July 23, 2019

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Top earners list reveals lingering gender disparity

Editorial

As TV commercials go, this one seems especially timely.

It shows a woman named Claire at a staff meeting, anxiously waiting to see who will be promoted to the new senior vice-president position.

When she hears “Mike” is getting the promotion, her face drops and she feigns a smile, until her phone vibrates with a notification from a job-search website telling her she has an interview request for a senior VP post at another company.

“This wasn’t the first time Claire had been passed up for the promotion,” the narrator intones, “but it would be the last time.”

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As TV commercials go, this one seems especially timely.

It shows a woman named Claire at a staff meeting, anxiously waiting to see who will be promoted to the new senior vice-president position.

When she hears "Mike" is getting the promotion, her face drops and she feigns a smile, until her phone vibrates with a notification from a job-search website telling her she has an interview request for a senior VP post at another company.

"This wasn’t the first time Claire had been passed up for the promotion," the narrator intones, "but it would be the last time."

It wouldn’t be surprising if that job-search ad became popular viewing among female senior managers at city hall in light of a front-page headline in Monday’s Free Press that declared: "City’s top earners are all men."

The story revealed the city’s top nine income-earners for 2018 — including the city’s senior managers, police chief and three deputy police chiefs — are all men. The 10th top earner was a police constable but, for privacy reasons, the disclosure list does not reveal officers’ names or genders.

The city’s top 100 earners included 39 men and seven women. The remaining 54 were not named because they are police officers, a group statistically dominated by men.

It may not be surprising that women have been largely excluded from the highest-paying jobs with the city, but it is certainly not acceptable. In 2019, female managers should not be slamming their heads into a glass ceiling that should have been shattered decades earlier.

The city’s human resources director, Angie Cusson, acknowledged to the Free Press that the city has a gender problem and is working to correct the lack of diversity.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

“We recognize that we have some work to do and that’s why it’s been a priority for us,” said Angie Cusson, director of human resource services with the city.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS “We recognize that we have some work to do and that’s why it’s been a priority for us,” said Angie Cusson, director of human resource services with the city.

"We recognize that we have some work to do and that’s why it’s been a priority for us," Ms. Cusson said. "More and more women are coming on board to the city. We continue to be committed to increasing diversity."

Ms. Cusson is correct — there is more work to do. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has rated Winnipeg 18th out of 26 cities for its percentage of female senior managers, and that’s not a ranking to be proud of.

On a wider scale, Canada has been ranked as having the eighth-highest gender pay gap among 43 countries examined by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Full-time working women in this country earn an average of 75 cents for every dollar men make.

Winnipeggers do not have a voice in how private companies are run, but they certainly have a right to say something about the way governments conduct their business.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman </p>

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman

Programs and a commitment to diversity are laudable, but real change will require Mayor Brian Bowman and the rest of city council to muster the political will to ensure qualified women are not only promoted into top jobs, but compensated equitably once they are.

It is worth noting it was only four years ago that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earned international headlines and praise for naming the first gender-balanced cabinet — 15 women and 16 men — in Canadian history.

Asked by a reporter why parity was so important, Mr. Trudeau offered a simple mic-drop response: "Because it’s 2015."

The city insists it is working to end gender disparity and attract more women to top jobs. Voters should demand it of all politicians who seek their votes.

The status quo is no longer acceptable — because, after all, it’s 2019.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board.

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