Diversity is Key to Success in Corporate Canada

By Jennifer Reynolds | The Globe and Mail | January 08, 2017

In my role, I have the pleasure of spending time at universities across the country, meeting with students to talk about their careers and the important role they can play as future business leaders in Canada's economy.

What always strikes me when I enter a room of students is the incredible diversity in Canada's universities. These students are immersed in environments where women are equally represented and a vast number of ethnicities and cultures make up the demographic of their academic experience. The reason I always find it so striking is that the majority of my time is spent in boardrooms in corporate Canada where there is a vastly different demographic picture.

I am not sure who coined the term, but I often hear Canada's leadership teams referred to as "male, pale and stale". While I consider "stale" a bit harsh, the "male and pale" is hard to deny. A mere 12 per cent of TSX publicly listed company directors are women, and visible minorities make up 4.5 per cent of FP500 company directors in Canada. One could argue that universities in Canada were not all that ethnically diverse 30 years ago when the current crop of senior leaders were graduating, however, you can't argue that there were no women there. Women have represented 50 per cent (or more) of university graduates for 30 years. Women have also been abundantly present in middle management roles for years. The pool of female talent for leadership roles in our economy has existed for decades, yet less than 20 per cent of senior officer roles are held by women and 40 per cent of leadership teams in Canada have no women at all.

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