Canadian Women Slow to Reach Senior Ranks of FP500 Companies
Despite correlations between strong corporate performance and women in leadership roles, Canadian women continue to be disproportionately underrepresented within Financial Post 500 companies, according to the 2008 Catalyst Census of Women Corporate Officers and Top Earners of the FP 500. These findings come at a time when the global economy is facing its greatest challenges in decades, and suggest that corporations should be tapping into a wider range of talent at the most senior levels.
The 2008 Catalyst Census found that while the number of female corporate officers grew by almost two percentage points over the last two years (a larger increase than that seen in the four years between 2002 and 2006), women hold less than 17% (16.9%) of corporate officer positions, only a little over 11% (11.4%) of senior leadership line roles and led only 6% of FP500 companies. These numbers are in stark contrast to those that show women representing close to half of the labor force, almost 40% of managerial positions and earning the majority of university degrees.
Deborah Gillis, vice president, North America, Catalyst, commented, "This economic crisis offers an opportunity to focus — both short- and long-term — on challenges around sustainability and future business success. So now more than ever, it's critical that Canadian-based companies tap into the full potential of their workforce, which includes a real commitment to advancing talented women to leadership."
According to Catalyst, the pace of change could have been far greater had public companies followed the example set by private companies and crown corporations. Over the last six years, there has been virtually no increase in the number of women holding influential leadership positions at public companies (13.1% in 2002; 13.9% in 2008). Comparatively, the study found an increase in women's representation by almost four percentage points at private companies and over seven percentage points at crown corporations since 2002. These latest numbers show women holding almost 27% of senior officer roles at crown corporations and almost 19% at private companies.
The report cited industry sectors with the highest representation of women corporate officers: accommodation and food services; finance and insurance; and retail trade.