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Women’s Leadership

The Conference Board of Canada has been tracking trends and conducting research on women in leadership for over 30 years.

  • In the late 80s to early 90s we drew attention to the issues of work-family balance and the need for flexibility to offset a disproportionate burden on women for childcare and household work. Although not initially well received, over time we have contributed to shifting attitudes.
  • In 1997 we focused on the lack of women in leadership in a study we conducted with Catalyst called Closing the Gap. There we contrasted the perceptions of senior women and essentially male CEOs regarding the readiness of women to ascend to the C-Suite.
  • In 2002 we published a study on Women on Boards of Directors—which showed it’s not just the right thing, but the bright thing to do. We explored the idea that governance improves when diverse perspectives from both men and women are brought to the boardroom table.
  • In 2010–11 a report called Women in Senior Management: Where Are They? revisited the Closing the Gap Study.

We have compiled significant research tracking the representation of women in senior management and have found that the proportion of women in such positions has flat lined. Our research however, shows that the presence of women on corporate boards aligns with the success of organizations. They are more profitable, sustainable, and have better governance.

The role of women in business and communities is a central part of Conference Board of Canada research—and part of our larger mandate to tackle the major issues that prevent Canada from being competitive economically and socially.