Celebrating International Women’s Day with Mary Peterson, Vice President, IT and Enterprise Solutions, Samsung Electronics Canada

on 08-03-2021
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Today is International Women’s Day and an opportunity to celebrate the contributions of women and girls everywhere, recognize those who inspire us, and renew the important discussion about gender equality in Canada and around the world.[1]

 

To help mark this special day, Samsung Electronics Canada interviewed Mary Peterson, Vice President, IT and Enterprise Solutions at Samsung Electronics Canada. Beyond her role as Vice President, Mary Peterson is the Executive Sponsor of W+, an employee-drive resource group that supports the success of women across the organization. Mary also spends her time mentoring a number of young women and business professionals, uplifting the next generation of Canadian leaders.

 

 

Using examples from inside or outside of work, what do you think helps keep you motivated and inspired?

I am encouraged by the people around me at Samsung Electronics Canada who are taking action to support diversity, inclusion and women empowerment. This is an important cause and they are willing to spend parts of their already busy day to make a difference in this area. They have formed the “W+ Group” an employee resource group that supports the success of women at SECA through three key pillars:

 

1) Empowerment for women to achieve success

2) Connections across SECA to provide support to women

3) Building a Culture at SECA where women can be successful

 

This is a powerful mission and this group of women and men have already moved the dial in achieving these aims. As Executive Sponsor of this group, I’m inspired daily by these individuals, who continue to do the heavy lifting and bring great energy and ideas on how to move the W+ mission forward.

 

Outside of work, I am inspired by the volunteer work I do as a member of a Board of Directors for a non-profit organization, Safehaven, that supports individuals with intellectual disabilities and complex illness. There is so much to be done in this world to support vulnerable people, especially during the pandemic. Diversity and inclusion are not only about women’s rights. They include other under-represented populations also. Safehaven’s tagline is #WeBelong because it is important to remind each other that we all have the right to live life to our fullest potential. These same words can be used to support women in business – every woman has the right to build their career to their fullest potential, and we must continue to fight for and support these rights!

 

 

Can you share some of your personal experiences with diversity and inclusion?

I have been in the technology business for over 30 years. In the beginning, I knew that I was facing biases and unfair treatment, but I thought I just had to “suck it up”.  I knew I wanted to move into senior leadership roles and, therefore, I convinced myself that if I worked a little harder, I would overcome these obstacles and achieve my goals. It wasn’t easy and while I didn’t notice it then, I made sacrifices in both my personal and professional lives in order to make it happen.

 

In hindsight, I now realize that I was often treated differently than my male counterparts and I faced biases and discrimination.  But, without understanding what it was, I just put my head down and worked a little harder. Unfortunately, even today, biases and bad behaviour exist in some organizations. There is still a significant gender pay gap, women are still underrepresented in senior business leadership roles, on Corporate Boards of Directors, and in senior Government positions. I am discouraged that we haven’t made more progress in 30 years and that is why I am personally committed to helping close some of these gaps.

 

 

How do you encourage and inspire your colleagues when it comes to diversity and inclusion?

Beyond being the Executive Sponsor for the W+, I mentor young women who are starting out in their careers. I think it is so important to reach out and support future leaders. Being a sounding board, giving advice, and encouraging others to follow their career goals is a small thing that I can do that will hopefully help these individuals take the next steps in their careers.

 

I also like to encourage others to embrace opportunities to develop.  My career has not been a straight upward line – it’s been a continuous zigzagged path to where I am now.  But I can look back at all those ups, downs and sideways moves and know that I have learned important career lessons at every step, and that’s what’s helped get me to where I am today.

 

 

How would you describe your career at Samsung in one sentence?

I have been at Samsung for five years and  I am encouraged that women make up approximately 40% of the Samsung Electronics Canada Executive Team – a team that is respectful and supportive of women. I am also inspired by the work that Samsung’s W+ employee resources group does to empower women within our organization to achieve success at work, at home and in their communities.

 

 

What are three things you want others to know about Samsung from a diversity and inclusion perspective?

W+, as mentioned above, is a grassroots organization at Samsung Electronics Canada driving women empowerment, connection and culture. It is made up of an incredible group of men and women committed to building the success of women across the business.

 

I believe that all Samsung Electronics Canada members are respectful and supportive of women in business and women in leadership.

 

And finally, I believe that we are free to have conversations with our colleagues to help everyone understand how to better support women. I think that most people’s intentions are good, but when mistakes are made, mostly because of unconscious biases, they are open to having a conversation on how to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

 

You have an opportunity to make an impact for women’s history month. Here are a few ways you can help celebrate and support the cause:

 

  • Visit the IWD website to learn more about the mission and this year’s theme
  • Spread awareness for women’s history month by posting on social media with the hashtags #ChooseToChallenge and #IWD2021

You can also participate in the following virtual volunteer opportunities related to women’s history, gender rights, women’s rights in Canada:

 

 

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[1] Definition provided by the Government of Canada: https://cfc-swc.gc.ca/commemoration/iwd-jif/theme-en.html

For any issues related to customer service, please go to samsung.com/ca/support for assistance.
For media inquiries, please contact canadanewsroom@samsung.com.

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