Tech sees progress in promoting women to executive roles, but still lags behind other sectors

Securities regulatory authorities have published the seventh annual review of women on boards and in executive officer positions. The review shows that women in boardrooms and in executive positions in technology are still not on par with their contemporaries in other industries, such as retail and utilities.

The review shows that compared to other industries technology companies have the second lowest number of women on boards at 74 percent. In contrast, manufacturing boasts 95 percent.

The study found 44 percent of respondents said they did not believe tech companies want to hire women.
 

Things aren’t any better in the executive suites. Technology comes in dead last with 55 percent representation in the C-suites.

The good news is, those numbers have improved over the seven years that the review has been ongoing. In the first year of the review only 39 percent of board members in technology were made up of women. Similarly, in the first year, 45 percent of women held executive positions.

The review covers executives in the participating jurisdictions, which are Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Québec, and Saskatchewan.

Among the findings is the highest percent of companies with one or more women on their boards are in the manufacturing, retail and utilities industries. The lowest are in the technology, biotechnology and, and mining industries.

Similarly, the number of women in executive positions is highest in retail, biotechnology, real estate, and utilities industries. The lowest percentage was found in the technology, mining, and oil and gas sectors.

The data was compiled from public documents filed on SEDAR and includes the name, industry and year-end of the 599 non-venture issuers who were included in the review sample.

The review doesn’t come as a surprise as a number of studies have reported a lack of representation from both women and racialized women in Canadian corporations.

Data from 2021 shows a diverse group of board members is still rare; “very little progress” has been made for women at the executive officer level and the numbers are abysmal for “visible minorities” and people with disabilities.

RELATED: An incomplete list of Canadian tech events, programs, and organizations supporting women’s initiatives

SAP Canada released data in 2021 showing that nearly half of women in the Canadian tech sector have reported their career growth and goals have been stunted during the COVID-19 pandemic. The report was based on an online survey of 592 Canadian women who identify as professionals in technology and non-technology fields.

The study found 44 percent of respondents said they did not believe tech companies want to hire women.

SAP Canada found the number of women reporting career growth barriers was higher in the technology sector than in other sectors. Forty-eight of women in tech reported this, compared to only 31 percent in other industries.

Jodi Kovitz, founder of #MoveTheDial said in 2019 that “women continue to be vastly underrepresented in technology-centric workforces, especially in leadership positions.”

These latest findings were very much in line with the inequities present for women of colour across Canada’s technology sector.
 

#MoveTheDial and Feminuity’s research at the time indicated that women’s participation in Canada’s tech sector has remained stagnant over the last decade, and that half of the women surveyed believed tech companies didn’t want to hire them.

Not a whole lot had changed by 2021. The Prosperity Project and KPMG Canada issued a report that revealed 89 percent of those surveyed had no Black women headed toward the leadership level, and 91 percent didn’t have any Indigenous women.

Racialized women held 6.4 percent of female held board seats, 7.4 percent of female executive officer roles and 11.5 percent of female pipeline to the executive officer level roles, the report found.

These latest findings were very much in line with the inequities present for women of colour across Canada’s technology sector.

According to a 2020 report, out of 270 tech companies surveyed, the number of board positions held by Indigenous peoples was only seven and the number of board positions held by persons with disabilities was only six.

Yet, data shows that having a diverse team leads to better returns overall.

That information hasn’t gone unnoticed by the likes of many women-focused venture funds and organizations in Canada, two of which include StandUp Ventures and Diversio. The former secured just over $30 million in initial capital in 2021 for its second fund after finding early success investing in women-led startups.

The firm’s thesis, which argues that focusing on women-led ventures is a competitive advantage, has been proven out in recent years with studies showing the positive effect investing in women and diversity can have on both a company’s bottom line and the overall economy.

For its part, Diversio has a platform, which measures, tracks, and provides solutions to improve diversity and inclusion. The startup is on a mission to help companies eliminate barriers to diversity and inclusion. It recently secured $8.13 million CAD to further develop its platform geared towards that goal.

Image source Unsplash. Photo by Christina @wocintechchat.

The post Tech sees progress in promoting women to executive roles, but still lags behind other sectors first appeared on BetaKit.

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