BMO puts the success of women in the headlines

The bank took out a section of the National Post as part of an ongoing effort to improve the visibility of female leaders.

BMO She's Newsworthy-Sponsored Content-1

BMO has a track record of trying to improve the visibility of women leaders and their accomplishments, and last week the bank got at least one media outlet to cover them the same way it would cover men.

On Oct. 30, a BMO sponsored section of the National Post replaced the paper’s traditional nameplate on the side of the page with one reading “She’s Newsworthy.” It ran alongside eight pages of stories spotlighting women who are leaders in business, non-profits, government and sport. It also included a front cover wrap of the newspaper declaring “this paper is female” and directing readers to the “She’s Newsworthy” section.

Some of the 14 featured women include surfer and Committee for Equity in Women’s Surfing founding member Paige Alms; Zanana Akande, the first Black woman elected as an MPP in Ontario; photographer and blogger Alia Youssef; Giovanna Minenna, who founded Brows by G, a company that specializes in eyebrow micro-blading for the elderly and cancer patients; and Google program manager and engineer Komal Singh, whose first book Ara the Star Engineer tackles discrimination in the engineering space.

BMO worked with FCB Canada on the campaign, with the agency bringing together an all-female creative team to work on the project. Wavemaker handled media, and BMO also worked with Postmedia’s Content Works branded content team. The broader campaign also features print and digital ads that encourage Canadians to improve the visibility of female leaders by sharing stories of newsworthy women using the “#BMOforWomen” hashtag on social media.

The campaign idea was born from the statistic that, on average, only one of the four names mentioned in a daily newspaper in Canada belong to women, and often appear in “supporting” roles in a story.

NT_Oct30.TOR_W001“[A national newspaper] was a perfect vehicle for us to shine a light on women’s achievements,” says Jennifer Carli, VP of brand and enterprise content at BMO. “These women we featured are successful, but it is still a significant issue that we don’t shine a light on them and don’t talk about them, or at least not in the same way we talk about men’s successes.”

To that end, Carli says there was a particular focus placed on women working in industries that have typically been considered “male dominated,” such as tech and startups.

Part of the idea behind the campaign is the “see it, be it” principle, that groups of people like young girls won’t be motivated to pursue these kinds of positions unless they see role models represented in the media they consume. While the print edition of daily newspaper doesn’t tend to be the platform of choice for reaching younger women, one hope of the campaign not just that it could inspire girls who see it, but that it could contribute to a ripple effect across the media landscape.

“Highlighting women in a national newspaper allows young girls to see them as role models,” adds Nancy Crimi-Lamanna, CCO at FCB. “We were able to create media equality on that day, and we hopefully start that conversation with other outlets and shine a light on what they’re doing and how they report these stories as well.”

The National Post takeover is part of BMO’s ongoing Celebrating Women platform, which is focused on making women in leadership positions more visible. Every year since 2012, the program honours women – several of whom were featured in last week’s issue of The National Post – who have contributed to local communities within various industries. On top of that, BMO announced in June that it would be releasing $3 billion in capital to fund businesses owned by women over the next three years. Internally, BMO has prided itself on its own achievements in helping women advance their careers and goals: in 1994, it was the first non-U.S. company to receive a Catalyst Award for improving workplace culture for women, and would later become one of only nine organizations to receive the award more than once.

“It is something we believe strongly in and are committed to,” Carli says. “When you look at a lot of companies that have policies and practices around diversity and inclusion, what separates BMO is our ability to walk the talk and deliver. We have an inherent belief in supporting women and that it’s the right thing to do and good for business. It makes a ton of sense for us to be the bank championing this cause.”