Canada's Top 40 "Men" Under 40
Is Caldwell’s list a Canary In The Coalmine?
Immediately following undergrad, I spent three years working for two female federal Cabinet Ministers, the Hon. Pat Carney and the Hon. Mary Collins. It was 1988-91, and the national agenda had plenty of room for the topic of gender equity, particulaly because these women, and then Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, ensured that was the case. And people like Judy Rebick could always get air time with the media, if need be.
Today in Ottawa, Status of Women Canada has had many of their regional offices cut, for example. And the idea that gender equity / female advancement should be on the list of top government priorities – Liberal or Conservative – is laughable.
But, to my surprise, the Harper government is doing better at the inclusion of women into the current federal cabinet (7 out of 31), for example, than yesterday’s version of Canada’s so-called “Top 40 Under 40“. After 12 years, and a nationally-representative 27 person advisory committee (5 women out of 27 members), the best that Caldwell Partners could do was find 5 women to sprinkle into this year’s Top 40 Under 40 list. This is not acceptable.
Of those five women, two hail from academia, and one from a crown corp., which means Caldwell could find but two women from business to join our nation’s male corporate leadership (27 of which made this list).
I’ve known many of the current and past winners, and they are perfect candidates for such recognition. Both male and female. But something tells me 12.5% representation this year is either 1) evidence of a weak effort on the part of the organizers, 2) an indication that the pool of young female candidates filling leadership roles in Canada isn’t very large, or 3) proof that many talented young women have better things to do than spend hours filling out “nomination” forms to get their name into lights.
In the space of a few minutes, I came up with a decent list of female candidates for next year:
– A.D. is a corporate lawyer serving as general counsel at a publicly-traded merchant bank;
– Dr. S.D. is a Chief Neonatologist in Toronto;
– C.H. works for a non-profit think tank and is a director of several charities;
– L.L. is a venture capitalist and active in her community;
– Dr. A.M. is a tenured professor, member of her University’s Senate and a published author who lectures around the world in her field of expertise;
– Dr. C.M. is a dedicated family doctor and a former gold medalist at U of T’s medical school.
– M.M. is a merchant banker and fund of fund private equity investor;
– A.W. is a bank executive with 80 employees on her team; she is the youngest male or female ever promoted to the executive rank in her employer’s 150+ year history;
– E.W. is an experienced investment banker and one of only 4 women in her 120 person firm;
Back in 1988, my then bosses, Senator Pat Carney, and the Hon. Mary Collins, gave me a chance to see what advancement barriers looked like. And they worked hard so that the current generation of young female executives and community leaders wouldn’t know what they’d both experienced when they were building their careers in British Columbia and the Northwest Territories in the 1970s.
In 1988, “glass ceilings” were still a topic of conversation. And then one day a generation of people seemed to decide that there was no longer an issue to analyze, or even discuss. That the battle for gender equity had been won.
Caldwell’s Top 40 list this year betray’s that notion.