First female BMO executive opened doors

Mentoring, inclusiveness and charitable works highlights of award-winning leadership
By Shannon Klie
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 06/12/2008

Before Rose Patten joined BMO Financial Group in 1995, women held just nine per cent of the management roles at the Toronto-based bank. Considering banks attract a high proportion of women at the entry level, the pool from which to choose women for management positions was quite deep. With such low representation in the management ranks, Patten knew something had to be blocking their move up the ladder.

“We recognized that one of the factors inhibiting peoples’ progress, and particularly with the advancement of women, was the work-life balance dimension,” she said.

In response, Patten advocated for the implementation of policies that are common now, but at the time were on the cutting edge, such as job sharing, flexible hours and elder-care support.