We can do better than 18 per cent (Editor’s notes)

Low number of women in senior roles can be helped by mentors
By Todd Humber
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 11/08/2011

Eighteen per cent. That’s a low number, by any standard. Even in baseball, where the best players are lucky to get a hit one-third of the time, batting .180 would quickly earn a spot on the bench, a one-way ticket to the minor leagues and likely mark the end of a career.

Yet 18 — actually, 17.7 to be precise — is the percentage of senior positions at Canadian companies held by women, according to Catalyst Canada. That figure has barely nudged in the last decade, rising just four percentage points between 2002 and 2010.

So why is Canadian business batting so poorly when it comes to promoting women to senior ranks? A lack of awareness shouldn’t be an issue. Catalyst has well-quoted research showing a strong link between return on equity, sales and invested capital — simply put, companies with more women in senior roles significantly outperform those that don’t. And Catalyst is hardly alone on that front. Women Matter, a report by McKinsey & Company, found companies with a lot of women in senior ranks perform better.