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Milestone in politics : #Canada’s cabinet has gender balance

By Tajuddin
Nov 7th, 2015

PM Justin Trudeau’s cabinet: a good first step, but there’s work to be done. Photograph: Chris Roussakis/Xinhua Press/Corbis

PM Justin Trudeau’s cabinet: a good first step, but there’s work to be done. Photograph: Chris Roussakis/Xinhua Press/Corbis

Ottawa,Canada ( Agencies + DIPLOMAT.SO) – Canada’s new prime minister Justin Trudeau set a milestone in Canadian politics this week when he unveiled a new cabinet with equal numbers of men and women.

Asked why having a gender-balanced cabinet was important to him, he simply responded: “Because it’s 2015.”

But in other areas of life, Canada’s women are not as well represented as they now are in the Liberal leader’s cabinet.

Only 88 female MPs were elected by Canadian voters, which marks female representation in the House at 26% – only a 1% increase since 2011. This year women accounted for a third of the total candidates running in the five main parties, but the majority of them were representing the Green party or the Bloc Québécois, with little chance of winning their ridings, according to the Globe and Mail.

And despite making up approximately 47% of the Canadian workforce, women hold only 8.5% of the highest-paid positions in Canada’s top 100 companies, according to a report released in March by global executive search firm Rosenzweig & Company. Forty-five women hold named executive officer jobs such as chief executive, chief financial officer and vice-president; just eight of them are CEOs.

The report also found that 71% of these women worked for companies ranked in the lower half of the list (51-100), meaning “women executives are not yet significantly reaching the top at the ‘biggest of the bigs’.”

Despite the low overall number, women’s representation in executive roles has increased over the years. The first report Rosenzweig & Company released in 2006 showed only 4.6% of the positions filled by women, and a later report in 2011 showed 7.4%.

Canada is approaching a “tipping point towards gender equality in business”, Jay Rosenzweig, managing partner of Rosenzweig & Company, told CBC News.

“There are several powerful forces that are creating change,” Rosenzweig said. “The largest one is the general change in attitudes about women in leadership roles both with men who have so-called problems with a female boss diminishing, and more women are leaning in – as Sheryl Sandberg calls it – seizing opportunities and fulfilling dreams and aspirations.”

Numerous efforts have also been put in place to help increase the representation of women on corporate boards of directors. As of October 2014, the nonprofit organization Catalyst Canada found that only 20.8% of board seats at Canadian Stock Index companies were occupied by women.

In 2012, the Canadian government established an advisory council to examine the issue, as only 10.3% of seats on boards were occupied by women at that time. Their report, released in June 2014, examined some of the “best practices” of corporate Canada to help women advance to leadership positions on boards of directors.

In June, the 30% Club – whose members hope to see women make up 30% of boards of directors – launched in Canada. Its founders, who are prominent female CEOs and board chairs, are also working to promote more women to senior corporate roles. Their aim is “not a quota, it’s really aspirational goals”, founding chair Spencer Lanthier told the Globe and Mail.

Rosenzweig also doesn’t support quotas, according to CBC News. He believes companies, with the help of improved education and public awareness, will continue to shift over the years towards gender balance.

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