Canadian Business Insights: BDC’s New Report Reveals Lack of Senior-Level Diversity  

There are great advantages to having a diverse team. When a business has a variety of individuals, there will be different perspectives, opinions, and strategies arising which can benefit a business’ growth in culture, innovation, brand, project management, and more. 

According to the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) Capital’s first national diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) report published on findings from 2022, Canadian businesses in their venture capital (VC) ecosystem have been hiring more women and visible minorities, but struggling with employee retention, and continue to lack a growth in senior-level diversity. This is a problem worth exploring, addressing, and working to solve in arguably every business across the country.  

“By sharing this data, we are looking to begin a conversation about how we can move forward to improve as a community. Our year one findings will help us identify priority areas for discussion and action with the industry.” 
– Alison Nankivell, Senior Vice President of Fund Investments and Global Scaling 

The data shows that Canadian businesses are taking major steps to improve and increase diversity throughout their organizations. However, difficulty with retention rates in a competitive labour market show the possibility of a workplace’s culture not keeping up with diversity hiring.  

Please note that all the data within this blog is in reference to Canadian businesses as based on the information collected via the 2022 BDC DEI Report which was sent to 71 general partners within BDC’s VC ecosystem, which manage 115 funds and invest in over 1,000 companies. 

BDC DEI Reports on Diversity Insights in 2022 

From 53 percent of Canadian businesses who provided answers, the BDC’s 2022 DEI report found that women and visible minorities account for 50 percent of new hires and at least half of promotions at 72 percent.  

Despite this, the data collected correspondingly indicates that diversity is lacking in senior roles as 43% of businesses are owned entirely by men, compared to only 4% that are owned entirely by women. Additionally, the report highlights that businesses are struggling to retain women and visible minorities, with a high turnover rate for junior-level positions.  

“The elevated level of diverse employee departures is likely a symptom of current competition in the labour market, which is making talent retention difficult. However, some General Partners (GPs) may also be having trouble creating inclusive cultures that offer diverse employees a sense of belonging and paths to promotion.” 
– Alison Nankivell, Senior Vice President of Fund Investments and Global Scaling 

Notable Findings from The BDC 2022 DEI Report:  

  • A large majority of Canadian businesses have at least one woman and/or visible minority on their team.  
  • Only 6% of businesses reported having an Indigenous person in their firm.  
  • Businesses report at least one employee with a disability was present in 21% of businesses. 
  • 89% of Canadian businesses surveyed have a standard code of conduct or anti-discrimination policy, but only 30% have diversity targets for portfolio company boards and management teams. 
  • Only 21% of companies have at least gender parity on the management team and 41% don’t have any visible minority individual in management. 
  • Only 3% of portfolio companies have an Indigenous person in their management team. 
  • Boards have even less diversity, with almost half of boards composed entirely of men and only 11% with at least gender parity. 

“The need for a more diverse, equitable and inclusive Canada is undeniable.” 
– Alison Nankivell, Senior Vice President of Fund Investments and Global Scaling  

This BDC Report provides valuable VC ecosystem information into the landscape of careers for women and other diverse groups in Canadian businesses, such as people living with disabilities, Indigenous people, people of colour, religious groups, and many others.  

A key finding from this first-time BDC report is that it’s important that Canadian businesses not only continue to hire diverse groups but do so with full intent for those individuals to have a real impact on the culture and organization by hiring them into more senior, prominent roles. There remains a dominant culture of predominantly men in hierarchy positions, and the need for this must change for the benefits of diversity to be recognized and appreciated.   

Government Grants and Loans for Hiring and Training  

Diversity is incredibly beneficial. Consider this: in a business workplace that is committed to diversity and inclusion, employees will feel valued and accepted, increasing a greater chance at happiness within their roles. In turn, it’s been proven that happy workers stay with companies longer, meaning a business will spend less money and time on recruiting. As such, reducing employee turnover means more time and funds to invest elsewhere in your business.  

If your business is looking to hire and/or train your new or existing team, there is government funding available for hiring and training your team. Programs such as the Canada Job Grant (CJG)exist to reduce the costs of providing third-party skills training to new and existing employees. 

There are numerous other programs currently open for applications, such as the NOHFC People & Talent Program which provides eligible businesses with up to 50-90% of employee wages for internship positions of qualifying applicants. A greater portion of funding is awarded from the Indigenous Workforce Development Stream aiming to help Indigenous persons find career opportunities across strong industries in Ontario.  

To stay up to date with new programs, program updates and deadlines, sign up for our free funding e-newsletter delivered straight to your inbox every Monday.  

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