Men still dominate board rooms in B.C.

Only eight of the province’s top 100 highest-paid executives are women

Two of the eight women on this year’s list of top 100 highest-paid executives work for Eldorado Gold: Dawn Moss (pictured) and Fabiana Chubbs | submitted

If you want to make it up the corporate ladder in Canada, an Ivy League education and obsession with success can’t hurt.

But if you want to make the really big bucks, it’s still best if you were born with the Y chromosome, because it’s still a man’s world at the C-suite level.

According to Business in Vancouver’s annual list of the top 100 highest-paid executives in B.C., only eight of the top-paid execs in 2014 were women, and none are CEOs. Female executives don’t even make the top-40 cut.

But it’s less a pay equity issue than it is a glass ceiling issue.

The highest-paid female executive in 2014 was Dawn Moss, executive vice-president of administration and corporate secretary for Eldorado Gold Corp. (TSX, NYSE:ELD), who is the highest-paid female executive on the list.

Her total remuneration of $3 million boosted her from 61st position in 2013 to 41st in 2014.

Her 56% increase is reflective of Eldorado’s financial performance in 2014, as the company’s executive compensation formula is largely based on performance. (Eldorado went from a $670 million loss in 2013, due largely to an asset impairment, to a $117 million profit in 2014, so a number of Eldorado executives saw significant bumps in pay in 2014.)

Moss is one of two female executives with Eldorado to make BIV’s top-100 list for 2014. Fabiana Chubbs, Eldorado’s CFO, is also on the list.

So is one other mining company executive – Charlene Ripley, executive vice-president and general counsel for Goldcorp Inc. (TSX:G).

“If you just look at the eight which are women, three out of eight in mining, I’d say, is a pretty good number,” said PearTree Securities CEO Lisa Davis, who has been involved in developing a webinar to help businesswomen develop the skills needed to sit on the boards of directors of mining companies.

Although barriers still exist to women in the workforce in general, Davis said that once women make it to upper management positions, they tend to be paid the same as men. There just happen to be fewer women in those positions.

Arden Dalik, a senior partner with Global Governance Advisors, agrees.

“Once they are in those roles, they do tend to be paid commensurately,” she said. “It’s not like females in a comparable role are being paid less, which is still actually true in some industries down lower in the organization. They’re well paid. It’s never an issue, once they’re in those C-suite roles.”

But the dearth of female CEOs is an indicator that business still has work to do when it comes to removing the glass ceiling.

“The CEO is still a position where we are really lagging behind, obviously, versus the demographics of the population,” Dalik said.

That said, she points to the growing number of women in senior executive roles as an indication that things have been changing over the last 10 years.

“One of the top positions in Eldorado Gold is occupied by a very strong, very capable woman,” she said. “They also have a woman on their board now in a very technical, male-dominated industry.”

Two of the women on this year’s list are executives with Lululemon Athletica Inc. (Nasdaq:LULU): Delaney Schweitzer, executive vice-president of global retail, and chief product officer Tara Poseley.

Other female executives on the top-100 list are:

•Nancy Gougarty, president and chief operating officer, Westport Innovations (TSX:WPT);

•Vanessa James, senior vice-president, global markets, Methanex (TSX:MX); and

•Michele Harradence, vice-president of operations, Westcoast Energy Inc. (TSX:W).

According to a recent report by EY, fostering gender parity in corporations isn’t some feel-good gesture, but “an economic imperative.”

According to the report, titled Women, Fast Forward, companies that have female board members outperform those that don’t, and companies with more women in leadership roles tend to have a sharper focus on things like corporate governance, corporate responsibility, talent dynamics and market acuity.