Leadership | Excellence | Achievement | Diversity
As we proceed with the Women’s LEAD Initiative, we are asking women in the community to answer questions around their own LEAD experiences (Leadership, Excellence, Achievements & Diversity)
Dr. Genieve Burley is the owner of Health in Alignment, a chiropractor, a yoga instructor and a health expert. We spoke to Dr. Burley about her experience with Leadership, Excellence, Achievement, and Diversity as a business owner and health and wellness expert.
Tell us about a time you experienced bad/good Leadership:
When I moved from being an associate chiropractor in Toronto where I worked for a male-owned practice and moved to Vancouver to be mentored under a female, I was very excited. In the early 2000s, there weren’t as many examples of females owning multi-disciplinary practices, and the “business” part of our education was fairly weak.
When I arrived in Vancouver, I joined her practice and was impressed by how well she managed everything, from contracts to renovations, billing and more. Unfortunately, rather than mentoring me and empowering me as a colleague, she told me that I would never make it as a clinic owner because I was thinking of having a family and that the work was too tough, and she was unique in her ability to manage it. I watched her treat other practitioners the same way, a one-sided relationship in which she was the beneficiary. I felt disappointed with the idea that the way you would need to run a chiropractic business as a woman was to treat others with mistrust and threats, which prevented me from dreaming of my own space for years.
It was through a post-partum depression that I realized that I had already been through the worst experience, and I wanted to live an open, fear-free, values-based life.
I left her practice at the beginning of the post-partum depression, and within a year, I had started my own small practice that grew.
I am now a co-owner of a clinic with my business partner, and we encourage, empower, and engage our practitioners to be part of our team.
I am very grateful that poor leadership enabled me to find myself a good leader.
Tell us about a time you experienced excellence:
To me, excellence is achieved with every collaboration steeped in integrity. As a woman, I have had a really hard time asking to be compensated in a way that reflects my education and experience. In the past couple of years, I have done some work with the mental health division of the provincial and federal governments. In these interactions, there has been huge respect for my time, and this has created healthy timelines for planning and meetings. It seems simple, but integrity is the most important ingredient in excellence.
Your Greatest Achievement?
This is a difficult question, I think as a woman we are always tempted to say that our greatest achievement is having children and a career, which I must acknowledge as being truly miraculous at times, but this is not my greatest achievement. I really believe achievement is the success we experience after the greatest adversity we have endured, whether it be physical labour/study or other. In going with this definition, my greatest achievement is grinding through a post-partum depression to create a values-based career. The post-partum depression I experienced with both of my daughters ripped my mind from the tether of who I thought I was. They were the hardest periods of my life and the resilience it took to move forward enabled me to have less fear in my career and focus on a way of practicing as a chiropractor, instructor, and philanthropist in alignment with my values.
Tell us about Diversity in your own life/career:
This is a great question, and diversity is broad and all-encompassing to me. I grew up in a small town outside of Ottawa, and while we had some ethnic and racial diversity in my schools, the children tended to be stereotyped and looking back were subject to many microaggressions, and maybe more…I cannot speak to their experience – nor would I even try to articulate it for them. My cousin moved in with us for a couple of months in the ‘80s when he came out to his parents as gay and encountered resistance from his family. My home was always a place for everyone, and my mom taught me that every single human has the same worth as another, so I truly did feel like I was a “good” person in my thoughts and actions towards others. However, in June of 2020, I embarked on a big journey to check my blind spots and to become an ally to any marginalized group, be it race, gender, sexuality, or ability. This included trying to find ways in which my practice could become more inclusive in hiring processes and patient access…which is something we are still working on.
I am encouraged to see progress being made on the boards that I serve, organizations I support and within my own chiropractic community. There is still a long way to go, for me, for all of us, but conversation has stemmed into action and for that I am grateful.