If you are not convinced that hiring female executives should be a global priority, you will be when you read National Post’s article, “A champion of women”. The most compelling information in this article is the statistics provided by Catalyst, a non-profit advisory group who looked at the relationship between women’s representation in corporate-officer positions and board-of-director positions in the U.S. Fortune 500 companies. These were their findings:
On average, companies with the highest representation of women in corportate-officer positions financially outperformed those with the lowest representation. Return on equity was 35.1% higher and the total return to shareholders was 34% higher! The numbers were even higher for women serving as directors on Fortune 500 boards, showing a return on equity 53% higher, the return on sales 42% higher and the return on invested capital was 66% higher than those with the least number of women.
“When you consider these financial implications and the fact women are the single-largest segment of the talent force, at a time when Canadian businesses are fighting a war for talent, women become a critical part of the solution for businesses,” says Deborah Gillis, vice-president of Catalyst Canada.
But according to the most recent data from Catalyst Canada, only 15.1% of the top jobs in Canada’s FP 500 Companies and only 12% of board seats are held by women. The Rosenzweig Report on women at the top levels of Corporate Canada reports 31 women now holding top-officer jobs in Canada’s 100 largest publicly traded companies, which is down from 37 last year.
Thankfully some Canadian firms are taking note and for the first time, Ernst and Young held a women’s leadership conference in Toronto which included 1000 men and women from 38 countries who came to talk about and learn how to help women advance.
“This is a global priority,” says Billie Williamson, Ernst & Young’s Americas director of flexibility and gender-equity strategy, as well as a senior partner at Ernst & Young LLP. “What this boils down to is the active engagement of all of our people, especially our men, mentoring and being a champion of women.”