Hess Associates

Women Executives in Canada 2012

Every December for the last 10 years, the Women’s Executive Network (WXN) has chosen to honour 100 of Canada’s most powerful professional women in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors. In December 2012, they noted that notwithstanding these high achievers, women are not fully represented in board rooms and the C-suite across the country. ( http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/12/05/most-powerful-women-in-canada_n_2238508.html )

In terms of Canada’s hospitals, picking 50 at random out of the 240 listed, http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/features/ratemyhospital/hospitalratings.html,
30% of the CEOs were female. Looking at org charts, many women were in positions of influence in C-Suites in healthcare across the country, apart from the CEOs.

However, an article published in March 2013 quoting a TD Economics article, http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/story/2013/03/08/business-women-boards.html disclosed that Canada was falling behind with respect to women on corporate boards in general. The article noted that “women represent just 11 per cent of board members on companies listed on the S&P/TSX composite index, which represents large publicly traded Canadian companies”. Similarly a survey by GMI Ratings, put the percentage of female board members at 13.1 per cent. They actually called for gender diversity policies to be put in place when it comes to choosing new board members. Also mention was made of “Notable female CEOs in Canada including Linda Hasenfratz, head of auto parts manufacturer Linamar, Christine Day, CEO of Lululemon Athletica (who has since resigned), and Heather Reisman, CEO of Indigo Books & Music.”

In August 2011, the Conference Board of Canada issued a report entitled “Women in Senior Management: Where Are They?”( http://www.conferenceboard.ca/e-library/abstract.aspx?did=4416). They found that women were missing in action and suggested 3 possibilities –the glass ceiling, gender stereotyping, and organizational culture and gender harassment.
Perhaps similar facts compelled Cheryl Sandberg to write her new book “Lean In”, where Ms. Sandberg urges women to put in the effort to get to the top. This is the first truly successful, best-selling “how to succeed in business” motivational book to be explicitly designed and marketed for women (http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/jun/06/sheryl-sandberg-how-succeed-business/ ) and (http://209.200.49.186/~hessjobs to order the book). Lean In’s goal is to push women forward into their work so as to overcome what Sandberg represents as women’s universal internal resistance to career velocity.

(http://www.dissentmagazine.org/online_articles/feminisms-tipping-point-who-wins-from-leaning-in ).

Whether it is an external or internal obstacle course, women will endeavour, move forward, and succeed – if they want to. But the obstacles are truly there – like pay discrimination, at times inadequate family leave time, burden of caring for 2 generations, responsibilities at home, the human desire for motherhood and caring for children, and many more.

An actual look at the list of Canada’s most powerful women will nevertheless truly be a heartening experience ( http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/12/05/most-powerful-women-in-canada_n_2238508.html ).

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