Women account for more than half of Canada’s population and almost 48% of its labour force. Yet, if our glacial recent rate of progress continues, women will not achieve gender parity in management positions in most of our lifetimes and for at least three or four generations to come. Specifically, the current trends suggest that this would not occur until the year 2112 (~90 years). This estimate does not factor in differences in opportunities for upward social mobility that are further exacerbated by intersectional inequalities in pay, age, disability, race, ethnicity, migrant status, and socio-demographic groups such as gender and sexual orientation.
This “broken rung” phenomenon is not new, but women are reaching a breaking point – one that is being dubbed as the “great breakup” (LeanIn.org and McKinsey, 2021). Organizations lacking in support, opportunities for advancement, and meaningful diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts are struggling to retain women in leadership, threatening the marginal progress achieved over the past generation.
Recent data shows Canada ranks a disappointing 19th out of 38 OECD countries – in the middle-of-the-pack – behind countries such as Costa Rica, Australia, Hungary, Mexico, Slovak Republic, and the United States, the United Kingdom. As companies strive to innovate for growth, those that will be left behind are those that fail to prioritize today’s generation of diverse talent. An urgent rethink of how businesses recruit, retain, and reward talent is more mission-critical than ever.