Number of women in leadership creeping up

Where does Canada rank on the global stage?

Number of women in leadership creeping up

The share of women in leadership positions in Canada is slowly rising, despite challenges with the pandemic.

Specifically, 41.2 per cent of those hired into leadership positions in 2021 were women -- up from 39.4 per cent in 2020, according to a LinkedIn report drawn from anonymized and aggregated profile information of 810 million members around the world

That share has also risen steadily since 2015 to:

  • 36.5 per cent in 2016
  • 37.1 per cent in 2017
  • 37.8 per cent in 2018
  • 38.6 per cent in 2019
  • 34.9 per cent in 2020
  • 41.2 per cent in 2021

“Leadership positions here include those holding director-level or C-suite positions,” notes Riva Gold, senior news editor at LinkedIn.

While many organizations were hit hard by the pandemic and are “scrambling to survive,” this has caused many of them to take their eyes off the “the equity-diversity-inclusion ball,” to the detriment of women who wish to advance in their careers, says another expert.

Among 20 major global economies, Canada ranked third when it comes to the percentage of women in leadership, just behind the U.S. and Singapore (both at 36 per cent). The country is doing better in this regard than Australia (32 per cent), France (31 per cent), the U.K. (30 per cent), Germany (22 per cent) and India (18 per cent), among others.

Nearly six in 10 (57 per cent) of CEOs say their organization is somewhat or significantly more gender diverse now than five years ago, according to a separate report – but it’s women-led businesses that have greater female diversity.

Representation across industries

The number of women being hired into leadership positions varies significantly by industry, “and often lagged behind women's representation in the wider workforce,” says Gold.

Women’s share among those hired into leadership roles in 2021 was highest in education (55 per cent), followed by wellness and fitness and health care (both 51 per cent).

Women also broke even with men in public administration and media and communications (both 50 per cent).

However, the gap widened in other industries:

  • 49 per cent (female representation in industry’s leadership positions) compared with 59 per cent (female representation in industry’s workforce) in education
  • 51 per cent compared with 69 per cent in wellness and fitness
  • 47 per cent compared with 66 per cent in health care
  • 45 per cent compared with 54 per cent in public administration
  • 40 per cent compared with 51 per cent in media and communications 

Women’s representation among those hired into leadership roles in 2021 was less than 50 per cent in corporate services, consumer goods, retail, finance, real estate, software and IT services, energy and mining, manufacturing, and construction, finds LinkedIn.

Just 19 per cent of employed women say a lot of progress has been made over the past 10 years when it comes to gender equality, according to a separate report from Randstad Canada.

Having more women in leadership will help Canada to achieve gender equality, according to the Canadian Women’s Foundation.

“Women leaders in Canada will not only help influence decision-making around policies, laws, and management, but they will also act as role models and mentors for young women.”

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