Behind the Numbers

Unlucky, lazy, or just female? Why there aren’t more women in the top 100

January 2nd, 2014 Kate McInturff · 3 Comments · Economy & Economic Indicators, Employment and Labour, Gender Equality, Income Inequality

Imagine finding $7.96 million in your stocking on Christmas morning. For Canada’s top 100 CEOs, that happy day has arrived. These 100 Canadians earn more than 99.9% of the working population of Canada.[1] But if you are woman, odds are you are not on that lovely list. Not now, not ever.

It would take the average working age woman in Canada 235 years (or 85,778 days) to make as much as one of these CEOs makes in a single year.[2] It would take a first-generation immigrant woman 268 years to do it. [3] Visible minority women and Aboriginal women would have to work the longest, at 273 years and 285 years respectively.[4]

Unless they’ve got the inside line on eternal life, the top 100 CEOs didn’t make those salaries by working 99.9 times harder than everyone else, or just happen to be 99.9% luckier than anyone else. If that were true, they would look just like the 15 million working Canadians who aren’t in the top 0.01%. Only richer.

ceos_few_womenWhat makes the top 100 CEOs different from the rest of us (aside from the money)? For a start, they are almost entirely men. If the top 100 looked like the rest of working Canadians then 47% of them would be women. In reality only 3% are women.

In a recent survey, senior Canadian executives suggested that a lack of qualifications was the reason for the absence of women at the top.[5] Yet 2 in 5 business post-graduates in Canada are women.[6] Senior executives suggested that women were less ambitious than their male peers. Yet, 81% of female MBA graduates seek corporate jobs following graduation.[7] For those women who do manage to get their foot in the corporate door, there is no lack of hours to work. It’s their pay that looks different. Women with MBAs earn $8,167 per year less than their male colleagues in their first jobs after graduation.[8] And the pay gap, here as in every other field, just keeps on growing as they enter their 30s and 40s.

The majority of Canadian corporations surveyed by the Globe and Mail last month have no women on their boards. None. Zero. Nada. When quizzed about this fact, one third of the Canadian executives polled said they were not at all concerned.[9] More than half of those executives opposed any kind of pro-active policy to ensure that women were better represented at the top of the CEO pile.[10] This is in spite of the evidence that more women at the top of corporations yields benefits for everyone.[11]

Shortchanged from day one, with few models or mentors to lead the way, and a lack of interest from those that do occupy top positions, it should come as no surprise to women in the corporate sector that they make up less than 3% of the 0.01% of earners. That’s not luck and it’s not laziness. It’s discrimination. And it isn’t going to change on its own.

Kate McInturff  is a senior researcher with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, and the director of the Centre’s initiative on gender equality and public policy, Making Women Count. You can follow Kate on Twitter @katemcinturff.

 


[1] Mackenzie, Hugh (2014). All in a Day’s Work?: CEO Pay in Canada. Ottawa: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

[2] Median employment income for women age 25-54 years. Source: “Income and Earnings Statistics in 2010 (16), Age Groups (8C), Sex (3), Work activity in 2010 (3), Highest Certificate, Diploma or Degree (6) and Selected Sociocultural Characteristics (60) for the Population Aged 15 Years and Over in Private Households of Canada, Provinces, Territories and Census Metropolitan Areas, 2011 National Household Survey.” 2011 National Household Survey: Data tables. Ottawa: Statistics Canada.

[3] Median employment income for women age 25-54 years. Source: “Income and Earnings Statistics in 2010 (16), Age Groups (8C), Sex (3), Work activity in 2010 (3), Highest Certificate, Diploma or Degree (6) and Selected Sociocultural Characteristics (60) for the Population Aged 15 Years and Over in Private Households of Canada, Provinces, Territories and Census Metropolitan Areas, 2011 National Household Survey.” 2011 National Household Survey: Data tables. Ottawa: Statistics Canada.

[4] Median employment income for women age 25-54 years. Source: “Income and Earnings Statistics in 2010 (16), Age Groups (8C), Sex (3), Work activity in 2010 (3), Highest Certificate, Diploma or Degree (6) and Selected Sociocultural Characteristics (60) for the Population Aged 15 Years and Over in Private Households of Canada, Provinces, Territories and Census Metropolitan Areas, 2011 National Household Survey.” 2011 National Household Survey: Data tables. Ottawa: Statistics Canada.

[5] The Gandalf Group (2013). “The 33rd Quarterly C-Suite Survey: Big Data, Women on Boards and CETA.” Toronto: The Globe and Mail.

[6] “Highest Certificate, Diploma or Degree (15), Age Groups (13B), Major Field of Study – Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) 2011 (14), Location of Study (29), Attendance at School (3) and Sex (3) for the Population Aged 15 Years and Over, in Private Households of Canada, Provinces, Territories, Census Metropolitan Areas and Census Agglomerations, 2011 National Household Survey.” Ottawa: Statistics Canada.

[7] Beninger, Anna (2013). High-Potential Employees in the Pipeline: Maximizing the Talent Pool in Canadian Organizations. Catalyst.

[8] Beninger, Anna (2013). High-Potential Employees in the Pipeline: Maximizing the Talent Pool in Canadian Organizations. Catalyst.

[9] The Gandalf Group (2013). “The 33rd Quarterly C-Suite Survey: Big Data, Women on Boards and CETA.” Toronto: The Globe and Mail.

[10] The Gandalf Group (2013). “The 33rd Quarterly C-Suite Survey: Big Data, Women on Boards and CETA.” Toronto: The Globe and Mail.

[11] Bart, Chris and Gregory McQueen (2013). “Why Women Make Better Directors.” International Journal of Business Governance and Ethics, Vol. 8.1.

Share this

3 Comments so far older updates

  • Purple Library Guy

    While this is certainly an injustice, I’d rather see it solved by getting rid of all the bastards than by promoting lots of women to their ranks.

  • JM

    Some food for thought… 99.99% of the average every day men in Canada are not CEO’s. In general, it would take the average man about just as long to earn the same as the top 100 CEO’s as the average woman. We are talking about 97 CEO men here, compared to 1000′s of men that are digging ditches and breathing in chemicals that lead to death and disease. There are virtually no women in the lowest, dirtiest and most dangerous jobs in Canada. Nine out of ten workplace deaths in Canada are men. This leads to life expectancy gaps where men die half a decade earlier than women. Men in Canada also work six hours more per week on average than women. This factor is ignored when the average wage by gender gets tallied. Women under the age of thirty make slightly more than men under thirty in Canada and the wage gap begins after pregnancy. To help solve this, paternity leave time must match maternity leave time, and family courts must give both parents default equal custody. Both the male and the female employee need to be of equal financial risk to the employer. Right now employers have a higher financial risk when hiring a women because they can take more time off due to biases that child rearing is more of a woman’s right/responsibility than it is a mans. It has to be just as risky for an employer to to hire a man as it is for them to hire a woman and men to take their full paternity leave. We have to work towards EQUAL rights for BOTH genders if we want to address workplace inequality.

  • Jackie

    I get where you’re coming from JM, but to suggest that men will start to take parental leaves is kind of short-sighted. First off, the woman is required to take the first 6 weeks. Men cannot, and for good reason as the woman is recovering from childbirth (in some cases, complicated child births such as c-sections). After that, the decision to breastfeed is one that most women must take very seriously, and they cannot easily go back to work after 6 weeks and continue doing this. Babies eat every 2 hours in many cases. Women cannot keep milk supplies up if they pump milk alone. So men and women should be seen as equal, but they are not the same. Women’s inherent ability to birth and feed a child for the first 1-2 years of its lives must be considered. In that case, it will always be more “risky” to hire a woman of course. But being gone for a full year should not be such a huge risk. There are temporary workers to fill in, whether internally to seek out new talent, or externally and get fresh eyes (with a huge cost in training usually though). The ability for a company to be flexible and adapt will make that company stronger. Trying to avoid the situation by merely not hiring a woman puts out the company, who benefits from someone who is “different but equal” to the majority of their executives.

Leave a Comment

*