Ottawa told to do more to help female-run businesses
OTTAWA — A report on female entrepreneurs is urging governments to use their multi-billiondollar procurement programs to help businesses and suppliers run by women.
Much work needs to be done to help ensure female entrepreneurs can fully contribute to the Canadian economy, according to the study released Wednesday and co-funded by the Bank of Montreal, the federal government, Carleton University and the Beacon Agency.
It calls for a simplified procurement process to recognize the needs of small businesses and women-owned businesses.
“We know that women entrepreneurs are developing innovative approaches to business and actively contributing to growing the Canadian economy,” said Clare Beckton, co-author and executive in residence at Carleton University’s Centre for Research and Education on Women and Work.
“In spite of their important contributions, this report identifies why they are continuously and systematically underappreciated, and what must be done to remedy this issue.”
The report comes two weeks
before the federal budget.
Part of Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s spending plan is expected to emphasize gender equality and lay out efforts to boost the labour-force participation of women.
Morneau said Wednesday the government will be looking at how it can improve growth in the future with measures that will help women succeed in the economy.
“It’s going to be a very important theme,” Morneau said in French.
The government has been looking at opportunities to better link its procurement practices with its broader socio-economic objectives.
The report Wednesday made 40 recommendations to governments, financial institutions and female entrepreneurs.
Among its suggestions is a recommendation that all levels of government use procurement programs as a means to support small and medium enterprises and minority-owned businesses, including requiring supplier diversity policies for federal crown corporations and agencies.
The report noted that most policies and financial assistance programs equate innovation with technology and do not consider how women are innovating more broadly.
It also said that many of those interviewed for the report noted that they did not feel welcome or included in the focus of mainstream networks, incubators and accelerators.
Some also said they experienced a range of discrimination and sexism including comments about their appearance, level of experience, knowledge and attire, as well as a lack of understanding that women pitch their businesses differently.