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We are only as good as the sources who trust us with their stories. They are the heart and soul of our journalism; their lived experiences and insights spark connections with readers, and spur us to keep going.
For the Globe and Mail’s Power Gap project, they spoke out. The ongoing series, which explores the factors that hurt women’s progress through the career ladder and what can be done to improve gender diversity in the workplace, wouldn’t have been possible without women’s stories.
Maureen Jensen, the former chair and CEO of the Ontario Securities Commission, shared for the first time what it was like introducing new rules to encourage gender diversity (she received angry, threatening messages and kept going). T&T’s Tina Lee described running a major grocery chain through a pandemic; diversity in its leadership, she says, helped bolster its response to the crisis. Humaira Ahmed, the founder and CEO of tech startup Locelle, spoke of the challenges in working in a male-dominated environment.
As a reporter working on projects and investigations at the Globe, I wrote about women in corporate Canada as part of the Power Gap project, which was led by my colleague Robyn Doolittle, with data analysis by Chen Wang. You can read more about the back story here, and find links to all the stories so far here.
The courage of the women who spoke up, even when it meant showing vulnerability and having uncomfortable conversations, is the most powerful part of this series about power. Some women, understandably, declined to talk or withheld their names for fear of repercussions on their career; others spoke candidly about their experiences, even if it was awkward and difficult. And their stories, paired with a deep data dive, expose a sober picture of the role of women in the workplace.
Under-representation in leadership roles, and persistent gender pay gaps are long-standing issues, ones in danger of being normalized or seeming intractable (of course women earn less; we knew that; it’s no surprise few women are CEOs – what’s the news here?).
But things that don’t change can be just as newsworthy as things that do. And sometimes, progress can go backward – the impact of COVID-19 risks hampering the slow steps toward gender equality.
The Globe found that of the 223 companies on Canada’s benchmark stock index, just nine were run by women. Last week, one stepped down – Dawn Farrell of TransAlta is retiring. And just like that, the percentage of women CEOs at the country’s top firms slid to 3.6 per cent from an already paltry 4 per cent.
Among other findings: There are more chief executive officers named Michael at Canada’s largest publicly traded corporations than there are female CEOs.
The dearth of women isn’t just at the helm of the country’s publicly traded firms; it exists at influential think tanks, where nine of the top 10 are run by men. The Bank of Canada has never had a female governor. Among the eight largest public pension funds in the country, none are led by women.
In politics, 10 out of 10 provincial premiers in the country are men as are two of the three leaders in the territories. Just 19 per cent of mayors in the country are women, according to research by Katherine Sullivan, PhD candidate at the Université de Montreal.
When it comes to racialized women, who disproportionately hold jobs that are low paying and lack protections, the gaps in representation and pay are even larger.
Without diverse perspectives in key decision-making roles, blind spots emerge in everything from policy priorities to serving key consumer markets, risk assessment, revenue generation, city planning and innovation.
Stay tuned for more coverage – with more personal stories of women and work. (And you can read this beautiful tribute to sources across journalism, from the brilliant Elizabeth Renzetti.)
Hopefully this conversation is just the start.
What else we’re thinking about:
I’m thinking about the pandemic. Who isn’t? The stories I’m drawn to expose and explain the fault lines in society: who is falling between cracks and why.
These pieces stick in my memory. This first-person account by Dr. Stephanie Go, an internal medicine specialist in Toronto, is a dispatch from the front lines, showing who’s getting sick and why, citing the fact that 79 per cent of people who are suffering from COVID-19 in the city are racialized, and noting that some are sacrificing more than others. Globe reporter Dakshana Bascaramurty has written crucial pieces over the past year on people who have had to keep working and who are falling ill – many are racialized workers who have been disproportionately affected; among them is this recent piece on long-haul truck drivers. The Toronto Star’s Sara Mojtehedzadeh and Andrew Bailey’s recent data-driven look at the two million essential workers in the city is insightful and important; they begin the piece with the story of Lily Wong, who has worked in Toronto since 1994 and never had a paid sick day or made more than $20 an hour. And for more on sick pay, there is columnist Rita Trichur’s fiery piece on the urgent need for paid sick leave for essential workers.
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