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In 2023, women made up just 23 per cent of c-suite leaders.gradyreese/Getty Images

Will 2024 be the year that women achieve equitable numbers in business leadership? Will companies soon chart more fair representation regarding race, gender identity, sexual orientation and disability?

If data from the past several years are any indication, the year ahead should see positive change – but that change is not happening quickly enough.

The latest McKinsey & Company Women in the Workplace report, which was created with surveys of more than 27,000 employees and 270 senior HR leaders in Canada and the U.S., shows slow growth in women’s representation in leadership roles. In 2023, women made up just 23 per cent of c-suite leaders, with women of colour representing a mere six per cent of those in top jobs. At the manager level, women hold a decent 40 per cent of roles, but it’s a stagnant victory, with just eight per cent growth at this level over the past eight years.

What’s next? The Globe Women’s Collective spoke to four leaders across the country in different sectors to get their responses to two questions: What do you think could lead to more women in senior leadership roles? And: What are your personal leadership goals for 2024?

Here is what they had to say:

Lisa Laronde, president of RSG International

“We need more representation [at the top]. The more women we have in senior leadership, the better, so people see a possibility for themselves. But we need a flexible work environment to attract and retain women.

“Women earn less than men and that’s a barrier for women to get into senior leadership. What happens is you often do the job, but you don’t get the job title. Women get frustrated when they’re doing the work but not getting the recognition, job title and money to go with it.

“This year, I want to share the spotlight. There are so many strong and powerful women out there who are not getting recognized – we don’t see each other’s success and talk about it enough. We need to talk about our journeys and share the difficult roads we took to get where we are, and worked and what didn’t work. We need to build a community of both men and women.

“My personal goal is to be named CEO at my organization. There isn’t a CEO right now, so I’m not sure why I can’t take on that job title.”

Humera Malik, CEO of Canvass AI

“We need to continue to create a culture of inclusion and diversity, where women are valued, respected and supported for their contributions and potential. We need more mentorship and sponsorship opportunities, especially in male-dominated fields.

“Areas that need redress are the systemic barriers and biases that women face in their career paths, such as pay gaps, lack of flexible work and stereotypes. If we encourage more women to pursue their passions, take risks and challenge themselves, as well as celebrate their achievements and successes publicly, we can help more women achieve senior leadership roles.

“I want to continue to grow Canvass AI as a global leader and to drive positive impact on the environment and society. I want to inspire and develop the next generation of leaders in AI, especially women and under-represented groups, by sharing my story, insights and lessons learned.

“On a personal level, I want to maintain a healthy balance between work and life and spend more quality time with my family and friends.”

Mary Ann Yule, president and CEO of HP Canada

“We must champion diversity and inclusion to foster a culture where authenticity thrives, so that everyone can reach their fullest potential. This requires planning, goal setting, mentorship, and resilience – viewing setbacks as stepping-stones to success.

“It’s time to challenge and dismantle biases against women, and create a world that elevates women’s experiences, voices and ideas. Despite the progress made since the start of my career, the persistent underrepresentation of women, constituting less than one quarter of Canadians in science and technology, fuels my commitment to mentoring, empowering and propelling emerging female leaders and young women entering this field.

“My leadership goals centre on intentional reflection and purposeful innovation, aiming for sustained growth and lasting change. I seek to evolve personally and empower those around me. Within my company, we will continue to elevate more women into leadership roles.”

Tabatha Bull, president and CEO of Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business

“I was an engineer in construction and energy and now I’m the CEO of a national Indigenous economic organization. I was and am frequently the only woman, and almost always the only Indigenous woman, in trailers, board rooms and executive-level meetings.

“The boys’ clubs still exist, but have gone underground, which is perhaps worse. While the overt exclusivity may have diminished, it seems to have found new ways to persist covertly. Too often I still see women interrupted and ignored. We need accomplices to speak up, to stand up and to give up their time to others.

“I will continue to invest my time, talent and resources where I feel I can make a difference – in my family, in my community and at my job. I will continue to sit at the tables, stand at the podiums and accept invitations to speak in realms where women are under-represented.

“I want to encourage accountability from those who say they are pursuing economic reconciliation. I am concerned with recent trends towards divisiveness, which is heartbreaking and harmful. I would like to use my influence to encourage respectful and empathetic conversations and actions.”

Interviews have been edited and condensed.

Interested in more perspectives about women in the workplace? Find all stories on The Globe Women’s Collective hub here, and subscribe to the new Women and Work newsletter here. Have feedback? E-mail us at

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