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Catalyst: Canadian women advancing (slowly) in public companies

Thursday, March 17, 2011  
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The number of Canada’s largest public companies with 25 percent or more women senior officers increased 7.7 percentage points in the last two years, according to the 2010 Catalyst Census: Financial Post 500 Women Senior Officers and Top Earners.

The report, which focuses on Canadian women in corporate leadership, also had less encouraging news for women in the workplace: Growth of women’s overall representation in the ranks of companies’ senior officers and top earners slowed to a crawl between 2008 and 2010.

"At Catalyst, we believe that what gets measured gets done,” said Deborah Gillis, vice president, membership and global operations, Catalyst. "Canadian businesses are vastly underutilizing talented women, even though women are the engine of our economies. As organizations refuel and retool, it is in their best interest to ensure that this important segment of the employee base is developed for leadership positions. Failure to do so could mean losing opportunities for competitive advantage.”

The percentage of women holding senior officer positions increased less than one percentage point over two years, from 16.9 percent in 2008 to 17.7 percent in 2010, Catalyst found. Women senior officers held 6.2 percent of top earner positions -- up less than one percentage point from 5.6 percent in 2008. In both 2008 and 2010, more than 30 percent of companies had no women senior officers.

Previous Catalyst research on high-potential, MBA-holding women and men in Canada and worldwide revealed that even at the height of the recession, top talent seized on the best opportunities, receiving promotions, making lateral moves and changing jobs or relocating to advance their careers.

"Catalyst research indicates that companies with more women senior officers on average outperform those with fewer,” Gillis said. "Time is up for ‘give it time.’ Organizations must commit to accelerating the advancement of women or risk losing top talent. In light of increasingly fierce global competition, corporate Canada has nothing to lose and much to gain by choosing leaders from its full deck of talent --women and men.”

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