November 12, 2015 — I wrote this post about a week ago on a flight from Tokyo to Toronto, where I was headed to celebrate Catalyst Canada Honours with my colleagues and Canadian business leaders.
The inspiration for the blog came earlier that day when I picked up a copy of an English-language Japanese newspaper and found myself staring with pride at a front page headline and photo of the Government of Canada’s new Cabinet. I saw Canada reflected in that photo, and Prime Minister Trudeau’s simple response to explaining why he had chosen an equal number of men and women to serve on his team—“because it’s 2015” —said all that needed to be said.
The beauty of Canada’s new leadership team is that it looks like the market—the people of Canada—that it is intended to serve. It is the people’s cabinet, and the intentionality that went into its construction offers an important lesson for leaders from every sector.
My colleagues know that I have become tired of justifying gender diversity with data that is intended to compel business leaders to act. The business case has been documented by Catalyst since 2004, when we released our groundbreaking Bottom Line study. While some might wish to dismiss this research as the expected result from a women’s organization, our findings have been replicated in similar studies by McKinsey and Credit Suisse. So my new answer to inevitable questions about why we need more women in leadership, inspired by Prime Minister Trudeau, is this: “You give me the business case for an all-white male leadership team in 2015, and I’ll give you the case for diversity. You go first.”