Breaking gender bias in the financial world


 Over the course of my professional life, I have experienced the benefits of having women in leadership roles and developed greater recognition of the importance of gender equality. As the Commissioner of the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC), I know that a continued and renewed focus on bridging the gender gap will also benefit financial consumers.  

The Government of Canada’s theme for International Women’s Day 2022 is “Women Inspiring Women,” and the international theme is “Break the Bias.” We are asked to envision “a world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination… that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive.” Through our National Financial Literacy Strategy, FCAC recognizes these important issues and calls on all stakeholders in the financial ecosystem to adopt approaches and tailor programs for women, especially those belonging to communities facing financial vulnerability. The National Strategy promotes a financial ecosystem that is accessible, inclusive, and effective for all Canadians, especially those most in need due to barriers or personal circumstance, which includes women. 

Women face unique challenges, including systemic and societal barriers in the financial marketplace. For example, women business owners face greater barriers to accessing financing and are more likely to be rejected or receive less funding than men. Women were also disproportionally affected financially because of the pandemic. And there remains a gender gap in the labour force, particularly for Indigenous, immigrant and racialized women.

For our part, FCAC is conducting research to better understand how we can tailor our activities to help women build financial resilience. As an example, we have recently launched a financial literacy intervention among high school students, since building financial confidence is crucial for young women at this age. 

It’s encouraging to know that Canada’s banking industry is ahead of the curve when it comes to women in leadership roles. Let's hope the trend continues at the executive level. And it’s great to see organizations like Women in Capital Markets and the University of Waterloo’s Women in Finance initiative promote equity, diversity and inclusion and strive to bridge the gender gap within the finance sector.

So, let’s continue to work together to inspire women and create more opportunities to and break the bias.  

Judith Robertson
Financial Consumer of Agency of Canada

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