2014 Executive Summary
“I want for myself what I want for other women, absolute equality.”
– Agnes Macphail, Canada’s first female Member of Parliament
As we approach a decade of tracking the progress of female leaders at Canada’s largest publicly-traded corporations, we know that absolute equality is still in the distance, but things are improving and many exciting things occurred since last year’s report.
This is the 9th Annual Rosenzweig Report on Women at the Top Levels of Corporate Canada. Since we started, the percentage of female NEOs (Named Executive Officers) who lead the 100 biggest public companies in Canada has moved from 4.6 percent to approximately 8 percent. The flip side is that we started from an appallingly low number so the increase, in real terms, leaves us far short of our ultimate goal. Indeed, the needle did not move forward this year over last year.
As we celebrate International Women’s Day again this year, let’s focus on some of the positives since we last reported: internationally, there have been high-profile hires, including the first female CEO of General Motors; governments in Canada are talking about finding solutions to get more women appointed to boards and executive offices; and powerful money managers, like the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, are calling for quotas to increase the representation of women on boards and in senior management.
At Rosenzweig & Co., we support education, public discussion and voluntary solutions over legislated quotas. However, we acknowledge that when important people begin talking about legislation, it can only bolster the issue in the public forum and prod decision makers toward higher representation of women across the board.
Of course, there have been setbacks over the last year, too: the vast majority of Canadian executives (with their ranks overwhelmingly filled with men) said they were not concerned with this disproportionate female representation, according to a national survey; well-known male commentators in the media insist on calling any research that shows corporations perform better with more female leadership “junk science”; and the fact that the pesky gender gap in pay between men and women refuses to go away across North America.
We undertook this annual study almost a decade ago with a commitment to hold the mirror up to the corporate world because we believe equality is an important social issue. As our Managing Partner, Jay Rosenzweig, so aptly put it: “I’m a father of a son and two daughters, and I want all three to have the same opportunities.”
We’ve not yet reached Agnes Macphail’s lofty equality goal – either at the top of big corporations or in society as a whole. But look how far we’ve come since her historic election in 1921, the year women were first given the right to vote in a Canadian federal election. Change can feel painstakingly slow, but that is no reason to stop trying. And for that reason, we look forward to presenting the 10th Annual Rosenzweig Report on Women at the Top Levels of Corporate Canada next year!