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Top workplace for women in Canada

Office workers walk through a green lit foyer of an office building in Melbourne May 5, 2009. REUTERS/Mick Tsikas/Files

When it comes to best places to work, employers score big when workers feel respected. That's one of the key ingredients that helped Royal LePage Performance Reality snag the top work spot for women in the Great Place to Work Institute's annual ranking.

The atmosphere at the Ottawa-area realtor, which employs some 300 people, is driven by what the company values including respect, integrity and a professional-yet-caring environment, says John Rogan, senior vice president of marketing and sales.

"We want to make sure that people, I like to use the words, skip to work; enjoy going to work," he says. The company strives to make workers feel appreciated. If employees and management trust each other then there's a feeling of being part of a family, says Rogan.

That includes holding events such as family picnics and dinner parties where management pamper administrative staff by serving them food and drinks. Because many support staff are working moms, Rogan says there's a huge effort by management to ensure a healthy work-life balance.

Flexible work arrangements

"Their personal life comes first. Their home life comes first. Their health comes first," says Rogan, who adds happy employees -- men and women -- are productive.

Laura White, chief financial officer at Royal LePage, says she had to leave her job for a few days last year to take care of her sick father. She knew she didn’t have to worry about what was being said around the office.

“No one batted an eyelash. And when I returned the first question wasn’t, ‘Did you get this done?’ It was: ‘How is your dad doing?’” White is quoted as saying in a special Globe and Mail informational feature that coincided with the survey’s launch. She added all men and women in the company are empowered to do their jobs well.

Last week, global research and consultancy, the Great Place to Work Institute, used its so-called employee survey called the Trust Index to rank the top 100 workplaces in Canada in a poll of 57,000 Canadians. Those that made it on the list offer excellent diversity in terms of size, sector, industry and location.

The survey included 59 multiple choice and two open-ended questions to provide an accurate employee perspective on what it is like to work in the organization. Each question measures one of five dimensions for the institute's trust-based model: credibility, respect, fairness pride, and camaraderie. Two-thirds of each organization’s final score is taken directly from that survey, while the remaining one-third is taken from what is essentially a "culture audit" of an organization.

Climbing the corporate ladder

Despite more flexible working arrangements, women in Canada have made few strides when it comes to climbing the corporate ladder. Canada’s largest cities are behind major U.S. centres when it comes to the proportion of management jobs held by women, according to a study by the Toronto Region Board of Trade.

The study, which compared various “human capital” trends for people living in 12 major North American cities, shows when it comes to the proportion of female management jobs most of Canada’s largest cities including Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Calgary rank below most major U.S. centres that were assessed.