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How leading with vulnerability accelerates women’s leadership.

Women’s Leadership Forum creating gender equality in the workplace

A workplace that promotes and supports diversity and inclusion helps ensure fair and equal opportunities for growth and advancement in leadership positions.

Every employee should have the support they need to develop professionally, regardless of their gender, background, religious views, or sexual orientation. This belief motivated me to serve as the Chair of 3M Canada’s Women’s Leadership Forum.  

As one of 3M’s four Employee Resource Groups, the Women’s Leadership Forum was instituted to accelerate the inclusion and advancement of women around the world by attracting and developing leaders at every level. We offer education and informative discussion, while also encouraging our members to step outside of their comfort zones and lead with vulnerability.

How leading with vulnerability empowers and develops leaders at every level.

Whether it’s coming to work as your real self, working in a new role, trying a different leadership strategy, or asking someone for advice, leading with vulnerability can help us be fearless and direct our teams more effectively. It lets us find common ground with our colleagues and opens channels of communication, which in turn leads to constructive collaboration and challenge resolution.

An example of fearless female leadership is Audrey Sherman, a scientist in the 3M Medical Solutions Division. Audrey wasn’t afraid to take on a new challenge as she listened to the needs of our customers. She took these ideas and worked with her team to create groundbreaking solutions. She is the first female employee at 3M to reach 100 patents – and in our 117-year history, only 18 3Mers have done this. Today, she holds more than 130 patents and shares her insights and tips with young girls to help get them interested in STEM. Audrey proves that leading with vulnerability by daring to be different and trying something new, while effectively leading and collaborating with a team, can have record-breaking results.

As a member of the Women’s Leadership Forum in Canada, it is my objective to help women like Audrey find their voices and feel strong enough to be vulnerable. Not only does leading with vulnerability give us confidence and introduce us to various people inside and outside of our organization, but it also lets us identify new interests and skills that can help us improve as leaders.

“Being a strong leader means being authentic and genuine with your team. Authenticity requires vulnerability while accepting our weaknesses and not being afraid to ask for help.” - Amy Rummel, Training & Development Manager, 3M

Champions of change and gender equality in the workplace.

To ensure equal opportunities and raise awareness for the importance of leading with vulnerability, we must consistently work together. 3M Canada’s Women’s Leadership Forum offers resources for awareness, takes part in initiatives for change, and hosts events in our organization and community.women's leadership forum members

Some of the initiatives that we have created to help 3Mers lead with vulnerability include our Dare to Lead Circles. Small groups read Dr. Brené Brown’s leadership program, Dare to Lead, and discuss courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. This helps members discover ways that they can improve their leadership skills by showing others who they really are.

We also host various workshops throughout the year and invite guests to discuss their experiences with 3Mers during International Women’s Day. These events create a supportive and collaborative community, where members have the tools they need to develop their professional skills.

“I lead my team in an environment that allows all of us to feel comfortable by being open and honest with their concerns, questions, mistakes, and roadblocks. This sets the stage for a more collaborative and productive team culture.” - Donna Tomicevic, Brand Design & Operations Manager, 3M Canada

Each for equal: working together to achieve gender equality.

3M is committed to maintaining and improving gender equality. By continuing to support women and helping them feel supported enough to lead with vulnerability, I believe that we can close the gender gap in our workplace.

Creating a diverse and accepting work environment can help us relate to our customers and understand their needs better. It also ensures that our female employees are better represented and can thrive in their roles, which leads to the creation of innovative solutions that will improve lives.

In having the courage to share some of my failures, identify my vulnerabilities, and lean into tough conversations, I have developed a deeper trust with others and created real human connections. These coachable moments yield more positive and constructive behaviours in employees and ideally a feeling of trust in me in the role of HR Business Partner.” - Katie Mennill, HR Business Partner & Diversity Manager, 3M Canada

Be a part of a culture that advocates for change.

We believe that a collaborative and supportive culture can help put a brighter future within reach. To learn how you can join our team and create positive change, visit our page and sign up for our newsletter by filling out the form below.



  1. Data on file. As of June 2019.
  2. Data on file.

About the Author

[enBio=Marie-Claude received her B.Sc. from Laval University and her PhD in Chemistry and Postdoc in Materials Science from Western University. She has supported multiple business units and manufacturing facilities in 3M for the last 16 years and is currently the USAC Customer Operations End to End POS Leader. She is also the Chair of Canada’s Chapter of the Women’s Leadership Forum, where she works to ensure that every woman in 3M Canada’s organization feels connected and included.],[enJob=Chair, 3M Canada Women’s Leadership Forum],[frBio=Marie-Claude a obtenu son baccalauréat en sciences de l’Université Laval, et son doctorat en chimie et son postdoctorat en science des matériaux de l’Université Western. Au cours des 16 dernières années, elle a soutenu de nombreuses unités commerciales et installations de fabrication chez 3M. Elle est actuellement la directrice des PDV pour l’ensemble des opérations avec les clients pour la zone USAC. Elle est également la présidente du Forum sur le leadership des femmes de 3M Canada où elle est responsable de l'inclusion des femmes. ],[frJob=Présidente, Forum sur le leadership des femmes de 3M Canada ]

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