Female Executives Are Still Scarce in Corporate Canada. The Few Who Made it Are Fed Up

By Tim Kiladze | The Globe and Mail | April 09, 2019

As a final act after 26 years with KPMG Canada, Beth Wilson fired off an e-mail to her female colleagues, clearing the air on what prompted her to pack up and leave.

“I reached for the top rung and failed,” she wrote in a heartfelt exit note in 2017. “Yes, I just used the F-word and I am okay with that.”

The year before, she’d put herself in the running to be the firm’s next chief executive, the first woman to ever do so, but ultimately lost to a man. Because she felt worthy of being a CEO, Ms. Wilson left the firm with nowhere to go. But she wanted women in the ranks below to know that moving on was her choice – and that they should never settle, either.

“I had a lot of boxes ‘checked’ on the competency and experience checklist and I still didn’t make it – that is all the more reason why you should push, and push hard,” she wrote.

The wait was worth it. A few months later, Ms. Wilson was named Canada CEO of Dentons, a global giant in corporate law.

The anecdote is one of many powerful stories in a new book, The Collective Wisdom of High-Performing Women, co-written by those who have made it to the highest echelons of Canadian business. Many are graduates of an annual leadership retreat known as The Judy Project, named after the late Microsoft Canada executive Judy Elder, who helped women embrace their ambition.

Yet, for all their success, the women remain frustrated that there aren’t more of them around. Their advancement in business has been promised since the 1980s, but three decades later, the numbers remain dismal.

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