News and Announcements

Catalyst Census Finds Few Women Corporate Officers

No Women Officers in Nearly Half of Canada’s Largest Corporations

TORONTO—Women hold 12 percent of corporate officer positions in Canada (690 out of 5,746 corporate officers), according to the Catalyst Census of Women Corporate Officers of Canada, released today at a press conference at the Toronto Board of Trade. This first-of-its-kind census provides an accurate measure of women’s advancement to leadership in Canada’s 560 largest companies.

Nearly half of Canada’s largest companies (244) have no women officers. One-quarter (156) have one woman corporate officer and the remaining quarter (160) have multiple women corporate officers.

Canadian women are poorly represented in line positions – those jobs with profit-and-loss responsibilities that are key to executive advancement – accounting for only 6.4 percent of all line officers.

“We’ve done the research and we’ve got the facts,” says Sheila Wellington, president of Catalyst. “Real knowledge, accurate information, is the beginning of change.”
Canada parallels the United States on many indicators of women’s advancement: both have nearly identical numbers of women holding corporate officer positions – 12 percent in Canada versus 11.9 percent in the U.S. Women officers in the U.S. and Canada also hold similar numbers of line positions – 6.4 percent in Canada
versus 6.8 percent in the U.S. At the very highest ranks of senior leadership, the number of women holding “clout” titles (defined as Chair, CEO, vice chair, president, COO, SEVP, and EVP) is quite small, with Canadian women holding 3.4 percent of “clout” titles compared to U.S. women at 5.1 percent.
More women in Canada run companies than in the U.S.: as of the March 31, 1999 census cut-off date, 12 women lead Canadian corporations versus four female Fortune 500 CEOs in the U.S. Companies with women presidents or CEOs include: ATCO, Ltd., Chevron Canada Ltd., EDS Canada, Extendicare Inc., Ford Motor Co. of Canada Ltd., GM of Canada Ltd., Johnson & Johnson Inc., Kraft Canada, Linamar Corp., Motorola Canada Ltd., the Royal Canadian Mint, and Telemedia Communications Inc. (women CEOs were appointed to ATCO and Linamar after March 31, 1999).
Canada lags behind the U.S., however, in the number of companies with women corporate officers. Twice as many Canadian companies (43.6 percent or 244 companies) have no women officers compared to U.S. companies (21 percent or 106 companies). Further, nearly twice as many U.S. companies (56 percent or 282 companies) have multiple women officers, compared to Canada (28.6 percent or 160 companies). This may be due to the fact that the average officer pool in Canada is smaller, with Canadian companies averaging 10 officers compared to 23 in U.S. companies.

The Catalyst Census of Women Corporate Officers of Canada uses the Financial Post’s list of the top 500 corporations ranked by revenue as well as its listings of the top 20 financial institutions, the top 20 insurance companies, and the top 20 crown corporations. Data for this census is based on proxies and annual reports and observes a cut-off date of March 31, 1999. Ninety-three percent of the 560 companies verified their data.
The 1999 Catalyst Census of Women Corporate Officers of Canada is the third Canadian study published by Catalyst. The first study, Closing the Gap: Women’s Advancement in Corporate and Professional Canada (1997), was published in partnership with The Conference Board of Canada. The second study was the 1998 Catalyst Census of Women Board Directors of Canada. With the release of this census, Catalyst has established a permanent presence in Canada, with a full-time representative working out of Toronto.
Catalyst is the nonprofit research and advisory organization working to advance women in business. Its dual mission is to enable professional women to achieve their maximum potential and to help employers capitalize fully on the talents of their female employees. For more information about Catalyst, visit our Web site at or call 212-514-7600.