for a Portrait of Swedish Feminist Initiative party leader, Gudrun Schyman, in the coming weeks.

For now, have a look at her 5-minute Q&A with Women Across Frontiers where she talks about the Feminist Initiative and how it differs from other global movements, and how Sweden, “a paradise of gender quality” has the same problems as other regions with women’s underrepresentation in business.




Nathan Schneider has written books about God, the Occupy movement, and now, the cooperative business. From the internet to service and care, more and more industries expect people to live gig to gig, while monopolistic corporations feed their spoils to the rich. But through years of in-depth reporting, Schneider reveals an alternative to the robber-baron economy hiding in plain sight. Everything for Everyone chronicles the cooperative movement and social revolution—from taxi cooperatives that are keeping Uber and Lyft at bay, to an outspoken mayor transforming his city in the Deep South.
A gifted writer, chronicling the world he and his compatriots are helping to make—spiritual, technological, and communal.”—Krista Tippett, host of On Being

If you’re in need of some art therapy…welcome to the antithesis of the “Dick and Jane” coloring book. A coloring book!
Girls Will be Boys Will be Girls is a funny and provocative deconstruction of traditional gender roles. 32 original illustrations with captions like “Calvin, baking is fun and all, but we can make a rad drum set out of these pots and bowls” and “Don’t let gender box you in” offer light-hearted, fun ways to deconstruct gender for both children and adults. The coloring book format is a subversive and playful way to examine how pervasive stereotypes about gender are in every aspect of our lives, especially the ones that are so ingrained we don’t even notice. Girls Will be Boys Will be Girls pokes fun at the tired constraints of gender normativity, and makes it okay to step outside the lines.


  • NEW! Oxfam Canada Report: A Feminist Approach to Women’s Economic Empowerment. Globally, women earn less than men and are trapped in the lowest paid and least secure jobs. Fundamentally, gender inequality and economic inequality are inextricably linked. Unless we tackle both, simultaneously, women’s economic empowerment (WEE) will be impossible. This report details practical examples of feminist support for WEE that can be replicated or scaled up. It makes recommendations for how Canada can adopt transformative feminist programming and policies. Read the report here.

  • December 2018 Profile of Ronit Avni, Founder of Localized, an online platform that connects students in emerging economies with mentors to help them gain the skills they need to succeed. Her top tip: Become fluent in the terminology investors use. Push back on unreasonable requests and don’t take money from people who are not aligned with your mission, company stage and vision. Read the full profile here.

  • Is the Women’s March falling forward or falling apart? Read this NY Times Op Ed and decide for yourself. Let us know what you think @LiisBethHQ

  • From Mat Leave to Successful Startup
    Eva Wong, Co-Founder and COO of Borrowell, a fintech company that helps Canadians make great decisions about credit, recently spoke on a leadership panel at CPA Ontario’s Women Inc. Conference, and said “confidence is a muscle that can be developed.” Featured in the PIVOT series from MaRS Discovery District, Wong is never without a smile. Perhaps part of her startup success? Watch the 2-minute video here.

  • A New Knowledge Centre!  In late 2018, the Ontario Trillium Foundation launched a new online commmunity which connects Ontario’s 14,000 non-profits to create relationships, share knowledge, and build capacity with each other and beyond their own backyard.  We checked it out. And, naturally, started a discussion group called “Entrepreneurial Feminism”. There is a lot of good information and tools on the site. We think it’s worth the time to sign up!

That brings us to the end of our January newsletter, the first of 2019! We are excited to continue providing you with original articles, news and views on entrepreneurship and innovation via a feminist lens.

That said, as you probably learned, last week, 1000s of journalists were laid off in the U.S. The Discourse’s recent study on the status of Canada’s media landscape reports that over 260 news outlets have closed in Canada in the past 10 years. In addition, analysis shows that women and women of colour continue to be underrepresented in media. This doesn’t look like it is likely to change anytime soon, given that the majority of new startup media companies created to fill the gap are founded by white men—not necessarily bad, but not great if what we are looking for is more diversity in news, media and culture production work.

With an election on the horizon, and women’s issues likely to be a central plank for all parties, we need women-owned/led, indie and feminist media more than ever before. 

LiisBeth is the only dedicated feminist business magazine on the planet.

To date, we have published 49 newsletters and 168 original feminist business practice stories along with advocacy pieces to help shine a light on this growing community. And we do this on a budget of just $2,500/month and a lot of volunteer admin work. In addition, we have mounted two Entrepreneurial Feminist Forums with our partner, Feminists At Work.

We have loved every minute of serving this community and others, working to advance gender and social justice.

That said, we still need your help! And we need more of it in 2019.

Did you know that out of 2,300+ subscribers, only 5% sign up to our monthly donor subscription plan?

Not everyone can speak out without risking their career. But we can. And we do. 

Subscribe today. Now. Here.

NamasteCheers, and Peace,

Sample Newsletter

LiisBeth Dispatch #23


Are you a women in tech founder?  Have you heard about the #movethedial movement?  Neither had we. Until three days ago. So let’s tell you a bit about it.

What is #movethedial? 

#movethedial is a new Toronto-based initiative created to advance women in tech by bringing “…great people, minds, ideas and opportunities together to build connections that promote benefits for women tech leaders, the tech sector, and the economy.”

The kick-off was held on Monday, Jan 16th at MaRS Discovery District.  The organizer’s Twitter post said the event attracted 400 women of which 225 were said to be executives, 112 founders (18 women founders were pictured in the post event Twitter photo), and 39 self-identified investors. There were also 100+ men present.  Panelist Janet Bannister, General Partner at Real Ventures, noticed this while up on stage and ardently congratulated the men in attendance for showing up, as if it were an act of courage or an unusual demonstration of humanity. In my opinion, that gesture seemed a little odd. However, perhaps the fact that there are only three out of 16 people at Real Ventures  who are women (two in administrator roles, plus Bannister) has something to do with it.

Who is behind this new initiative? 

The event was mounted by an organization called Acetech Ontario (Acetech), an established (2013) nonprofit member-based organization whose mission is to create “conversations that matter.” Acetech was described by one attendee as a tech version of YPO (Young Presidents Organization). Membership fees are $4950 for a CEO and $1800 for an executive. They offer power sessions and networking opportunities for qualified tech executives, venture capitalists, and founders (men and women). Their member statistics page states the membership in aggregate represents $550M in revenues and over 4,700 people employed in Ontario. There are no gender-related metrics  (e.g.: the number of women on members’ boards or percentage ) noted.

Acetech’s CEO and four operational staff (community animators, business development, and programming/event management roles) are all women. However, 11 out of 12, or 92%, of their board members are men.

Sponsors of the #movethedial event included DMZ, Start_Up Toronto, and MaRS. Curiously, the event was never listed on the MaRS event calendar.

At The Event

Speakers recounted the usual dismal statistics regarding women in tech, and among other things suggested that to succeed, the tech community in Toronto had to collaborate with other tech communities internationally, like those in Israel (considered to be exemplary).

During one of the sessions, four women industry leaders serving as panelists were asked to “spotlight” and write down the name of one (or more) woman in tech that they admire and would like everyone in the audience to learn about. Three out of four panelists provided names; the fourth drew (literally, on a white board which was held up) a question mark. She apparently could not identify a single one.  This was unfortunate given that the point of the evening was to celebrate the achievements of women in tech in the room, and especially so given all panelists were sent the questions in advance of the event.

After the Event

In a contributed article submitted to the Globe and Mail (a Canadian nationally distributed newspaper) the morning after the event, Acetech CEO and former lawyer, Jodi Kovitz wrote “What we are missing [in tech] are diversity and collaboration. That means men and women working together as one Canadian ecosystem.”  Kovitz says they are planning a series of #movethedial events and activities nationally.

Our Thoughts?

If success were measured by attendance, then this would certainly be a successful start to the #movethedial initiative. And a great opportunity to catch up with colleagues around a good cause. However, the event left me scratching my head. Is a series of conferences going to really move a systemically entrenched dial?

Recent women in tech studies combined with a few decades of lived experience and attending conferences focused on this topic tell us they don’t.

How to Really Move The Dial? Be the Change. 

How can Acetech make a visible dent? It could start by truly leveraging the fact that its members are CEOs with the decision making power to act, and holding them accountable.

How? Start with data.

Acetech could launch an initiative to collect gender-based data on its own members’ companies, share this information for the purposes of defining where the needle is today (benchmarking), and report on the pace at which its community is moving the dial as compared to those outside the community.

How gender-balanced Acetech’s membership today?  Does it know? What is their collective target? Apart from conferences, what is the organization doing policy-wise to motivate its member organizations or CEOs to achieve gender parity in their companies? Will Acetech require members to comply with Ontario Premier Wynne’s 30% women on boards target by the end of 2017? Will Acetech itself comply (remember 11/12 board members are men)? Does Acetech have a sponsorship or partner code that requires a minimum gender equity standard or at least demonstrates the existence of a plan to improve, as part of eligibility requirements? Does Acetech have a diversity procurement program? Does it encourage its members to adopt one?

If they do have such policies in place, it was not mentioned at the event, and if you search its own website for the term gender equity, you will come up empty. The CEO membership application asks for data on sales volume but does not ask members to report on gender parity at board levels.

It’s great to see new commitments to address the women in tech gender gap. However, in my opinion, if Acetech wants to be seen as a credible and effective advocate for gender equality, it would be strategically wise for them to set the bar, implement best practices in their organization, and establish a plan for accountability. Acetech itself need to be the change it wants to see in the tech sector, not just facilitate talks about it.


LiisBeth Does the DC Women’s March on Snapchat!

Introducing 23-year-old Cailley Formichello, activist, entertainer and now, LiisBeth Snapchat journalist and contributor.

Formichello’s first assignment with LiisBeth will be to cover the Women’s March on Washington using Snapchat Story. If you can’t make it to the march, but want to experience it on your own time, we got you covered!  It is also a great way to engage your teenage sons and daughters to participate in this historic event-without even leaving the couch.

To get the LiisBeth Snapchat story you need to first sign up to Snapchat on your smartphone. Then, search for liisbethhq, and add us to your friend list on Snapchat. You will receive notification of the DC Women’s March story as posts are made, including short videos.

Of course, with Snapchat, you have to view the story within 24 hours of it being posted. That said, we will be saving it under Snapchat’s new Memories feature, which will allow us to archive it.

If you haven’t had a chance to try Snapchat, but have been curious about giving it a go, this is a reason to start! Download the app on your smartphone here. Or ask your nearest 15-year-old!

New feminist press startup in Toronto: LiisBeth loves to support everyone, emergent and established, in the feminist press space. So this week, we had the opportunity to meet Patty Hails, founder of a launch-stage startup feminist press called Nasty Women’s Press. Her editorial vision is for Nasty Women’s Press to reflect its readership: smart and direct. Think for women, with a dash of flair from Vanity Fair. Hails moved from Saskatoon to Toronto with her partner last May. She currently has a Kickstarter crowdfunding effort underway. You can check it out here.

Weekly featured research paper: “Class Advantage, Commitment Penalty: The Gendered Effect of Social Class Signals in an Elite Labor Market” by Lauren A. Rivera and Andras Tilcsik. The punchline? “Despite myths of a classless society, social class of origin plays an enduring role in shaping individuals’ life chances and economic trajectories,” according to the authors. “Although men benefit from signals of a higher social class background, the class advantages higher-class women experience are negated by a commitment penalty.” You can find the study here. While this study is based on the practices of law firms, we  believe they apply to women entrepreneurs looking to raise capital as well.

Learn more about working with indigenous peoples in Canada: LiisBeth in collaboration with Women On The Move and Bear Standing Tall & Associates is excited to announce that on Thursday, March 9 from 5:30-8:30, we will be presenting a three-hour holistic indigenous awareness training seminar using the medicine wheel framework. The seminar will have an emphasis on the role of women in indigenous life, and the state of indigenous women’s entrepreneurship today. The session is ideal for anyone who is interested in learning more about indigenous culture, and who currently works with or is planning to work with Indigenous Peoples in Canada and wants to expand their knowledge. The Eventbrite link will be posted soon! In the meantime, hold the date in your calendar! Oh, and due to limited space, we are going to have give Liisbeth subscribers first shot at the tickets.  If you are not a subscriber yet-you could be! In minutes!  Starting at $36/year or $3/month. Just sayin’!

B Lab releases its inclusive economy metrics set: As you know, LiisBeth is a B Corp. We wanted to share this high-level summary of the highest impact metrics from B Lab here. It may help you identify opportunities to improve equity, inclusion, and equality in your company. You can download the document here. And of course, we would love feedback.

  • Jan. 21:  Feminist Art Conference, OCAD U. Features seminars, performances, and a maker market. All day Saturday, Jan 21. Register here.  LiisBeth Panel on Gender, Entrepreneurship & Innovation from 4-5:30 p.m.
  • Feb 8: Women On The Move Workshop with LiisBethian Patti Pokorchak, “Get More Clients NOW — Without Being Pushy nor Salesy!” In this session, you can practice your value proposition and if you do not know what your value proposition is—you really need to attend this dynamic interactive workshop. Get feedback on what works and what does not in a safe environment. Learn negotiation techniques and how to overcome objections. Go from sales fear to sales fun, guaranteed. Learn how to easily ask for the order and get it! 1-2:30 p.m.
  • March 2: She Started It: A Film Screening; JLABS @ Toronto, 5-8 p.m. “She Started It” is a new documentary film that follows five trailblazing young female entrepreneurs through their journeys of entrepreneurship. To register, click here.
  • March 16: Roxanne Gay, author, introduces her new book Feminism & Difficult Women,7-8:30 p.m., Toronto Public Library. Register here.

That’s it!  And if you are here that means you read the whole thing!  (hugs).  The next newsletter will be published Jan. 31st.  Our next feature article will profile the amazing Katelyn Bourgoin, founder of a very cool online network of female entrepreneurs called Vendeve.  And of course, there will be much more.

See you at the march!

Petra Kassun-Mutch
Founding Publisher, LiisBeth