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BMO Celebrates International Day of the Girl 2021 - Participates in New Sustainability Innovation Hub to Inspire Young Women
  • New Innovation Hub provides youth with the opportunity to connect with BMO leaders and discuss their vision for a sustainable future
  • Fourth year participating in Plan International Canada's Girls Belong Here program, fostering leadership opportunities for young women

TORONTO and CHICAGO, Oct. 6, 2021 /CNW/ - Leading up to International Day of the Girl on October 11, BMO Financial Group is showing its ongoing support through a series of initiatives to encourage young women on the path to leadership and backing the goal of achieving a sustainable future.

Plan International Canada's Girls Belong Here program places young women in positions of leadership, power, and influence for a day. One year into BMO's five-year Zero Barriers to Inclusion Strategy, International Day of the Girl reminds us of the continued importance of amplifying girls' voices, advocating for their rights, evaluating their position in society and reinforcing their capacity as decision-makers.

"Going into our fourth year participating in Girls Belong Here, we are continuously inspired by these young women who are powerhouses of innovation, inspiration and drive," said Karen Collins, Chief Talent Officer, BMO Financial Group. "Fostering inclusion in the corporate world begins by setting our future leaders up for success and allowing them to realize their full potential. We are proud to support Girls Belong Here and as we celebrate International Day of the Girl; we continue to fulfil our Purpose to boldly grow the good, working towards our goal of zero barriers to inclusion."

As well, in line with BMO's announcement towards transitioning to a net zero world, BMO celebrates International Day of the Girl by reaffirming its commitment to a sustainable future.

Annual Seat Share with BMO's General Counsel, Sharon Haward-Laird

In this year's Seat Share, Sharon Haward-Laird, BMO General Counsel will offer up her role to youth program participant, Riti*.

 "The Girls Belong Here program is very dear to my heart because it champions values of gender equity and youth empowerment, both themes inspiring my long-term involvement with Plan International Canada," said Riti*, Plan Canada's, Girls Belong Here participant. "The seat share program with BMO will allow me to gain an intimate look into an industry I hope to pursue a career in, make my voice heard at a table where impactful decisions are made, and consider the importance of nurturing community relations at all levels of influence to enact change both locally and globally."

Riti, 19, is a second year Bachelor of Arts student at the University of British Columbia where she is pursuing a major in gender studies and a minor in law and society. She is originally from Saskatchewan where she is an honoured guest on Treaty 6 territory. She is passionate about social, environmental and economic justice which has paved the way for her advocacy and activism.

BMO Innovation Hub "A Just Transition"

New this year, BMO hosted an interactive ThinkTank inspiring youth to work towards a sustainable future. Last week, BMO provided seven young people an opportunity to consult and share their perspective on sustainability related issues and hear from experts in the industry. Facilitated by BMO's Sustainability team, the event featured a three-part discussion followed by a networking session where youth could connect and share concerns and questions. Coming out of the discussion, important issues were raised and discussed but one participant, Rhea*, captured the importance of this program by saying "mentorship allows for you to extend your hand down and bring other women up."

The conversation is now being developed into a podcast, available October 7th, framed around the three discussions. The participants discussed what sustainability and a sustainable future means to them, why our current system for energy is not "just," and the growing necessity to respond to the needs of women and marginalized groups.

Barrier Breakers

Women business owners are paving the way for the next generation of girls. The face of leadership is changing in the business community and BMO is working as catalyst for the next generation of girls who want to own their own businesses.

As International Day of the Girl nears, BMO will evolve its social media content series about women business owners. The updated content will tell women's stories of what it means to them to serve as an inspiration to the next generation of young women leaders.

BMO Women Leaders Paving the Way

BMO's ongoing commitment to gender equality

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

  • BMO sustained 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 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.
  • Launched a $750 million Women in Business Bond solution with proceeds being allocated toward women-owned enterprises as defined in BMO's Sustainable Financing Framework, including micro, small and medium-sized businesses.
  • BMO Expanded Grant Program for Women-Owned Businesses Across North America.
  • Announced $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 will allow SheEO to fund all 2021 venture applicant companies working to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
  • BMO partnered with Prosperity Project to drive insights on women in leadership.
  • BMO recognized for 6th year in a row by Bloomberg's Gender-Equality Index.
  • BMO listed among Equileap's top 100 gender-equal companies around the world in its 2021 Gender Equality Global Report & Ranking.
  • Recognized in 2021 Report on Business Women Lead Here list.
  • BMO Harris Bank appeared on Forbes' America's Best Employers For Diversity 2021 for the third year in a row.
  • Dedicated BMO website, BMO for Women, provided tools and educational resources for women entrepreneurs, including podcast series Bold(h)er.
  • The bank is committed to doubling its industry-leading support for women entrepreneurs as part of its Purpose commitments.
  • In 2020, BMO committed US$300 million for small business lending to expand resources for women — Black and Latinx-owned small businesses in the U.S., as part of its BMO EMpower initiative and within this commitment added a new BMO Women in Business Credit Program across its full footprint.
  • BMO Harris Bank launched WMN•FINtech in 2020, a mentoring program for women-led fintech start-ups and the latest evolution of the BMO Harris /1871 Innovation Program, designed to give more women entrepreneurs the opportunity to bring cutting-edge technology and products forward.

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 $971 billion as of July 31, 2021, 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.

*Program participant last names are not included for confidentiality reasons

SOURCE BMO Financial Group

For further information: For News Media Enquiries: Kelsey Rutherford, Toronto,, (416) 867-3996