Over the last twenty years, the proportion of women in managerial or executive positions has not really changed in Canada. Still confronted with attitudes, preferences and prejudices, Canadian women remain outside career advancement opportunities. This is what a survey conducted by the Conference Board of Canada found, conducted among 876 women and men across the country.
Opinions marked by gender.
43% of men and 68% of women who hold management positions think that organisations should increase the number of women in senior management positions. Among executives, a vast majority of women (90%) are of this opinion, while there are much fewer men (42%).
“The diversity of the genders in senior management is a cultural and strategic affair for companies. Our research shows that there are barriers to women’s advancement in organisations, but the responsibilities begin at the top of the pyramid, with the board of directors and the sitting senior management”, declares Ian Cullwick, Vice President of Management and Human Resources at the Conference Board. “It will take more than a neutral stand on the part of male leaders to make a significant improvement in women’s advancement in companies.”
Inequalities from early in the career
Furthermore, it would seem that the gap between the sexes in professional careers is evident early on, from the first level of supervision, according to the report Women in Leadership: Perceptions and Priorities for Change. Women feel they are less likely than men to obtain Line-management responsibilities, thereby creating a gap from the first steps of their career.
While women holding higher positions in the hierarchy declare that they have the same aspirations as their male peers, those who are new in management functions appear much less ambitious to achieve leadership positions.
Human resources management challenged
While opportunities in management, motivation and skills are the three essential factors for women’s advancement, a fourth was highlighted: behaviour. 86% of women think there is still a glass ceiling. And 68% of women executives say that organizations are still run by “old boys’ clubs”, compared to 43% of men.
Regarding the leadership development programs and human resources management, all men and women feel that they are not allowed to reach their career goals. Respondents also ranked skills management on the bottom of the list in terms of impact on their professional development.
Finally, the study also underlined that women’s mentors often hold a lower position in the hierarchy than those of men.
To overcome the obstacles faced by women, the Conference Board of Canada and the Council on the Status of Women advocate placing women’s advancement as a priority within companies.