50% increase in women executives

A noteworthy one-year increase in the number of women filling top-paid executive offices in Canada’s largest publicly-traded companies underlines the need to do more when it comes to gender imbalance at the highest levels, says leading executive search firm Rosenzweig & Company.

The annual Rosenzweig Report on Women at the Top Levels of Corporate Canada found that 37 women now hold top officer jobs in Canada’s 100 largest publicly-traded companies; up from only 23 the previous year. There are three women CEOs, compared to only one the year before.

“Diversity initiatives have been a big part of Canadian corporate life over the last decade or so,” says Jay Rosenzweig, Managing Partner of Rosenzweig & Company. “These numbers show us that something is still not right, but they also tell us there’s been some progress. More women made it to corner offices last year so the glass ceiling is cracking; but it is certainly nowhere near shattered.”

Rosenzweig & Company analyzed the 100 biggest publicly-traded companies in Canada, based on revenue, to debunk the myth of a broken glass ceiling. Annual revenue ranges between $1.5 billion and $32 billion at these companies. All these large companies must name and publicly disclose the compensation of its Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Financial Officer (CFO), and at least the next three highest compensated executive officers. Some companies list more than five officers.

Of the 521 officers reported at these 100 corporations, 93.1 per cent are men, according to the most recent disclosures in 2006. Last year, out of 497 executive positions disclosed, 23 were women, or 4.6 per cent, and 474, or 95.4 per cent, were men.

Six companies now have multiple women holding these high-level positions, but five of these companies rank among the smallest of the Top 100 companies. Amid the giants, only RBC Financial Group has multiple women in the top ranks with COO Barbara Stymiest and CFO Janice Fukakusa. “When women represent almost half the workforce, these numbers clearly state there remains an ‘old boys network’ at the top of Corporate Canada and there are definite barriers preventing women from reaching the top,” Mr. Rosenzweig says. The irony is that companies only hurt themselves by ignoring such a huge talent pool of women when promoting to the top.

Studies have found companies with higher representation of women in leadership roles out-perform other companies with fewer women leaders. It is, therefore, in the long-term corporate interest of companies to increase the number of women at the highest levels.

Adds Mr. Rosenzweig: “As economic and demographic forces change the way business is done in Canada, inaction is costly. When baby boomers step down from their top jobs, the war for executive talent will intensify. Women are the largest talent pool that companies simply cannot afford to ignore. Shareholders and boards of directors would be wise to examine whether their companies are identifying and training women for future leadership roles at the highest levels.”