Glass ceiling thickens for women execs: Survey

Fewer women are holding the top executive jobs in corporate Canada than last year, according to a study by Rosenzweig & Co. The report said the number of women at the highest ranks of the 100 biggest publicly traded companies has declined to 31 women from 37 last year.

This year's number represents 5.8% of the 535 top officers reported at the companies surveyed. As a result, the percentage of top male executives rose to 94.2% in 2008 from 93.1% in 2007.

"This drop is disheartening and makes you wonder if anything is really going to change over the next 10 years, or even longer," stated Jay Rosenzweig, managing partner of Rosenzweig & Co. "The reasons for the drop are many and varied, but no matter how you slice this data, women are simply not being promoted to the top jobs in corporate Canada at the pace they should be."

The report also noted that there are currently only three women serving as chief executives of the top 100 Canadian public companies, and only four of the companies surveyed had more than one woman in their top executive ranks. Seventy-four companies had only men serving as their highest-compensated executive officers.

However, the survey said four of the largest Canadian banks have female representation in their board rooms, with CIBC, Bank of Montreal and Toronto-Dominion Bank each reporting one top female executive and Royal Bank of Canada saying it had two women in its highest ranks. "And the irony of this is that study after study shows that when corporations tap into the huge talent pool of women for top positions, financial performance improves and shareholders benefit," said Rosenzweig. "That means this is not only a social and moral issue, but it is also good for corporate Canada and the shareholders of these companies."

The study looked at the 100 biggest publicly traded companies in Canada based on revenue, with annual revenue for the companies ranging between $1.7 billion and $36 billion.

The corporations named and publicly disclosed the compensation of their chief executive officer, chief financial officer and at least the next three highest-compensated executive officers. Some companies listed more than five officers. - OBJ