Diversity in the C-Suite: a Key to Our Success
As Avenue Living continues to expand across Western Canada in the residential rental marketplace, a strong female presence in its corporate office is a key pillar for the Calgary-based company’s success.
While C-suite diversity in Canada has been a challenge for many companies, Avenue Living has been a leader in fostering gender diversity in its executive roles.
These roles include President Zora Roberts, Senior Vice-President of Accounting Marina Post, Chief of Staff Crystal Li, and General Counsel Shelley Allchurch.
“We are dedicated to being an employer that provides an equal opportunity based on skills and experience,” says Roberts, President, Avenue Living. “We hire the best people for the job.”
“Our C-suite level is approximately 30% female. Women are known for having an edge when it comes to driving employee engagement, relationship building and collaboration. A gender-diverse workforce enables better problem-solving.”
With $1.3 Billion assets under management and more than 8,300 rental units, Avenue Living is one of the largest owners and operators of multi-family residential real estate in Western Canada.
With so many residents, Avenue Living is a people business. Relationships are key to building the company’s success. Such a customer-centric business really needs a philosophy and strategy that supports it as one of its core values. A diverse workplace, particularly at the C-suite level, reflects the diversity of the company’s customers.
“It’s very important in our business to be able to relate and to take the time to understand our residents’ current situation,” says Roberts.
The issue of female representation at the C-suite level has dogged Canadian companies in recent years. The Women in Leadership Network cites the following statistics to indicate how Canadian companies are still lagging overall in this area:
- 15 per cent of all board seats of TSX-listed companies are held by women
- Four per cent of TSX-listed companies have female CEOs
- Nine per cent of C-suite executives at Canada’s 100 largest publicly-traded corporations are women
- About 34 per cent of companies have no women directors
- About 44 per cent have no women executive officers.
“As a society, we still have improvements to make at the executive level,” says Roberts. “As we have more female presidents, more female CEOs, more female COOs, at some point in time the pendulum will start to swing. I think it’s going to be a natural evolution, but we need more women at the C-suite level in order for real change to happen.”
The Diversity Matters report by McKinsey & Company a few years ago found a significant relationship between a more diverse leadership team and better financial performance.
“Diversity matters because we increasingly live in a global world that has become deeply interconnected,” the report stated. “It should come as no surprise that more diverse companies and institutions are achieving better performance.”
It added that diversity has a positive impact on many key aspects of organizational performance including winning the war for talent, strengthening customer orientation, increasing employee satisfaction, improving decision-making and enhancing a company’s image.
“Women in senior leadership roles have an added responsibility,” says Roberts. “We need to make sure we’re mentoring and doing everything we can to develop the young female talent in our workplaces. We have to make sure we’re paying attention.”