As someone who spends a great deal of time articulating the business case for gender equality in the digital economy ( i.e. diverse organizations are better run, more innovative than homogenous ones), I must confess that sometimes it feels like I am speaking into a hurricane force wind. There are many, many days when it feels like no one is listening.
And then there are days like yesterday when the Finance Minister, no less, stood in the House and delivered these very messages with conviction and commitment.
In case you missed them here are some notable quotes:
“We know that greater diversity in the workforce boosts productivity and profitability and…increasing gender diversity alone leads to more growth.”
“Over the past 40 years the rising number of women participating in the workforce has accounted for about a third of Canada’s GDP growth.”
“When women hold leadership positions, companies see stronger financial performance, more innovation and more effective decision making at the board level.”
“RBC Economics estimates that if Canada had a completely equal representation of women and men in our workforce, we could have increased the size of the economy by 4 per cent last year.”
And finally, my personal favourite, “…our Cabinet is stronger, the Government is stronger and Canadians are better served because half of the people around the Cabinet table are strong, intelligent effective women.”
It’s not just rhetoric. There are significant policy measures put in place to walk the talk…measures like an additional $1.2 billion over five years to fund an incentive for fathers to take parental leave, a determination to end pay inequity in all federally regulated organizations, $70 million in funding to BDC’s Women in Tech Fund to support women lead enterprises, and an ongoing commitment to the process of gender based-policy analysis gender budgeting. The government has also earmarked $100 million over 5 years in additional funding for Status of Women Canada and it has elevated Status of Women Canada to a full department within the Government of Canada.
In sum, the 2018 Federal Budget is an historic document. It demonstrates the power of gender-based analysis to propose improvements in the way women engage with all dimensions of government. If you’ve never bothered to read a budget document before I strongly recommend this one. It is a hugely encouraging political statement for organizations like ours that fight the fight for gender equality and a stronger workforce. The actions promised, combined with those beautifully articulated messages about why these actions are economically imperative, fills our sails and energizes our mission to take the call for change more forcefully to corporate Canada.