Men vs. Women in business

Men more likely to have started their own business, but women more often run one through promotion

BMO releases a survey regarding the differences between men and women as heads of companies.

BMO Bank of Montreal today released a study that found clear differences in the motivations and characteristics of men and women business owners, and how they got where they are.

The survey, conducted by Pollara, found that male business owners are more likely than their female counterparts to have gotten into their role by starting their own business (65 per cent vs. 56 per cent), according to the survey of 500 Canadian business owners. Women, on the other hand, are more likely than men to have become business owners through a promotion (13 per cent for women vs. 7 per cent for men) or taking over the family business (21 per cent vs. 15 per cent, respectively).

There were also marked differences when it came to the key factors for starting a business:


Men     Women


Doing something they are passionate about                      79%       89%


Being their own boss                                                      78%       78%


Making money                                                              78%       71%


The challenge of owning a business                                  68%       82%



“The survey findings paint an interesting picture of the differences between male and female business owners in Canada,” said Steve Murphy, Senior Vice President, Commercial Banking, BMO Bank of Montreal. “It’s encouraging to see that both men and woman are highly driven by a passion for their business – which is key to successfully running an organization or business.

“Women seem to be drawn to the challenge more than men. It’s clearly having an impact, with more women opting for self-employment, according to the latest data,” added Murphy.


Sector Breakdown

There were also pronounced differences in the sectors where people operate. Men are more likely to be running businesses in the manufacturing (11 per cent vs. 5 per cent), construction (11 per cent vs. 6 per cent), or automotive (6 per cent vs. 1 per cent) sectors, whereas women are more likely to be in retail (14 per cent vs. 7 per cent) or hospitality (9 per cent vs. 4 per cent).

According to BMO Economics, these sectors combined have a significant impact on the Canadian economy. For example, the manufacturing sector represents more than 10 per cent of Canada’s GDP, with construction at approximately 7 per cent, retail more than 5 per cent, food & accommodation at 2 per cent and transportation equipment at 1.5 per cent.

Established in 1817 as Bank of Montreal, BMO Financial Group is a highly diversified North American financial services organization. With total assets of $555 billion as at April 30, 2013, and more than 46,000 employees, BMO Financial Group provides a broad range of personal and commercial banking, wealth management and investment banking products and solutions.

Survey Methodology

Results cited above come from a telephone survey conducted by Pollara with a random sample of 500 Canadian business owners, between Feb. 25 and March 15, 2013. Overall results carry a margin of error of +/- 4.4%, 19 times out of 20.



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