March 3, 2010 by Ilene H. Lang
Canadian and American women dominate the ice— but not the boardroom.
Our new Canadian Census reveals that women make up 47% of the labor force in Canada, but only 14% of board directors in FP500 companies. In the United States, the numbers are also low. Women comprise 47% of the U.S. labor force, but occupy just 15% of the board seats. What’s worse, these numbers have remained virtually unchanged the last few years.
You may think board directors are so high in the org-chart stratosphere that they couldn’t possibly affect you or your job path. But they do. That’s why it’s important to look for diversity when deciding where to work.
The boardroom sets the tone for the organization. The more women on a corporate board, the higher the percentage— five years later— of women in senior positions, especially senior line positions.
Companies with more women board directors, on average, financially outperform those with the fewest. In fact, the more women on board, the better the performance. And companies with three or more women on their boards, on average, perform even better! Chances are that these more successful companies afford women greater opportunity for advancement and development.
So when you are looking for a job, first check that annual report. Skip the pretty pictures, and head for the board listing. If it doesn’t include at least one woman— and preferably three or more—your odds of developing a satisfying career and rising to leadership have just taken a serious hit.
Choose an organization that invests in women. Vote with your feet.