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Orillia's chamber calls for action to target gender inequality

'We, at the Orillia District Chamber of Commerce, choose to challenge our public policymakers to take action in their upcoming budget,' says chamber official
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The Orillia District Chamber of Commerce & Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) are kicking off International Women’s Day with a call to action to public policymakers to take leadership on the pandemic’s impact on women with targeted support and recovery planning in the upcoming provincial and federal budgets.

“The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #ChooseToChallenge – a call-to-action on building a gender-equal world. We, at the Orillia District Chamber of Commerce, choose to challenge our public policymakers to take action in their upcoming budgets,” said Bill Ecklund, President, Orillia District Chamber of Commerce.

“These aren’t simply women’s issues; they are economic issues, and to the Orillia District Chamber of Commerce #ChooseToChallenge means applying both legislative and social solutions to the challenges faced by women in the workplace, many of which have been amplified by the pandemic.”

The Ontario Chamber Network’s recent report, The She-Covery Project: Confronting the Gendered Economic Impacts of COVID-19 in Ontario lays out a path to Ontario’s “she-covery” by offering recommendations to confront both immediate and longer-term challenges around leadership and accountability, child care, workforce development, entrepreneurship, and flexible work.

“The economic impacts of the pandemic were direct and immediate for women in Ontario and especially challenging for intersectional groups, including racialized women, single mothers, low-income women, newcomers, and women with disabilities,” said the report’s author, Claudia Dessanti, Senior Policy Analyst of the OCC.

“Taking action on #ChooseToChallenge must begin with a commitment from stakeholders to set collective targets, reward diversity, include women in decision-making bodies, and apply a gender and diversity lens to their strategies, policies, and programs for recovery," said Dessanti.

Use Procurement to Incentivize Diversity and Inclusion

As the largest customers in the economy, governments have tremendous power over suppliers. However, currently, public-sector request for proposal (RFP) processes are driven almost entirely by cost considerations. Companies with strong diversity and inclusion models are not rewarded, despite evidence of their economic and social value.

The Governments of Ontario and Canada should adjust their RFP processes in a way that creates opportunities for diverse entrepreneurs and suppliers that demonstrably support inclusivity. Changing the incentive structures is the most powerful way to change outcomes.

“#ChooseToChallenge means that we must continue to improve the alignment between public policy and economic outcomes,” added Rocco Rossi, President and CEO of the OCC.

“Breaking down barriers women face will lead to new economic activity and growth: more female entrepreneurs mean more wealth generation more women in the skilled trades mean more opportunities to build, and more women in decision-making roles mean more inclusive outcomes," said Rossi.

The Orillia District Chamber of Commerce, OCC & Chamber Network celebrate International Women’s Month with a series of events from roundtables, webinars and advocacy.

Today, the OCC is hosting an International Women’s Day event in partnership with the Future Skills Centre and Ryerson’s Diversity Institute for an important conversation as we share practical approaches on how to move the dial on diversity on boards and in leadership roles.




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