Vancity’s commitment to the full participation of women

As a values-based financial co-operative, Vancity is focused on improving the financial well-being of all its members and building healthy communities, which includes embracing gender equity and supporting the full economic participation of women.

Vancity has a long history of supporting issues that affect women. The credit union recognizes that women face barriers and are underrepresented in the business community, especially in leadership roles. Vancity also believes engaged female talent is a key driver of competitive advantage and that, as an employer, it needs to help its employees balance parenting, work and community commitments.

Advocacy

  • Vancity president and CEO Tamara Vrooman lends her voice and leadership experience to issues related to women, families and children with a particular focus on issues related to equality, inclusion and empowerment (for example, the Business in Vancouver article We've been complacent about women in business).
  • Vancity president and CEO Tamara Vrooman signed Minerva BC's Diversity Pledge to create opportunities for women to advance and to lead at the highest levels of the business world.
  • Vancity is the funding partner of Minerva BC's The Face of LeadershipTM BC Scorecard, an annual snapshot of gender diversity within BC’s largest revenue-generating companies.
  • Vancity is a core supporter and advocate of the platform of the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition, as well as First Call: the Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition. Poverty is a systemic problem in our province and women and their children are more significantly adversely affected.
  • Vancity is also a core supporter of the Living Wage for Families Campaign, which advocates for fair wages for all workers. Women are disproportionately clustered in low-waged jobs, such as retail, service, clerical, and janitorial/housekeeping.

Representation

  • Women in Vancity's senior leadership and board of directors set the tone for Vancity being a woman-positive financial institution:
    • Elected board of directors: 89% are women (eight of nine)
    • Executive leadership team: 80% are women (four of five)
    • Managers: 62% are women
    • All employees: 65% are women
  • In 2017, Vancity ranked first on the Corporate Knights Best 50 Corporate Citizens in Canada list for the second year in a row – one of the key performance indicators used is the percentage of women on the board of directors and in executive management.

Employee support

  • Vancity supports employees with young families through maternity and parental leave top-up payments (85% of salary), which can be extended for 18 months if an employee chooses the federal government's new 18-month leave option.
  • Vancity offers flexible work options, which – depending on the circumstances and organizational needs – can include a compressed work week, reduced work week, flex time, job sharing, or a part-time or on-call arrangement.
  • In 2017, Vancity was named one of Canada's Top Family-Friendly Employers for the sixth time. This special designation recognizes employers that do the most to help their employees balance work and family obligations.
  • In 2017, Vancity launched unconscious bias training to all employees to support diversity and inclusion in its employment practices, member service and overall decision-making.

Networking, development and recognition

Financial literacy programs

Vancity is committed to continuing to promote financial literacy to improve the knowledge, skills and confidence of members. Vancity and its community partners delivered 7,722 financial literacy workshops in 2017. Vancity's innovative Each One, Teach One program trains employees to deliver basic financial literacy workshops to community organizations. Some of the types of organizations we have delivered financial literacy for:

  • Women fleeing violence
  • Women in transitional housing
  • Women entrepreneurs
  • Newcomer and refugee women
  • Indigenous women
  • Young women in foster care
  • Solo female parents
  • Women in low income situations
  • Women with disabilities

Support for women's organizations

The following are examples of projects Vancity has supported through loans and grants:

  • Atira Women’s Resource Society – Atira Women’s Resource Society is a not-for-profit organization that provides housing, shelters and transition homes for women and their children who are at risk of violence. The company’s property management contracts generate cash flow that is diverted to the women’s society
  • Westminster House – Thanks to two grants from Vancity, women who have completed Westminster House’s addiction recovery program can pursue further education, ultimately improving their employability and helping them reclaim their lives.
  • Malalay Women’s Co-op – For many years, we have provided support to this co-op of newcomer and refugee Afghan women – many of them seniors and widows – to both provide opportunities for productive economic activity as well as a gathering place to practice language skills and improve settlement outcomes.
  • Howe Sound Women’s Centre Society – When a program designed to help children recognize and address issues surrounding violence in the home is threatened by lack of funds, who does that program turn to for help? By approving a Squamish Savings’ Community Project grant for the Howe Sound Women Centre Society’s Violence is Preventable Program, Squamish Savings makes sure that children in need get the help they deserve. Since 2007, the program has visited schools in the Sea-to-Sky Corridor to engage with children who might have experienced or witnessed violence in the home, providing them with information and resources to help them.
  • Richmond Women’s Centre - Work Ready, offered by the Richmond Women’s Resource Centre, is a free, three-month, intensive program that offers basic computer skills training and English writing and communication lessons to help women from all corners of the world get ready for work in Canada.
  • Common Thread Cooperative – Immigrant women or women who are coping with mental illness often have a difficult time finding work that fits their lifestyle. But they are welcomed at Common Thread Cooperative, a marketing co-op focused on creating meaningful employment while producing sustainable products.
  • Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre – in 2017, we provided support for planning to take over a facility to offer a safe and secure women’s overnight homeless shelter in the neighbourhood, focused on meeting women where they are, without judgment and with support.
  • Vancouver International Film Festival – throughout 2018, through our support for a series of “impact talks” in conjunction with screening of films that matter, we will host a number of dialogues important to women. In February 2018, in support of Black History Month, we sponsored the 2014 film “Anita” about Anita Hill and sexual harassment, and were joined by community partners WISH and Battered Women’s Support Services.
  • East Van Roasters – Vancity has supported the enterprise since its early incubation and throughout its growth. It’s Vancouver's first bean to bar chocolate roaster, shop and café and is a concept that reinvests all profits back into the DTES neighbourhood while at the same time hiring and training women who are recovering from addiction and who are staying at the Rainier Hotel.

Support for women entrepreneurs

  • Vancity previously sponsored the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs e-series program, which provides female entrepreneurs educational exposure to successful business persons and professionals, enhancing their ability to take their company to the next level.
  • Vancity has worked closely with the Women’s Enterprise Centre since it was founded, many years ago, including providing the first home (and back office supports) for the centre. Vancity continues to collaborate with WEC to lend together to start-up women entrepreneurs.
  • Vancity completed a two-year research project – Women’s Enterprise: Financing Opportunities and Growth – under contract to Status of Women Canada. In this research, Vancity investigated why more women than men start businesses, but more men subsequently grow their businesses. The findings have led Vancity to provide more coaching and advice to women entrepreneurs navigating growth in their businesses.
  • The following are examples of women entrepreneurs that Vancity has worked with:

Historical milestones

  • Vancity's very first loan was to a young woman for $100—at a time when loaning money to women was relatively uncommon.
  • In the early 1960s, Vancity began lending to women without a male co-signer. Even if a woman had an income, banks deemed it too unstable because she was expected to quit work to have children and an at-home career. Pioneering Vancity manager Don Bentley pushes to recognize all members as equals, regardless of gender.
  • In 2003, the Vancity $1M Award was granted to Women’s Information Safe House (WISH) for the construction of a Wellness Centre.