Rebuilding our economy starts with women: Ernst & Young report

    Our nation's competitiveness depends on how we mobilize female talent

    TORONTO, May 11 /CNW/ - There may be no quick fix to the current
financial crisis, but fostering new perspectives by advancing more women into
leadership positions is a sure-fire, long-term resolution, says
Groundbreakers, a new report from Ernst & Young.
    "Groundbreakers is about diversity of thought and not necessarily about
race, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation, which we traditionally
associate with diversity," said Lou Pagnutti, Ernst & Young Chairman and CEO.
"Canada, and the world for that matter, needs business leaders who bring
different skills, who think about familiar problems in new ways, and reject
the kind of groupthink that may have contributed to the global financial
challenges the world is facing."
    In Groundbreakers, Ernst & Young brings together telling research that
makes clear the case for more women leaders in business. For instance, the
report cites data from Goldman Sachs that found closing the gap between male
and female employment rates could boost US GDP by as much as 9%, Eurozone GDP
by 13% and Japanese GDP by 16%.
    "Investing in women to drive economic growth is not simply about morality
or fairness. It's about honing a competitive edge," said Pagnutti. "There is
opportunity during this time of adversity - it's time we recognize that, and
build women into the leadership fabric of our organizations. Diversity is not
a 'nice to have.' It's a business imperative."
    Groundbreakers references an Economist magazine report that says over the
past few decades, women have contributed more to the world's GDP than has new
technology or the emerging economies of China and India.
    Groundbreakers also cites data from a 2007 Catalyst report that found
that on average, Fortune 500 companies with more women on their boards of
directors turned in better financial performances than those with fewer women
board directors.

    How can Canadian companies build leadership capacity for increased

    1)  Create a deliberate plan to get women into leadership positions.
        Don't just wait for time to fix inequities. Implement programs to get
        women the right mentoring and experiences, and make sure
        accountability exists in order for this plan to be realized.

    2)  Work towards "functional diversity." Professor Scott Page of the
        University of Michigan uses this term to capture the idea that we
        need people with diverse ways of perceiving problems, rather than
        groupthink, in order to devise better solutions. Research has shown
        that, under the right conditions, a group of intelligent problem
        solvers chosen completely at random will likely outperform a
        homogenous group of even the best problem solvers.

    3)  Don't underestimate the power of critical mass. A 2007 McKinsey study
        showed companies with three or more women in senior management scored
        higher than companies with no women at the top over a range of
        measures for organizational excellence. It is not just about adding a
        woman here or there. It is about building the critical mass that
        gives people the power to speak up, and to have their views heard.

    Ernst & Young is recognized as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers
for 2009. Other recent awards include:

    -   Best Workplaces in Canada 2009
    -   Alberta's Best Workplace for Millennials 2009
    -   Greater Toronto's Top 75 Employers 2009
    -   The Immigrant Success Awards 2008 (Fiona Macfarlane received the CBC
        Toronto Business Leadership Award)

    About Ernst & Young

    Ernst & Young is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and
advisory services. Worldwide, our 135,000 people are united by our shared
values and an unwavering commitment to quality. We make a difference by
helping our people, our clients and our wider communities achieve their
potential. For more information, please visit

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For further information: To speak to a spokesperson in your area, please
contact: Amanda Olliver,, (416) 943-7121; Brooke
McLachlan,, (604) 8990-3597; Marie-Eve Graniero,, (514) 874-4313

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