By: Shay White

In the past, Canada has lagged behind in implementing gender diversity in the workplace. Has that changed?  Very little it appears.    According to the Status of Women Report, Canada had made it a goal to increase women’s presence on boards from 20% to 30% by 2019, and more specifically, Ontario recently set a gender diversity target that by 2019, women make up at least 40% of all appointments to every provincial board and agency.   However, overall percentage of board seats occupied by women increased from 14 per cent (2017)  to only 15 per cent  (2018).  

Employers – this is your chance to jump on the bandwagon! There are many studies showcasing the success businesses and economies achieve when more women are involved in organizations, and we can help you help women as these changes take place. 

First things first: what strategies can you use to get women more involved your organization?    

  • Get Women in Early 

In 2012, McKinsey & Company did a study of 60 US companies to analyze the policies and practices they were utilizing in order to attain a fairer representation of women in senior management and board positions.They found that the top 12 companies who met their 4 baseline metrics, either hired women early on in baseline positions who then were more likely to make their way up to those senior positions, or kept their mix of men and women steady at executive/senior levels. The companies who practiced these strategies were more likely to have a 40% make up of women in senior positions.    

So, the answer to getting women in those positions? WOMEN! 

 Okay, so that seems easy enough. But how can you attract women to your company? 

  • Tailor Your Job Postings! 

Talent Culture recently did a study asking women what they most actively sought from employers and the results may surprise you! The top results were paid time off, salary satisfaction, coworkers and a corporate culture that supported equal rights for men and women, and flexible hours. So before you complete your job posting on, keep this in mind: “women seem to seek employers that treat them fairly and provide them with the flexibility and financial means to create the perfect life-work balance they need.” 

Okay, so you hired those women! That’s great. But how can you retain these women and ensure a community that welcomes them? 

  • Culture is Key!

Catalyst recently did a study on Gender Diversity on Boards in Canada and found several solutions to maintaining diversity in the workplace. In an interview with Bill Downe, CEO of BMO Financial Group, he states that “setting measurable objectives” is a key first step. If you have already leapt at the chance to have women hold leadership positions within your organization, foster that within your company culture! Create specific goals and keep striving towards those goals. Whether it’s changing your recruiting process or implementing new programs such as mentorship programs (as Harvard Business Review suggests), make it known to all of your employees that your company supports gender diversity.   

Remember: turnover (particularly with boards) “is a positive thing” as Downe says. For example, if you make it a goal to have 50% female representation on your board in the next 5 years, make it a rule to open applications or nominations to a diverse group of candidates, implement age limits, and/or use the “every other director” method.* 

As you can see on, all of our featured employers have taken the step to support the gender diversity movement by joining Women in Leadership’s new job board.  


Unsure of how to sign up? Click here!  

*As cited in Catalyst, Gender Diversity on Boards in Canada: Recommendations for Accelerating Progress, commissioned by the Government of Ontario (2016). 

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