Executive search firm Rosenzweig & Company has released its 13th Annual  Report on Women at the Top Levels of Corporate Canada.

The 2018 report, which tracks Canada's top 100 publicly traded companies, shows women occupy 9.44 per cent of the most senior corporate jobs, up marginally from 9.02 per cent a year ago. 

The annual report tracks Named Executive Officers (NEO), individuals identified as senior in a company's regulatory filings.

While there is no exact U.S. comparison to the Canadian report, data collected by the global non-profit Catalyst organization suggests that the situation in the U.S. is no better.

"This past year in many respects represented a tipping point for women - and the men who support them. The abrupt fall of high-profile individuals, coupled with the rise of broad-based movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp, signals a profound shift in societal attitudes towards gender, power and authority," said Jay Rosenzweig, President and CEO of the international executive search firm that conducts the survey.

"Unfortunately, we cannot report that this shift has yet been reflected in Canada's corporate executive suites," said Rosenzweig. "To many observers, the rate of progress must appear glacial. However, I do think there are some encouraging signs indicating that change is, indeed, on the way."  

Rosenzweig pointed to initiatives tabled as part of the Canadian government's federal budget, including enhancements to parental leave.  He is also encouraged by the many efforts underway to organize and advocate advancement of women.

"To give just one example, a newly emerging organization, #movethedial, founded by Jodi Kovitz, is doing incredible work aimed at increasing the number of women in senior high tech positions internationally," he said. "My sense is that we are finally close to an inflection point, as businesses come to realise that it is in their competitive interest to broaden their talent pool and benefit from diverse perspectives and insights."

Kovitz and others say this research is invaluable – and the pace of change must quicken.

"The Annual Rosenzweig Report is absolutely critical to driving real change because it holds up a mirror to the fact that true equality is still long overdue in corporate Canada and our progress is too slow," said Kovitz. "We need to hold ourselves accountable as a nation if we are to win globally in the new economy."

Many men leading large businesses in Canada agree more needs to be done.

Victor Dodig, President and CEO of CIBC bank and Chair of Catalyst Canada, says, "Creating greater gender balance in leadership positions is not only important for our economy, but it leads to more innovative decision making and improved performance. To effect real change, we need men and women working together, leaning in and taking accountability to champion gender parity. It's not a women's issue, it's a business imperative, and we all have a role to play".

Several American leaders agree.

"Endless data tells us that diverse leadership teams can crush the competition," says Brendan Doherty, Co-Founder of Forbes Impact. "We need more women in leadership roles, full stop. And not just at the board level but throughout an organization large or small. The Rosenzweig Report gives us the daylight to see the raw numbers so we can work even harder to disrupt them."

Jesse Draper, Founding Partner, Halogen Ventures, had this to offer: "Male investors often ask why I started a fund focused on female founders. They said pigeonholing myself was a bad business decision. We are consistently proving this wrong."

A Dell study found women entrepreneurs raise half as much money and produce double the return.

"It is refreshing to see men like Jay Rosenzweig who, like me, believes in investing in women and diversity," Ms. Draper says. "Jay should be commended not only for his longstanding advocacy on gender equality, years before it was in mode, but also for his personal efforts to spur change by advising so many female led businesses. Bravo! Let's keep that momentum going."

Highlights from the 2018 report:

  • Of the 540 Named Executive Officers, 489 are men and 51 are women. The number of women increased by three.
  • In percentage terms, women now hold 9.44% of these important jobs compared to 9.02% a year ago and only 4.62% in 2006, when the study began.
  • Of the 100 largest companies, 40 have at least one woman in a top leadership role, up one from the previous year.
  • In the 25 largest companies, there are now 11 female NEOs, up from six the previous year.
  • In the corner office, there are six women CEOs, unchanged from the 2017 Report.

SOURCE: Press release