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Celebrating The Men At The Table

In conjunction with Women of Influence’s inaugural magazine edition celebrating
the Top 25 Women of InfluenceTM, we felt it was important to recognize and
celebrate the leadership of outstanding men at the board and executive tables,
who have opened doors, sponsored and mentored upcoming senior executive
women and who have each led the way for their own corporation’s innovative
diversity initiatives, while making significant inroads championing women
in business, not only across Canada, but globally.

Women of Influence’s 2011 Canadian Diversity Champions

LISA HEIDMAN LL.B. | Download Article

With few exceptions, the majority of corporate boards and senior executive teams of Fortune 500 corporations have historically been composed of men. Of recent note, Barron’s 2011 List of the “30 Best CEOs in the World”, did not include a single woman CEO. While Barron’s might have simply missed the boat this year, as Forbes Magazine’s August 2011 list of the top “100 Most Powerful Women” in the world offers more than a few talented women CEOs for consideration, the current reality is the majority of corporate leadership roles globally, at both the board and senior executive tables, are held by men.

In the US, the number of women on S&P 500 company boards is 16%, according to recent 2011 Bloomberg rankings. The statistics at the CEO and senior executive level, while improving, are similarly slight. Catalyst, the leading global research organization dedicated to expanding opportunities for women in business, reported that women hold 14.4 % of executive officer positions in Fortune 500 companies. Further, Forbes.com in August 2011 recently noted, “that men still make up 92% of the highest paid positions within major US corporations”. In Canada, recent Catalyst research has found that women currently hold 17.7% of corporate officer positions, and that 30% of FP500 companies in Canada have no senior women officers. Further, Catalyst found 40% of Canadian public companies do not have a single woman on their board of directors.

Without question, it’s evident we still have a long way to go on both sides of the border, and that there is much work to be done to remove barriers that stand in the way of full participation. What’s inspiring and encouraging however, is just how many of these current board Chairs, CEOs, and senior executive leaders, many of which are men, are engaged, not only as part of the diversity conversation, but are innovatively and actively leading the charge as champions for change. What these transformational leaders share in common, is that each of them, individually, truly understand the business case for diversity globally.

Deborah Gillis, SVP, Membership & Global Operations, Catalyst, notes that these CEO and board leaders, “know that their businesses are stronger, more competitive, and ultimately more


profitable because their senior ranks reflect the Canadian population in all its diversity. They know that women bring a valuable perspective to their senior tables. More importantly, they know that Canadian companies and the Canadian economy can no longer afford to ignore the talents, skills and commitments of 50% of the population. Gillis further notes a change in tone in the diversity arena, adding, “What I see (now) is a conversation that has shifted from fairness to (the) business case. The participants in the conversation are no longer only women standing outside the senior management door. The conversation – and the passionate advocacy – has moved through that door, and men have become partners in the conversation.”

As men hold most of the executive leadership roles in the world, we not only need to engage men to be part of the conversation on diversity, we actually need them to champion the cause and lead the way. We know for certain that sustainable leadership and change initiatives are, and must be, driven from the top. Persuasive, strategic and inspirational leadership, from both board and senior executive levels, that drive change and promote women into senior leadership roles, is both essential and has already proven effective. Ms. Gillis notes that Catalyst research, “has shown that sponsors – decision makers who use their personal power, influence and clout to do something concrete for the women with whom they work, can act as a differentiator at the top and a means to overcoming barriers for women. She adds, “Let’s never lose sight of the fact that it’s individuals who sit around decision-making tables when choices are made about who will advance and who will not.” Point being, these champions of women, those that understand it’s a business imperative can, and are, acting as significant influencers and agents of change across corporate Canada, and serve as powerful role models to inspire many other business leaders to become diversity champions.

It’s hard to ignore the evidence that more women on boards and at the executive table simply makes good business sense. McKinsey’s Women Matter study found that, “companies with the highest share of women on executive committees outperformed those with all-male executive committees by 41% in terms of return on equity and 56% in operating results.” In addition, Catalyst research has consistently demonstrated that companies with more women in corporate officer positions and on boards of directors financially outperform those with fewer women.

I speak to many senior executive women, CEOs and board Chairs who are nothing short of exhausted and frustrated with the rate of change in these board and corporate officer statistics on both sides of the border. I hear it, and understand the feeling of frustration is very real, and that there is much, much more work to be done. But I have to say, I do feel change is in the air. That the business case for diversity is really catching on, was never better evidenced than at the sold out Catalyst Canada Honours event at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel on October 18th, 2011. This was an outstanding evening which was dedicated to celebrating champions of women in business, nationwide. The room was literally filled with hundreds of board of directors, CEOs and senior executive team members from Canada’s leading corporations. What was particularly impressive and palpably noticeable that evening however, was the breadth and number of senior executive men within these corporations, that were present and are dedicated to advancing women in business.

To give you a flavor of how corporate Canada is engaging in the diversity arena, attending the Catalyst event were corporate heavy hitters, Rick Waugh, President and CEO of Scotiabank; Bill Down, President and CEO, BMO Financial Group; Ed Clark, President & CEO of TD Bank Group; James Turley, Chairman and CEO, Ernst & Young LLP; John Betts, President & CEO, McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada Limited; George Cope, President & CEO Bell and Bell Canada; Nadir Mohamed, President & CEO, Rogers Communications Inc.; Glenn Ives, Chair Deloitte and Touche LLP Canada; and Dean Johnson, President, Sodexo Canada, among hundreds of other senior executive business leaders, across sectors. It’s hard not to be excited and inspired by a room full of CEOs, women and men, all advocating for change and dedicated to ensuring it happens.

Women of Influence reviewed and assessed hundreds of biographies, articles, diversity panel discussions, awards and programs, corporate diversity initiatives, and business growth strategy reports, to create our “Celebrating the Men at the Table: Women of Influence’s 2011 Canadian Diversity Champions” list (page 65, following). When you examine the extensive individual and corporate leadership on innovative diversity initiatives, taken on behalf of corporations and organizations across Canada, and the “who’s who” on our list, its pretty hard to remain anything but optimistic and impressed with the leadership these men have shown. How did so many men across corporate Canada


get so passionate about supporting the cause of women’s advancement in business? Why and how did they become champions of change and diversity? What motivated these executive and community leaders behind this important issue? And what have they done in their own organizations to further the cause?

For Rick Waugh, President & CEO of Scotiabank, it was the knowledge that, “great organizations become so with great people. Scotiabank recognizes the importance of attracting the broadest spectrum of talent (and) the evidence is clear: diversity generates more innovative thinking, better decision making and stronger business results.” Bill Downe, CEO of BMO concurs. “The first thing to understand about diversity in the workplace is that it comes down to profits. It’s important that all banks in Canada, especially because we are Canada’s biggest employers, take responsibility together and show leadership. This is not an issue we can be complacent on. It is about many of your key employees, your customers, and in the end it is all about good business.”

Gord Nixon, President & CEO, RBC and a lifetime advocate of diversity initiatives has made diversity for growth and innovation, not only one of RBC’s values, but a critical component to RBC’s business strategy. “If you believe that your most valuable assets are human capital, there is this wonderful resource that should be maximized. We know that understanding and drawing on the strength of diversity means meeting the needs of clients around the world, building strong relationships in the many communities we serve, and fully engaging the talents of our people. We are competing in a global marketplace, and we know that our growth will depend on an increasingly diverse and global workforce. Simply put, making the most of our diversity has always been the right thing to do and the smart thing to do.”

In addition to the bottom line, the business case for diversity also addresses the competitive marketplace and the need to maximize human capital to attract and retain best in class talent. Bill Lennie, President, The Home Depot Canada notes, “Recruiting women and encouraging their advancement is about more than just doing the right thing. It’s about ensuring we understand and respond to the needs of our customers, half of whom are women. We’re always looking to hire the best candidates, and often the best candidates are women.” Rob Hesketh, Director, Talent Management, Diversity and Inclusion, adds, “In today’s labour market, we’re competing hard for the best talent. There’s no doubt that making a clear commitment to women helps us attract and retain the best associates for our customers and shareholders. The recruitment and advancement of


women will always be an important part of our business strategy.”

Xerox in both Canada and the US has long been a leader on diversity initiatives and supporting the advancement of women in the workforce, and is proud to be known as the first Fortune 100 company to pass the Chair/CEO baton from one woman CEO, Anne Mulcahy, to another, Ursula Burns. Xerox Canada has also recently named their first Canadian woman CEO, Mandy Shapansky. Jim Muzyka, VP & General Manager, Xerox Global Services, a division of Xerox Canada Ltd., has been an advocate for diversity for the past several years. He is the executive champion for Women at Xerox Canada and a regular speaker and panelist on corporate and board diversity initiatives.

From a business strategy and competition standpoint, one of the recent signs of progress in the technology industry for Muzyka was when Eric Gales, President & CEO of Microsoft Canada, outrightly declared that it was his intention for Microsoft Canada, to become the number one place for women in the technology industry to work. Demonstrating yet again how corporate leaders can be influencers and agents of change, not only within their own companies, but across industry, Muzyka notes that post Gales announcement, the technology industry immediately took notice. All of the industry began to ask themselves: “If your number one competitor was capable of attracting all of the best women talent in your industry, would you have reason to worry? If senior women started leaving your company in droves, would you be concerned? What problems would you likely be experiencing and how would they impact your bottom line and business results?”

Having a male senior executive leading a corporation’s diversity initiatives, especially when they understand and can clearly communicate the business case for diversity, is exceptionally powerful. Muzyka sees his role as champion at Xerox as raising consciousness about the tight connection between success of the diversity agenda and business competiveness. “Diversity champions at Xerox have, until recently, been women. We shifted our focus to emphasize that this is not simply an issue for women but also one of business competitiveness. Having a diverse workplace impacts the quality of our decision-making, our ability of attract the best talent and the overall vitality of our company. We have now moved from one plateau where the arguments were about fairness in opportunity for women, to one where there is a deeper understanding that our competitiveness depends on diversity of perspective, opinion and cadence with less like-mindedness. Gender diversity is a natural and significant contributor to this kind of culture.” In addition to the diversity initiatives Muzyka has led for Xerox, Jim also serves on the board of directors for the Information Technology Association of Canada (“ITAC”) and has led diversity initiatives at the board level. When he joined ITAC, in 2008, only 1 of its 34 board members were women. By 2011, ITAC has 12 women on its board and adds Jim, “the vitality of our board has changed dramatically since.”

The importance of diversity in the boardroom, as a method to enhance effective decision making and proper governance has been recognized by both Catalyst and The Institute of Corporate Directors (the “ICD”), Canada’s pre-eminent organization for directors in the for profit, not for profit and Crown sectors. Under CEO, Stan Magidson’s stewardship, the ICD recently initiated and hosted a series of moderated town hall discussions across Canada inviting its membership to participate and weigh in on the subject of diversity in the boardroom. Notes Magidson, “Concurrent to the town hall discussions, we also conducted a survey of our national membership on this subject. 90 % of respondents were of the view that board diversity is an important governance issue. We found a strong consensus that board diversity helps avoid “group think” and results in better decision making.”

John Silverthorn, SVP Talent Management at CIBC has worked to advance women and minorities both within his earlier days at IBM and in his current role leading Talent Management at CIBC. Catalyst research supports the essential need for mentors and sponsors as a mechanism to ensure women’s advancement in business. Silverthorn is an advocate for the importance of having not just one, but multiple mentors and sponsors as a way to ensure learning and advancement. He also believes it can be incredibly valuable for women to have a mentor that is a man. “Although it’s understandable that many women would prefer a female mentor, because of the perceived ability to relate on a more personal basis regarding work and life responsibilities, John regularly encourages up and coming women in the bank to seek out a male mentor, for two important reasons.

First, the likelihood is, “if you’re looking for a mentor at a more senior level, there are many more men to choose from in most groups and organizations. Second, and equally importantly, when senior men become mentors to women, they learn about the issues facing women in business and as a result they become much stronger advocates for women and diversity initiatives.” This is also true at the board level. WomenOnBoard TM, an innovative initiative dedicated to advancing the placement of women on public, private and not for profit boards across Canada, has had significant success placing more women on Canadian boards through their Mentoring Program which strategically matches Canadian directors, many of which are men, as mentors, with senior executive women talent as mentees.

John Rafferty, President & CEO, CNIB, has both mentored and sponsored numerous senior executive women throughout his career. At CNIB, John is an advocate for full participation and opportunity for all. “I have always believed that most CEOs are very capable decision makers but those who make the best decisions are the ones who have the right voices at the table. This means not only having the skills, knowledge and experience but also the right representation of gender, background and culture. Some of the most talented people I have worked with have had backgrounds diverse from my own and I have found their insights and perspectives invaluable to getting to the right business decisions.”

Craig Murray, VP and General Manager, Foodservice, Kraft Canada, is an active member of the Kraft Canada executive team and Kraft North America Foodservice leadership team. Like Xerox, Kraft has been a longtime supporter of diversity programs and currently has one of the top 10 most powerful women in the world according to Forbes, Irene Rosenfeld, at the helm. At Kraft, Murray was exposed to the Women’s Foodservice Forum (“WFF”), an organization dedicated to developing and elevating female leaders in a historically male-dominated industry at the senior management level. Craig initially got involved by attending WFF conferences and soon began encouraging both men and women at Kraft to participate. Today, he is an Executive Chair of the newly launched Canadian WFF chapter where he works with “some extremely talented female and male leaders who are focused on making the food service industry, the industry of choice for women.” He describes his work with WFF as the most satisfying work he has ever done in his career, outside of his day job at Kraft.

Murray firmly believes that, “leaders, regardless of their gender, race, ethnicity, or age are responsible to drive all
of diversity – whether it’s gender, whether it’s generational, whether it’s an idea based culture through diversity of thought, each and all of which are powerful kinds of diversity that are under-leveraged in many companies and industries today.” Murray attributes his passion for diversity issues to multiple factors. With two young daughters poised to join the workforce, Murray wants to make sure that they can realize their potential, and further that they have all the opportunities to do so. He knows through his work with WFF, that their needs for development are different from those of their male counterparts. He also feels it’s important as a parent, to realize that they have different learning styles, react differently to leadership, and are motivated differently. As a father, Murray wants to, “inspire them to be the very best they can be.”

The business team Murray leads is also a major inspiration. Many women work at Kraft Canada, and he knows that it’s important for them that he is not only supportive, but involved in their development. “Saying you support something – whether it’s an initiative within your company, whether it’s a culture shift that you’re trying to develop – it simply isn’t enough to just say that you support something. In order to make change sustainable, and part of the company’s cultural fabric, you must commit to it, and demonstrate involvement in it. Commitment by definition, requires involvement.”

It is clear that change, is indeed in the air. What has shifted, is not only the focus of the diversity conversation from fairness and equality issues to recognizing the compelling business case, but that many men leaders are actively not only participating in the discussion now, but meaningfully are acting as significant agents of change, opening doors and championing the way. Women of Influence’s 2011 Canadian Diversity Champions are each exceptional examples of Canadian board of director, CEO and/or senior executive leaders, each celebrated by Women of Influence and recognized for their consistent dedication and commitment to i) sponsoring and mentoring senior executive women, ii) to advancing women in business, and iii) to leading and developing innovative diversity initiatives and programs across Canada. The list is impressively wide and vast, and we hope by demonstrating the depth of commitment by each of these leaders to the business case for diversity, that it inspires many other corporate leaders across Canada, the US, and globally, to follow in their visionary path.