Closing the Gender Gap

Blog post on closing the gender gap

In October, Minerva BC released its latest Face of Leadership™ Score Card results in the province’s first and only dedicated study of gender diversity in BC’s biggest companies. The report measures women in leadership in 50 of BC’s highest revenue-generating companies across multiple sectors, including tech.

The good news? On average BC companies outperform all three benchmarks including the TSX, Canada and Global benchmark.

The bad news? There is still a huge gap in the number of women represented on boards and in senior executive roles in BC. Of the 50 organizations that compromise this year’s Score Card report:

  • Only three have a woman CEO (6%)
  • The average representation of women directors is 19%
  • The average representation of women in executive leadership is 20%
  • Nine have no women directors (18%)
  • 14 have no women in executive leadership (28%)
  • There are zero Indigenous women directors or executive leaders

According to a recent report by McKinsey & Co., Canada’s progress as a global leader on gender equality has stalled over the past 20 years. Published in June 2017, The Power of Parity: Advancing Women’s Equality in Canada, suggests that gender parity could lead to an incremental $150 billion for Canada’s GDP by 2026. Individual corporations have an incentive to align with this goal, as more and more studies show the correlated benefits of gender diverse leadership and improved financial performance.

So what does this mean for BC’s tech sector?

In Canada, women represent almost half of the working age population, yet they represent only 23% of tech workers and 20% of entrepreneurs. Even if companies do a good job of attracting and hiring women, global research conducted by Harvard Business School confirms that women are leaving careers in science, engineering, and technology at twice the rate of men. Their study indicates a healthy global supply of female talent, but a mid-career attrition rate of 56%. Their study found that while the majority of women love their work, a sizeable portion reported feeling stalled and were likely to quit their jobs within a year.

BC has a diverse and rapidly growing technology sector, yet women remain under-represented in executive leadership and specialized technical roles. With a growth rate that is outpacing the overall economy and a workforce that employs more than 90,000 people, access to talent is a top concern among BC tech companies.

To get a more accurate understanding of the representation of women leaders in BC tech companies, Minerva will conduct its first Face of Leadership™ BC Tech Scorecard in 2018. This report will gather and report the percentage of women on boards and in executive leadership roles in 25-30 of the top BC tech companies headquartered in BC.

This project complements other work being done in the sector by BC Tech, the HR Tech Group and others, related to diversity, inclusion, belonging and reconciliation. Research by McKinsey & Company proves that having CEO-focus on results is the single most effective action to promote gender diversity. Other actions rely on data-driven and tracked parity indicators, cascading commitment to middle management, and the development of indicators in hiring, retaining, promoting and developing women.

Addressing the supply side of the talent issue without addressing the gender-based inequities will not result in a successful economic outcome for BC. It is critical that women are not only attracted to careers in technology but are also supported in growing their careers so that they are able to contribute their skills to this important sector.

Written by Tina Strehlke, Interim CEO, Minerva BC.

Interested in learning more about equal opportunities in tech? Check out our Women in Tech page.