Editorial Exchange: Catalyst Canada Should Lead by Example on Gender-Equity Mission

The Canadian Press, September 18, 2017 | Go to article overview

Editorial Exchange: Catalyst Canada Should Lead by Example on Gender-Equity Mission


Editorial Exchange: Catalyst Canada should lead by example on gender-equity mission

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An editorial from the Toronto Star, published Sept. 17:

Catalyst Canada, an advocacy organization "dedicated to accelerating progress for women through workplace inclusion in Canada," has found itself in the news in a way that is distracting from its important mandate.

CIBC chief executive Victor Dodig, a man, has been named chair of the organization's advisory board. He replaces Bank of Montreal CEO Bill Downe, another man, in the role.

It's important that powerful men denounce and work to correct the persistent problem of gender disparity in the corporate world and elsewhere. And no doubt Dodig brings talent, valuable experience and a laudable commitment to equity to the position, as his predecessor did.

At the same time, however, it's inconceivable that an organization whose mandate is to increase the representation of women in the corporate world could not have found highly competent women to fill this role -- twice.

"This is kind of ironic. As an organization you might want your leader to be a reflection of your stated mandate," said Trish Hennessy, director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives' Ontario office. Hennessy's organization has done much to highlight the continuing gaps in pay between men and women, an issue no doubt exacerbated by the lack of women in executive roles.

Catalyst should lead by example. Its work is profoundly valuable, not only because gender parity is a righteous goal. Nor simply because gender balance in executive roles is bound to have a self-reinforcing effect, inspiring more women to seek out top corporate jobs. But also because it's good for business.

As Catalyst points out, companies with three or more women directors in at least four of five years significantly outperformed those with sustained low representation by an astonishing 84 per cent on return on sales, 60 per cent on return on invested capital and 46 per cent on return on equity. …

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