Canadian employers lagging in implementing equality measures: survey

Around International Women’s Day, many Canadian employers are once again talking about the importance of equality in the workplace. 

However, a new survey by Mercer, which polled senior leaders, human resources executives and employees around the globe, found there are many areas where companies could be doing more to make work more equitable for all.

It found slightly more (81 per cent versus 79 per cent globally) Canadian respondents said their organizations provide women equal access to promotion and advancement. But the survey also found Canadian employers aren’t always taking the concrete steps required to ensure their workplaces are truly equal. 

Read: ‘Substantial’ gender wage gap persists in Canada: study

Globally, 66 per cent of organizations said their executives were actively involved, or engaged, in diversity and inclusion programs and initiatives, while Canadian execs lagged behind, at 54 per cent. In the lower ranks, things were even worse, with only 35 per cent of middle managers and 30 per cent of front-line managers at Canadian organizations reporting they’re actively involved in diversity programs, compared to global findings of 53 per cent and 46 per cent, respectively. And Canadian board members were even further behind, with 28 per cent actively involved in diversity and inclusion programs, compared with 57 per cent of board members globally. 

“When women thrive, Canada thrives, and yet we see that Canadian employers aren’t making advances to ensure that their organizations are places where gender equity is a fact of life,” said Jaqui Parchment, chief executive officer of Mercer Canada, in a press release. “Canadian employers must do more to make their stated commitments to diversity and inclusion a reality. That starts with a commitment from every level of leadership, a robust approach to measurement and accountability and ensuring that your promotion pipeline is truly equal opportunity.”

Read: Scotiabank recognized for creating culture of diversity in workplace

While 70 per cent of Canadian organizations said pay equity is part of their organization’s compensation philosophy, only 34 per cent said they’re going beyond the minimum legal requirements and doing things like applying robust statistical analysis. Elsewhere, more than half (55 per cent) of global respondents reported they’re going above and beyond, by applying things like multiple regression analysis to determine their pay equity gaps.

In addition, 82 per cent of Canadian employers said their organization’s pay equity analysis addresses both base pay and incentives, but only 34 per cent have a formalized remediation process to address any pay equity risks — 10 percentage points below the rest of the world. And two-thirds (66 per cent) of Canadian respondents aren’t tracking hiring, promotion and exits by gender and career level, a full 14 percentage points below the global average.

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