Women need their chance to lead

TheGlobeandMail.com – National/Editorial
Published Thursday, Oct. 07, 2010. Last updated Friday, Oct. 08, 2010

Canadians like to congratulate themselves on being more enlightened, and socially advanced, than Americans. We tend to interpret the United States through the funhouse mirror of popular culture. It’s a reckless conceit. Last year, Ursula Burns became the first woman to succeed a woman as CEO of a major U.S. company. Also last year, Hillary Clinton succeeded Condoleezza Rice as U.S. Secretary of State.

Canada does not have a woman in politics or in the boardroom who can compare with either of those two powerful women. What is the horizon for such an occurrence in Canada? Ten years? Twenty? In the U.S., roughly 50 per cent more women run the top 1,000 companies, including Archer Daniels, Kraft and Pepsico. In Canada, fewer women preside over significantly smaller empires. The number of women corporate officers here has grown only by 2.8 per cent since 2002.

To make this charge is not an act of tokenism, charity or correctness, it is a corporate and political challenge. Middle-management ranks of companies are filled with women. To pretend that they cannot lead is a lie, one that harms Canada’s competitiveness. It is time for Canadians to stop pointing at the Kim Campbell interregnum as evidence of moral superiority and to show some leadership when it comes to women and leadership.

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