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A new survey says most women in corporate Canada still think the corner office is out of reach.
A new survey says most women in corporate Canada still think the corner office is out of reach.

Most women still see corner office out of reach in Canada: survey Add to ...

Only a minority of women in corporate Canada believe that the corner office is a realistic goal for them, according to a new survey.

Although a majority – 51 per cent – of the women in the poll said they would describe themselves as ambitious in their careers, only 32 per cent of respondents said they believe reaching the C-suite is achievable, results from research commissioned by American Express Canada and Women of Influence indicate.

“The disparity shown between women who are ambitious in their careers and those who believe the C-suite is achievable suggests companies have a role in helping these ambitious women to reach their full potential,” American Express Canada vice-president of human resources Naomi Titleman said.

The survey was based on research conducted online by Nielsen between Oct. 7 and Oct. 21 2015, involving 1,270 women entrepreneurs and full-time corporate workers in Canada.

The margin of error for a representative sample of this size would be at plus- or minus-2.7 per cent, 95 per cent of the time.

One reason cited by the report for the low response regarding C-suite ambitions is that many Canadian women don’t have someone to champion them.

Opportunities for mentorship and sponsorship – where individuals are chosen to be put on a career advancement track – are still for female entrepreneurs and corporate employees, with only 27 per cent of those surveyed saying they have a mentor and 8 per cent a sponsor.

Belief in the opportunity to reach the C-suite almost doubles among those with a sponsor: 61 per cent compared with 32 per cent overall.

And, while 70 per cent of those polled said they consider themselves as high-potential employees, that number jumps to 86 per cent of those with a mentor and 89 per cent with a sponsor.

The survey also found that 67 per cent agree their definition of career success has changed since they entered the work force. The majority – 72 per cent – now define success as “loving what they do,” compared with the 45 per cent who said it is “meeting their financial goals.”

“Because every woman’s definition of success is different, organizations should strive to enable and empower their work force to carve their own individual career path,” Women of Influence co-chief executive Stephania Varalli. Her group offers mentorship and networking opportunities to further women’s advancement.

“Women of course want to show ambition, but they also want to stay true to their core values, like work/life balance,” Ms. Varalli said.

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