More to be done

Prejudices slowly are disappearing in Canada.

One by one we have started to eliminate biases that are manifestly unfair. For example, some judgments made on skin colour are gradually ending, notably in larger cities such as Toronto or Vancouver where mixed races are much more in evidence. Similarly, objections to different sexual orientation appear to be changing nowadays as young people are much more tolerant of divergent points of view.

However, in our male dominated workplaces unfair treatment of woman remains virtually unabated.

It does not have to be this way. In other nations, especially people in Scandinavia have led the world in introducing important reforms, such as quotas for corporate boards. Stock market listed companies must have a big percentage of board seats for woman. Other European countries have brought forth similar rules.

Requirements such as those are applied initially to listed firms. Beyond that, it is mostly men who dominate the corporate scene. Clearly at some board meetings female members are present, but any observer can see that males run the organization. It has been estimated that in the United States only five per cent of companies have a woman as chief executive. It must be acknowledged that among the largest corporations, for example General Motors, executives have appeared uncomfortable when questioned about serious problems. They handled the rebukes badly, as if they were not really in charge. They were bullied, perhaps, because they were women and appeared vulnerable.

As a background, it has been asserted that woman usually give priority to their children rather than their careers in the business world. There appears to be a lack of assistance to woman who have children and a family needing parental care.

As a counter-claim, it is argued that generous maternity benefits mean that women have been encouraged to take long breaks in their business career to give priority to their children rather than their employment in the business world. They may not be present in the male-dominate corporate picture when leading jobs become available. Furthermore, even with generous grants to woman who have children, thus it is women who still have to pick up their children after school while men confine their parenting task to weekends.

Quotas for the leading jobs remain useful guideposts, but the guarantees to woman in decision-making are rare and too vague to be helpful.

Overall, there should be a change in thinking so that a woman is not automatically bearing the burden of family care in our society where males have been so pre-eminent. Prejudices, discrimination against woman in the top rungs of the corporate world should end. More work along this line needs to be done.



Bruce Whitestone