PwC: How Private Companies Are Making Decisions

The majority of Canadian executives surveyed said that they were still relying more heavily on human judgement than on data and analytics when making big decisions. An interesting insight, given that according to our previously conducted CEO Survey, 54% of private company CEOs stressed the use of technology in assessing and delivering on stakeholder expectations.

Organizations that combine the powers of mind and machine can enable their decision making,, take timely action and gain a competitive advantage. It’s true, however, that the usability of each method depends largely on the sector. For example, in the survey, insurance companies were found to rely heavily on machine algorithms, while asset management companies continue to rely mostly on human judgement. Other industries, such as banking and capital markets and the retail and consumer industry, prefer a balance of the two. Overall, the goal across the majority of sectors is a more holistic approach, leveraging the capabilities of machine algorithms and human judgement to create better outcomes.

CEOs have acknowledged the potential power of data and analytics in increasing their competitive advantage and strides for growth. So why aren’t all companies in Canada adopting data analytics to help make their decisions? Reasons for non-adoption have been attributed to a lack of resources, budgetary restrictions, and a lack of courage among leadership. Read more about our findings in our Global Data and Analytics Survey 2016, Big Decisions.


The Women Presidents’ Organization would like to thank PricewaterhouseCoopers for providing this week’s sponsor blog content. 




WPO Guest Blog: Why data Security Should Be A Priority For All Businesses

By: Nicolene Schoeman – Louw

According to the 2016 Internet Security Threat Report from Symantec – 62% of data theft victims are small to mid-size businesses. In addition, 40% of data breaches are caused by external intrusions.[1]  In this context, external intrusions refer to third parties with access to your network or other personal devices connecting to your networks.

What the above indicates, is that not only large businesses, whom we would perceive as facing the most risk because of their clientele, but also small to medium sized operations are being targeted. According to a recent study, the cost of a data breach is about $4 million.[2]

Another important point to ponder, besides the obvious fact that most businesses obtain, use and store client data, and have for a long time; is the fact that all businesses, without exception, collect, use and store data as part of their operations. With this, I mean employee, supplier and stakeholder data. From these observations, I hope to illustrate the point that all businesses collect, use and store data and that data security is something that concerns all businesses – small, medium and large.

The real risk

Although this aspect should be taken seriously by all, smaller businesses find themselves particularly vulnerable for a number of reasons.  Before we delve into this further, let us first answer the question: what is a small business? In revenue, infrastructure or number of staff? Small or consolidated infrastructure does not necessarily mean small revenue streams.  It’s not about the size but rather a thought pattern.

According to Bindu Sundaresan, a senior security professional for AT&T: “They feel like ‘Who’s going to come after me?’” “I find that most small businesses don’t understand the impact of a cyber security breach outside of their business. They’re basically a pawn in a larger game.” [1]Accordingly, the days of thinking this does not apply to you or is not a priority, is over.

Recommended best practices

  1. Don’t underestimate the threat.
  2. Less is more – don’t collect what you don’t really need.
  3. Collect, use and store only the information you truly need.
  4. Obtain consent from the owner of the information and only collect information or data where you have the required consent to do so.
  5. If you need to collect it, ensure you have a data collection and storage policy in place. Outline which personal information you have, where you are storing it, how you are using it and who has access to it.
  6. It is important that this policy is clear, understood by and easily accessible to staff and clients. In addition, ensure that it clearly outlines how you are keeping personal information safe.
  7. Observe and comply.
  8. In addition to implementing a policy, obtain advice on any legislative provisions in the jurisdiction you are operating in. Most businesses set the minimum standards of care or acceptable best practices in relation to their data collection, storage and protection. Ensure you comply with these provisions and incorporate it in your data collection and storage policies.
  9. Educate and train your employees.


© Nicolene Schoeman –Louw is an attorney of the High Court of South Africa and the Managing Director of SchoemanLaw Inc in Cape Town, South Africa.



[1] accessed 06/02/2017

[1] accessed 06/02/2017

[2] accessed 06/02/2017.

Huffington Post: This Is Why Diversity Is Good For Business

By: Steven Murphy

The business case for diversity is compelling. Having different opinions at the table is critical for innovation in the information age. Research by McKinsey shows that companies with more diverse workforces see greater financial returns. The study found that companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity and those in the top quartile for gender diversity are respectively 35 per cent and 15 per cent more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians. This report is one of many pieces of evidence telling us what we already know: Diversity drives innovation and innovation helps drive bottom-line results.

The World Economic Forum reports that immigrants tend to be among the most entrepreneurial and innovative. “Skilled immigrants account for over half of Silicon Valley start-ups and over half of patents, even though they make up less than 15 per cent of the population,” write Khalid Koser and Ratna Omidvar.

The world is no longer white and male — and it’s time businesses woke up to this new reality. So how can businesses foster diversity?

Let workforce diversity reflect your clients

Hire and retain a workforce that reflects your clients so you are able to better understand and serve them. As Zabeen Hirji, chief human resources officer at RBC, once said: “To win in your market, you need to hire the market.” She echoes my experience at the Ted Rogers School. When I first started in my role as Dean, I was struck by how diverse the student body was so I made diversity a priority in the school’s strategic plans, including the hiring of the Dean’s Council. We live in one of the most diverse countries in the world and must leverage this wonderful advantage for better business and more competitive positioning globally.

The “minorities” in Canada are now the majority, and while it is exciting to see this reality in our downtown Toronto business school, business has yet to fully respond to fundamental hiring issues including implicit bias.

Set the tone at the top

Make diversity, inclusion and equity part of your organization’s core values. Set the attitude at the top and show commitment to diversity at the board and C-suite levels in order to send a clear message to the rest of the organization. If you tolerate a workplace where only a certain type of the population thrives, then that’s what you’ll get. Women and racialized groups would simply end up leaving your company in search of a better workplace culture, which would eventually hurt the business.

We have the talent assets all around us. But change will only occur if we recognize the power of implicit bias and actively work to engage women and racialized groups in all aspects of the business. A glacial rate of change equates to a failing grade.

Get them while they’re young

The Millennial generation is expected to make up 75 per cent of the global workforce by 2025. Talk to your workforce, especially your young employees, about company values. Create a culture where everybody has a fair chance of succeeding, regardless of gender, race, ethnic, sexual orientation or religious belief. Plant the seeds now so future workforce generations may reap the benefits of diversity.

In an age where diversity is being threatened by fear, it is critical that Canada be the beacon of gender and cultural equality. To this end, we have much to be proud of, but much work remains to be done.

The Encore – AVIS: Commit to Planning Ahead for Road Safety

Big business trip planned? A special level of attention to detail is needed when preparing to drive. No matter how much planning goes into ensuring a safe trip, no one ever plans to be in a crash. Take the time to be prepared and be safe.

Big trip:

  • Do your homework – know your route and set your navigation before leaving.
  • Check the oil, tires, air pressure, windshield wipers and fluid.
  • Check the weather forecast.
  • Make sure every person in every seat wears a seatbelt.
  • Remember to take breaks.
  • When riding in a taxi or using a car service, never let safety take a back seat. Crashes happen in all types of vehicles, with all levels of drivers at any time in any place. Always buckle up – no matter who is doing the driving.

Will your teenage driver be using the car while you are away on business? Teens look to their parents for driving advice. Always lead by example and make sure to give them the right tips.

NHTSA reminds parents to set the rules before they hit the road with “5 to Drive”:

  • No cell phones while driving.
  • No extra passengers.
  • No speeding.
  • No alcohol.
  • No driving or riding without a seatbelt.

If you are planning to bring small children with you on your business trip:

  • Know your state’s requirements.
  • Car seats and booster seats – know the difference.
  • The National Safety Council recommends that all children 12 and under should ride properly restrained in the back seat.
  • Always read your child restraint manual on properly using the restraint.
  • If you have questions check with your local community’s Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician.


Visit to save up to 25% off your rental on your next business trip.

Forbes: 5 More Assists That Will Help Women Entrepreneurs Score in 2017

By: Geri Stengel

The economy would grow 10-12% by 2025 if women had parity, according to The Power of Parity: How Advancing Women’s Equality Can Add $12 Trillion to Global Growth by McKinsey Global Institute.

Financing is key to that, as I wrote in 14 Assists That Will Help Women Entrepreneurs Score in 2017. But other things, such as affordable healthcare and childcare, paid family leave, access to markets and getting paid on time are also important. Everyone has a role to play. From government to investors, from corporations to women entrepreneurs, concrete actions will ultimately create more jobs for everyone.

  1. Providing affordable high quality healthcare is an imperative

“In order to compete with other businesses, large and small, you need to give American workers what they want — and need — which is a decent benefits package, including healthcare,” said Rieva Lesonsky, small business and entrepreneurship thought leader, advocate, journalist and founder of GrowBiz Media.. “Unfortunately, too many small businesses can’t afford to (or simply don’t want  to) provide for their staff. Those businesses will continue to lose the trained, smart, qualified employees they seek because those workers will go to work for businesses that provide those benefits.”

“We were pleased to see Congress reinstate Health Reimbursement Arrangements [HRA] that offer business owners an easy and tax-friendly way to subsidize employee medical costs, including insurance premiums,” said Jane Campbell, president of Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), a national nonpartisan public policy organization that advocates for and on behalf of women business owners. HRA allows companies with fewer than 50 full-time employees to reimburse employees’ for purchasing individual health insurance as if it were directly paying the premiums on a group health policy. The employee won’t have to pay taxes on the company’s premium contribution nor will the company owe payroll taxes on it.

In the last few years, concern has grown about the rate of new business start-ups. They are the primary source of job creation in U.S. “I fear the startup rate will decrease even more if there’s no affordable healthcare options for new entrepreneurs,” said Lesonsky “How many who want to start their own businesses will instead have to find jobs (with health insurance)?”

“Prior to the ACA [Affordable Care Act], the small business market’s biggest challenge was access. Plans were cancelled the minute an employee got sick. Small businesses need stability in this marketplace which, to some extent, the exchanges provided,” said Campbell. “We hope the new Congress and Administration make choices that give small businesses affordable access to health insurance. We need simple and flexible healthcare options for women entrepreneurs in the coming year and beyond.”

  1. Affordable childcare is a critical

Childcare is the biggest expense after housing. This disportionately impacts poor women and single-mother families. Poverty rates are dramatically higher among single-mother families.

“Affordable, high-quality childcare has remarkably positive effects,” said Joya Misra, professor of sociology and public policy at the University of Massachusetts in Forget the Glass Ceiling: Build Your Business Without One. Countries with higher levels of publicly subsidized childcare have significantly higher levels of maternal employment and wages.

“Affordable childcare is the great equalizer,” said Misra. “Affordable, quality childcare allows more women (as the caregivers-in-chief for their families) to stay in the workforce,” said Jennifer Owens, in Forget the Glass Ceiling. She is the director of Working Mother Research Institute, which publishes the Working Mother 100 Best Companies and Working Mother magazine. “The loss of women in the workplace means a loss of diversity of thought, which leads to lower innovation and less knowledge of the primary consumer’s mindset.”

Click here to read more.

Fortune: It’s Time for Men to Call Out Manterrupters

By Jeffrey Tobias Halter

Gender equality only women’s responsibility.

The Leadership Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question, “How can you play a role in advancing workplace equality?” is written by Jeffery Tobias Halter, president of YWomen, author of Why Women: The Leadership Imperative to Advancing Women and Engaging Men, and speaker at the WIN Summit.

Women’s leadership advancement is slowly reaching a tipping point. In industries from ranging from pharma and finance to defense and technology, women’s voices are rising. But so are those of supportive men—especially ones in senior leadership positions. Smart progressive companies are finding ways to incorporate both men and women into the process of attracting, retaining, and advancing women in the workplace. These companies have embraced four key approaches:

Listening to women’s concerns

Are you genuinely listening to the issues, concerns, and workplace issues of your female employees? I encourage senior male leaders to take a female coworker to coffee and ask her about the experience she’s having at work. Chances are, she’s not going to tell you initially because most women don’t want to be the flag bearer for all issues related to the status of women in the workplace. You’ll need to form close relationships with your female colleagues if you want to get to a point where they can talk to you openly about their difficulties in the workplace.

Through these discussions, you’ll find out that men and women are having significantly different professional experiences. One in two women (versus roughly one in four men) believe gender bias is alive in organizations today. While the workplace has evolved from Mad Men’s 1960s depiction, gender bias exists today in much more subtle terms and actions. Have you noticed that women are more likely to be interrupted in a meeting (even by other women) than men? Or that there’s an assumption that women will take notes, plan, and follow up—even when among colleagues at the same professional level? By understanding your female colleagues’ experiences better, it will be much easier to recognize and correct gender bias as it occurs.

Recognizing gender differences

It’s also important to understand that men and women behave differently at work. Research on brain functions demonstrate that most men have a more focused and linear thinking approach that favors decisiveness in words and actions. Women tend to focus more on intuition and collaboration. This research highlights the way men and women solve problems, network, and negotiate.

This has huge implications for organizations. For example, a Deloitte study on gender in sales teams demonstrated that women are much more attuned to reading non-verbal buyer behaviors, and therefore better at developing deeper relations with customers.

Developing diverse talent

Leaders need to ask tough questions and hold others accountable for creating a diverse workforce. Over half of DiversityInc’s top 50 companies for diversity tie executive compensation to the development and retention of diverse talent. Senior leaders need to regularly review their staff to ensure that talented women are being identified early in their careers.

If you don’t have enough women applying for positions, ask your managers and human resources team why not. Perhaps your managers aren’t developing and retaining people with different backgrounds. If that’s the case, find new managers. Or perhaps you can pursue alternate avenues to find women with strong potential. No matter what you do, make sure that your message of promoting a diverse team is clear.

Taking action

If gender issues are present in your company, you must address them. The first step to fixing a problem is to find out of it exists. If you don’t make the effort to look at your company honestly, nothing will really change.

Once you’ve done so, you can start to take specific actions. For example, does your company review pay equity by gender and job grade? If not, request periodic reports on this, and if you detect and issue, assign someone to fix it.

You can also work to demonstrate visual advocacy on women’s behalf. If you see a woman being talked over in a meeting, call it out and make sure her voice is heard. Finally, encourage women to apply for assignments beyond their current job title, in order to develop them further.

Companies that embrace these approaches are going to win the war for women in the workplace.


Walmart: Looking Ahead in 2017

Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer with nearly 1.5 million associates in the U.S., discussed company plans to create American jobs and invest in local communities across the country. The investments in the coming year will support an estimated 34,000 jobs through continued expansion and improvement in the company’s store network, as well as e-commerce services, while providing specialty training for more than 225,000 of the company’s frontline associates. The company and the Walmart Foundation, in conjunction with The U.S. Conference of Mayors, are also announcing grants through the U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund to advance sustainability and innovation in textile manufacturing.

 “Walmart is investing to better serve customers,” said Dan Bartlett, Walmart executive vice president for corporate affairs. “With a presence in thousands of communities and a vast supplier network, we know we play an important role in supporting and creating American jobs. Our 2017 plans to grow our business – and our support for innovation in the textile industry – will have a meaningful impact across the county.”

Walmart is planning $6.8 billion of capital investments in the U.S. in the coming fiscal year, which includes construction and remodeling of stores, clubs and distribution centers, as well as the expansion of new services such as Online Grocery Pickup. Walmart’s fiscal year begins Feb. 1; the company’s capital plans were first shared in October. Bartlett discussed the company’s investments in job creation and associates — and announced Innovation Fund grants to support the U.S. textile sector — at the 85th Winter Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington, D.C.

To learn more about Walmart’s commitment and 2017 goals, click here.  

The Women Presidents’ Organization would like to thank Walmart for providing this week’s sponsor blog content.