TORONTO (March 3, 2011)—In the just-released 2010 Catalyst Census: Financial Post 500 Women Senior Officers and Top Earners, which reveals both good and bad news about the advancement of Canadian women to corporate leadership, the most encouraging finding shows that the number of FP500 public companies with 25% or more women senior officers increased 7.7 percentage points in the last two years. Less encouraging, however, is the report’s finding that the growth of women’s overall representation in the ranks of companies’ senior officers and top earners slowed to a crawl between 2008 and 2010.

“At Catalyst, we believe that what gets measured gets done,” said Deborah Gillis, Senior Vice President, Membership & Global Operations, Catalyst. “Canadian businesses are vastly underutilizing talented women, even though women are the engine of our economies. As organizations refuel and retool, it is in their best interest to ensure that this important segment of the employee base is developed for leadership positions. Failure to do so could mean losing opportunities for competitive advantage.”

According to this Census:

·         The percentage of women holding senior officer positions increased less than one percentage point over two years, from 16.9% in 2008 to 17.7% in 2010.

·         Women senior officers held 6.2 percent of top earner positions—up less than one percentage point from 5.6 percent in 2008.

·         In both 2008 and 2010, more than 30 percent of companies had zero women senior officers.

Previous Catalyst research on high-potential, MBA-holding women and men in Canada and worldwide shows that even at the height of the recession, top talent seized on the best opportunities, receiving promotions, making lateral moves, and changing jobs or relocating to advance their careers.

“Catalyst research indicates that companies with more women senior officers on average outperform those with fewer,” said Ms. Gillis. “Time is up for ‘give it time.’ Organizations must commit to accelerating the advancement of women or risk losing top talent. In light of increasingly fierce global competition, corporate Canada has nothing to lose and much to gain by choosing leaders from its ‘full deck’ of talent—women and men.”

Catalyst has published its Canadian Census since 1998. Its research has long been recognized as “the gold standard” for research on advancing women in business.
The 2010 Catalyst Census: Financial Post 500 Women Senior Officers and Top Earners is a rigorous and precise count of women senior officers and top earners in 468 FP500 companies as of June 1, 2010. To ensure accuracy, Catalyst provided companies with timely opportunities to verify the accuracy of the collected data. In 2010, 84.5 percent of companies verified their data. Of the companies that did not participate in the verification process, Catalyst only published data that was either filed with the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) via the System for Electronic Document Analysis and Retrieval (SEDAR) or that was included in the company’s most recent public annual report.

Founded in 1962, Catalyst is the leading nonprofit membership organization expanding opportunities for women and business. With offices in the United States, Canada, and Europe, and more than 400 preeminent corporations as members, Catalyst is the trusted resource for research, information, and advice about women at work. Catalyst Canada annually recognizes champions for women’s advancement from three categories—Company/Firm Leader; Business Leader; and Human Resources/Diversity Leader—with the Catalyst Canada Honours. is committed to presenting diverse points of view. However, the viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at IMD.