Women in Business: 5 Canadian CEOs We Love

Mar 6, 2019
5 minute read

In corporate Canada, the corner office is still largely a mans world. Roughly 3% of publicly listed Canadian companies are lead by a female CEO. Unfortunately, female representation on company boards could use some improvement as well.

With only 3.5% of Canadian companies having a female board member, it’s clear that many women executives face challenges reaching the top of the corporate ladder. It’s important to talk about where we are, so we can get to where we want to be, and achieve gender-diversity targets across corporate sectors.

Here’s is a list of Canadian women CEOs who are rethinking and innovating every-day products and services, making them more inclusive for all human needs. In tandem, by breaking long-held and outdated norms, they’re making a significant social impact on the lives of both women and men.

This International Women’s Day, join Ownr and let’s celebrate five Canadian women entrepreneurs. In no particular order:

#1. Joanna Griffiths, Founder, CEO at Knixwear

Joanna Griffiths - Founder/CEO at Knixwear

Joanna Griffiths truly embodies all things  entrepreneurship. In 2013, she invented an absorbent and scent-resistant underwear for women to deal with “little leaks” and sold it via a crowdfunding.

Today, Knixwear is one of Canada’s fastest growing retail companies, it sells a product every 10 seconds, and has become a body-positive movement vs. just a brand.

“I had no background in apparel. I had never owned my own company before. I was probably the least qualified person on the planet to start a business. What I did have, was this serious, serious passion for women, to change the way women felt about themselves and felt about their bodies”

– Joanna Griffiths, Founder and CEO, Knixwear, in an interview to fashionista.com

Apart from a product line that serves a need that was never met, Knixwear’s growth is driven by the social conversations that it encourages. Griffiths has intentionally used Knixwear’s marketing to showcase her customers, and their diverse body-types. Its online community has become a safe space for women to share their insecurities, talk about fertility issues, motherhood, body image and more.

Going forward, this CEO’s goal is to reinvent the $12 billion lingerie market and become a household name.

“I’ve learned that it’s a marathon, not a race, and that has helped.” 

— Joanna Griffiths, Founder and CEO, Knixwear to fashionista.com

#2. Manjit Minhas, Co-Founder and CEO, Minhas Breweries, Distilleries and Wineries

Manjit Minhas - Co-Founder/CEO of Minhas Breweries, Distilleries & Wineries
Photo via Wikipedia

Manjit Minhas traditionally introduces herself as a mother, beer baroness, entrepreneur, and a dragon. The popular host of CBC’s Dragon’s Den started her spirits and beer business with her brother at age 19. Armed with a great business plan and $10,000, she took on big beer and introduced the Minhas brand of affordable and high quality beer in Alberta.

Twenty years later, they boast of 90 brands of beer, spirits, liqueurs and wine across North America, Europe, Asia and South America. They have the 9th largest craft brewery in the USA, and in Minhas’ own words, “