Catalyst has released its 2012 Catalyst Census: Financial Post 500 Women Senior Officers and Top Earners report and the results leave a lot to be desired. The survey, which is done every two years, showed that there is no significant increase in women occupying positions of senior leadership in Canada’s Financial Post 500 companies.
The results showed that women senior officers only occupied 18.1 percent of the positions compared to the 81.9 percent taken by men. The dismal showing is further heightened by the fact that this is only a 0.4 increase from the 2010 Census where women only held 17.7 percent of senior positions. Nearly one-third (29.8 percent) of companies still do not have women in their senior ranks. A similar story is told in public companies where more than one-third (35.9 percent) of them count no women senior officers. Industries where there is a dearth of women at the top are in agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting; educational services; and mining, quarrying, and oil gas extraction.
The results for women top earners were no different. For 2012, there were only 6.9 percent of women in top earner positions at public companies. This was not much different from the survey two years ago when there were 6.2 percent of women earning the big bucks.
All is not bad news, however. Nearly one-third of companies have at least 25 percent of women in senior positions. Of the 31.5 percent belonging to this group, 8.7 percent of them have 40 percent or more women senior officers. Based on the survey, there are more female senior officers in finance and insurance, retail trade, and utility industry companies. The top five companies (two are tied at number 3) with the most women in senior positions are: 1) The Manitoba Public Insurance Corp. (83.3 percent); 2) Lululemon Athletica Inc. (80.0 percent); 3) Dundee Corp. (66.7 percent); 3) Indigo Books & Music Inc. (66.7 percent); 4) Coast Capital Savings Credit Union (62.5 percent); and 5) Emera Incorporated (57.1 percent).
Research has consistently shown that there is a strong case for putting more women in the ranks of senior leadership. The Catalyst Bottom Line Research Project, for example, has shown that organizations that advance more women up the ranks access a larger part of the talent pool and perform financially better than those that don’t.
Unfortunately, the road towards women’s ascent to the top is paved with obstacles. The McKinsey Quarterly Report for November 2012 has cited a lack of sponsorship as one of the reasons why it’s difficult for women to gain positions of leadership. A Catalyst report released also in November last year showed another reason: Women are not offered enough “hot jobs” or those very critical projects that enable them to advance in their careers. An Ernst & Young study has also pointed to the multiple barriers of age, lack of role models, motherhood, and the lack of qualifications and experience as the culprits that prevent women from ascending to positions of leadership.
The 2012 Catalyst Census was based on a survey of 470 companies. Of this number, 276 were public companies, 143 were private companies, 44 were Crown corporations, and 7 were cooperatives.