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Women leaders in the workplace

Wednesday December 02, 2015 Written by  Retain Canada
Despite efforts to achieve equality in the workplace, nearly three-quarters of working Canadian women are in roles below the management level.

Randstad Canada's fourth annual Women Shaping Business study, conducted in partnership with Ipsos Reid, found that despite efforts to achieve equality in the workplace, 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 science, technology, engineering, math (STEM) 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 of human resources with 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 noteworthy 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 – 28 per cent of those surveyed who work in STEM fields cite 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 per cent) and social media tools like Facebook (37 per cent) 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 said. "Making leadership opportunities accessible and attractive for women starts with nurturing a work culture of flexibility, openness and empowerment."

Randstad Canada's Women Shaping Business program was lauched in in 2012 and aims to explore the challenges and opportunities for today's Canadian women in the workplace. A key element of the program is a nationwide survey conducted annually by Randstad Canada in collaboration with Ipsos Reid, asking Canadian women how they feel the country has progressed toward more equal workplaces. This year, the survey was conducted between Aug. 17 and 21. A sample of 1,005 working women (including 303 managers and executives) were interviewed online.

The full survey results can be found at

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