Corporate Canada still mostly male: report Some gains, but 93% of top officers are men

A 50% jump in the number of women holding top corporate jobs in Canada is a sign of progress but women are still facing significant employment barriers, a Toronto recruitment firm says.

“I don't think anyone can agree that things are rosy when 93% of top corporate officers are men,” Jay Rosenzweig, managing partner of Rosenzweig & Co., said.

A company survey, the Rosenzweig Report on Women at the Top Levels of Corporate Canada, showed that 37 women hold top positions in Canada's 100 largest publicly traded companies.

The total represents a more than 50% increase from the 23 women in top jobs the year before. In 2006 three women held the position of CEO, compared to one the previous year.

The list of top positions was compiled through public filings by the top 100 companies. The companies are required to list top levels of compensation, typically chief executive officers and chief financial officers, as well as up to three other people in top positions. So positions such as senior executive vice-president made the list as well as women offering top legal counsel.

When you consider that of the 521 officers from the 100 corporations who participated in the report, only 6.9% were women there's still a significant imbalance, Mr. Rosenzweig said. Last year, out of 497 executive positions disclosed for the report, 23 were women, or 4.6%.

The survey also showed that at least 30% of companies in 2006 had at least one woman in a top level position, compared to 21% in 2005.

“All that is quite positive, but at the end of day there is a lot more work to be done,” he said.

Only RBC Financial Group has multiple women in the top ranks with chief operating officer Barbara Stymiest and chief financial officer Janice Fukakusa, he said.

These numbers clearly state that the ‘old boys network’ at the top of Corporate Canada is still in place and there are still barriers preventing women from reaching top jobs, Mr. Rosenzweig said.

Considering that the looming baby boomer retirement means top talent will be in short supply companies cannot afford to ignore women, he said.

“Even if you don't care about diversity beyond business the bottom line is businesses do better when there is diversity in their top echelons,” he said.