Research indicates women are pushing for a new kind of “C-suite”

Left: Nancy Coldham; Right: Jennifer Walinga

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A recent S&P Global report found a significant drop in women’s representation in C-suite roles at American companies — from 12.2 to 11.8 per cent — indicating a reversal in progress toward a decades-old goal to help more women gain executive positions. 

In a recent article for The Conversation, Nancy Coldham, a Doctor of Social Sciences student at Royal Roads University and Jennifer Walinga, professor in the School of Communication and Culture, indicate the drop in female representation could be connected to experiences of gender inequity that often occur when they step into leadership roles. 

Here’s some of what they wrote: 

“Perhaps the best solution to the decline in the C-suite, is women declining the C-suite. Women are rejecting patriarchal norms of rigidity, burnout, harassment, limited opportunity and unfair pay in what has been termed the ‘Great Breakup’.”

Women are more likely than men to leave their corporate jobs when their needs are not being met at work. In rejecting the C-suite model, women are calling for more power-balanced, equitable models of leadership that involve collaboration rather than domination — a model in which, as Gloria Steinem famously states, “we are linked, not ranked.”

Likewise, in co-author Jennifer Walinga’s research on female entrepreneurs, women shared how leaving their corporate jobs to be an entrepreneur fulfilled their desires for a new universe where post-heroic, non-hierarchical leadership models can be enacted.

Royal Bank of Canada may have unveiled another possible solution to failed leadership parity that they call the “great wealth transfer” — a “seismic change” that is seeing wealth ownership transfer from men to women. In fact, it is estimated that, by 2028, women in Canada will control $4 trillion in assets — almost double the $2.2 trillion they control today.

With women projected to wield significantly more economic influence in the coming years, there is a potential for them to reshape leadership dynamics and drive positive change.

In confronting failed leadership parity targets, and the failure to benefit from diversity, solutions may be found in women’s vision for more sustainable leadership models, growing wealth and economic clout in the future, and surging political impact as voters at the ballot box.”

Read the full opinion piece in The Conversation