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Women Remain Underrepresented among GTA Leaders: Progress in electoral realm more promising

Mar 08, 2012

 

Toronto: While women account for 51.3% of residents in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), they still are under-represented and account for only 28 per cent of leadership roles in seven key industry sectors according to new research released today by Ryerson University’s Diversity Institute.

 

For visible minority women, the number is even lower. The report analyzed and collected 2011 data on 5081 senior leadership roles (for example senior executives and board members) in elected office, as well as senior executives and board of directors in the largest organizations in the GTA’s public, corporate, voluntary, education, and legal sectors.
When broken out by sector, some of the most promising figures are in the electoral realm where women comprise approximately 38 percent of all elected positions in the GTA. Less encouraging, however, is that of those elected (women and men), only 6.6 percent are visible minority women.
Women in Senior Leadership Positions: A Profile of the Greater Toronto Area is the first in a series from DiversityLeads, a new five-year Community University Research Alliance (CURA) project supported by Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), which will produce new knowledge that informs evidence-based approaches to promoting diversity in leadership across the country.
Equal Voice is a partner in this project.
This report also explores the barriers talented women face at the societal, organizational and individual level. It offers practical and creative tools to enable organizations to make and sustain positive change and equip women for success.
“The evidence is clear. Advancing talented women to senior leadership positions promotes financial performance, innovation and social inclusion," said Wendy Cukier, Founder and Director of Ryerson’s Diversity Institute and Vice-President, Research and Innovation at Ryerson University.
“While progressive organizations have been more successful in achieving diverse leadership and promoting women to senior positions, there is an immense gap between the leaders and the laggards among organizations within sectors. It is clear there is no shortage of talented women. Organizations can do better to tap into this pool of talent.”
Among the key findings of the report:
 - The proportion of women in senior leadership positions varies between sectors.
The education sector and government appointments to agencies, boards and commissions (ABCs) have the highest percentages of women in senior leadership positions (40.8% and 38.5%), while the corporate sector has the lowest percentage of women represented (17.4%).
 - Women’s representation in leadership positions varies within sectors.
The averages mask significant differences among organizations that are the leaders and laggards within sectors. In the corporate sector, only two companies (4.3%) had at least 40% women among their board members, while 38.3% of corporate boards had no women at all. Clearly the ability of leading organizations to attract 40% or more women to senior roles suggests that there is a sufficient pool of well-qualified and talented women.
 - The representation of female visible minorities is even lower.
Though female visible minorities are approximately 25.6% of GTA residents, they account for a much smaller percentage of female leaders: 2.6% of leaders across sectors compared to 22.5% of non-visible minorities. Among elected officials, 6.6% were female visible minorities compared to less than 1% among corporate sector leaders.
“As a national, multi-partisan organization dedicated to the election of more women at all levels of government, Equal Voice recognizes the progress women are making in attaining elected positions in the GTA," said Donna Dasko, National Chair, Equal Voice.
"At the same time, we are committed to addressing the institutional and structural impediments to motivating, recruiting and supporting women to win elected office.”
For the full report, visit www.ryerson.ca/diversity.
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Located in the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University, the Diversity Institute undertakes research on diversity in the workplace and develops applications to improve practices in organizations. The Diversity Institute works with organizations to develop customized strategies programming and resources to promote nw, interdisciplinary knowledge and practice about diversity with respect to gender, race/ethnicity, Aboriginal peoples, abilities and sexual orientation. The Institute collaborates with industry, government and not-for-profits and academics to: research existing practices and evaluate programs, explore barriers to full participation in the workplace, develop fact-based policies and programs to help organizations attract, motivate and develop under-represented groups, and provide customized training to support the development of diversity strategies. 

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Thanks also to the Government of Canada (Status of Women & Canadian Heritage) for their financial support.