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BMO Marks International Day of the Girl 2020 with Initiatives Fostering Leadership for Young Women
  • Executive sponsorship of Plan International Canada's Girls Belong Here program sees BMO executives share their seats with Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) young women
  • Youth ambassadors to participate in the BMO Financial Crimes Unit's (FCU) Fusion Centre Tour highlighting the bank's work to protect customers and bring more women into its workforce
  • BMO launches petition to counter gender-based stereotypes undermining financial confidence

TORONTO and CHICAGO, Oct. 6, 2020 /CNW/ - As BMO Financial Group celebrates International Day of the Girl on October 11, the bank continues to support a range of initiatives to encourage young women on the path to leadership. For the third consecutive year, BMO is the executive sponsor of Plan International Canada's Girls Belong Here program, which places young women in positions of leadership, power, and influence for a day. Additionally, as BMO works to foster a society with zero barriers to inclusion, International Day of the Girl initiatives include a focus on countering social conditioning that often undermines financial confidence, highlighting the importance of protecting women online, and encouraging career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). 

"For our company and industry to grow, we need leadership that delivers and represents a diverse perspective, and we've seen firsthand the benefits of elevating women to senior roles across our organization," said Karen Collins, Chief Talent Officer, BMO Financial Group. "Growing inclusion in the corporate world for women starts with exposing future leaders – especially BIPOC youth – to career paths and stoking their ambition to reach their full potential. That is why we're proud to continue our support of the Girls Belong Here program, and take action every day to reach zero barriers to inclusion."

Leading up to International Day of the Girl, BMO is reaffirming its commitment to gender equality, economic empowerment, and equal representation with a range of events and initiatives, including:

Girls Belong Here

As executive sponsor of the Girls Belong Here program, BMO is bringing the issue of gender equality to the fore by exposing young women to professional environments, especially in technology and finance. Throughout the fall and into 2021, executives from across the organization will "step down" to enable a young woman to take their role for the day virtually. With a special focus on intersectionality, BMO is actively filling seat shares with BIPOC youth.

Beginning today, BMO's first seat share will see a young woman taking the reigns in Technology and Operations (T&O), sharing the seat of Antonio Novillo, Chief Information and Operations Officer, BMO Capital Markets T&O. Future pairings will include Erminia (Ernie) Johannson, Group Head, North American Personal and Business Banking and David Casper, U.S. Chief Executive Officer.

"As a young Black woman and new graduate interested in running a business one day – I am thrilled to be participating in Girls Belong Here and connecting with BMO which has demonstrated a real commitment to supporting Black entrepreneurs," says Léandre, the youth ambassador who will be stepping into the role of Chief Information and Operations Officer, BMO Capital Markets T&O. "Girls Belong Here has fast-tracked my ability to meet senior leadership that can advise on making my dreams a reality, which is so critical at this time when there are so many increased barriers to women's advancement in the wake of COVID-19."  

Fusion Centre Virtual Tour Highlights BMO's Work to Protect Women Online 

Further to the seat share, all youth ambassadors involved in Plan International Canada's Girls Belong Here program are invited to participate in the BMO Financial Crimes Unit's (FCU) Fusion Centre virtual tour on Thursday, October 29. With speakers from across the FCU, the tour will highlight the bank's work to protect BMO and its customers from security threats as well as the desire to bring more women into its workforce, including the FCU. 

The subject of security for women online is also explored in Plan International's latest report: Free to be online? Girls' and young women's experiences of online harassment.

Countering Social Conditioning

To reaffirm its commitment to economic empowerment, BMO is shining a light on social conditioning and gender-based stereotypes in language that has negative connotations for women. Starting today, BMO is encouraging consumers to take action through a petition aiming to redefine gendered language that undermines women's financial confidence and independence.

"While there has been steady progress in gender equality in recent years, there is still more we can do to unravel the social conditioning that can erode a woman's confidence, potential, and trajectory for success," said Catherine Roche, Chief Marketing Officer and Head, Social Impact, BMO Financial Group. "By focusing on social and economic empowerment, we can begin to eradicate pervasive and subtle societal messages that can impede a woman's ability to make real financial progress."

Beyond International Day of the Girl, additional initiatives and highlights of BMO's work to advance gender equality include:

  • Sustaining current gender equity position with a range of 40 to 60 per cent representation of women in senior leadership roles, as per its Zero Barriers to Inclusion 2025 diversity goals
  • BMO Celebrating Women – a BMO-owned community program – pledged $100,000 in grants to Canadian entrepreneurs in July 2020
  • WMN•FINtech, the latest iteration of the BMO-1871 Innovation Program in the United States, designed to help bridge the gender gap and give more women entrepreneurs the opportunity to bring cutting-edge technology and products forward
  • Ongoing work to double the bank's industry-leading support for women entrepreneurs as part of its Purpose commitments, along with ongoing investment of $3 billion in capital over three years to women-owned businesses and programs across Canada to ensure they succeed
  • New e-learning course that informs client-facing employees about the nuances in working with women and shares strategies to help increase these clients' financial success
  • New virtual networking and learning events for women business owners, hosted by BMO Harris Women in Business
  • Online resource centre for women at that provides critical advice for building a successful business through workshops, webinars, and podcasts
  • BMO Financial Group has been included in Bloomberg's Gender Equality Index for five consecutive years
  • BMO Harris Bank appeared on Forbes' 2020 ranking of America's Best Employers for Women

For more information on BMO for Women, visit:,and for more details on BMO's commitment to diversity and inclusion, visit: Additional information on Plan International Canada can be found at:

Follow @BMO on Twitter to join the conversation using #DayoftheGirl

About BMO Financial Group 
Serving customers for 200 years and counting, BMO is a highly diversified financial services provider - the 8th largest bank, by assets, in North America. With total assets of $974 billion as of July 31, 2020, and a team of diverse and highly engaged employees, BMO provides a broad range of personal and commercial banking, wealth management and investment banking products and services to more than 12 million customers and conducts business through three operating groups: Personal and Commercial Banking, BMO Wealth Management and BMO Capital Markets.

SOURCE BMO Financial Group

For further information: For News Media Inquiries: Sonia Brum, BMO Financial Group, Toronto,, (416) 867-3996; Internet:, Twitter: @BMOMedia