Closing the Gender Gap for Female Leaders

young professionals sitting around a table having a meeting

In my last blog post, I promised to be back with thoughts on how we can help create more diverse workplaces, specifically for women. Before getting into my ideas, let’s start with a few facts to hopefully capture everyone’s attention:

  • Only 15 percent of CEO positions are held by women.
  • Women hold only 25 percent of Vice President positions.
  • Of the top 500 companies in Canada, 109 of them do not have any women on their boards.

How does this sit with you? And how does your company stack up?

Failing to have women leaders is one of the biggest missed opportunities in business today. Let’s talk about how to set this right.

Diversify Your Leadership Team

Look around your leadership team. How many women are sitting at your executive table? If the answer is “a few”, your company and products are missing out on an instrumental influence.

The best leadership teams I have been a part of have included a good mix of men and women; each bring their own perspective and solve problems differently. Embracing those differences is crucial to progress. Some of the best debates I’ve been a part of have been because of opposing sexes on the team.

Close the Pay Gap

The latest numbers show that despite years of progress and effort, the wage gap still exists. There are several factors that influence this issue, including women not being encouraged to enter STEM fields, discrimination in male-dominated industries, and more women working part-time than men.

And there are still some women who are not being paid in line with their male counterparts. There are many suggested causes for this, from discrimination, to women not having access to the strong mentors that men do for guidance on negotiating salary.

Regardless of the cause, this is a problem that leaders can easily fix. If you are the CEO of a company, I want you to go to your HR department and ask for a list of all the salaries in your company. I want you to review those numbers and ensure all women in your organization are being paid in line with their male counterparts. If they are not, I challenge you to fix this.

Maplewave did this several years ago and made the necessary corrections. We will continue to do this on an ongoing basis to ensure we are consistently doing the right thing.

Go Find Them

I often hear leaders express frustration over not having enough women candidates to choose from for tech jobs, and especially tech leadership jobs. When I ask what they are doing to find them, I’m always met with the same blank stare.

It isn’t enough to just expect qualified female talent to apply to your job postings. To find good talent, you have to go to where the talent is. There are numerous women-in-tech groups in every city, and there are endless sponsorship opportunities for their events.

Having your senior leaders and employees attend these events is a great way to connect with women who are interested in working for tech companies. As an added benefit, you will gain exposure for your company and showcase your organization as a great place to work.

If You Can’t Find Them, Build Them

Let’s not overlook an incredible source of brilliant women leaders – the women that already work for you.

Reach into your organization and talk to the people who work for you. Good leaders know what their employees’ career aspirations are. Ensure you quickly identify those with not only leadership potential, but a desire to move into a leadership role.  Assign these promising leaders a mentor on your existing leadership team and allow them to take on smaller projects and help them as they go.

Perhaps one of the most compelling reasons to have women on your executive leadership team is to grow more female leaders. KPMG published a fantastic study on women in leadership. They found that 67% of women said they learned the most about leadership from other women.

Please give the full report a read. I’m confident you will learn a lot about how women come to be leaders, and the obstacles they face along the way.


My hope is that some of the concepts I have presented will give you reason to pause and reflect on the makeup of your own organization. Ask yourself the hard questions and do the right thing. It’s not easy to face the fact you have issues within your organization, but all that really matters is how you address it going forward.

If you’re interested, my colleague Leigh Anne Dingwall has also written a blog on the benefits of diversity. You can find it here.

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