Good news, bad news for women's advancement

Senior officers increase 7.7 percentage points: Catalyst

The number of FP 500 public companies with 25 per cent or more women senior officers increased 7.7 percentage points in the last two years, according to the 2010 Catalyst Census, which looks at the advancement of Canadian women to corporate leadership.

However, the growth of women’s overall representation in the ranks of companies’ senior officers and top earners slowed to a crawl between 2008 and 2010.

“Canadian businesses are vastly underutilizing talented women, even though women are the engine of our economies,” said Deborah Gillis, Toronto-based senior vice-president of membership and global operations at Catalyst, a non-profit organization aiming to expand opportunities for women and business.

“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 per cent in 2008 to 17.7 per cent in 2010, found Catalyst. Women senior officers held 6.2 per cent of the top earner positions — up less than one percentage point from 5.6 per cent in 2008.

In both 2008 and 2010, more than 30 per cent of companies had zero women senior officers. The study looked at women senior officers and top earners at 468 Financial Post 500 companies as of June 2010. Eight-four per cent of the companies verified the data.

"Companies with more women senior officers on average outperform those with fewer,” said Gillis. “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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