Jill Earthy’s passion is accelerating the advancement of female leaders and entrepreneurs.
After eight years on the Board of Directors of Women’s Enterprise Centre (WEC), a non-profit organization devoted to helping BC women start, lead, and grow their own business, I stepped into my current role as WEC’s Chief Executive Officer, just as the global pandemic was beginning. It was an extraordinary time to take the next step on a winding career path.
Reflecting on this path, there is a clear theme of advocating for gender equity with a focus on women entrepreneurs. I have been an entrepreneur, served in leadership roles in non-profit organizations that support entrepreneurs, and held executive positions in private organizations that explore new forms of capital to increase access for diverse entrepreneurs and investors. I have been fortunate to have been given opportunities and made choices that enabled me to activate my passions and strengths of helping women identify and develop their spark, and to advocate for positive change.
At WEC, we support women entrepreneurs throughout BC with education, mentorship, advisory services, and an accessible loan program. Women represent 16% of small- and medium-sized business owners in Canada and receive less than 4% of venture capital and less than 19% of bank financing. WEC’s integrated approach recognizes the unique pathways to business growth taken by women who, for many reasons, tend to start businesses that focus on impact that grow over a longer period of time. This concept challenges the traditionally acknowledged ideas of growth and success. Yet data supports this different approach and when we recognize diverse paths to business growth, more entrepreneurs thrive.
This is a time of incredible change and opportunity, with new models emerging that acknowledge the strengths of a more diverse ecosystem. As a long-time advocate for gender equity, it is powerful to see the conversation deepening to acknowledge many underrepresented voices. We need these diverse perspectives to create a more inclusive and just world. It is a challenging, yet exciting time. So, in this moment, I realize this is exactly where I am meant to be.