Few women in Canada are filling senior management positions, a new study says, and successful Calgarians say it shows businesses are missing out on a growing talent pool.
Women made up nearly half the workforce but filled less than one per cent of senior management jobs between 1987 and 2009, according to a study released by the Conference Board of Canada .
However, some Calgary women who have successfully broken through the "glass ceiling" say remedies are available.
Tracy Robinson, a vice president at Canadian Pacific, says companies need to institute a plan to ensure qualified women are recognized with promotions.
"More than 50 per cent of the workforce — the emerging workforce, the emerging talent — is female," Robinson said. "If you haven't put some thought into how to make your environment friendly to women and other visible minorities then you're at a competitive disadvantage."
'More than 50 per cent of the workforce — the emerging workforce, the emerging talent — is female.' — Tracy Robinson, vice president, Canadian Pacific
It's not about giving women jobs, Robinson said, but rather helping them throughout their career to become the best candidate for a top position.
Flexibility is also an important factor in helping women stay in the workforce, said Ann Lewis-Luppino, president and CEO of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra.
"We don't have a formal policy on that but you know we take care of each other and if someone has to take care of their child, others will pitch in and make sure something gets done," she said.
Tracey Scarlett, a member of the not-for-profit group Alberta Women Entrepreneurs, says some women may be opting out of corporate life altogether.
"We see the mid-career professional as the biggest group of women that are looking to start their own ventures," Scarlett said. "We see about 2,000 to 2,500 every year that approach our organization from across the province.
At last 80 per cent of those women are between 30 and 45 years of age and tend to be highly educated, Scarlett said.