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Canada’s “Best and Brightest” Women Face Gaps in Pay, Opportunity, New Catalyst Report Finds

Gender pay gap of $8,167 for first post-MBA job

Toronto (December 3, 2013)—Canadian women MBA grads are being short-changed by gender and geography, signaling important long-term consequences for corporate Canada. According to a new Catalyst report, high-potential Canadian women earn $8,167 less than men in their first post-MBA jobs, start out at a lower job level, and are offered fewer career-accelerating work experiences and international postings.

The report, High-Potential Employees in the Pipeline: Maximizing the Talent Pool in Canadian Organizations, is part of Catalyst’s groundbreaking study of MBA grads from top business schools around the world. It reveals an important trend for Canada: high-potential women are twice as likely as men to choose a non-corporate job post-MBA, pursuing public and nonprofit sector opportunities instead. When compared to grads from other global regions, Canadian MBA grads of both genders are twice as likely to choose this path. Those who do go corporate receive fewer international assignments than their counterparts in Europe and Asia, with women receiving the fewest of these opportunities.

“Corporate Canada is losing high-potential women to non-corporate sectors at much higher rates than other regions in the world. Canadian companies competing in a globalized marketplace should take note and consider their recruiting, retention and talent development strategies,” said Alex Johnston, Executive Director, Catalyst Canada. “Canadian businesses and the Canadian economy need to tap the full talent pool for smart talented people to strengthen our country’s economic future and to stay competitive.”

Key findings of the Catalyst report include:

Significant Gender Disparity in Pay, Position, Opportunities

  • High-potential women made $8,167 less than men in their first post-MBA job.

  • High-potential women were more likely to start their careers in an entry-level position (72 percent of women vs. 58 percent of men).

  • High-potential Canadian women received fewer high visibility projects and mission critical roles, or “hot jobs” that predict advancement when compared to men.

  • High-potential Canadian women and men received fewer international assignments than those in Europe and Asia; when made available to Canadians, men were significantly more likely than women to get them (29 percent men vs. 19 percent women).

  • Correspondingly, compared to high potentials in Europe and Asia, Canadians have a lower global business competency. And Canadian high-potential women were more likely than men to report having no knowledge of international product markets (23 percent of women vs. 9 percent of men), or international labor markets (21 percent of women vs. 9 percent of men).

Talent Drain to Non-Corporate Positions

  • Canadian high potentials were more than twice as likely as their counterparts in other regions of the world to choose a non-corporate path immediately following completion of their MBAs. And within Canada, women took this route more than twice as often as men.

  • For Canadians, the preference for non-corporate settings grows over time, from 11 percent at first post-MBA job to 15 percent at their current position in 2013. The rate of attrition from the corporate sector is much higher among women than men (29 percent women vs. 10 percent men).

“This report has important implications for corporate Canada, and in particular for talent managers, as it can be difficult to attract top talent back, once they enter the non-corporate sector,” says Ms. Johnston. “Canadian organizations need to focus on attracting and retaining high-potential women and giving them opportunities to develop the global business competencies that are so important to strengthening Canada’s economic performance.”


High-Potential Employees in the Pipeline: Maximizing the Talent Pool in Canadian Organizations is part of a longitudinal study on high-potential talent who graduated from MBA programs at 26 leading business schools in Asia, Canada, Europe and the United States. Findings are based on data from 1,574 high-potential employees in Canada who were working in Canada when surveyed in 2007, 2010, 2011 or 2013; were born in Canada; are Canadian citizens; or who reported that they considered Canada “home.”

AT&T, Bloomberg, BMO Financial Group, Cardinal Health, Inc., Chevron Corporation, Credit Suisse, Dell Inc., Deloitte LLP, Desjardins Group, Deutsche Bank AG, EY, General Motors Company, Hewlett-Packard Company, IBM Corporation, KeyBank, Kimberly-Clark Corporation, McDonald’s Corporation, PPL Corporation, Sodexo, State Street Corporation, UPS.

Founded in 1962, Catalyst is the leading nonprofit organization expanding opportunities for women and business. With offices in the United States, Canada, Europe, India, and Australia, and more than 600 members, Catalyst is the trusted resource for research, information, and advice about women at work. Catalyst annually honors exemplary organizational initiatives that promote women's advancement with the Catalyst Award.

For English-speaking Canada:
Francine Beck
+1 416 725 3710

For French-speaking Canada:
Ariane Tremblay
+1 514 861 1330