TORONTO, March 13, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Though there has been some positive progress regarding the status of women in top corporate jobs in Canada, findings from the 14th Annual Rosenzweig Report show that women continue to be held back.
Indeed, the latest edition of this benchmark analysis of Canada's 100 largest publicly traded companies reveals an increase of only two women CEOs since the talent acquisition firm published its first report in 2006.
This marginal growth is further reflected in the slight increase in the number of female Named Executive Officers in this latest report. Of 532 NEOs in Canada, 53 are women, representing 9.96 percent of all executive positions. The year prior, this number stood at 9.44 percent.
"Progress can only be described as incremental. To put it in perspective, at this rate it will be at least 2040 before women will occupy even 30 percent of these jobs. Today's millennial generation will be approaching retirement," said Jay Rosenzweig, managing partner of Rosenzweig & Company.
In fact, in some measures, the report reveals that women's roles in some sectors are retreating, as only three female CEOs remain among Canada's top 100 companies — half the number of the previous year. No female CEOs are found among Canada's 25 largest corporations. Surveys of Fortune 500 companies in the United States have also noted a decline in the number of women CEOs.
Rosenzweig noted that these latest findings illustrate the need for more proactive measures for promoting leadership opportunities for women among Canada's top businesses. For many women, part of the problem actually occurs much earlier in their careers.
He explained, "I recently had a conversation with one of Canada's foremost business leaders, Katie Taylor, Chair of the Royal Bank Board of Directors and the former CEO at Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts. Her insight — with which I fully concur, based on my years of experience in executive search — is that the CEO pipeline almost invariably includes a stint running a bottom-line business unit. These jobs, where executives are on the hook to deliver profit, are often referred to as 'P & L' positions (the P standing for Profit and the L for Loss)."
As the report's findings reveal, however, women continue to be vastly underrepresented in these positions. "While I have never advocated strict quotas as a solution, I do think corporate boards need to step up their efforts to expand the pipeline of CEO role-ready women as part of their succession planning mandate," he said.
"Our surveys over the years have shown that women at Canadian companies are disproportionately concentrated in non-operational roles. While these are often mission-critical functions such as human resources, marketing, communications, finance and legal, they are rarely a launch pad to the top job because they lack profit and loss responsibility."
This lack of profit and loss responsibility subsequently limits women's ability to be prepared for these executive roles, a significant factor in Canadian companies' poor diversity. "Senior corporate management — still predominantly male — must actively encourage women to take on these roles and mentor them," Rosenzweig added. "We know women can be successful, if given the opportunity."
"As a society, we've elevated the conversation concerning gender equality, but collectively we clearly have a long way left to go," observed Njeri Rionge, CEO of UpCountry Africa Fund Assets (Canada) Corp., who was titled by Forbes as "Africa's most successful woman."
"Legacy gender-based biases are still far too prevalent across many of our institutions and much of our daily interaction," she added. "The Rosenzweig Report has earned a reputation as a voice for change and a truly objective source in this important topic. Its reporting truly shows us where we need to work harder and smarter to identify and eradicate gender inequality and to function as a healthier society as a result."
Many are quick to cite the work of the Rosenzweig Report as a crucial element of helping companies better understand the need for a change that is already affecting many different aspects of society.
"Women are the backbone of a progressive society, and yet it is so hard to be a woman, especially a woman of color. While it is difficult, we see women stepping up everywhere," said Van Jones, social entrepreneur, CNN political contributor and CEO of the REFORM Alliance.
"Women should not have to fight this fight alone. We all have our blind spots, and we need each other. Jay Rosenzweig deserves kudos for tracking the number of women in leadership roles for the past 14 years, and for his actions and advocacy for change. Only through measurement and education can we hold one another to account, and spur greater action to affect the positive transformational change."
Added Nadia Theodore, Consul General of Canada for the Southeastern United States: "We can no longer claim to be unaware of the business case for diversity. The latest Rosenzweig report reminds us that a failure to tackle the structural barriers and persisting negative (and often unconscious) perceptions associated with diverse leadership will continue to keep women and minorities out of senior roles. Despite all the evidence that diversity is necessary for strong economic performance, there remains a widely held view that a focus on diversity across an organization - but especially in senior leadership – means compromising skill or qualifications."
Indeed, as Rosenzweig noted, inspiring business leaders and other stakeholders to take direct action to diversify senior leadership as a result of the report's findings is the ultimate goal of the annual study.
Other studies have consistently backed up the value of prioritizing women in NEO positions. For example, a Harvard Business Review study of 22,000 global firms found that companies with women in 30 percent of NEO positions experienced an average 15 percent profitability increase in comparison to companies without any women in C-suite positions.
The benefits of enhancing women's roles in corporate leadership are clear, though as the Rosenzweig Report reveals, there is still much work to be done. As Deepak Chopra, M.D., F.A.C.P., and founder of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing noted, "Only when women are on equal parity with men in all spheres of activity we will be ready for a more peaceful, just, sustainable and healthy world."
Highlights from the 2019 report:
- Of the 532 Named Executive Officers (NEOs), 479 are men and 53 are women. The net number of women increased by two.
- In percentage terms, women now hold 9.96 percent of these important jobs compared to 9.44 percent a year ago and only 4.62 percent in 2006, when the study began.
- Of the 100 largest companies, 42 have at least one woman in a top leadership role, up two from the previous year.
- In the 25 largest companies, there are now 11 female NEOs, unchanged from the previous year.
- In the corner office, there are three women CEOs, down three from the previous year.
The full report can be found HERE.
Rosenzweig & Company is a global leader in talent acquisition, executive search and emerging tech advisory.
SOURCE Rosenzweig & Company