More Women Holding Top Corporate Roles in Canada

March 16, 2017 – Gender diversity at the top of Canadian corporations is coming incrementally, but a tipping point may soon be within sight, according to the 12th annual report from executive search firm Rosenzweig & Company.

Each year, the ‘Rosenzweig Report on Women at the Top Levels of Corporate Canada’ tracks how many women hold the highest executive positions at Canada’s 100 biggest publicly-traded companies. These leaders of industry – CEOs, CFOs and others – are critical when it comes to changing corporate culture and enhancing diversity.

There are now 48 women in these key positions, up from 42 the previous year (a 14.3 percent increase) and more than double the 23 women with those jobs in the first Rosenzweig Report in 2006. Women now hold nine percent of these important jobs, compared to 7.9 percent a year ago, and only 4.6 percent in 2006. “There’s still much room for improvement but this is a positive signal when it comes to gender equality in business and society in general,” said Jay Rosenzweig, managing partner of Rosenzweig & Company.

Keeping Them Honest

“It’s time to really double down on our efforts to support the advancement of women entrepreneurs, women in leadership roles and women decision makers,” said Dawn Farrell, president and CEO of TransAlta Corp., and a member of the Canada-U.S. Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders, established concurrent to the recent meeting between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump. “I’m excited by the prospects of working with female CEOs both here in Canada and the United States on what we can collectively do to make a difference and move the bar. Jay’s report will keep us honest,” Ms. Farrell said.


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Another member of the new council promises to open doors wider for women. “I am looking forward to continuing to contribute to creating better conditions for women entrepreneurs by defending more access to capital, and promoting stronger networking and support,” said Monique Leroux, president of the board of Investissement-Québec, and former CEO of Desjardins. “This will not only be a benefit to women but also to our society. We have to continue to work together for the growth of our businesses, and to position Canada in international markets in order to contribute to creating a better world.”

More and more male leaders – political and corporate – are also calling for change, and at an even faster rate. “If the success of Toronto and Canada will ultimately depend on our ability to attract and keep talent, the most sensible place to start is with the biggest of all of the underrepresented groups, namely women,” said Toronto mayor John Tory. “For many reasons, it’s the right thing to do.”

Catalyst for Change

The annual Rosenzweig Report tracks the largest publicly-traded companies in Canada based on annual revenue ranging from $47 billion down to $2.4 billion. Each of these companies is required to file with regulators management circulars with names and compensation of the top five or more executives.

With a 12-year track record, many leaders are acknowledging the report’s role as a catalyst for change.

“Each year, the Rosenzweig Report serves as an invaluable reminder that the advancement of women is proceeding incrementally at best in many C-suites and boardrooms across the nation,” said Kathleen Taylor, chair of the board at Royal Bank of Canada, and former president and CEO of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. Ms. Taylor is a founding member of the 30% Club. “By aggregating and quantifying results, the report highlights the fact that only modest gains are being made, hopefully providing a fact-based impetus for corporate Canada to move beyond more talk and get straight to more action.”

Here are some other key findings found in this year’s Rosenzweig Report:

  • Of the 532 executives reviewed, 484 are men and 48 are women. The number of men remains the same year-over-year, but women increased by six. In percentage terms, women now hold nine percent of these important jobs compared to 7.9 percent a year ago and only 4.6 percent in 2006.
  • Of the 100 largest companies, 39 now have at least one woman in a top leadership role; this is up from 34 companies the previous year.
  • In the 25 largest companies, there are now six women at the top level; up from four the previous year.
  • In the corner office, there are six women CEOs.

Change, indeed, is coming slowly.

Contributed by Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor, Hunt Scanlon Media

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