Gender Equality

Women in Top Corporate Jobs Drops

Pioneering report in its 11th year finds gap between Canadian business and Prime Minister's bold actions on gender equality

New York - After last week's International Women's Day celebrations and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau being lauded this week at the United Nations and by Catalyst for his progressive approach to gender equality, global talent acquisition firm Rosenzweig & Company releases its 11th annual report, which indicates that Corporate Canada lagged this past year in recognizing and promoting women leaders.

Last year, the number of women holding the highest executive positions at Canada's 100 biggest publicly-traded companies actually fell from the previous year. The latest Rosenzweig Report on Women at the Top Levels of Corporate Canada finds only 8 percent of the highest-paid executive positions are now held by women, down from 8.5 percent. (Rosenzweig's first report more than a decade ago found 4.6 per cent of women held top jobs.)

"The Prime Minister has shown strong leadership on the issue of gender equality, and diversity in general," says Jay Rosenzweig, Managing Partner of Rosenzweig & Company. "It is my belief that Corporate Canada will follow his lead because ultimately this is not simply a women's issue, it's everybody's issue. Men no longer want to be trapped in a gender role that dictates their job is simply to earn a living and women no longer want to be trapped in so-called traditional roles, either. The world must continue to evolve."

Last November, new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau named 15 men and 15 women leaders to join him at the cabinet table. When asked why, the PM famously responded: "Because it's 2015."

"The Rosenzweig Report plays a critical role in showing a realistic profile of where we stand today, and, in exposing Canadian businesses to the clear benefits of bringing women into the C-suite and onto corporate boards," says Heather Munroe-Blum, Chair of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Director of RBC Financial Group. "To make broad, meaningful progress requires us to understand the current gaps that exist with a lack of diversity at the top of many Canadian corporations, along with the great competitive value to be had in championing progress in this area."

Beyond the Prime Minister, many high-profile leaders are stepping up to support gender equality as an important issue to both men and women. "Simply put, empowering women is empowering Canada," says Irwin Cotler, a renowned international human rights lawyer and former Attorney General of Canada. "We must ensure that the struggle for gender equality is a priority on the national and international agenda."

Robert Prichard, Chair of BMO Financial Group, Torys and Metrolinx, and Director of George Weston, says change is on its way: "There is a profound generational change underway as female executives are increasingly taking their place in the ranks of corporate management. In time, they will also take their place in ever increasing numbers among the Named Executive Officers as corporations draw upon their full talent pool for their leadership."

Adds John Manley, CEO of the Business Council of Canada, Chair of CIBC, and Director of Telus: "While the trend line is positive, this year's Rosenzweig Report shows how much more needs to be done. As half the population is female, their under-representation in corporate leadership means Canada's business elite is missing some of its best potential talent. It's time for Corporate Canada to up its game. After all, it's 2016."

The President and CEO of Manulife Financial Corp. Don Guloien puts it in practical terms: "Along with other forms of diversity, promoting capable women is just smart business."

Politicians from many quarters are putting the gender equality issue front and centre.

"The Rosenzweig Report provides important analysis about the accomplishments women continue to make as business, non-profit and public-sector leaders," says Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie. "We can always do better and the insights from the Rosenzweig Report can position all organizations and emerging female leaders to reach higher, and break through glass ceilings."

The annual Rosenzweig Report tracks the 100 largest publicly-traded companies in Canada, based on revenue, and examines how many of the top-paid executive roles are held by women. Here are some of the findings in this year's report:

• Of the 526 top executives, 484 are men and only 42 are women.
• Of the 100 largest companies, 66 have all male leaders with not a single woman in a top leadership role.
• In the 25 largest companies, only 4 women are in top-paid executive positions.
• In the corner office, only 7 CEOs positions are held by women among the 100 largest publicly-traded companies.

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