My name is Raunie Ratcliffe and I am the owner/operator of Dr. Green in Ontario, one of the branches apart of my family’s lawn care company. This year’s International Women’s Day theme really resonated with me, because #ChooseToChallenge has been a philosophy of mine my whole life.
Growing up with 5 older brothers I am no stranger to having to find creative ways to make my voice heard. As the youngest child, I just wanted to be included and, given that I was the only girl, it felt like a struggle. It was then that I learned that in order to be included I would be expected to change who I was and my interests to suit those around me.
As I grew into my teenage years, I joined a variety of clubs and became a member of my high school’s student council. It was there that I saw a clear divide between the male and female students. I watched as the ideas that my fellow female council members presented were consistently pushed aside in favour of a “better idea” from a male counterpart. That was a defining moment for me as a young feminist.
I ended up going to Dalhousie University in Halifax and completing a program in Technical Theatre Design. Surrounded by a mix of like-minded people, I discovered that there were a lot of other women that loved building, fixing, and creating things. How exciting! It was there that I found my true voice, and learned that knowledge and confidence were essential for me, and I figured for women in general, to be heard.
I have since challenged norms and learned skills in plumbing, carpentry, electrical and small engine repair. These skills have helped me immensely succeed in my career in lawn care. The lawn care industry is widely known as a male-dominated field. Not once have I let myself or anyone else question if I should be pursuing this career path given that I am a woman. This is mainly because I was, and still am, very fortunate to be raised by a strong, independent woman who passed on the belief that I could do anything I set my mind to.
Throughout my career, it has always been important for me to ensure that there are equitable opportunities for anyone that has the ambition to succeed. At Dr. Green, I have tried very hard to establish an inclusive business, team, and direction. This philosophy allows us, the Dr. Green Family (as we affectionately refer to ourselves), to take steps forward and grow as an organization and as individuals.
I think we can all agree that right now we’re witnessing and experiencing a cultural shift like no other. It has and will continue to be uncomfortable at times, but it is also encouraging. As a society, we are #ChoosingToChallenge norms, barriers, systems, and people, and this will result in positive changes. And what I would like to leave you with today, is the encouragement to continue to challenge anything and everything that is set against you. I could not be more proud of our Dr. Green Family and our combined efforts to challenge policies and evoke change for a greener, healthier place for everyone.