Arlene Dickinson: Canada already has 161 trade commissioners around the world
Arlene Dickinson wants to see less research on investing in women entrepreneurs and more actual investing.
The Managing Director at District Ventures Capital and Dragon’s Den mainstay told BNN in an interview on Monday that recent efforts by the federal government to boost spending in female-led businesses are too focused on the technology sector.
“What we need is a change in policy and direction to support that and we saw some of that in, of course, the recent budget where there is a lot of money being directed towards female entrepreneurs,” Dickinson told BNN.
“However, it’s very specific to STEM industries and technology and again, I look at it and say it’s not really helpful across all of the sectors that women are excellent at and beyond just STEM and technology.”
The Liberal government’s 2018 budget – unveiled Feb. 27 – pledged improved diversity, representation, and access to training and jobs, making specific reference to the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
“I’m actually tired of all the research and study that’s being done in this area,” Dickinson said. “It’s been proven over and over again that there is a problem in investing in women in this country and we don’t need another study to tell us that.”
Dickinson said there needs to be greater education within the investing community geared towards investing in female-run businesses, but not one that’s motivated by fulfilling quotas.
“I think there’s an education that has to happen with private equity firms and venture capital firms to think about these businesses a little bit differently,” Dickinson said.
“I’m a big believer in meritocracy. I don’t like quotas. I don’t like [when] we force ourselves to do something simply because you’re a female. But, I do think it requires a different listening skill for how women will pitch their businesses in some instances.”
Dickinson says she is leading by example on that front with her own firm.
“We have invested in a lot of female-run businesses, but not because we are focused on investing in women, but because we are focused on investing in the right people and the right entrepreneurs.”