Fewer women found in executive suites

There seems to be something missing from the majority of senior executive offices in Canada's top 100 publically traded companies: women.

Such is the conclusion of the latest report from executive recruiting firm Rosenzweig & Company Inc., which found 16 per cent fewer women now hold top-paying posts in corporate Canada compared with last year.

The fall to 31 women top executives from the 37 who last year manned the top-rung posts in Canada's 100 largest publically traded companies is discouraging, said Jay Rosenzweig, managing partner of the Toronto firm.

The results are especially deflating given last year's analysis showed a 50 per cent gain in the number of women executives in fat cat titles between 2006 and 2007.

"We expected some increase . . . but our data shows that that assumption was wrong," he said.

In 2006, 4.6 per cent of the executive officers on the top 100 list were women; in 2007, it was 6.9 per cent. This year, the figure fell to 5.8 per cent, even though the total number of executives on the list, 535, stayed the same.

"My perspective on this is that the glass ceiling continues to be alive and well," Rosenzweig said.

This latest data come in part from 2007 corporate filings to regulators. The Management Information Circulars show a publically traded corporation's highest paid executives.

The study's numbers disappointed Bonnie DuPont, group vice-president of corporate resources at Enbridge Inc. in Calgary.

"We've lost six women here. The question is where did they go?" she said.

DuPont, who is on the study's list, suggested the findings may simply reflect corporate reorganizations or mergers and acquisitions, and that drives who is reported in the management information circular. She added many corporations have highly skilled women in the pipeline who will eventually advance to top level positions.

Research from Catalyst Canada, a research group that tracks women's representation in FP500 companies, seems to bear that out.

Catalyst vice-president Deborah Gillis said the overall number of women corporate officers in Canada has continued to increase.

Catalyst's last corporate officer census, using FP500 data, which include a mix of public, private, Crown corporations and co-operatives, showed 15.1 per cent of them were women, compared with 14.4 per cent in 2004, she said, calling it a "frustratingly slow pace of growth in terms of women's representation."


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