Businesses owned by women struggled in pandemic

Average employment at B.C.’s top women-owned companies fell 22.9% over past two years

The pandemic has been challenging for B.C.’s largest businesses owned by women, according to data collected on Business in Vancouver’s Biggest B.C. Businesses Owned by Women list (page 10).

For businesses on the list, average B.C. employment has fallen 22.9% over the past two years, and the median employment dropped by almost 50%. This suggests that smaller businesses lower on the list experienced greater employment declines than larger companies higher on the list.

Companies on the bottom half of the list in previous years were replaced by businesses with lower B.C. head counts.

The decline comes after B.C.’s biggest businesses owned by women had made large gains, growing 33% between 2014 and 2018.

Despite the drop in the average number of employees, many individual companies, particularly those at the bottom of the list, grew. The average growth for the bottom 10 companies was 15% compared with 5.6% for the top 10.

No. 5 Herbaland Naturals Inc. recorded the largest one-year increase in B.C. employment. It jumped 55.6% to 210 in 2021 from 135 in 2020.

Women-owned businesses -- employment growth 2021

No. 6 Jubilee Tours and Travel Ltd. suffered the steepest employment decline on the list, falling 9% to 200 in 2021 from 220 the year before.

Despite the list’s decline in average employment from 2020 to 2021, many companies looked beyond the pandemic and increased staff over the past year.

The five largest businesses with five years of data had average B.C. employment growth of 29.8% over the past year. Perhaps surprisingly, Jubilee Tours and Travel, despite posting the largest one-year decline in employment, reported the highest five-year employment increase, ballooning by 73.9% in 2021 from 2017. This includes a four-year increase of 91.3% before the 2021 decline. •