Rise in female leaders encouraging but slow

A Canadian report on workplace gender representation indicates that women are beginning to stake a bigger claim in leadership roles, but this growth is more slow than steady.

The DiversityLeads 2014 report, published by the Toronto-based Diversity Institute at Ryerson University, focuses on the Greater Toronto Area, but it is worth considering the findings on a global scale. It compares the representation of women and “visible minorities” in senior leadership positions in 2009 and 2014, charting the growth over this five-year period.

One of the main findings from the study is that female representation in leadership roles has indeed increased over this period – but only just. A minimal increase was recorded from the 30.6 per cent in 2009 to 32.5 per cent now.

Another interesting insight from the report is that the gender composition of leaders appears to vary between different sectors. The corporate sector remains the most unbalanced, with women making up just 19.9 per cent of leaders in this sector in the Greater Toronto Area.

However, women are much better represented in other areas, such as the education sector (41.4 per cent) and among elected officials (40 per cent).

Wendy Cukier, founder and director of the Diversity Institute, said that it is still up to individual organisations to promote female leadership development and reassess their recruitment and selection of the right leaders.

“It's certainly progress and it's moving in the right direction, but the pace of change over a five-year period is relatively slow,” she was quoted as saying in a March 7 article on CTV News.

“”In many cases it's just that some companies haven't made this a priority. They haven't thought about it or they've relied on old excuses for why their boards and executive teams look they way they do.”