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Catalyst Canada: Latest Count of Women in Canada's Largest Businesses Shows Marginal Progress

Catalyst Canada today released its 2006 Census of Women Corporate Officers and Top Earners in the FP500. While the proportion of women corporate officers continues to increase, the overall numbers of women in senior leadership roles has risen less than two sluggish percentage points across all Catalyst benchmarks since 2002.

“Overall, women remain largely excluded from the key jobs that signal corporate power and influence, despite comprising nearly half of the Canadian labour force and more than one third of all management roles,” said Deborah Gillis, Executive Director, Catalyst Canada. In releasing the latest numbers, Gillis called on corporate Canada to create a business environment where more women have the opportunity to compete for leadership positions based on their talent and merit.

Among the 2006 Catalyst Canada Census key findings:

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  •  5.4 percent of top earners are women, up from 4.5 percent in 2004, and 3.9 percent in 2002
  • Women hold 15.1 percent (830/5505) of all FP500 corporate officer positions, up from 14.4 percent (770/5347) in 2004 and 14.0 percent (752/5361) in 2002
  • 65.6 percent of FP500 companies have at least one woman corporate officer, up from 61.4 percent in 2004 and 62.4 percent in 2002
  • Women hold 9.9 percent of line officer positions, up from 9.4 percent in 2004 and 9.0 percent in 2002
  • Women hold 7.3 percent of the highest corporate officer titles, up from 7.1 percent in 2004 and 6.7 percent in 2002
  • 39.2 percent of FP500 companies have multiple women corporate officers, up from 35.6 percent in 2004, and 33.6 percent in 2002
  • Women hold 16.2 percent of positions in the “Executive Pipeline,” up from 14.8 percent in 2004, and 12.5 percent in 2002

Industries with the highest representation of women corporate officers include: insurance services (33.3 percent), food distribution (31.0 percent), life & health insurance (24.8 percent), credit unions (24.4 percent), and specialty retailing (24.2 percent) and banking (22.4 percent).

More traditional industries with the lowest representation of women corporate officers include: construction & engineering (8.1 percent), oil & gas field services (8.0 percent), environmental services (6.3 percent), steel (6.1 percent), and motor vehicles & parts (5.8 percent).

Despite only marginal progress, Gillis believes that “truly strategic companies do, in fact, implement initiatives that successfully advance women as part of their overall business strategies”, and pointed to 2007 Catalyst award winning initiatives at The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., PepsiCo, Inc., PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, and Scotiabank as examples of companies whose actions have ensured notable results in advancing significant number of talented women into leadership roles.

The Catalyst Census represents a rigorous and precise count of women in leadership positions in FP500 companies as of June 2, 2006. Catalyst gathers data from public sources such as annual reports, annual information forms, proxy statements and government databases. To ensure the accuracy of the data, Catalyst provides companies with timely opportunities to confirm the accuracy of their data. In 2006, 467 companies (93.4 percent) verified their data with Catalyst.

Sponsored by American Express Canada (lead sponsor), and participating sponsors Inco Limited, Linamar Corporation, and McKinsey & Co, the 2006 Catalyst Census of Women Corporate Officers and Top Earners of Canada is the fourth census of women corporate officers in Canada. Catalyst has been tracking the progress of women in corporate leadership in Canada since 1999. Through the Census, Catalyst has established accurate statistics on women’s advancement in the corporate community.

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About Catalyst
Catalyst is the leading research and advisory organization working to advance women in business, with offices in New York, San Jose, Zug, Switzerland and Toronto. As an independent, nonprofit membership organization, Catalyst conducts research on all aspects of women's career advancement and provides strategic and web-based consulting services on a global basis to help companies and firms advance women and build inclusive work environments. In addition, we honor exemplary business initiatives that promote women's leadership with the annual Catalyst Award.