Following the introduction of the first BMO Millennial Leaders Advisory Council, BMO Financial Group and Catalyst Canada - the leading non-profit organization advancing women and inclusive workplaces - have convened the first meeting of the Council's newest members.
The new members, 27 female student leaders from universities across Canada, have started ongoing consultations with BMO and Catalyst to provide insights over the coming year relating to the workplace of the future and learn about inclusion. Students participating on the Council, who range in age from 20 to 27, act as ambassadors on campus and bring forward the dialogue on leadership locally.
"Our purpose in establishing the Council is simple: to inspire millennials to be agents of change," said Bill Downe, Chief Executive Officer, BMO Financial Group. "The path to ensuring that the quality of opportunities in the workplace is the same for everyone has been leading Canadian organizations steadily in the right direction, but it's never fast enough."
The new members of the Council will continue the progressive work of the first cohort from last year on developing strategies to advance women, building inclusive workplaces and helping to grow Canada's talent advantage for the future. Despite the advancement and even dominance of women in many university undergraduate and graduate programs, Catalyst research shows that Canada's 'best and brightest' women continue to face gaps in opportunities when compared to their male counterparts.
"For us at BMO, it's important that we have these types of discussions and encounters with individuals coming into the workforce," said Sonya Kunkel, Chief Inclusion Officer and Vice President, People Strategies and Insights, BMO Financial Group. "It gives us a lot of insight into how we should be tailoring our people strategies."
The first Council cohort, which did its work over the past year, reported that the experience led them to gain further knowledge on the benefits of diversity and inclusion. These first Council members committed to raising these issues in everyday business environments, and said their learnings would help them in applying and evaluating corporate cultures in their careers.
"These impressive millennial women, who will soon enter the workforce, represent Canada's leaders of tomorrow," said Tanya Van Biesen, Executive Director, Catalyst Canada Inc. "They are motivated to support our mission of advancing women and inclusive workplaces, and we're so grateful to have their counsel, insights and support."
"Society needs to change its perspective on what we think defines a successful leader," said Dana Doswell, a Bachelor of Commerce student at Saint Mary's University in Halifax. "I'm inspired by our conversations about inclusion, collaboration and loyalty, and I'm ready to go back to my school with the ideas we've discussed."
"If we have a team that both promotes an inclusive environment and is diverse, we are going to be at our most productive and innovative," said Samantha Stuart, a Materials Science and Engineering student at the University of Toronto.