Gender Parity Improves Profitability, Workplace Culture and Benefits the Economy at Large – PwC Report

PwC Women in Work Index 2016 shows Canada ranks 8 out of 33 OECD countries based on a single comparable index reflecting female economic empowerment

Toronto, ON – October 18, 2016 – Closing the wage gap and engaging more Canadian women in the workforce could lead to $105 billion in GDP growth among other economic benefits in Canada, according to the PwC Women in Work Index 2016. While Canada performs well in comparison to other (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries, there is still room for improvement.

“We’ve come a long way in Canada in terms of fostering greater diversity in the workplace, but there’s still room to  grow and lead the world in shining a spotlight on the importance and value of gender equality at work,” says Karen Forward, Partner, People & Organization, PwC Canada. “Addressing the pay gap in the Canadian marketplace and implementing supportive work environments and policies are table stakes. Change happens when there is a cultural shift and the idea of sponsorship becomes an organic and integral part of strong leadership.”

The PwC Women in Work Index 2016 is a weighted average of five measures that reflect female economic empowerment, including the equality of earnings, the ability of women to access employment opportunities and job security. Canada has been holding eighth position out of thirty-three OECD countries since 2013 and sits five points above the average rating.

The report takes findings a step further and outlines three clear action items, and their benefits, to help advance gender parity in the workplace. These steps include:

Action #1: Close the Gender Wage Gap

  • In Canada, women are paid $81 for every $100 their male counterparts earn, around $2 less than the OECD average.
  • Canada reduced its gender wage gap from 24% in 2000 to 19% in 2013, and it remained the same in 2014.
  • Closing this wage gap will not only deliver a significant increase in overall female labour earnings, but it will also benefit Canada’s economy.
  • Increasing female workers’ pay to be on par with that of their male colleagues would increase total female earnings by an estimated CA$92 billion.

Action #2: Increase Female Workplace Participation

  • Female and male economic participation rates reflect society’s education levels, workplace conditions and cultural attitudes outside the office.
  • In Canada, the gap in workforce participation between men and women fell from 12% in 2000 to 7% in 2014.
  • Overall participation of women in the workforce was at 74% in 2014, up from 70% in 2000 and above the OECD average of 68%.
  • Full-time female employment has remained steady at 73% since 2000, while female unemployment (6%) has decreased slightly since 2000 as Canada saw a reduction of 1% from 2000 to 2014.
  • For Canada, increasing the female employment rate to match that of Sweden—a consistently high performer in the index—could result in a GDP boost of 4.9%, equivalent to more than CA$105 billion.

Action #3: Improve Female Leadership Representation

  • Canada is at 19% female boardroom representation in 2015, up from 13% in 2014. A report by the federal government’s Advisory Council recommended a target of 30% for corporations by 2019.
  • Some countries have specific boardroom membership targets for women, such as Norway (40%), France (40%), Belgium (33%) and Italy (33%) and in the U.K., Her Majesty’s Treasury released a voluntary charter early in 2016 to get the financial services sector to increase the number of women in senior positions.
  • Research by Catalyst reveals that Fortune 500 companies with the highest percentages of female directors on their boards reported a 53% higher return on equity (ROE) than others.
  • Career advancement relies on targeted practices, supportive programs and strong mentors to help shatter the glass ceiling, and data is starting to show that when there are more women in senior leadership positions, more women see a path to executive roles.

For more information on the state of gender parity in the Canadian workplace, as well as other next steps Canadian companies can take to bridge the gap, please view the full report here.


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