It is unbelievable to me, in this age of enlightenment and digital connection,that many still argue about the importance of equality between men and women in the workplace. Certainly, things have changed for the better since the Second World War. Women have become more involved and even assumed leadership roles in the labour market, to providefor their families but also –in equal measure–to pursue their own personal fulfillment. This is particularly true in Canada where so many women have become successful business leaders today.

Working women have come a long way in 69 years. In 1950, only 23.2% (1.1 million) of women in Canada aged 15 years and older participated in the labour market, according to the labour force survey (LFS) from Statistics Canada for that year.Today, the number has increased to61.4%, based on June 2019 Statistics Canada data.Now that we are there and accounted for, working alongside our male counterparts,allthe same rules of the game need to apply. It is imperative that we have access to the same employment rights as our male counterparts today. In short, “equality can’t wait”.

Gender equality: research shows that work is needed

There are 195 countries in the world today and the 2018 Gender gap report from the World Economic Forum made among 149 countries (meaning 76.4% of all countries in the world) confirmed some progress regarding gender equality, but also indicated that it will take 202 years to achieve equality in the workforce globally. That simply means that sadly, we are not even close to achieving gender parity.

But how can we really measure gender equality? After all, there must be clear guidelines to gauge and guide our progress. The World Economic Forum providesfour base-areas or dimensionsfor organizations and governments seeking to advance gender equality:

  1. Economic participation and opportunity
  2. Education attainment
  3. Health and survival
  4. Political empowerment

Based on these four dimensions, the World Economic Forum has created an equality score card for every country.The score card helps us measure the state of gender equality in each country for each dimension, along with the overall parity level in the country. A country which has achieved parity should have a total parity level or index of1.

Canada ranks 16th in the world for gender equality
The Global Gender Gap Report 2018 of the World Economic Forum indicated that the top 5 countries with the highest gender parity scores are: Iceland (0.858), Norway (0.835), Sweden (0.822), Finland (0.821) and Nicaragua (0.809). With a score of 0.771, Canada comes at the sixteenth (16) place out of 149 countries when it comes to gender equality.

Gender equality is a human right

While some may argue that gender equality as a biological debate, it is not. Equality is a human right. The United Nations defines gender equality as “the equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities of women and men and girls and boys.”

For this reason, equality should be present everywhere: at school, at home, at work, at the grocery store, etc. This also means that responsibilities and opportunities should not be given to someone because they are born male or female, but rather because they possess talents or skillsunrelated to gender. This should not be a feminist rallying call or counter reaction to the “all boys club”. The goal is not to push for more women in leadership roles because they are women, but rather to give a chance to the ones who possess superior “know-how”, experience and drive to excel in these roles.

Canada needs to improve its gender equality in two key areas

While Canada is a leader in many facets of gender equality, there is still work left to do.According to the World Economic Forum, 2018 Global Gender Gap report, equality is the lowest in two main dimensions: Economic participation and opportunity (Equality score: 0.748), and political empowerment (Equality score 0.365).

Economic participation and opportunity
The “economic participation and opportunity” dimension identifies the level of gender equality for five criteria:

  1. Labour force participation
  2. Wage equality for similar work
  3. Estimated earned income
  4. Legislators, seniors officials and managers
  5. Professional and technical workers

As represented in graph 1, many women participate in the Canadian labour market (0.913) and many as professional and technical workers (1.000).
However, Canada scores poorly in gender parity related to economic participation with low scores in the following areas:

  1. Wage equality for similar work(0.690)
  2. Estimated income earned(0.675)
  3. Gender equality in legislative, senior official and managerroles (0.551).

So, what can we learn from all of this? What is the current status of women in the Canadian labour market – and where do we urgently need to address our gender equality policies and practices?

1. Women are paid less than men

Canadian womendoing a similar work as their male counterpart are in general underpaid. Despite their high participation in the workforce, men, on average, are still earning more money than women. According to the Labour Force Survey of Statistics Canada “women in Canada aged 15 and older earned $0.87 for every dollar earned by men in 2017”. This isthe equivalent of working 47 days without pay (assuming women worked the same number of hours as men in a given year).Why? Surely women do not perform any less competentlythan men in their jobs. There is no good reason for this pay inequality.

2. Men still dominate leadership roles

Most decision-making and business leadership roles are filled by men.In 2016, women held less than 1/5 of all leadership roles in Canada.In fact, a 2016 study from Statistics Canada (Representation of Women on Boards of Directors, 2016) reveals that among 12,762 Canadians corporations and 44,658 directors or members of a board of directors:

  1. Women accounted for only 19.4% of directors
  2. 28.0% of corporations had only one woman on their board of directors
  3. Only 15.2% had more than one woman on their board of directors
  4. 56.8% of corporate boards of directors were composed entirely of men.
Why? Is it because women are not applying for these roles? Or is there a hiring bias at play?

Political Empowerment
The “political empowerment” dimension in the Gender Gap survey identifies the level of gender equality for three criteria:

  1. Women in parliament
  2. Women in ministerial positions
  3. Years with a female head of state.

As represented in graph 2., gender parity has been reached for the number of women in ministerial positions (1.000). However, work is needed to increase the number of women inparliament (0.370), as well as in the number of years in which a female head of state has held power (0.007).
As of August 2019, there are 91 women currently serving in parliament, representing just 27.25% of elected members of Canadian parliament.
Interestingly, since Canadian confederation in 1867:

  • Canada has had 23 prime ministers, justone of them a woman (4.3%)
  • Canada has had 29 governors-general, just four of them women (13.8%)

Women as organizational catalysts

With women representing half the potential in the world (101 males to 100 females, world sex ratio), gender equality brings great benefits to all organizations that embrace it.The most compelling statistics and findings, perhaps, come from the UN secretary-general’s high-level panel on women’s economic empowerment titled Leave no one behind – A call to action for gender equality and women’s economic empowerment. It concludes:

  • High levels of gender parity in organizations correlates to better financial returns.
    • “companies in top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have financial returns above industry means”
  • A gender-diverse workforceleads to higher innovation.
  • Businesses with more women in senior management or on a corporate board have stronger financial performance.
  • Companies characterized by gender parity have better potential to address complex problems byincorporating more diverse views.
  • Gender equality has a positive effect on female talent attraction, retention and motivation.
    • These women workers can easily understand the needs of female customers and address them accordingly. This is very important since “as customers, women make or influence 80% of buying decisions and control US$20 trillion in global spending”.
  • A commitment to women correlates with organization’s reputation and brand.

In summary, achieving gender parity is a must. It is a social change that has been proven to generate significant gains for businesses and economies. Gender equality means organizational effectiveness and prosperity. It builds businesses and boostsa country’s economic development and growth. Most importantly perhaps, the presence of equality enhances motivation and participation in the labour market as it also increasesthe personal fulfilment of both women and men alike. That is why, once more, “equality can’t wait”!


Leave no one behind – A call to action for gender equality and women’s economic empowerment – United Nations
Gender, diversity and inclusion statistics – Statistics Canada
Women in corporate Canada: Who’s at the top? – Statistics Canada
Study: Representation of Women on Boards of Directors, 2016 – Statistics Canada
From stamping out stereotypes to finding your ‘spark’, here’s how to close the global gender gap – World Economic Forum
Gender gap report 2018 – World Economic Forum
The Gender Wage Gap and Equal Pay Day, 2018 – Statistics Canada
Members of parliament – House of Commons



The war for talent is undeniable and regardless of age, employees will quit their job for a competitor if what they want and/or value is not available in the company where they currently work.
We are living in an era where Workforce Engagement needs to be an essential element of business strategy and a key driver of the bottom line. Today, with the ubiquitous access to the internet, workers can now apply for jobs more easily, plus they can quickly gain infinite access to information about other companies and solicit attractive offers from competitors. 

Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre
I. Introduction

Managers, friends, and family members are constantly saying things to me like, “employees don’t stick around anymore”, “employee loyalty has disappeared”, and “millennials will jump ship between six to 12 months maximum”. It has become such a reality for many people that some managers make their hiring decisions based on that fact.


Several months ago, I consulted with a client whose employees were mostly between 18 to 34 years old. My client confessed to me that when they were making new hires, they were simply giving these new employees what they wanted and were soon after increasing some of their salaries further to ensure the employees didn’t leave their company for a competitor.


Despite my client’s cash incentive efforts, their organization still suffered from low job tenure and a recurring high turnovermostly due to resignations. Why? Is it because most of their workforce was young workers? The leadership team was divided on the answer: some thought that the resignations were due to the employees age; some others perceived that bad leadership caused the departures. My experience shows that this client’s story is not a unique case.

As business owners, CEOs, managers or leaders, none of our decisions should be guided by fear and assumption, especially organizational decisions (e.g. pay increases and budget forecasting). All of our decisions must be based on true knowledge about the labour market and our competitors, and they must be in alignment with our company’s vision, goals, and strategy.With this in mind, I wondered what the Canadian labour market from 1976-2018 showed concerning job tenure, and if the prevailing opinion about employment length is supported by actual data.

“In other words, does the data show that millennials are causing the Canadian labour force to have a lower job tenure today than in past generations?”

Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre

II.1   Overall Job Tenure

When we look at the Canadian labour force tenure without taking into consideration the workers’ age and the type of work (full-time and part-time), job tenure (meaning the number of consecutive months or years a person has worked for their current or most recent employer) has increased along with the number of workers since 1976, as illustrated on graph 1.

Source: Data from Statistics Canada were used to make this graph
In January 1976, 10.4 million people were in the Canadian labour force, and in December 2018 this number reached 19.9 million. In the meantime, the job tenure moved from 83.7 months to 102 months for this period.

This overall job tenure progression demonstrates a good standing for the Canadian labour force, and allows me to confirm my first finding:

“Finding 1.On average, Canadian workers stay longer in a company today than they did 42 years ago.

Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre

Does this stay consistent when we consider job tenure based on workers’ age? Let’s take a look.

II.2   Job Tenure Based On Workers Age
Graph 2, below, shows us that the worker’s age correlates with job tenure. In fact:
  • Workers aged 15-24 stay in their organisation an average of 18.5 months
  • Workers aged 25-44 remain in their company an average of 73 months
  • Workers aged 45 years or more have an average tenure of 165.25 months
The correlation between the worker’s age and the job tenure is not a new reality and has historically been justified by many factors: low wages for young workers, family responsibilities for middle-aged workers, and older workers’ preparation for retirement, etc.
Source: Data from Statistics Canada were used to make this graph

But do millennials (born 1981 – 1996) have a lower job tenure than the generations of workers preceding them? For instance, did employees born in 1960 stay longer at their jobs when they were in their 20s than a worker born in 1982 did when they were the same age? Let’s take a look.

II.3     Behaviour Of Generations Regarding Job Tenure

Using data from Statistics Canada and the Pew Research Centre, I have defined five (5) generations of workers for the period between 1976 and 2018 in Canada:

  • The Silent Generation (born 1919-1945): These people experienced World War II, as well as many technological advancements, including live-voice broadcasting through radio.
  • Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964): These people experienced the birth of television.
  • Generation X (born 1965-1980): These people experienced a computer revolution and adapted to today’s technology.
  • Millennials or Generation Y (born 1981-1996): These people grew up in a digital world where the internet became the new norm.
  • Generation Z or Post-Millennials (born after 1996): These people are growing up in a tech-heavy world with artificial intelligence on the rise.

Assuming a typical retirement age of 65, I have mapped the presence of each generation of workers for each age group in the table below:



Using the data from the table below, I analyzed the behaviour of each generation of workers regarding job tenure, from their younger age range in the labour market (15-24 years old) to middle-age (25-44 years old) and finally for the group 45 years old and over.

Tab1. Breakdown Of The Canadian Workforce Per Generations Of People Between 1976 and 2018

II.3.1     Canadian Workers Aged 15-24 years between 1976-2018

  • Millennials joined the 15-24 age group in 1996 and are still part of that group at the end of 2018.
  • Before the arrival of millennials, the average job tenure of workers aged 15-24 years was 19 months.
  • Since the arrival of the millennials, the average job tenure of that group is now at 18 months.


Let’s not make a big deal for only one month of difference! Millennials are not the only generation of workers in the group between 1976 and 2018. Remember that Generation X belonged to that group until 2004, and Generation Z (or post-millennials) joined the group in 2012.

Tab1. Breakdown Of The Canadian Workforce Per Generations Of People Between 1976 and 2018


Source: Data from Statistics Canada were used to make this graph

Finding 2.The job tenure of the 15-24 age group remains steady over the course of the last 42 years, despite the presence of Millennials.

Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre

II.3.2     Canadian Workers Aged 25-44 years between 1976-2018
  • Millennials joined the 25-44 age group in 2006 and are still part of that group today. The job tenure of the group has decreased to 71 months on average since 2006 and the tenure has never been higher than that since. From 1982 to 2005, this average was 76 months, as shown in graph 4 below.
  • Again, it’s difficult to blame millennials for this drop-in tenure, since Baby Boomers were also a part of this group until 2008, as well as Generation X (who have been part of this age group since 1990).
II.3.3    Canadian Workers Aged 45 and over between 1976-2018
Workers aged 45 and over have experienced a drop-in job tenure from 167.42 months on average until 1998 to 162.75 months on average since 1999, as shown in graph 5. Paradoxically that group does not include millennials, but instead includes: The Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, and Generation X at various points of time. This leads me to confirm my third finding:

Finding 3. There are factors other than workers’ age that are influencing employment length. This explains the noticeable drop in tenure of Canadian workers aged 25-44 and 45 and over.

Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre

Knowing that generations are usually impacted by what they experience, what type of major changes (economic, technological, political, social, environmental, etc.) in the early 2000s started impacting the labour market and could have influenced the job tenure of Canadian core workers (25-44 years and 45 years and over)?

Source: Data from Statistics Canada were used to make this graph
II.4     The Age Of Digital Connection
Since the late 1990s/early 2000s, we are now living in the age of digital connection. With the rise of the internet and enhancement of communication devices, switching jobs has become easier than ever, which is likely having an impact on job tenure. Here are just a few ways that the internet has changed the workforce:
  • Through their phones or other communication devices, workers can quickly learn about other companies and what they have to offer employees with Google, Workopolis, Indeed, Glassdoor, etc.
  • Social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter provide an increased visibility to the labour force.
  • Online job applications makes it faster and cheaper than ever to apply for a new job.
  • In other words, the age of digital connection allows workers to have easier access to alternative job opportunities.

Instead of staying in an organization by default due to limited information about the market, workers can now more easily find an employer who could offer them what they truly value and/or want (better salary, career development and opportunity, flexibility at work, respect, benefits, recognition, inclusion, etc.)

Finding 4. Due to the rise of the internet and enhancement of communication devices, switching jobs has become easier than ever, which is impacting job tenure across all generations.

Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre


The problem is this: A malaise in organizations adds up to factors that impact job tenure: low employee engagement.

In other words, organisations are experiencing a workforce engagement crisis, and their failure to address that could jeopardise their bottom line in the long term.

Today, 85% of employees in organisations are not engaged or actively disengaged at work (Gallup) and, for the Canadian labour force, a 2016 study from the Conference Board of Canada reports that only 27% of employees in Canada are highly engaged. The increase in recent decades of active Canadian workers who are looking for a new job is an expression of the Canadian labour force disengagement. Manon Langevin (an analyst with Statistics Canada) confirmed in his study titled Workers looking for a new job that, “In 2014, 12% of salaried workers in Canada reported that they were looking for a new job, compared with 5% in the mid-1990s.”

In other words, no matter their age or years of service, an employee can decide to leave your organisation for a competitor if they believe they will receive what they want and/or value with that new company. In that sense, a recent employees survey from Mercer (Inside Employees’ Minds, 2015) confirmed that 56% of Canadian workers who are satisfied or very satisfied with their organisation are still considering leaving, and 67% of senior management in Canada are seriously considering leaving their organisation at the present time.

Those results should be enough to urge CEOs and other business leaders to find ways to optimize workforce engagement, not tomorrow, but right now for current employees, and from day one for future employees.

Solutions to workforce engagement optimisation must adapt to the specific needs of the generation of workers in your organisation, as workers of different ages value different things. In addition, never assume that employees are happy: you must effectively monitor your workplace by making it a high-feedback environment and constantly act upon what you learn.


In conclusion, instead of focusing on false ideas about why employees are less loyal in today’s workforce, we should all follow the trends of companies that are workforce-centric and understand the importance of employee engagement for their bottom line (e.g. Google, Microsoft). Today, candidates can afford to be more selective when it comes to their future employers, and they often have multiple offers to choose from. So, when they choose to join your organisation, it is because they believe in you and your company. We need to optimize their journey from day one and treat them as our most valued asset, because they are. Employees want to work for you, but they will leave if they realize that choosing to work in your organisation was a wrong decision. A focus on employee engagement will help us avoid using the poor excuse about the lack of loyalty of millennials and will provide us with the opportunity to reconnect with how we can win the hearts of our staff by showing them that they are truly valued.


Tab 2. Canadian Labour Force Job Tenure From 1976 -2018 And Rounded Per Generation – Created With Data Retrieved From Statistic Canada Report “Job tenure by type of work (full- and part-time), annual 1”


Unemployment rate, participation rate, and employment rate by sex, annual. Statistics Canada

Job tenure by type of work (full- and part-time), annual 1. Statistics Canada

Generations in Canada. Statistics Canada

Dimock M., Defining generations: Where Millennials end and Generation Z begins (2019). Pew Research Center

Inside Employees’ minds (2015). Mercer

Canada’s Best Employers – 2019 Ranking. Forbes

Langevin M., Workers looking for a new job (2018). Insights on Canadian Society – Statistics Canada

Armstrong T., Wright R., Employee Engagement: Leveraging the Science to Inspire Great Performance (2016). The Conference Board of Canada

Dismal Employee Engagement Is a Sign of Global Mismanagement. Gallup