One in 100: Female CEOs noticeably absent from Canada’s C-Suite
TORONTO -- Among the more than 300 most highly-compensated executives at companies on the TSX 60 stock index of Canada's largest and most influential companies, just 25 are women. The Canadian Press spoke to a dozen of them about climbing the corporate ladder in Canada.
Executive Vice President, General Counsel
"At the entry level we're seeing fewer women, and then what happens is the women that do come, when they get to middle management, they look at the upper management and they don't see a lot of women. They think 'well I don't see a lot of women so I don't see a lot of opportunities,' so then they start to leave. Keep women more engaged in middle management and move women up into senior management. It's not a matter of 'women need to ask and women need to be more visible."'
Barrick Gold Corp.
Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
"Throughout my career, I have been in the minority, but I have managed to navigate that pathway...The thing I would love the most is for gender to not matter. That to me is when subject matter expertise and quality and skills are the focus of discussion rather than gender and I think it will take a long time, but what I see increasingly is that we are getting enough women in those senior positions because they are the CFO of the company or a technical expert. That is real progress, when you are on a panel, not because you are a woman, but because you are the best in the field."
Executive Vice President, Sustainability and Chief Human Resource Officer
"As women, sometimes we don't always put it out there that we want that next job. I will say that was probably true for me early on in my career. We need to get past that. Men do it all the time, so women, we need to put our hand up and express our interest. You have to be persistent. You have to stick to your goals and stay focused."
Vice President Engineering and Planning
"I think it's easier to see yourself in a role when you identify with the person who is currently in that role. With a lack of equality in top roles, one similarity isn't as available to women."
Restaurant Brands International
"While it's disappointing that there are few women in the top five, as people call it, there are many women that are just below that. It doesn't mean women aren't in the top ranks it just means that at times they aren't in the top ranks. I feel like progress is very slow but I feel like we are making progress."
"Times are changing and young women are telling us what they want. The Me Too movement is still really new and I don't see any real change because I think that we were already focused on working to bring women into the upper ranks. It's a difficult issue because you can't just put a bunch of women in positions. You need to make sure you are putting the right person in the right role, where they succeed. If you put a lot of women in those roles just because you think it's the right thing to do and they don't succeed, then I think that's that puts you further back."
Senior Vice President - Finance, IT and HR
"To do right by both men and women, I think you have to find the right people for the job. I am a firm believer that you have to be gender neutral. If you put a woman in a job, just to put a woman in the job, that's not right."
Royal Bank of Canada
Former chief financial officer
"You have to be able to look up, because then you can actually see a role model. And then you can actually think that there is a possibility of you getting there. But it's a multifaceted issue, that involves a lot more of the sponsorship at the senior level. And pushing, pushing especially women who feel that they are not 100 per cent qualified to go into them, to take the chance. Because chances are, they may not think they are qualified, but they are qualified."
Bausch Health Companies (formerly Valeant Pharmaceuticals)
"I think that the changes will come about slowly, always, unfortunately. And I look at my daughter who is 19 now, and I'm hoping that I'm making waves for her so that she won't have the same battle I've had."
Mary Alice Vuicic
Chief people officer
"These movements are shining a light on toxic workplaces, and will hopefully have an impact on the safety and security of work environments. I believe it already has. I've never felt more empowered in the workplace. And that these past few years, and the past 12 months, have been transformative for gender equality."
"When women are in leadership positions, they often will see opportunities to advance the gender equality, as well as gender-related issues in a way that other people, men just might not see. That's not to say men never do.... This is the reason that you want diversity, and diversity overall. People will just see different things because of the difference in their experience."
Group head of Canadian banking
"They do tend to need a push or support to take risks in their career. I had an experience where I was a young mother. I was thinking, 'I'm just barely holding it together.' The same day that I was feeling that way my boss and one of his colleagues, one of his peers, were standing in the hallway and they looked over and they said, 'We're going to work for you one day.' And it was something as simple as that. For somebody young in their career to just have somebody see something in them that they didn't necessarily see in themselves."
National Bank of Canada
Former executive vice-president, personal-commercial banking and marketing
"(The few number of women in the highest ranks of TSX 60 companies) is sad... I'm suspecting the next five years will be different and more positive. It's sad to realize this. Five years is a short period in a senior executive position. So, movements are not being created as frequently as the lower level of management, for the obvious reasons.... I would like to believe that if you look at a 10 year period, that would have actually improved."