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Excerpted from BNN Bloomberg: 

Canada recently made headlines around the world when Chrystia Freeland was named the country’s first female finance minister.

“I’d like to say to all the Canadian women across our amazing country who are out there breaking glass ceilings, keep going. We are 100 per cent with you,” Freeland told reporters in Ottawa, shortly after being sworn in.

In Corporate Canada, however, companies continue to move slowly in elevating women to CEO roles.

“It’s alarming and discouraging,” Kelly Blair, a partner at Toronto-based executive search firm Caldwell Partners, told BNN Bloomberg in an email. “We’re starting to see more women in senior roles, but if you don’t have depth in your leadership ranks, this isn’t a problem that gets solved overnight.”

A BNN Bloomberg review of the 100 most influential companies within the S&P/TSX Composite Index revealed just two female chief executives: Ann Fandozzi, who was named CEO of Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers Inc. in December 2019; and Marie Inkster, who was named CEO of Lundin Mining Corp. in October 2018.

“It is disappointing to me that we still have a need to discuss the issue of gender equity,” said Carol Stephenson, a director at General Motors Co. and Maple Leaf Foods Inc. and former dean of the Ivey Business School, in an email to BNN Bloomberg.

“I spent four decades in business and it was an issue then. There has been exhaustive research on the topic and very practical recommendations to solve the issue. It begs the question, if we know what to do, why haven’t the numbers changed?”

Indeed, female CEO leadership at Canada’s largest companies has barely budged since BNN Bloomberg’s first review more than two years ago.

At that time, there was only one woman among the 100 most influential companies in the S&P/TSX Composite Index: Nancy Southern, who at the time was running Calgary-based Canadian Utilities Ltd. Southern has since stepped down from that CEO role, although she remains its executive chair while also serving as chair and CEO of ATCO Ltd., which controls Canadian Utilities.

The makeup of the 100 most influential TSX companies has changed since 2018 since it is based on the performance of stocks within the index. But the lack of female chief executives remains constant.

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