BMO Financial Group today announced a new $5 billion commitment to support women business owners in Canada to mark International Women’s Day 2022. Through the program, BMO will allocate $5 billion in capital over five years to women entrepreneurs, building on the commitment of $2 billion in 2014 and $3 billion in 2018.
“Our Purpose, to Boldly Grow the Good in business and life, comes to life through initiatives like this that drive progress towards a thriving and inclusive post-pandemic economy,” said Christine Cooper, Head, Canadian Commercial Banking, BMO Financial Group. “We recognize the great impact women business owners have on our communities and we are committed to helping them access the capital they need to grow their businesses, and through them, our economy.”
“This investment from BMO has the potential to make a tremendous difference for women entrepreneurs!” said Hon. Mary Ng, Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development. “By advancing gender equality, we know we can add $150 billion to the Canadian economy – and if the world follows suit, $12 trillion to the global economy. This is both the right thing to do, and the smart thing to do for our economy. Our government is committed to supporting women entrepreneurs, and by working together with private sector partners stepping up, we can build a more inclusive future.”
BMO, as a long-time advocate of gender equity, is committed to removing barriers to women’s empowerment, championing the advancement of women, and promoting an inclusive market. BMO’s bold Purpose commitments include mobilizing $400 billion for sustainable finance, increasing support for small businesses and women entrepreneurs, and committing to key diversity goals. BMO’s Zero Barriers to Inclusion 2025 strategy includes diversity goals for senior leader and executive roles, which includes maintaining leadership in gender equity with at least 40 per cent of senior leader roles filled by employees who identify as women. Additionally, its support extends to women experiencing added barriers that are intersectional; the bank’s representation goals and initiatives include supporting People of Colour, Indigenous, Persons with Disabilities and 2SLGBTQ+ employees.
The BMO for Women program at the bank was established in 2016 and is focused on gender parity for our clients, supporting the growth of women-owned businesses and empowering women to feel confident about their finances and their financial futures.
“Recognizing and fostering extraordinary women is at the heart of BMO for Women,” said Moriah Linton, Head, BMO for Women. “We are committed to removing barriers to women’s financial progress and on International Women’s Day and everyday, this means providing access, tools and resources to support women who are driving change and advancing their communities.”
BMO’s long history of support for gender equity includes recent commitments, pledges and partnerships to carry its Zero Barriers to Inclusion 2025 Strategy forward:
Fostering women in leadership
BMO is committed to gender equality in the workplace:
- 41.1 per cent of senior leaders and half of independent board members are women.
- BMO supports 119,000 women entrepreneurs across its Canadian footprint.
- BMO Alliance for Women, BMO’s largest Enterprise Resource Group (ERG) with over 4,000 members, is dedicated to championing the inclusion, connection, development, advancement, and support of women for the betterment of BMO’s business, communities and culture.
Providing support and resources
- Launched a $750 million Women in Business Bond solution with proceeds allocated toward supporting Canadian women-owned businesses of all sizes as they recover from the economic impact of COVID-19.
- Committed $1.2 million in funding to SheEO– a not-for-profit company which offers financial support to businesses led by women and non-binary people. BMO’s financial commitment allowed SheEO to fund all 2021 venture applicant companies working to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
- BMO pledged $200,000 in grants to recognize 26 women-owned businesses across North America for their contribution to social, environmental and/or economic sustainability outcomes through their organizations’ policies, practices or products.
- BMOforWomen.com– a dedicated BMO website providing tools and educational resources for women entrepreneurs, including the award-winning[i] podcast series Bold(h)er.
- Launched an online training module for Canadian employees in Commercial, Business Banking and Wealth relationship management roles, to assist them in better understanding the nuances in working with women entrepreneurs and women investors.
Empowering women in the community
BMO is committed to closing the fairness gap giving women everywhere the opportunity to grow the good for themselves and their communities:
- Partnerships with organizations who are accelerating women to leadership positions to achieve gender equity, including Catalyst and The Prosperity Project.
- BMO was the first Canadian bank to sign the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles
- In 2020, UN Women selected BMO to feature as a case study on supports that private industry has created for women during the pandemic.
- For the past four years BMO has supported Plan International Canada’s “Girls Belong Here” initiative inspired by International Day of the Girl.
- BMO was the first Canadian bank to launch a fund focused on gender diversity. The BMO Women in Leadership Fund provides investors with exposure to a portfolio of North American companies with both gender-diverse leadership and a commitment to gender diversity.
[i]BMO for Women’s Bold(h)er podcast received recognitions from Hermes Creative Awards Platinum and AVA Gold