BMO’s approach to supporting Indigenous communities in Canada focuses on three pillars: education, employment and economic empowerment.
We know education is a critical key to advancing inclusion, so we invest in training and educating our workforce, including senior leader workshops and an online training program focused on Indigenous Peoples and Indigenous history. Education is also a key to economic advancement. BMO has committed nearly $15 million in multi-year donations and pledges to Indigenous causes with nearly a third of that dedicated to Indigenous scholarships and bursaries for education.
As an employer we are focused on a goal for Indigenous representation, as part of our Zero Barriers to Inclusion 2025 strategy, of 1.6 percent of the workforce across all levels. For our current Indigenous employees, we have created the Miikana Career Pathways program, in which more than one hundred Indigenous employees are now enrolled. The program provides tailored career and development planning, including career and cultural mentorship, sponsorship and employee pairing opportunities, with a goal of increasing career advancement.
There’s no doubt that the Indigenous marketplace is evolving. Indigenous communities are asserting greater influence in the economy as they gain control over access to land and resources. Indigenous peoples represent a growing economic force. Since 1992, BMO’s Indigenous Banking Unit has been focused on one main goal: to contribute to the economic self-sufficiency of Indigenous communities, businesses and individuals across Canada. Through our 13 full-service branches, one business office on-reserve and 20 ABMs, we can provide improved access to financial products and services to Indigenous communities across Canada.
All under the guidance of BMO’s Indigenous Advisory Council
In early 2020, we established an Indigenous Advisory Council, composed of a group of Indigenous leaders from across Canada who provide feedback and guidance to help BMO drive real positive change internally and within the community. Each meeting is centered around our three key priority areas: education, employment and economic empowerment. The expertise that these leaders bring is invaluable and helps us build on our long-term commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Recognition for our approach
The Canadian Council for Indigenous Business has recognized BMO Financial Group with a Gold Level Progressive Aboriginal Relations (PAR) award for our approach to the Indigenous market and for understanding the business case for a diverse workforce and equitable, supportive workplace. BMO is the first bank to be certified gold on six consecutive occasions. We have been working for more than a decade to make ourselves an employer of choice and business partner to Indigenous communities, businesses and individuals. The PAR award provides an opportunity for discussion and dialogue while raising awareness of the growing contribution Indigenous business is making to the Canadian economy.