More women hold top corporate positions in Canada

More women hold top corporate positions than ever in Canada, according to a new report released Wednesday.

The 8th annual Rosenzweig & Company report found that women in top executive jobs is almost double compared with the company’s first survey.

Female leaders at Canada’s biggest public companies are increasing in number and we may be approaching a tipping point in the not-too-distant future, where gender will no longer play a significant role in leadership hiring decisions, said the global executive search firm.

The Report on Women at the Top Levels of Corporate Canada found that eight per cent of the highest paying executive positions are held by women, almost double the 4.6 per cent in the first Rosenzweig survey commissioned eight years ago.

“On the eve of International Women’s Day, we release our 8th annual Rosenzweig Report with guarded optimism,” said Jay Rosenzweig, managing partner of Rosenzweig & Company, in a statement. “Guarded because the corporate world is still largely dominated by men; but optimistic because there is a trajectory of positive change. We choose to believe that the glass is half full and the tipping point is near.”

Rochelle Dvorkin, an expert in recruitment and executive search services in Calgary with Dvorkin Personnel Executive Search, said she is not surprised by the report’s results.

“I am seeing this like crazy,” she said.

“The thing about women in these positions I think is that they have that ability to analyze things, multi-task and get through the details and they are very attached to outcomes. That’s what makes these women desirable in these positions.”

Eileen Dooley, a certified career coach and lead consultant for McRae Inc., a career transition and human resources agency in Calgary, said she too is not surprised by the trend.

“I’m seeing that women are definitely moving into leadership roles and also when women are coming out of a job moving into a similar leadership role or they’re being promoted into a leadership role,” said Dooley. “I’m also seeing women are taking advantage of opportunities for leadership skill development, education, seminars, workshops, conferences, etc.”

In a statement, Leslie O’Donoghue, who is on the list as executive vice-president of corporate development and strategy and chief risk officer of Calgary-based Agrium Inc., said this year’s report clearly indicates a positive trend.

“These results and upward trend are encouraging,” she said. “The more women achieve a presence in the boardroom and within the executive ranks, the more their value and contribution will be recognized in the corporate workplace, paving the path for other women to succeed.”

Rosenzweig said women leaders at large Canadian companies are still the exception, not the rule — as they are in most of the world — but the upward trend is encouraging.

“Are there still obstacles in front of women as they vie for top leadership roles?” he said. “Perhaps, but there are clear signs that things are changing; from shareholders, boards of directors and governments encouraging change; to women themselves asserting their talents and making it known that they want these top jobs. Half of Canada’s provincial premiers are now women and they’re governing 87 per cent of the population. We’re seeing female leaders emerge everywhere and the corporate world will be no different.”

The annual Rosenzweig report tracks the 100 largest publicly-traded companies in Canada, based on revenue, and examines how many of the top-paid leadership roles are held by women.

Recently, another report said Alberta has the lowest percentage in Canada of women as senior officers in companies.

The 2012 Catalyst Census: Financial Post 500 Women Senior Officers and Top Earners, a biennial report tracking women’s advancement into senior leadership positions, found no significant increase in the representation of women among senior officers or top earners at Canada’s Financial Post 500 companies. In 2012, Alberta’s representation was 12.5 per cent, down from 13.9 per cent in 2010. Nova Scotia led the country last year at 24.3 per cent.

Women hold 18.1 per cent of FP500 senior officer positions, an increase of only 0.4 percentage points since the previous Census in 2010.

Rochelle Dvorkin, Photographed by Colleen De Neve, Calgary Herald.

Rochelle Dvorkin, Photographed by Colleen De Neve, Calgary Herald.