A series of messages and a conversation over coffee about the gender gaps in entrepreneurship led Catherine Clark and Jennifer Stewart to create a podcast, The Honest Talk. Three years later, they’re celebrating the unveiling of a digital platform to further the discussion and expand their reach.

The nationally recognized podcast and the new website are committed to amplifying women’s voices, acting as a beacon for female-focused stories, connection, support, advice and positivity in what many call an increasingly toxic media landscape. 

“We determined that we saw a hole in the landscape for an online platform that really allowed women to talk about the things that were happening in their lives. The things that impacted them, but that also informed them and in many cases entertained them,” Clark told Capital Current.

Catherine Clark and Jennifer Stewart speaking on the mission of The Honest Talk

The content The Honest Talk creates and features covers a variety of perspectives on topics ranging from parenting advice to infertility, menopause, finances, mental and physical health, and nutrition. 

Stewart and Clark say the heart of the platform lies in first-hand accounts and personal essays where women can add to or start conversations about uncovering and breaking down stereotypes many face in the workplace.

“I think there are a lot of topics that really haven’t been addressed by workplaces either,” Clark said. 

“In a lot of ways I think we are creating the conversation, not necessarily adding to it. Sometimes we are, but you know the conversation just sometimes isn’t happening,” Stewart added.

The article “I kicked imposter syndrome to the curb. Here’s why you should too” written by Ottawa’s Deirdre Freiheit, or “Navigating women’s health: my unexplained bleeding” written by Megan Shaw, are examples of unique and unvoiced female experiences.

Many misperceptions about women in business can sometimes discourage them, says Barbara Orser, professor in the Management of Growth Enterprises at the Telfer school of Management at uOttawa. 

While digital platforms like The Honest Talk have no quantifiable way of measuring the impact they have on female entrepreneurs, Orser believes they are important tools to help uncover and talk about myths.

“I think that it’s really important that we have these spaces to talk about these issues and also these stereotypes,” Dr. Orser said. “You can poke at these assumptions or these reports. You can question them.”

Future endeavours

Clark and Stewart say they are eager to create an inclusive space, making sure to invite a diverse selection of individuals to the platform.    

“We’re very conscious of the selection of our guests, so we’re talking about equity and diversity and inclusion, that we are trying to be as inclusive as possible. But it’s always a journey to do more, do better and more than anything to listen so that we can adapt our strategies,” Stewart said. 

Although the digital platform — The Honest Talk — is still in its infancy, many readers have made positive comments about it on social media posts from LinkedIn to “X” (formerly Twitter). Stewart and Clark say they are planning future initiatives to better support women entrepreneurs and keep the discussion alive. 

“We would love to curate live events and summits for women across the country. We would love to one day develop an Honest Talk foundation that gives back to female causes. So we’re only just getting started,” Stewart said. 

“We are always looking for what’s next and what we can do better,” Clark added.