Knowledge Hub

BMO’s Entry to The Gender Equality Awards 2017

Principle 1: Establish high-level corporate leadership for gender equality

Tell us what your company is doing to advance the selected principle above:
In 1990, BMO’s CEO took an industry leadership role in breaking the “glass ceiling” with his decision to set up and sponsor the Task Force on the Advancement of Women. The ground-breaking report was released in November 1991 and helped chart BMO’s course going forward.

In 2012, marking the 20th anniversary of the report, BMO launched a Diversity Renewal initiative to increase representation of women and minorities in senior leadership roles. We set an enterprise goal of 40% women in senior leadership roles by 2016 which we have achieved. Every member of BMO’s Executive Committee endorsed that decision, underscoring our commitment to promote diversity and inclusion across the enterprise.

BMO established the Leadership Committee for Inclusion and Diversity (LCID), an enterprise-wide committee of executives to lead this work. LCID establishes strategic priorities that define the direction of the renewal agenda, and create associated action plans and workforce goals.

BMO’s Office of Inclusion, led by our Chief Inclusion Officer, shares accountability for achieving our enterprise diversity and inclusion (D&I) goals. The Office of Inclusion works in partnership with LCID, and D&I Steering Committees and Councils aligned to each business group to implement these strategies across the bank.

The diversity of BMO’s Board is extremely important. Our Board Diversity Policy seeks to ensure that BMO’s Board comprises highly qualified individuals from diverse backgrounds. The policy was not designed to give designated groups special access, but rather to give diverse candidates equal opportunity to qualify for Board membership. In 2012 BMO was a founding signatory to the Catalyst Accord, making a pledge to ensure women comprise a minimum of 25% on Boards of Directors. Today, women represent more than one-third of BMO’s Board of Directors.

We require external research firms consider the Board’s diversity criteria when identifying director candidates. Potential candidates are screened for several attributes, including gender.

Our CEO and our Chairman of the Board are both founding members of the 30% Club Canada, a group of Canadian business leaders who support the proposition that it’s good business practice to have women holding 30% of board seats in Canada.

Tell us why your company is advancing the selected principle above:
Diversity and how we learn from each other’s differences are integral parts of our brand, Being BMO. Being BMO comprises a set of values and actions that inform how we work together, treat our customers and serve our communities, and was created for our people by our people. We are committed to harnessing the power of more than 45,000 employees to generate competitive advantage—and opportunities for every employee at BMO. Building a diverse workforce and an inclusive workplace helps us ensure our employees and customers feel valued, respected and heard.

Senior leaders in the organization have ultimate accountability for the bank’s performance, and lead the charge in establishing practices and behaviours aligned to Being BMO. Having senior leaders at the forefront of BMO’s Diversity and Inclusion renewal ensures they stay closely tied to a key component of the bank’s overall strategy, and maintain accountability for outcomes. Diversity initiatives and a diverse workforce drive leading engagement, loyalty and growth, positively impacting bank performance. More specifically:

• Teams that are both diverse and inclusive have seen double the employee engagement scores.
• Diversity and Inclusion leads to 30% better customer service outcomes which in turn deepens customer loyalty.
• Gender and ethnically diverse companies outperform non-diverse companies by up to 35%.

Additionally, in our highly competitive field we know highlighting BMO’s brand, culture and values is critical. We made a strategic decision to tell a compelling story about BMO as an influencer, a thought leader, an innovator and an employer of choice. Having senior leaders champion our commitment to diversity and inclusion communicates to both employees and customers that BMO views it as a high priority. A workplace that is open to diversity and inclusion also welcomes diversity and inclusion within its customer base—and vice versa. Our senior leaders have therefore been very active outside the workplace to promote diversity and inclusion among our customers.

Diversity and inclusion matter. Its power, the advantage it confers on organizations, is immeasurable. It has allowed us to be better bankers, and aligns with what our employees expect of us.

Principle 4: Promote education, training and professional development for women

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At BMO, we believe diversity and inclusion drive leading engagement, loyalty and growth, and make us stronger as a company. We offer various learning and development programs, sponsorships, Employee Resource Groups (ERG), and thought leadership to achieve this.

BMO’s Learn from Difference program aims to build a capability for inclusive leadership among our 7,000 people managers so that all employees feel valued, respected and heard. This company-wide program explicitly includes gender elements, and helps build the diversity and inclusion mindset needed to break down barriers to women advancing.

The Women In A Supported Environment (WISE) Affinity Group champions the inclusion, connection, development, advancement, and support of women for the betterment of BMO and our employees, communities and culture. A BMO ERG, WISE helps to foster a culture in which the diversity of our co-workers is recognized and respected.

BMO is the Gold Sponsor for Women in Capital Markets (WCM), a non-profit organization promoting the entry, advancement and development of women in the field of Canadian Capital Markets. Funding is also provided by BMO Capital Markets for the Heather L. Main Memorial Scholarship Fund, administered by WCM. This scholarship, along with mentoring and internship programs, builds the skills and experience necessary for women to launch a successful capital markets career.

BMO is also a founding sponsor of the WCM Return to Bay Street program which helps women with a previous career in capital markets to re-launch a full-time career in Canadian capital markets after an extended absence. To date, BMO has had 11 interns in this program, 10 of whom have been hired full-time. Based on this success, we partnered with the Financial Women’s Association (FWA) and three other organizations as founding sponsors of the Back2Business (B2B) program in the Tri-State New York region; four interns were hired to start in the inaugural year.

BMO also sponsors the Women in Leadership speaker’s series at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. Since 2008, the series has hosted dozens of the world’s top leaders and authors. Each event attracts more than 120 mid- to senior-level executives from the Greater Toronto Area.

Tell us why your company is advancing the selected principle above:
Our commitment to learning is focused on building the capabilities that will deliver great customer experiences and drive results.

BMO invests in continuing education and professional development to build new skills, increase engagement, provide career opportunities and grow future leaders—all leading to a stronger and higher-performing bank. The representation of women in senior leader roles (in Canada and the United States) increased from 35% in 2013 to 40% in 2016. Diversity is also clearly evident in our talent pipeline, with 42% of future leaders represented by women and 23% by visible minorities/persons of colour.

Our sponsorship of the Women in Capital Markets (WCM) Program, the WCM Return to Bay Street program, and Back2Business program aim to help supplement a diverse and inclusive pool of talent for the capital markets and finance industries.

Diversity – Learn from Difference is one of our core values, and it underpins how we work, how we interact with each other, and how we care for the needs of our customers and the people in our communities. Since establishing the Task Force on the Advancement of Women in the bank in the early 1990s, BMO has been one of the first Canadian companies to explicitly focus on women – and it continues to today.

BMO recently won the 2017 Catalyst Award for our commitment to the progress of women, and we are one of only nine companies in the world to receive this honour twice. The Catalyst Award recognizes innovative diversity and inclusion initiatives that move the dial on recruitment, learning and development, and the advancement of women, including diverse women.

BMO has long been a champion of women and diverse talent, and we are now the leading bank in representation of women in senior leadership roles at 40%. Twenty-five years ago, we committed to being a leader in diversity and inclusion, and we re-doubled our efforts in 2012. We’ve made great strides in making BMO a more diverse and inclusive company than ever, where our employees share they feel supported to perform at their very best to help each other – and our customers – succeed.

Principle 5: Implement enterprise development, supply chain and marketing practices that empower women

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BMO launched the BMO Women in Leadership Fund, the first impact investing mutual fund offered by a Canadian bank focused on gender diversity. The Fund provides investors with the ability to address a social challenge – the under-representation of women in leadership roles. The Fund invests in North American companies that have a female CEO or a board of directors with at least 25% female representation.

BMOforwomen is the culmination of a grassroots effort by a group of bank leaders – both women and men – who came together to offer a differentiated value proposition to BMO’s female clients, especially women entrepreneurs.

BMO partners with women-focused organizations to develop training and education for female investors and entrepreneurs, as well as for our own front-line staff. We developed a national series of industry-leading two-day workshops that are designed to help support in building skills and improving business acumen by inspiring female entrepreneurs with new ideas. We also developed a webinar series, led by a wealth psychology expert, that was offered to our advisors and banking professionals to help them provide relevant and useful advice to women and couples.

BMO is the founding and leading partner of GroYourBiz, a peer-to-peer advisory group for women entrepreneurs who want to grow their business above the $1 million mark in revenue. Members are women in small business in Canada and the United States. Currently there are 250 members and 14 local “Boards” of 15-20 women across the country – with a plan to grow to 100 Boards in Canada by 2018. BMO’s Supplier Diversity Office also takes part in this initiative.

In 2014, BMO made an additional $2 billion in credit available to women-owned businesses across Canada over a three-year period, demonstrating its commitment to this fast-growing market.

BMO is committed to integrating women-owned businesses into its supply chain. BMO has implemented a number practices with the aim of ensuring an inclusive procurement process including the ongoing identification of opportunities and engagement of these businesses as potential suppliers to the bank. BMO is a member of WBE Canada (Women Business Enterprise Canada).

Tell us why your company is advancing the selected principle above:

Our customer landscape had changed, demanding we think differently and critically about what “leadership” and “talent” should look like at BMO. We recognized that there was still work to be done to level the playing field. With women’s representation growing in key industries and important market segments on the horizon, such as women-owned businesses and high net worth female clients, it was time to engage with women inside and outside the company differently. This includes involving men in the conversation and providing all of our customer-facing employees with the tools and understanding to develop deeper relationships with their female clients.

We recently sponsored Carleton University’s ground-breaking study, A Force to Reckon With: WOMEN, ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND RISK. The study addressed gender differences in the risk-taking behaviours of entrepreneurs and found that the notion of women being risk-averse is unfounded. Women are not only taking on business risk, they’re thriving! Study results will help shape our thinking about how to have more meaningful conversations and support our women clients who own and start businesses.

In short, women represent a large, growing and under-served segment in the wealth and business banking markets. To help BMO better support women investors and entrepreneurs, we created a team dedicated to developing an understanding of the wealth and business advice needs of women. Approximately 67% of wealth in North America is expected to be controlled by women by 2020. Two-thirds of new businesses in Canada are started by women. Yet many women entrepreneurs find it hard to get funding for their businesses, and 73% of women report being unhappy with the financial services industry.

With women a key priority for BMO, we are proud to have launched the first impact investing mutual fund by a Canadian Bank. This unique offering, which supports the advancement of women, provides investors with both financial and social value. The fund is another important proof point of what we know at BMO – that having women in leadership roles drives better performance.