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Women in Leadership: A Strategic Vision

April 11, 2023 by The Women in Leadership committee

We at CC&L Investment Management believe that if we can successfully tackle the key issues contributing to the leadership gender imbalance, we will substantially broaden the talent pool from which great leaders emerge and create better business outcomes.

This belief led to the founding of our Women in Leadership (WiL) initiative in 2021, which focuses on expanding leadership talent by identifying and addressing issues that have contributed to gender gaps within our organization, industry and society at large.

The work of our collective initiative has resulted in recommendations for new strategic priorities that directly target issues uncovered through discussions and research. An important – and unexpected – discovery has been that the solutions identified to break down the leadership gender imbalance also solve issues that extend beyond gender. In other words, while our focus began with women, the outcomes of our recommendations benefit everyone.

What follows is a high-level summary of WiL’s findings and proposed solutions; however, if you’re interested in learning more about our work, we would love to connect. Please contact us through this link.

Collaborating to unleash potential

Led by a committee with engagement from the majority of women in our organization, WiL’s primary objectives are:

  1. Identifying the root causes and key issues regarding gender imbalance both within and outside of our organization.
  2. Proposing solutions to proactively right size that imbalance.

Underpinning our initiative is a considerable volume of academic, media and industry research on workplace gender (in)equality. In aggregate, these findings overwhelmingly point to a systemic and persistent theme that spans almost every industry: the more senior, technical and higher-profile the jobs, the smaller the proportion of women in these roles.

We recognize that many drivers of gender inequality are outside our organization’s control, but also that our interconnectedness as industry players and members of society has tangible implications for CC&L’s ability to effect change.

Our approach in action

When examining this multi-dimensional problem, we took a bottom-up approach as to why women weren’t reaching their full potential at work. For instance, we conducted extensive interviews internally and externally as well as brainstorming sessions and in-depth research. Through this process, we identified key issues facing women in our workplace and distilled these further to determine their underlying root causes. From there, we crafted solutions to directly address the most important root causes. This involved breaking down the WiL initiative into four key areas:

  1. Societal norms
    • What we looked at: Gender-related expectations (e.g., familial obligations and caregiving responsibilities) and how to promote an equal playing field for our employees both at work and at home.
    • Our recommendations: Aimed at mitigating challenges associated with parental leave and division of household labour, with the goal of establishing better support systems for employees.
  2. Leadership competencies and qualities
    • What we looked at: Identifying and eliminating gender-related impediments to leadership development, allowing equal opportunity to grow into higher-level positions.
    • Our recommendations: Ongoing, 360-degree feedback between managers and employees and a clearly aligned vision for career progression.
  3. Work environment
    • What we looked at: Identifying enhancements in how we interact that could remove barriers to career progression. In male-dominated fields, women may struggle to build relationships and feel part of the team. Their confidence may be impacted such that they are reluctant to give and receive feedback or voice and pursue ambitious goals.
    • Our recommendations: Foster a safe and inclusive workplace that nurtures professional development.
  4. Hiring
    • What we looked at: Achieving a more gender-balanced workforce supported by hiring practices that address gender-based constraints. Areas of focus include:
      • The talent pool: There is an underrepresentation of women in senior positions.
        Our recommendations: Seek to improve gender balance in the overall talent pool over time by focusing on entry-level applicants and career development.
      • CC&L’s application pool: Gender imbalances at both senior and entry levels.
        Our recommendations: Focus on increasing the likelihood of receiving applications from experienced women, as well as developing awareness about how women can succeed in capital markets.
      • Our hiring process: Unconscious bias can screen out qualified women.
        Our recommendations: Implementing hiring practices and success measures that minimize unconscious bias.

A brighter future for all

We adopted a gender-neutral approach in designing our solutions, which not only promotes inclusivity and diversity but also enhances the overall quality of our work environment. While the task of implementing the more than 20 solutions (outlined in our full report) may seem ambitious, we believe that by breaking it down into smaller, actionable steps, we can effectively prioritize and execute our recommendations over a multi-year period, ensuring we achieve our objectives. We expect that the WiL initiative will continue to grow and evolve over time as needs and expectations change through the implementation process.  This will likely result in periodic adjustments to the longer-term implementation roadmap.

By coming together to reinforce a culture of fairness, open dialogue and opportunities, we create conditions for success. With this in mind, we are hopeful that the positive impacts of our WiL initiative will ripple across our organization and into the communities where we live and do business – leading to better leadership, stronger teams and a brighter future for all.

If you’re interested in learning more about our work, we would love to connect. Please fill out the form below:

CC&L Investment Management Ltd.
April 11th, 2023