NEW YORK — March 7, 2013 — With International Women’s Day this Friday, global executive search firm Rosenzweig & Co. sees a tipping point in the not-too-distant future where gender will no longer play an important role in the hiring decisions of corporate leaders.
“On the eve of International Women’s Day, we’re seeing some trends emerge that give us a feeling of guarded optimism that gender bias at the highest corporate levels will go the way of the dinosaurs,” says Jay Rosenzweig, Managing Partner of Rosenzweig & Company. “Our optimism is 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.”
Rosenzweig bases his comments on his firm’s own research and the leadership of high-profile corporate voices like Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, who urges women to “lean in” to help shatter the glass-ceiling. Catalyst, an organization promoting the advancement of women in business, released a report in January 2013 that found that women held 8.1 percent of the U.S.’s top earners positions in 2012, which is in line with the slow but upward trajectory voiced by the Rosenzweig Report.
Debra Kelly-Ennis, a Board Director at Carnival Corp., Altria, and Dress for Success worldwide, and former Chief Marketing Officer at Diageo North America and Chief Executive Officer Diageo Canada, says: “Talent and merit, not gender, should always be the mantra when decisions are made for hiring senior executives. The corporate world is moving in that direction, albeit slowly, but there are signs that the pace of change is picking up.”
For eight years, Rosenzweig has detailed the number of women in top executive positions at the biggest corporations in Canada, a diverse country and a microcosm of the corporate world with its robust economy and rights and freedoms afforded to all citizens regardless of their socioeconomic status, gender or ethnicity.
The latest Rosenzweig Report finds that 8 percent of the highest paying executive positions are held by women, almost double the 4.6 percent in the first Rosenzweig survey commissioned eight years ago.
Leslie O’Donoghue, Executive Vice President, Corporate Development & Strategy and Chief Risk Officer of Agrium Inc., one of the world’s largest suppliers of agricultural products and services with 14,000 employees and a market cap of over $15-billion (NYSE: AGU), agrees with Rosenzweig’s assessment.
“These results and upward trend are encouraging,” says Ms. O’Donoghue. “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.”
Adds Mr. Rosenzweig: Steve Jobs had it right on the issue of diversity when he said: “A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.”
“Similarly,” Mr. Rosenzweig says, “the broader the diversity in leadership roles of the corporate elite, the better companies will perform and compete on the global stage.”
CEOs like Indra Nooyi at Pepsico Inc., Marissa Mayer at Yahoo! and other female leaders at large companies are still the exception, not the rule.
“Are there still obstacles in front of women as they vie for top leadership roles?” Mr. Rosenzweig asks, “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.”
Rosenzweig & Company is a high-end global talent management firm that focuses on critical, specialized executive searches. The firm has offices and affiliates in Toronto, New York, Los Angeles, Montreal, Calgary, Dubai, Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Mumbai and Sao Paulo.