Breaking Down Barriers for Women in Business

Three women in business share how The Scotiabank Women Initiative helped them overcome barriers and succeed
From left to right: The Scotiabank Women Initiative® participants Sarah Joyce, Nicholette Williams and Nancy Melo

Sarah Joyce knows how to deliver under pressure. While the global Covid-19 pandemic raged, she launched Voilà, a first-of-its-kind online grocery home delivery service powered by robotic automated warehouses. A seasoned professional, she also regularly presents to the board of directors as the senior vice-president of e-commerce for Empire Company Limited. Joyce sought insights about how to best position herself to be a board director in the future. “What does it mean to be on a board? What should you look for when you’re looking to join a board?” she wondered. “How do you show up in the boardroom?” 

Joyce found the answers in The Scotiabank Women Initiative and its Good Corporate Governance Program. She is one of 70 participants who have gone through the program. As part of the first cohort, she participated in a bespoke series of sessions for senior professional women exploring best practices and emerging trends while enhancing participant skills and potential to serve as board directors. “It wasn’t just theoretical,” says Joyce. “Scotiabank showed real commitment to helping place us in positions afterward.” 

Fostering financial empowerment

Scotia Wealth Management portfolio manager Nancy Melo credits The Scotiabank Women Initiative for giving her the training and skills she needed to become a better coach and financial advisor. “Being a coach is really about providing information to our clients in a supportive, collaborative way and doing this in a safe environment for all individuals…to take a step back and truly understand what money means to women and what motivates them financially.”

Melo says Scotiabank training has improved her ability to tune in to the needs of women and non-binary clients by adding a different lens to how she provides client service. 

“Financial empowerment is about tying money to values and goals and understanding the non-financial aspect of what’s happening in women’s lives. It’s really important for women to provide a meaning and context for their wealth,” she says. 

Through The Scotiabank Women Initiative, Nancy and her colleagues have helped more than 2,900 women and their families manage their wealth during major life transitions, such as divorce and retirement. 

Enabling more equitable access to capital 

Equal access to capital is a challenging barrier for women in business. The Scotiabank Women Initiative is well-positioned to support women entrepreneurs as they grow, scale and operate their businesses. It also provides financial education events, workshops and boot camps, networking opportunities, mentorship and advice. 

Nicholette Williams says a conversation with her Scotiabank branch manager introduced her to the program. “My branch manager felt The Scotiabank Women Initiative would be a driving force to help me move forward as a woman-owned business by giving us greater exposure and facilitating the creation of that community of entrepreneurs we needed.” Williams secured a business loan through the program to expand her film production company, North Rising Waves Studios Inc., into radio, tv and web. Williams’ company is but one of Canada’s women-owned and women-led businesses that have benefited from the $6 billion in capital mobilized through The Scotiabank Women Initiative since its inception in 2018. Scotiabank has a target to deploy $10 billion in Canada by 2025. 

The Scotiabank Women Initiative is a signature program designed to help increase economic and professional opportunities for women and non-binary clients to be successful. It offers women unbiased access to capital and tailored solutions, bespoke specialized education, holistic advisory services and mentorship. 

Learn how The Scotiabank Women Initiative can help you succeed, visit

The Scotiabank Women Initiative
The Scotiabank Women Initiative