Business for Gender Equality

Business for Gender Equality 2020

A forum to fast-forward progress in the Canadian private sector

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2020 | 12 pm-6 pm EST

Business for Gender Equality 2020 was an interactive virtual forum designed to showcase outstanding action, help break barriers, and fast-forward gender equality progress in the Canadian private sector.

Global Compact Network Canada (GCNC) hosted this collective experience to mark the culmination of GCNC’s 3-year project, Gender Equality Leadership in the Canadian Private Sector. Business for Gender Equality: A forum to fast-forward progress in the Canadian private sector took place on Wednesday, December 2nd, 2020 and covered the topics outlined in the Blueprint for Gender Equality and the Maturity Model, a new set of tools created by GCNC in collaboration with the private sector for organizations looking to advance gender equality and improve workplace diversity and inclusion. The forum also reflected more broadly on the status of gender equality and as well as discussed the ways that COVID-19 is impacting gender equality and workplace inclusion.


Learn about outstanding actions and research undertaken by fellow leaders to fast-forward progress for gender equality


Identify and recognize efforts with a multiplier effect to break down barriers and accelerate positive outcomes


Network with leaders from business, government, non-governmental organizations, and the UN to discover opportunities for partnership and collaboration


Access the Blueprint and Maturity Model brand-new platform created to delineate a roadmap for gender equality in the workplace

View the Business for Gender Equality session recordings

View the complimentary session recordings; the Opening and Closing remarks from our high-level keynote speakers, a website tour of the Blueprint for Gender Equality Leadership in the Canadian Private Sector, and a panel discussion on the Target Gender Equality program.

View all the forum panel discussion sessions a wide range of topics related to gender equality in the Canadian workplace such as gender wage gaps, leadership commitment, career development, and more. 

Who Participated?

150+ attendees from a wide range of Canadian sectors:

  • C-suite and Senior-level executives from the business community
  • Diversity & inclusion and human resources professionals
  • Government officials and representatives
  • United Nations officials
  • NGO, nonprofit, and civil society representatives
  • Young Professionals


Business for Gender Equality Agenda | December 2, 2020 | 12pm-6pm EST

Please click here to download the agenda as a PDF

12:00 pm-1:00 pm: Opening Plenary

1:00 pm-1:30 pm: Launch of the Blueprint for Gender Equality Leadership in the Canadian Private Sector

An exclusive session where Global Compact Network Canada debuted its innovative new tools to help organizations advance gender equality and improve workplace inclusion.

  • Ayman Chowdhury, Head of Secretariat at Global Compact Network Canada
  • Sandra Espinosa, Project Manager at Global Compact Network Canada

1:30 pm-2:15 pm: Gender Equality Leadership during and after COVID-19 – Embedding gender equality into the business core

 A high-level panel with Canadian business leaders that have made gender equality and inclusion a key priority in their organizations. This panel focused on the challenges to gender equality progress posed by COVID-19 and the benefits of prioritizing workplace inclusion during periods of crises or disruption. 

  •  Moderator: Gudie Hutchings, Minister of Parliament, Parliamentary Secretary for the Minister of Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development
  • Suzanne Bergeron, President at Sodexo Canada
  • Theresa Jang, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at Stantec
  • Michael Ward, CEO and Chief Sustainability Officer at IKEA Canada

2:15 pm-2:30 pm: Coffee Break

2:30 pm-3:15 pm: Breakout Sessions 1: Attendees will be able to choose from one of the following breakout sessions

Creating an Agile Pipeline for All Women

This panel reflected t on ways that organizations can fully support women from entry-level to senior roles as well as discussing how to actively work to close the gap in women’s representation.

Addressing Gender Equality with Qualitative and Quantitative Data

This panel discussed how to collect useful data, set tangible goals, and track progress in order to help organizations in identifying areas for improvement and creating a strategic action plan.

  • Moderator: Heather Larson, Senior Research Analyst at Equileap
  • Ian Lobo, Managing Director, Strategy & Innovation at Accenture Development Partnerships
  • Diana Vuong, Vice President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer at Vancouver Airport Authority
  • Michael Kaneva, Chief Diversity Officer at Export Development Canada

SMEs and Advancing Gender Equality

This panel examined the challenges SMEs are facing while addressing questions of equality, diversity, and inclusion – an issue made more complicated by COVID-19’s disruption.

3:15 pm-4:00 pm: Breakout Sessions 2: Attendees were able to choose from one of the following breakout sessions

Closing Gender Wage Gaps

This panel examined pay equity legislation and discussed how the private sector can demonstrate leadership by openly working to close their gender wage gaps.

  • Moderator: Neetu Sidhu, Director, Experience Advice at ATB Financial
  • Emanuela Heyninck, former Ontario Pay Equity Commissioner, Special Advisor on Pay Equity to Canadian Human Rights Commission
  • Lori Straznicky, Executive Director of Special Projects at the Labour Program (Strategic Policy division) at Employment and Social Development Canada/Pay Equity policy team

Target Gender Equality: A UN Global Compact Initiative

During this panel, we discussed the benefits of enrolling in the UN Global Compact – Target Gender Equality program which will be offered to Canadian companies in March 2021.

  • Moderator: Sandra Espinosa, Project Manager at Global Compact Network Canada
  • Lauren Gula, Senior Manager, Gender Equality at United Nations Global Compact
  • David Lau, Director, Global Practices & Catalyst Awards Co-Chair at Catalyst
  • Sarah Charlesworth, Diversity and Inclusion Manager at DWF

Supporting Men at the Table

This panel discussed how gender inequality impacts all genders and how men, especially those in senior leadership positions, can become active participants in the pursuit of gender equality.

4:00 pm-4:15 pm: Coffee Break

4:15 pm – 5:00 pm: Fireside Chat: Reporting for Transparency and Accountability

A candid discussion with leaders from reporting, benchmarking, and certification organizations about the importance of communicating progress and implementing mechanisms to hold organizations accountable for advancing gender equality.

5:00 pm-5:15 pm: Closing Remarks

  • Ayman Chowdhury, Head of Secretariat at Global Compact Network Canada
  • Kadie Ward, Commissioner and CAO, Pay Equity Office of Ontario
  • Anna Fälth, Head, Women’s Empowerment Principles Secretariat, and Sr Manager of WE EMPOWER-G7

5:15 pm-6:00 pm: Networking


For any questions or comments about this virtual forum, please contact Brittany Gataveckas at