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February 19, 2013There may be six women premiers in Canada, but they would be hard-pressed to find their equivalent leadership in Canadian business. The 2012 Catalyst Census: Financial Post 500 Women Senior Officers and Top Earners shows no significant increase in women among senior officers and top earners.

Some key findings include:

  • Women hold 18.1% of senior officer positions, up only 0.4 percentage points in two years.

  • More than one-third (35.9%) of the public FP500 companies have no senior women leaders.

  • Less than one-quarter (21.7%) of public companies have 25% or more women senior officers, just as in 2010. Only 6.5% have 40% or more women senior officers.

Women continue to struggle to break through to those top earner and top influencer positions in most sectors, but especially manufacturing, and mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction. Finance and insurance, retail trade, and utilities show the highest representation of women senior officers, at 27%, but there has been no change between 2010 and 2012.

Who should worry about that? Women who believe they have the talent, training, and track record to break into the top ranks, obviously.

But their bosses should be even more interested in these results.

Research by Catalyst, McKinsey and others demonstrates that diversity is linked to the bottom line, and that companies with more women at the top, on average, outperform those with fewer women in their senior positions.

Individual companies win, and the Canadian economy thrives when our most highly skilled women and men are fully engaged. And that means more opportunities for women and men in our workplaces. Canada is proud of its skilled labour force after all, so why not fully leverage it?

Canadians know that you don’t win a hockey game by keeping half the team on the bench. With a small economy in a competitive global marketplace, we can’t afford to ignore the talent and ability of 50% of our population.

Business leaders are catching on to the value of diversity, and looking for ways to improve their bottom line by adding women at the top. Like men, women reach the top by excelling in the “hot jobs” that offer challenge and visibility within the company. They benefit from sponsorship from influential leaders. The difference, according to Catalyst research, is that those opportunities are offered to women less frequently than to men.

Last year, Catalyst Canada established the Catalyst Accord to encourage the FP500 companies to improve the representation of women on their boards by 2017. The findings in this most recent Catalyst Census challenge the leadership of those same companies to sponsor talented women through the key opportunities that prepare them for senior corporate positions.

Putting a full team of our best players on the ice is Canada's winning formula. The FP500 Census will help business leaders identify which players their teams are missing.