CME & BDC join forces to encourage women to pursue careers in manufacturing

Toronto, October 6, 2017

Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) and Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) are pleased to announce that they have agreed to work together to promote and inspire women to pursue careers in manufacturing.

“Attracting more women into manufacturing professions is critical to helping manufacturers grow and to replace the existing and aging workforce,” said CME National Board of Directors Chair Rhonda Barnet, President & COO of Steelworks Design Inc. “BDC’s contribution will be instrumental in obtaining a better understanding of the current realities of women in Canadian industry and bridge the gender gap.”

In Canada, women account for 48 per cent of the labour force but only 28 per cent% of the manufacturing workforce. There has been no increase in the share of manufacturing jobs held by women over the last 15 years. Only six per cent of employed women in Canada have a job in manufacturing compared to 13 per cent of all men. “We are very proud to partner with CME to inspire more women to pursue careers in manufacturing and build a stronger skilled workforce in Canada,” said Lesley Lawrence, Senior Vice President, Ontario at BDC.

“Attracting more women into manufacturing is critical to help Canadian companies grow and continue their evolution as modern-day manufacturing operations at the cutting-edge of innovation.”

CME and BDC will work with the manufacturing community, government leaders and industry stakeholders to create and implement an action plan that can assist Canadian manufacturers in attracting, retaining and advancing women in manufacturing careers in Canada. This action plan will be unveiled October 25, 2017, at CME’s Annual Meeting and Advanced Manufacturing Symposium, The New Face of Manufacturing in Ottawa.


Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters’ (CME) Women in Manufacturing Working Group was launched by National Board of Directors Chair Rhonda Barnet in March 2017. The Working Group was created in response to a key recommendation from CME’s Industrie 2030 initiative regarding the need to attract more women to manufacturing to help address chronic labour and skills shortages in the sector.

Chaired by Elise Maheu, the Working Group includes women and men representing CME member companies from a wide range of sizes and industries. The Working Group is dedicated to supporting, promoting and inspiring women to pursue careers in manufacturing.

To learn how you can become involved in CME’s Women in Manufacturing Working Group contact Marie Morden, Director, Partnerships & Stakeholder Relations, CME at 613-355-8819 or

About BDC:

BDC is the only bank devoted exclusively to entrepreneurs. It promotes Canadian entrepreneurship with a focus on small and medium-sized businesses. With its 118 business centres from coast to coast, BDC provides businesses in all industries with financing and advisory services. Its investment arm, BDC Capital, offers equity, venture capital and flexible growth and transition capital solutions. BDC is also the first financial institution in Canada to receive B Corp certification. To find out more, visit


Since 1871, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters has been helping manufacturers grow at home and, compete around the world. Our focus is to ensure manufacturers are recognized as engines for growth in the economy, with Canada acknowledged as both a global leader and innovator in advanced manufacturing and a global leader in exporting. CME is a member-driven association that directly represents more than 2,500 leading companies who account for an estimated 82 per cent of manufacturing output and 90 per cent of Canada’s exports.


Stefi Proulx

Director of Communications & Branding

Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters

(613) 292-6070