In March 2019, Michael Denham, BDC’s President and CEO, signed the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) further solidifying the bank’s commitment to women’s equality and diversity and inclusion. That same month, he was one of 25 global leaders invited to speak at the United Nations 2019 Women’s Empowerment Principles Forum. He spoke about BDC’s long-standing commitment to supporting women entrepreneurs, why investing in women is good business and how we can all make a difference when it comes to women’s advancement:
“Women represent enormous untapped potential and there is no limit to what they can accomplish. As investors, we need to run as fast as women entrepreneurs do. It is our job to help them unleash that potential.”
The WEPs are seven principles promoting the economic empowerment of women at work through responsible business conduct. Launched in 2010 by UN Women and the UN Global Compact, the WEPs encourage firms of all sizes, in all countries, industries and sectors to take decisive action towards gender equality. Signatories can analyze their current initiatives, benchmarks and reporting practices, and then tailor or establish policies and practices to realize gender equality and women's empowerment.
This pledge builds on BDC’s strong roster of partnerships that connect and support women entrepreneurs across the country and around the world. Those partnerships include Women’s Enterprise Organizations Canada (WEOC), Women Business Enterprise Canada and WEConnect International, CME's Women in Manufacturing and many more.
As Canada’s bank for entrepreneurs, BDC has dedicated $1.4-billion in lending over the next three years to majority women-led businesses to help them grow and expand and launched a $200-million Women in Technology Venture Fund that support high-growth, women-led technology companies and helps to create an ecosystem for women in tech and investment roles that does not exist today. BDC has also received many external recognitions for its diversity and employee best practices and has recently launched a Supplier Diversity Program that provides access to new business opportunities for traditionally underrepresented suppliers looking to increase their bottom line and business connections.