Women with intersecting identities underrepresented in Canadian leadership

BY The Prosperity Project |
Feb 16, 2022 |

Second annual report card paints a groundbreaking picture of over 21,000 women leaders, revealing Corporate Canada still has much work to do

TORONTO, February 16, 2022 — The Prosperity Project’s second Annual Report Card on Gender Diversity and Leadership: Zero Report finds little progress is being made to advance gender and racial diversity at the leadership level of Canada’s largest organizations at a time when governments, regulators and investors are heightening their focus on ESG, with equity, diversity and inclusion being at the “top of the agenda”.

The findings identify under-representation among women with intersecting identities. Women of colour hold only 6.2% of women-held Board, Executive, Senior Management and Pipeline positions collectively, with Black women, Indigenous women, women with disabilities and LGBTQ2S+ women each holding less than 1% of women-held senior leadership and pipeline positions, respectively. While most organizations have women who identify as women of colour in senior management and the pipeline to senior management, most have zero Indigenous, Black and/or LGBTQ2S+ women at all four leadership levels. According to the 2016 Census, 22%, 18.5%, 5%, 4% and 3.5% of Canadians also identify as living with one or more disabilities, people of colour, Indigenous, LGBTQ2S+ and Black, respectively.

The Prosperity Project’s Annual Report Card (ARC) is the only Canadian scorecard which tracks progress of women in leadership positions in Canada’s largest (by revenue) public and private companies, crown corporations and others through an intersectional lens. It paints a comprehensive and transparent picture of over 21,000 women leaders at four key management levels (Corporate Director, Executive Officer, Senior Management and Pipeline to Senior Management) who have self-identified as white, women of colour, Indigenous, Black, living with disabilities and/or LGBTQ2S+.

“There is no other study that gets to the heart of where women’s leadership truly stands in this country today. While progress is being seen in some sectors, such as crown corporations, Canadian subsidiaries and co-operatives, the study pinpoints that there remains significant opportunity for profound change,” says Pamela Jeffery, founder of The Prosperity Project – a registered charity created at the beginning of the pandemic to explicitly link women and prosperity, underscoring the economic importance of gender equality. “We applaud the participating CEOs and their organizations for their leadership, commitment to transparency and the setting of a baseline in order to measure progress. What gets measured gets done.”

The results are more positive for women in senior management roles and in the pipeline to senior management roles within the survey organizations. While women represent roughly one-third of Corporate Director roles (34.2%) and slightly less than one-third of Executive Officer roles (29.2%), they represent 41.9% of Senior Management roles and slightly more than half of Pipeline to Senior Management roles (54.8%). In sharp comparison to survey organizations, women hold 23.4% of Corporate Director roles and 18.2% of Executive Officer roles of TSX-listed companies that provide disclosure as at July 31, 2021.

The Prosperity Project invited the CEOs of Canada’s 500 largest (measured by top-line revenue) public companies, private companies, crown corporations, co-operatives and Canadian subsidiaries of foreign-owned corporations to play a leadership role by agreeing to their organizations’ participation in this ground-breaking research. The survey, available in French and English, was completed in November by 82 organizations in the banking and insurance, retail, mining, oil and gas, manufacturing, transportation, construction, utilities, real estate, telecom and the arts sectors. While this year’s participation represents nearly a doubling (year over year) of the number of organizations voluntarily contributing to a deeper understanding of women leadership across Canada, more organizations are encouraged to step forward to contribute to the 2023 Annual Report Card.

Find the 2022 Annual Report Card here.

The 2022 report includes a summary of an in-depth roundtable with a diverse group of leaders, whose organizations are amongst the Founding Partners of The Prosperity Project. Vanessa Lewerentz, Chief Inclusion Officer at BMO Financial Group; Mary Sullivan, Chief Talent Officer at CPP Investments; Paul Brink, President and CEO at Franco-Nevada; Silvia Gonzalez-Zamora, Partner and National Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Practice Leader at KPMG in Canada; Jos Schmitt, Co-Founder and CEO at NEO; Gopal Bansal, Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion at RBC; and Lara Zink, President and CEO of WCM (Women in Capital Markets) offer insights into what works when using personal data to meet gender and non-gender diversity goals.

About The Prosperity Project

The Prosperity Project is a volunteer-driven, registered charity conceived by a diverse group of 62 women leaders from across Canada, at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our visionary volunteer women leaders are committed to promoting positive change and improved outcomes for women, as active contributors to The Prosperity Project’s core initiatives. Specific initiatives include an awareness campaign – modelled on the famous “Rosie the Riveter” campaign from World War II – to promote women’s workforce participation and advancement and a matching program connecting registered charities with business expertise to bolster these organizations’ in-house skills and expertise.

The organization was founded and is being led by Pamela Jeffery, founder of the Women’s Executive Network and Canadian Board Diversity Council.

The 2022 Annual Report Card Partner & Sponsor organizations are Presenting Sponsor KPMG in Canada, Collaboration Partner WCM (Women in Capital Markets), Co-Presenting Partner BMO Financial Group, AGF Investments Inc., CPP Investments, Franco-Nevada, NEO, RBC and TELUS.

Visit The Prosperity Project: www.canadianprosperityproject.ca.

Media contact:

Lindsay Ranson
(613) 292-6630

See the press release below:

The Prosperity Project 2022 ARC Press Release-EN-FR