Women have made serious headway in Canada's workforce over the past decade, so much so that in households with a working woman, they now contribute nearly as much as men, according to a new survey from banking giant CIBC.
The survey concludes that the financial industry will have to "re-think" how it does business to address the differing needs of the increasingly important cohort of female investors.
"In families in which there is an employed woman in the core-working-age demographic, women's earnings now account for a record-high 47 per cent of family income, almost double the share seen in the 1970s," economists Katherine Judge and Benjamin Tal wrote.
Since the Great Recession a decade ago, the share of women in Canada who are in the workforce rose by a full percentage point, while among men it declined slightly. The largest increase came among women aged 55-plus, who saw a 5-percentage-point jump in participation.
Women have also seen a lower unemployment rate than men since the last economic downturn, CIBC noted.
But that doesn't mean the gender gap has been beaten in the workforce. Women continue to earn less than men in 95 per cent of occupations, the CIBC study found, in part because women are still likelier to be in low-income jobs than men. But since the recession, women have landed a larger share of higher-earning jobs, and account for about a third of all higher-paying jobs today, CIBC said.
All the same, other research suggests that Canada continues to miss out on a great deal of economic potential due to the gender gap. Closing it would add $420 billion in additional value to Canada's economy over 10 years, a 2017 study from McKinsey Global Institute found.
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Many experts have credited expanded social benefits for helping women access the workforce more easily. Quebec's subsidized day care is often cited as the reason for why the province has the highest rate of female participation in the workforce.
The increase in the share of women in the workforce has been a boost to the economy, CIBC said, helping to push up job growth. Women accounted for more than half the jobs created since the last economic downturn, the report found.
"The importance of women's contributions to labour market activity has been on full display during the current (economic) cycle," Judge and Tal wrote.
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What this means is that the economy is changing, and an increasing share of wealth is in the hands of women, the CIBC economists wrote. Women now control some $2.2 trillion of wealth in Canada, and that is expected to rise by 70 per cent over the next decade.
"By then, women will directly control over one-third of total financial assets in the Canadian economy," Judge and Tal wrote.
"This trend will demand that much greater attention be given to planning and advice for women whose financial journeys often vary from those of men."
Rethinking investment for women
The CIBC survey found women get worse results on their financial investments than men.
Based on the bank's survey of 4,591 randomly selected Canadian adults last November and December, the report concluded that "single women are less confident in making investment decisions, compared to men."
The report concluded that "knowledge and discussion of these facts is critical in order for women to optimize investment returns. Gender-blind wealth management professionals will therefore need to re-think their approach."