Glass ceiling still hindering women execs

Canadian female executives are still bumping their heads on the glass ceiling, according to Toronto executive search firm Rosenzweig & Co.

The company says only 4.6 per cent of the highest-paid executives at Canada's largest publicly-traded corporations are women.

"We've heard a lot of talk over the past decade or so about women breaking through the glass ceiling," says Jay Rosenzweig, managing partner of Rosenzweig & Company. "But clearly these numbers speak volumes as to how much action – or inaction – has occurred in filling the highest executive positions with women."

Women represent more than half the Canadian population and 46.6 per cent of the workforce.

Rosenzweig & Company analyzed the corporate disclosure statement of the 100 biggest publicly-traded companies in Canada, with annual revenues ranging from $2.2 billion to $30 billion. Of the 497 listed corporate officers, only 23 were women. Only one woman was a chief executive officer.

"This sampling size is large enough to draw a picture, a pretty bleak picture," says Mr. Rosenzweig. "The irony is that companies only hurt themselves by ignoring such a huge talent pool of women when promoting to the top."

Mr. Rosenzweig says he was surprised at the low numbers of women in senior positions.

The low number of women sitting on boards of directors has been well documented, with only nine per cent of board seats occupied by women.

Corporate Canada must do more to bring women into the top jobs, including recruiting beyond "old boys' networks" and enhancing work environments at the highest levels that are more conducive for women, Mr. Rosenzweig says.