Canadian women believe there’s been progress in the workplace in closing the salary gap, a survey by Randstad Canada has found.
Yet women are still showing a surprising reluctance to climb the corporate ladder.
Nearly half — 48 per cent — of Canadian women surveyed said they don’t aspire to a management or senior executive role, according to the poll released Monday. Thirty per cent said they’re undecided about moving up the ranks.
“That was really surprising,” Faith Tull, Randstad Canada’s senior vice-president, human resources, said in an interview.
Women are still hesitant about their employers’ willingness to accommodate home and work obligations, Tull added.
Fifty-three per cent of women said they fear that absences due to family obligations would prevent them from advancing in senior roles.
“We are the sandwich generation. We’re taking care of elderly parents and we’re taking care of kids. Then we’re balancing careers. When organizations are not showing they are embracing the uniqueness of those pulls and pushes, then we don’t think we can do it.”
The Randstad findings reflect those of other groups including Catalyst Canada, a non-profit that tracks women’s advancement in the corporate world. These studies consistently find a dearth of women in senior executive roles of Canadian companies and a persistent salary gap between men and women.
The latest Randstad poll found 65 per cent of women said they perceive a salary gap between men and women — that’s down from 78 per cent last year.
However, only 15 per cent of women who are managers and senior executives think their salaries are equal to what men bring home.
Mentorship is considered critical to advancing careers, particularly at the executive level, but they are widely underused, the survey found.
Only 9 per cent of women surveyed said their employer has provided a mentor for them. Another 5 per cent sought out their own.
More broadly, just over three-quarters, 77 per cent, of women surveyed say they have never been provided or sought out a mentor.
“As women we need to self-identify that we want a mentor,” Tull said. “We need to go out and grab it and not just sit and wait to be asked. But at the same time, I think organizations need to play their part. They really need to put a concerted effort into making sure women know they can do these things.”
This is the third year Randstad Canada, a staffing, recruitment, and human resources firm, has commissioned the poll. The survey was conducted between Aug. 28 and Sept. 3. Just over 1,000 working women, including about 300 managers and executive, were interviewed online.
A whopping 91 per cent of women surveyed believe that overall appearance plays a significant role in a women’s professional advancement. Just under half say the same for men.
Nearly one-third, 30 per cent, of women believe their organizations do not have confidence in women’s leadership capacity.
The survey coincides with Randstad’s Women Shaping Business program, a series of events across the country where business leaders and experts discuss how women can challenge stereotypes in their workplaces.
Canadians need to take a holistic view on women rising through the corporate ranks, Tull said. “It starts with families and educators building confidence at an early age so women know that women can aspire to greater roles. That will definitely help women’s perceptions of where they can go.”