Canada’s Industry Leaders: 11 Ways To Champion Diversity & Inclusion In 2018

March 8, 2018 | By: CVCA

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #PressForProgress, a call to close the gender gap. According to the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report, if we continue at the current rate of change, it will take another 200 years to achieve gender parity.

From being underrepresented in organizations to facing a wage gap, women face numerous barriers in male-dominated industries. There are even greater gaps for women of complex identities such as women of colour, newcomer women and queer women.

Despite this, statistics consistently prove that diverse organizations perform better. Companies with the highest percentages of women directors outperform those with the fewest women and experience a better return on equity.

Canadian tech and venture capital companies are taking note and intentionally working towards closing the gap to ensure diversity within organizations reflects that of our country. This initiative requires everyone to consider their role in championing diversity and creating more inclusive spaces.

In honour of International Women’s Day, we asked leaders across industries to suggest one action you can take to create meaningful change. Here’s a roundup of their advice:

1) Reach out to your favourite school to be a guest speaker. Schools are often excited to host speakers, especially if you can educate students and raise awareness about what you do.
Whitney Rockley, Chair, CVCA and Co-founder and Managing Partner of McRock Capital

2) Men: attend meetings with women so you can sense what it’s like to be the only one in the room. Then, commit to ensuring the thought leadership on panels is gender diverse and add women to planning committees as they tend to know other women who can be brought on board.
Michelle McBane, Senior Investment Director, MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund

3) Reject offers to appear on panels that aren’t diverse or have gender parity. For women who are sometimes asked to be the only woman on the panel, tell the organizers you are declining until there’s better representation.
Sharon Zohar, CEO, The Big Push

4) Take a conscious approach to creating diverse teams in all its forms, which includes gender diversity.
-Michelle Scarborough, Managing Director, Strategic Investments and Women in Tech, BDC Capital

5) Be part of the conversation. Whether it’s #MeToo or #TimesUp, everyone should be talking about gender issues. Women shouldn’t be doing this alone – we need men in the room who can be allies.
-Caroline Risboro, President & CEO, Plan International Canada

6) Take on the role of being a mentor. Spend time with someone and explain what you do. Showing someone around your office can expose them to the idea that your work is a viable career option for them.
Melissa Sariffodeen, CEO & Co-Founder, Canada Learning Code

7) If you’re a business owner, consider how you can incorporate diversity into your suppliers. You can support small businesses or those that are veteran-owned, minority-owned or women-owned.
Stephany Lapierre, CEO & Founder, tealbook

8) Do a better job of listening. Ask your employees and your colleagues what they want, what they need to be supported and what you can do to make every individual feel like they belong.
Jodi Kovitz, CEO, #movethedial

9) Don’t use the excuse that there aren’t enough talented women or members of diverse backgrounds to recruit. Find pathways and opportunities to increase diversity because the talent pool is available.
-Yung Wu, CEO, MaRS Discovery District

10) Every senior person should sponsor a junior woman. Find someone who has high potential and sponsor her to think about how she can move her career forward within the organization.
Lisa Melchior, President & CEO, VERTU Capital

11) Ask and understand who is at the table and then ask yourself who is missing and why. Once you gather data from employees and hear people’s experiences, believe their stories. You should see the information you collect as a starting point from which to take action.
-Jeanette Stock, Co-Founder, Venture Out

Which of these actions will you commit to? Tweet your response to @CVCACanada and include the hashtag #PressForProgress.

Let’s work together to close the gap.


The CVCA has organized and is actively involved with various industry events around IWD2018:

– In various cities in Canada around IWD2018, business school participants enjoyed insights through an intimate, informal Q&A with female industry ambassadors, who spoke openly about the challenges and opportunities they’ve experience throughout their careers.

– At select AMA sessions, a second, larger roundtable discussion included participants from the Young Professionals Committee (YPC), a subcommittee of the CVCA. YPC participation is aimed at fostering the continuation of a diverse and sustainable Canadian private capital industry.

Coinciding with IWD2018, the Canadian Women In Private Equity (CWPE) & CVCA hosted “PE Deal Trends Power Series” which gathered private capital colleagues to analyze current private equity market trends in both Canada and the US.

CVCA will be participating in “Enhancing Women’s Access To Capital” event taking place at the Embassy Of Canada in Washington, DC. on Mar. 20.

The CVCA, along with The Canada-United States Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders, MaRS Discovery District, #movethedial, Plan International Canada and presenting sponsors BDC Capital & CIBC are marking IWD2018 as the Canadian business and technology community host “The 1st Annual IWD Advancing Girls & Women Celebration” on Mar. 8. Read the press release here.

The CVCA, at its 2018 annual conference, Invest Canada ’18, will embark on a half day of diversity & inclusion programming. Included on the half day on Jun. 7, four legendary Canadian medal winning Olympians will discuss the topic of diversity and inclusion in international sport and competition. The half day will conclude with a robust private capital industry panel on the issue.

If you would like to submit an idea for content, contribute to an article, or are interested in submitting an op-ed, contact the CVCA’s editorial department here.