The Opportunity of Advancing Gender Equality in MSMEs in Canada

Micro-, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) Day is celebrated every June 27th in recognition of the many ways that MSMEs contribute to sustainable development and the global economy. In Canada, 99% of businesses are MSMEs, and these organizations employ almost 11 million Canadians across the country.

MSMEs are the backbone of the Canadian economy, which means that the challenges brought about by COVID-19 are adversely and disproportionately affecting MSMEs and their workforces.  While these challenges are considerable, there is also an opportunity for these businesses to bring about sustainable recovery. One way to do this is by accelerating gender equality in the workplace. Research has repeatedly shown that advancing gender equality within an organization can contribute to greater resiliency and agility, a heightened ability to solve complex problems, and enhanced reputation. Gender equality is not just a smart business decision; it also presents MSMEs with a significant opportunity to engender real change and improve the wellbeing of millions of Canadians.

MSMEs can work towards advancing gender equality within their organizations by prioritizing the following three actions:

  • Look back on your previous data related to recruitment, retention, promotion, and attrition rates and processes. This data will help identify any trends that may shed light on the demographic composition of your workplace. Use this information to improve job postings, develop career plans for employees, and eliminate any biases in operational systems or policies that may be holding women back.
  • Leadership and managers have the opportunity to foster and prioritize an inclusive, purpose-driven organizational culture that responds to the needs of all employees. Some ways to do this are checking in with their teams, monitor wellbeing, and responding to individual challenges (e.g. dependent or childcare responsibilities, physical or mental health issues, socio-economic realities impacting their ability to work from home).
  • Re-evaluate your business strategy and aim to embed gender equality as a priority supported by specific and measurable goals. Make sure to track and evaluate your progress regularly as well as transparently communicate your commitment and ongoing work for advancing gender equality to all internal and external stakeholders.

In October, GCNC will be releasing a Blueprint for Gender Equality Leadership in the Canadian Private Sector which contains a number of evidence-based recommendations and best practices to help guide businesses as they work towards advancing gender equality in the workplace. Click here for more information.