Supporting women business owners and investors

We’re transforming public policy conversations about women entrepreneurs, their risk awareness and appetite for innovation by supporting research that drives action to address funding imbalances, and dispels the many stereotypes that still exist about women entrepreneurs. The 2018 study, Everywhere Every Day Innovating: Women Entrepreneurs and Innovation helped guide the strategy for women entrepreneurs in the 2018 Federal Budget.

The BMO Women in Leadership Fund invests in companies that have a female CEO or a board of directors with at least 25% female representation. It was also the first impact investing fund of its kind in Canada.

We committed $3 billion in capital to women-owned businesses in Canada over the next three years – building on, and increasing our 2014 commitment of $2 billion.

We partner with organizations that deliver peer-to-peer mentorship, networking opportunities, and enriching experiences, to help successful women business owners strive to reach even bigger goals.

We recognize women who have given back to their communities, or achieved success in business through the only bank-owned program for women in North America – BMO Celebrating Women.

We educate our financial professionals about what women are seeking from their bank in order to provide more enriching experiences, and better conversations, about your financial futures.

We’re also giving you more educational information and resources, so you can take confident ownership of your personal financial future, or your next steps as an entrepreneur. Specifically, our unique podcast series, Her Money, Her Way highlights the leadership, financial, and business stories of inspirational women.


BMO’s Internal Diversity and Inclusion Commitments

BMO has long been a champion of diversity and inclusion, and we have been recognized extensively for our commitment to the advancement of women. We are two-time Catalyst Award winners, one of only nine organizations to win the award twice, and we have been included on the Bloomberg Gender Equality Index for four years in a row. As a result of continued efforts, today 40% of our senior leadership roles are held by women.

The success we’ve achieved to date can be attributed to setting stretch goals, holding each other accountable to deliver and developing targeted programs. Key highlights include:

Goals and Leadership Accountability

Across the bank, diversity goals are set, and are included on Business Group Head performance objectives each year. On a quarterly basis, our most senior leaders gather to discuss business results in meetings of the Performance Committee, led by our CEO. In 2012 we established the Leadership Committee for Inclusion and Diversity (LCID), an enterprise-wide committee of 25 diverse senior executives who drive the D&I goals and advocate for inclusive practices. The committee is co-chaired by a member of the bank’s executive committee who is appointed by the CEO and establishes strategic priorities that define our direction, and create associated action plans and workforce goals. Annually, a Diversity and Inclusion update is presented to the Board of Directors.

Sponsorship Program

In 2014, we launched a formal sponsorship program. Senior leaders across the bank are nominated and paired with talented, diverse individuals who have the potential for more senior roles. We recognized that while much progress had been made, diverse groups continued to face unique barriers to advancement including lack of access to networks. The program aims to help close these gaps and goes beyond mentoring; sponsors advocate for protégés, forge connections that open doors to development opportunities, and leaders get to know diverse talent on a personal level. To date more than 81% of program participants have been identified as potential successors to key roles and more than 80% received a promotion or new stretch assignment.

Women in a Supported Environment (WISE)

BMO’s 14 Enterprise Resource Groups play an integral role in fostering an inclusive culture; they are also strategic levers that help us build internal engagement, connect with our communities externally, and drive our enterprise priorities forward. In 2013 we launched Women in a Supported Environment (WISE), a community of employees – both men and women – who champion the inclusion, connection, development, advancement, and support of women for the betterment of BMO’s business, communities, and culture. Today WISE is BMO’s largest ERG with over 3,000 members.

Building a Culture of Inclusion

We educate leaders and employees on the value of inclusivity, and share tangible actions and behaviours that help build an inclusive environment. As an example, in 2015, we launched a multi-year, multi-phase engagement called Learn from Difference (LFD) that helps leaders mitigate the impact of unconscious bias on decision making and create an inclusive environment for all employees. Within three months of the program’s launch, over 80% of managers had completed the learning and 97% of these managers felt confident in their ability to apply what they learned in everyday business decisions. Building an inclusive work environment is incumbent on us all so in 2019, we will be expanding the LFD program to all employees across the bank.