The Telfer Centre for Executive Leadership (CEL) at the University of Ottawa and Ryerson University’s Diversity Institute have collaborated to launch the Ontario Inclusive Innovation (I2) Action Strategy.

The Brookfield Institute of Entrepreneurship + Innovation has awarded Telfer CEL, in collaboration with Ryerson’s Diversity Institute, a $225,000 contract to report on the state of women’s enterprise support in Ontario, facilitate gender-sensitivity entrepreneurship workshops, develop a certification program, and host a conference to showcase evidence-based practices for empowering women entrepreneurs. Industry partners include: Women in Communication and Technology, WEConnect International Canada, Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council, WBE Canada, YWCA and Youth Employment Services.

Telfer and Diversity Institute research has shown the need for women-friendly culture and gender-sensitive entrepreneurship services. Community-based enterprise supports focus heavily on technology, in spite of the importance of other sectors in which entrepreneurial women operate in larger numbers. Women entrepreneurs are significantly less likely to secure capital and government contracts, resulting in lost business opportunities.

“It is an economic imperative to translate evidence-based insights into programs and tools that empower women entrepreneurs. Failure to support growth-oriented and diverse entrepreneurs wastes intellectual resources and contributes to economic and social inequality,” says Telfer faculty member and Project Lead Dr. Barbara Orser. “This 12 month action strategy is expected to transform Ontario into one of the most inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystems in the world.”

Adds Diversity Institute Director Dr. Wendy Cukier, coauthor of Innovation Nation, “Women play a critical role in driving economic growth. We need to remove barriers to diverse women and ensuring that the processes and supports do not reflect conscious or unconscious bias.  Our recent research has shown immigrant, racialized, and indigenous female entrepreneurs face additional challenges. Diversity drives innovation and we can leverage what we know about innovation to level the playing field.”