How Long has this Been Going On?


Longer than most of us have been alive, that’s how long! It dates back to Nixon’s presidency and Watergate, to when Trudeau (Pierre Elliott) was piloting Canada. It picked up speed about the time SNL and Star Wars were in first release.

What’s been at issue all these decades? Diversity as regards women. Women with proportional representation in the corporate world.

Women showed up in both World Wars (like Rosy Riveter here doing a ‘man’s job’ in the 40’s). By the 60’s women woke up, in the 70’s they were active and determined, and actually managed a few wins by the 80’s. But the stats on women at the helm are still embarrassingly skimpy in 2017. Women run only 4.5% of companies worldwide.

Of course the disparity clash predates the 1960s. In modern times it harkens all the way back to the early 1900’s when suffragettes were fighting for the vote. But now women are cops, truck drivers, pilots, lawyers, plumbers, firefighters and actuaries. So why the stink over diversity? We’re everywhere aren’t we?

Not exactly. When C suite guys (and they are guys) talk diversity, they look at their organizations and see lots of it as regards women – there are plenty of them. But the key is perspective. Women may be all around them but the female population reduces exponentially the higher up the organization you go.

Let’s go back to proportional representation, which is: the diversity percentage found in junior positions mirrored in top-tier roles. Ontario Securities Commission’s Comply and Explain is “requiring TSX-listed companies report publicly on the representation of women on their boards and in executive positions…”. When the legislators and Bay Street are in, we’re rolling.

Diversity’s finally being demanded, not because organizations are opting for the high moral ground, or because it’s an idea that’s time has finally come. Corporations are taking up the banner because “Companies with more diverse workforces perform better financially” or so says McKinsey.

Fearless Girl – Wall Street

And diversity’s trending. Consider State Street’s ‘Fearless Girl’ and SHE – their “exchange-traded fund that invests only in companies committed to gender diversity. Both pack a bit of irony, given that State Street employs only 22-34% women in Vice Presidential to C Suite roles. Remarkably they’ve beaten banking, insurance and other financial services companies that lag behind at 14-23%. The sunny side? State Street sharing with the public forces a clear view, mirror-to-face. Tasking their best with leveling the field is enlightened leadership, profitable vision.

Are Boards and Executives committed to focusing on gender diversity up their ranks as well as down? Some are so far behind the curve they may not even be looking. How many women are in high-ranking positions in your company? Bet the ratio isn’t much different from when VCRs and pocket calculators were introduced.

Perhaps you, the most senior leaders, will accept this lucrative challenge. Are you up for increasing your profits through…

  1. Demanding a clear picture of how many women are senior executives versus those working at lower-levels.
  2. Acting on the disparity. Inviting a diverse group to change it, mandating a shift.

When you do, we’ll all win.