SWO Angel Group

Smashing Barriers: The Tallest Poppy

March 11, 2020

By: Lynn Davis

In celebration of International Women’s Day, Smashing Barriers: The Tallest Poppy brought together 150 people to hear Dr. Rumeet Billan speak about her research on Tall Poppy Syndrome.

Spearheaded by TechAlliance CEO, Christina Fox, this event was a first-of-its-kind collaboration between TechAlliance, Pillar NonProfit Network and SWO Angels.

In her introductory remarks, Christina said, “Change happens when we make a collective effort because we truly see the value in diversity and inclusion. We all benefit from an equal and enabled world. In pursuit of creating spaces where innovation, entrepreneurship and community thrives, we need to have conversations like Smashing Barriers. All tall poppies welcome, lift while we rise.”

The Board Chair for SWO Angels, spoke about the role of angel investors in helping to “strengthen our regional and Canadian economy, one venture at a time, noting the “important and impactful work women do every single day, both in our community and beyond,” before welcoming Dr. Rumeet Billan to the stage.

Dr. Billan began by explaining that Tall Poppy Syndrome “occurs when people (not just women) are attacked, resented, disliked, criticized or cut down because of their achievements and/or success.” According to Dr. Billan’s research, a significant number of people (87.3% of respondents) felt that their work achievements were undermined by colleagues or superiors. A negative by-product of this is lack of trust amongst co-workers and feelings of disengagement.

Dr. Billan’s research reveals that a work culture that suffers from Tall Poppy Syndrome is not only detrimental to the psychological capital of its employees, but the financial capital of the organization as well.

Michelle Baldwin, CEO of Pillar NonProfit Network provided an important call to action as the evening drew to a close: “I want each of us to unpack the origins of this reinforced behaviour, determine what allows it to permeate in our work environments, and move to eradicate it.”

For more information on Dr. Rumeet Billan’s national research study on Tall Poppy Syndrome visit: www.tallestpoppy.ca.