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Fatphobia in the workplace can be career limiting and psychologically harmful

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When a person competes for a job, the hope is that they will be measured by their talent and ability, not by their appearance.

But Virgie Tovar, a self-described “fat woman” weighing 250 pounds, says fatphobia has stunted her career growth.

Fatphobia is a term used to describe a bias against someone based solely on their weight. There is no minimum weight that is considered “fat” by this definition.

Virgie Tovar is an author, activist and an expert on fat discrimination and body image. (Donna Scarola)

Tovar recalls one encounter she had at a corporate office in San Francisco. After hitting it off with the female interviewer in the first and second interviews, Tovar felt she was a frontrunner for the position.

“However, her boss had to approve me,” said Tovar. “So I go all the way upstairs and I’m greeted at the elevator by a man and he kind of looks me up and down and is visibly disappointed.”

She says this situation played out several times in her search for a new job. Each time, she would make it through the initial phase. But when bosses saw her, she says they were reluctant to hire her.

Tovar now spends her time writing about fatphobia in the workplace. She’s a freelance contributor at Forbes magazine and the author of the book You Have the Right to Remain Fat.

Workplaces set up to support smaller body types, says expert

Angela Alberga is an assistant professor at Concordia University in Montreal. Her research focuses on better understanding how certain societal or institutional factors influence weight-related issues and weight stigma. She says fatphobia doesn’t just affect job growth, it creeps into every aspect of a person’s life.

“If people actually experience these types of negative judgments associated with their body size they may feel more anxious … and blame themselves,” said Alberga. “And that shame and guilt can actually really affect their psychological well-being.”

She says there are several common and harmful stigmas associated with fatphobia and that, once established, they can be difficult to reverse.

Angela Alberga is an assistant professor of health, kinesiology and applied physiology at Concordia University in Montreal. (Submitted by Angela Alberga)

According to Alberga, some of the stereotypes that people in a larger body face include people thinking that they’re undisciplined, inactive, not as friendly, more emotional and less likely to succeed.

Even when hired, the workplace can still feel hostile because Alberga says workplaces are set up to support smaller body types.

An example of this is an office fitness challenge, which Tovar says is “absolutely inappropriate.”

“They have no place in the workplace,” said Tovar. “There’s absolutely no reason that your employer should be surveilling you on what you eat or how much you weigh.”

Bosses need to educate themselves

In a U.S. study published in Science Direct called “The affective and interpersonal consequences of obesity,” researchers found 45 per cent of employers were less inclined to recruit a candidate they considered obese.

They also found obese people are less likely to be regarded as able leaders and had lower starting salaries.

Tovar says everyone has to raise their voice on this stigma, especially those who happen to be smaller.

“Like, I have this advantage. People think of me in a certain way because I’m in a smaller body. And how can I leverage that in order to kind of create a better more inclusive, less phobic workplace?” said Tobar.

She encourages those in power to read more about, what she calls, fat justice and activism and to seek out fat-positive literature.

She also wants companies to have diverse body types featured in internal marketing.

Both women say attitudes about larger bodied people are changing, but not fast enough.

In the interim, they say many companies may be missing out on talented workers because they were too preoccupied with the candidates clothing size instead of the wealth of experience they could bring to the job.

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Real Estate

Couple from Toronto buys dream home in Mushaboom

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MUSHABOOM – A couple who lived and raised a family in downtown Toronto developed a five-year plan in 2015 to purchase their dream home.

In September they moved into the home – located on Malagash Island in Mushaboom on Nova Scotia’s stunning Eastern Shore – that met and exceeded their best dreams for their retirement.

The Camerons, Bruce and Tanya, decided in 2019 they would explore the Maritimes to see what real estate was available to become their potential retirement home. In the spring of 2020, during a global pandemic, the real estate boom hit their city, and they were hearing the same for Nova Scotia. Our province was their first-choice for attaining their desire for an entirely different lifestyle – away from the busyness of the city.

“We had $300,000 to $350,000 as a home value in mind to buy. Our semi-detached located off Danforth in Toronto was priced at $850,000. We wanted to come out ahead, so we would be secure in retirement,” Tanya said.

Their century-old home had prime location near the subway and GO Transit Line for a great 13-minute commute downtown.

“We enjoyed our community,” explains Bruce “… we had great neighbours, young children around and street parties – lots of social activity.”

Bruce says, “Our agent suggested a starting quote of $899,000. We did not do any renovations and only some staging. Fifty couples went through and we received four significant offers. Six days later we sold – with zero conditions – and a price of over a million dollars. We just requested a closing of September 2020 to get the kids off to school – which we got.”

The couple got more than they had anticipated.

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Real Estate

Rabobank Announces Leadership Changes in U.S., Canadian Offices

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NEW YORK, Dec. 16, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Rabobank, the leading global food and agribusiness bank, has appointed two of its top executives, Tamira Treffers-Herrera and Robert Sinescu, to become Co-Heads of North American Client Coverage, positioning the Bank for future growth in the region.

Treffers-Herrera has also assumed the role of Vice Chairperson and Head of the Atlanta office, where she additionally oversees Rabobank Mexico, which is led by Eduardo Palacios. Sinescu is the Head of the Chicago office, and also oversees Rabobank Canada, led by Marc Drouin, who was recently appointed as Canada’s General Manager.

Treffers-Herrera and Sinescu report to David Bassett, Head of Wholesale Banking North America, the Bank’s corporate and investment banking business for the region based in New York.

“Both Tamira and Robert have a demonstrated history of strong leadership, operational excellence and passion for our clients,” Bassett said. “Their broad experience and deep sector expertise will be invaluable in delivering dynamic results for clients while accelerating our growth trajectory in North America.”

Each office will have an even greater focus on key Food & Agribusiness sectors and clients: The Chicago office will drive growth in sectors including Dairy, Farm Inputs and Grains & Oilseeds, which are also key areas of focus for the Canada office. The Atlanta office will focus heavily on sectors such as Animal Protein, Beverages, Sugar, and Supply Chains, which are important sectors in Mexico as well.

“Rabobank is fully committed to our clients throughout North America, and we believe our new sector-focused coverage will improve our ability to provide knowledge-based, value-added solutions that benefit our clients,” Bassett said.

Treffers-Herrera was most recently based in London as CEO of Rabobank’s European Region from 2016-2020, where she took the organization through Brexit. Prior to that, she worked in the Atlanta office from 2002-2016. During her tenure in Atlanta, Treffers-Herrera served as Global Sector Head – Consumer Food & Beverages, and prior to that she was a senior banker for a portfolio of large beverage and consumer foods clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Kentucky, a Master of Arts from the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce and has studied at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business and Harvard Business School.

Sinescu has been with Rabobank for over 21 years and was previously General Manager of Rabobank Canada, where he oversaw all operations, business development, commercial strategy and relationships with regulators. In addition, he continues to serve as CEO of Rabo Securities Canada Inc. Prior to Canada, he was a senior banker, Head of Corporate Banking, European Sector Head for Sugar, and a member of the Management Team for Rabobank France. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Business from the Bucharest School of Business, a Master of Business Administration & Management and a Master of Science in Banking and Corporate Finance from Sorbonne University in Paris, and has studied at Brown University.

Drouin has worked with Rabobank’s Canadian team for more than nine years and most recently served as a senior banker, Head of Rabobank Canada’s AgVendor Program and a member of Rabobank Canada’s Management Team. He brings extensive wholesale banking experience within the Dairy, G&O, CPG and Supply Chain sectors. Drouin holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from McGill University and a Master of Business Administration in International Finance, Marketing and Management from the Schulich School of Business at York University.

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Real Estate

Greybrook Realty Partners & Marlin Spring Brand Jointly Owned Asset Manager – Greyspring Apartments

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TORONTO, Dec. 14, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Greybrook Realty Partners and Marlin Spring are pleased to announce the new branding of their jointly owned investment and asset management firm, Greyspring Apartments. With a portfolio of more than 2,000 units and CAD$375 million in assets under management, Greyspring Apartments is focused on the acquisition and repositioning of multi-family assets throughout Canada.

The new name and branding is an important step in Greyspring’s evolution as an independent operating business. Formed in 2018 by long standing-partners Marlin Spring and Greybrook Realty Partners, Greyspring Apartments was established with the goal of building a leading asset management firm with a robust portfolio of residential rental real estate assets in primary and secondary markets across Canada.

Greyspring’s talented team of real estate, asset management and finance professionals is overseen and guided by the Management Board, whose members include Benjamin Bakst, CEO, Marlin Spring; Elliot Kazarnovksy, CFO, Marlin Spring; Sasha Cucuz, CEO, Greybrook Securities Inc.; Peter Politis, CEO, Greybrook Realty Partners; Chris Salapoutis, President & COO, Greybrook Realty Partners; Ashi Mathur, President, Marlin Spring; and Karl Brady. In addition to his role on the Management Board, Karl Brady leads Greyspring Apartments as its President. 

“We are pleased to announce the official name and branding of a business we formed with our partners at Marlin Spring a few years ago,” said Peter Politis, CEO, Greybrook Realty Partners. “Greyspring has been diligently focused on the execution of strategic value-add programs across its portfolio that are improving the quality of housing for tenants and overall asset values. For Greybrook investors, expanding from our core business in real estate development to the value-add space through Greyspring, has allowed us to provide our clients with investment opportunities that diversify their real estate investment portfolios.”

“Marlin Spring and Greybrook have partnered on many residential real estate projects in recent years,” said Benjamin Bakst, CEO and Cofounder, Marlin Spring. “To a great extent, Greyspring illustrates our approach to partnerships. We believe in, and strive for, responsible growth through deepening our relationships with our trusted partners. With Greyspring, we’ve formalized our focus on providing better and more affordable living experiences for Canadians. This vision aligns with our mission to deliver exceptional real estate value to all our stakeholders with an uncompromising adherence to our core values.”

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