Number of women in pipeline for senior management drops dramatically

Study confirms 'fear that women disproportionately impacted by pandemic'

Number of women in pipeline for senior management drops dramatically

Just as many feared, the COVID-19 pandemic took a hit on the progress of women in the leadership ranks, finds a recent report from The Prosperity Project.

Women represented slightly more than one-third (34.8 per cent) of corporate director roles, according to the 2023 report, maintaining the 2022 representation (34.2 per cent). Also, the representation of women in executive officer roles rose to 32.3 per cent in 2023, from 29.2 per cent in 2022.

However, the representation of women in pipeline to senior management level dropped by 11.9 percentage points this year compared to data from 2022, and the number of women already in the senior management level also decreased by 2.8 percentage points.

“The Prosperity Project was created to address the fear that women would be disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, and the results of the most recent survey unfortunately confirm this with the drastic decline of women in pipeline to senior management roles,” says Pamela Jeffery, founder and CEO, The Prosperity Project.

“Gender equality is one of the most pressing issues of our time, and unless corporate Canada changes course, a generation of Canadian women who are poised to move into leadership roles will disappear.”

In March 2022, a LinkedIn report suggested the share of women in leadership positions in Canada rose — despite the pandemic.

Diverse backgrounds

Women of diverse backgrounds also continue to be underrepresented in leadership, finds The Prosperity Project’s survey of 17,974 leaders who are women at four key management levels.

Women of colour hold just 9.4 per cent of women-held leadership roles, despite the number indicating an increase from 6.2 per cent in 2022. 

Also, Indigenous women and Black women remain below one per cent representation with 0.3 per cent and 0.9 per cent, respectively. Meanwhile 2SLGBTQIA+ women and women with disabilities rose slightly to one per cent and 1.5 per cent, respectively.

Recently, Plan International Canada announced it will be offering its “Girls Belong Here” program this International Women’s Day. The program has been helping self-identifying girls and young women between the ages 14 and 24 connect with leaders and claim spaces across civil, corporate, academic and government sectors.

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 report from Randstad Canada released in late 2021.

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