Canadian Women Still Held Back as Leaders in the Workplace

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Randstad Canada’s fourth annual Women Shaping Business study – conducted in partnership with Ipsos Reid – has found that despite efforts to achieve equality in the workplace, nearly three-quarters (71 per cent) of working Canadian women are in roles below the management level, and cite the number one barrier to leadership at work is an employer’s fear of absence due to family obligations (47 per cent). The study also discovered that only five per cent of working Canadian women are employed in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) fields, presenting a major inequality in these key areas for Canada’s future workforce and economy.

“Change is hard, but it’s critical for businesses that want to grow and flourish,” said Faith Tull, senior vice president, human resources, Randstad Canada. “Our research shows that organizations that promote and support women perform better in an array of areas, including financially, but we’re still seeing a large gap between men and women in leadership positions, particularly in those important STEM fields.”

Other concerning findings from the 2015 Women Shaping Business study include:

  • More than three-quarters of working Canadian women believe there is a divide compared to men in the workplace when it comes to salaries, influence in making important decisions, promotions, and getting the best jobs, tasks or projects
  • 42 per cent of working Canadian women believe they don’t obtain leadership positions because their employer fears a possible maternity leave
  • 27 per cent of working Canadian women who are not in a STEM field might have pursued a career in these areas if they had had the right support or guidance
  • Confidence is a problem with working Canadian women within STEM fields, with 28 per cent of those surveyed who work in STEM fields citing their personal confidence as the reason they can’t reach a leadership position – compared to only 21 per cent of all working Canadian women citing this same barrier
  • In person lunches/coffee (38%) and social media tools like Facebook (37%) are the top ways women prefer to network

“In order to remain competitive, to attract top talent and promote gender diversity in more senior roles, Canadian employers need to enhance their offerings to alleviate workplace stress related to family obligations,” Tull added. “Making leadership opportunities accessible and attractive for women starts with nurturing a work culture of flexibility, openness and empowerment.”

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