NEW research reveals gender gap in Canadian industry
Monday, March 5, 2012
Despite the strong business case for women in leadership
roles, the number of women holding influential positions across the cpg/retail
industry in Canada has stagnated — and women perceive a significant gender
bias at work, according to a new report by the Network of Executive Women.
"Women, Leadership and the Power of the Purse: Gender
Diversity in the Canadian CPG Retail Industry,” outlines a number of complex
barriers that have been hampering women’s advancement into leadership roles,
including prejudice toward women’s abilities; lack of access to networking and
mentoring opportunities; a persistent gender gap in wages and salaries; and the
reality that the majority of women in Canada continue to bear primary
responsibilities for child rearing and family life, a situation few employers
are addressing through work/life policies.
"A dramatic change in corporate culture is needed to
overcome these barriers, and that requires a consensus among today’s leaders —
male and female — that change is necessary,” noted NEW CEO and President Joan
Eighty per cent of
consumer purchases in Canada — everything from groceries to automobiles — were
made or influenced by women in 2011, the report noted. This behavior serves as
the foundation of the business case for putting women in positions of
leadership in the consumer products and retail industry.
However, only 8.9
percent of the CEOs and 20.8 percent of the senior officers in the Canadian
retail industry are women. In the non-durable goods manufacturing sector, which
includes consumer products, the share is even less: Only 2.2 percent of CEOs
and 15.2 percent of senior officers are women.
"Most industry executives (men included) agree
that women executives have special insights when it comes to female consumers,”
Toth said. "But for a variety of reasons — some understandable and some not —
women are still a relative rarity in the industry’s boardrooms and c-suites.”
The report, based on interviews with Canadian cpg/retail
industry executives, responses to a NEW survey of more than 400 cpg/retail
industry players, and other industry research and sources, found women view their value
in their companies much differently than men do — and believe there is a significant
gender bias affecting their careers.
More than eight in 10 (82 percent) of the men
responding to the online survey
conducted by NEW in December 2011 and January 2012 believe men and women working in the industry
receive equal pay for equal work. Fewer than half — 49 percent — of the women answering the survey agreed their gender receives equal pay for
At the same time,
more than half (52 percent) of the men agreed their gender has helped their
career, only one-third (32 percent) of the women thought so. Indeed, a much
higher percentage of female respondents (40 percent) believe qualified women in
the Canadian cpg/retail industry are "often bypassed for promotion
in favor of less qualified men,” according to the survey results. Just 17
percent of the male respondents agreed with that statement.
Women and men also
view opportunity at their own companies differently. Nearly all — 93.5 percent — of the men said their company’s culture is supportive of women. Much
fewer — 84 percent — of the women believed that to be true.
three-fourths (73 percent) of the men responding said women are well
represented in their companies’ highest leadership roles, only 60 percent of
the women say their gender is well represented at the highest levels.
there will be no need for the Network of Executive Women. Our mission to
advance, attract and retain women in the consumer products and retail industry
— will seem outmoded, even quaint,” Toth said. "But as this report on gender
diversity in the Canadian consumer products and retail industry shows, that day
is a long way off.”