A recent survey* by Randstad Canada, the Canadian leader for staffing, recruitment and HR services, reveals 61 per cent of Canadian women see themselves as risk-takers and innovators in the workplace. At the same time, they expect employers to do more to support their growth as technology transforms the workplace. Randstad surveyed Canadian women to understand their perspectives on workplace innovation, job security and the skills they will need to thrive in the next decade of their careers.

Perceived Threats: Industry and Age

Thirty per cent of employed women across all sectors expect they will lose their jobs within the decade due to advances in technology, such as automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Women employed in in the manufacturing sector feel the greatest vulnerability: 62 per cent believe their industry bears the greatest risk of job losses due to advances in technology in the next decade. This concern is echoed by 29 per cent of women working in IT and 24 per cent of women working in retail. Those employed in education, healthcare, and engineering and construction view their industries as stable by comparison.

Age is seen as a distinct disadvantage: 38 per cent believe Baby Boomers have the greatest risk of losing their jobs due to technology, compared to 21 per cent for Gen Xers and just 13 per cent for Millennials. Gender, by comparison, is not seen as an impediment. The majority (68 per cent) believe men and women are at equal risk of losing their jobs due to automation. Despite job security concerns in all industries, more than half the employed women surveyed (54 per cent) are not currently doing anything to protect their careers from being negatively impacted by technology. In contrast, when Randstad surveyed women who are currently studying, nearly half of them (48 per cent) report they’re specializing in a field that will prepare them for technological disruption in the workplace.

Expectations for Employers

Employers must be prepared to support workers through these changes. In cases where an employee’s job is automated or replaced by technology, there is overwhelming consensus that employers have a responsibility to assist the employee: 65 per cent believe the employee should be offered a different role within the same organization; 49 per cent also believe employers should offer retraining.

Innovation and Ambition

“Canadian women see themselves as innovators and risk-takers – they’re less risk averse than employers may think – which is good news as the workplace evolves. The creativity and flexibility that come with an innovative mindset will be important for both employees and employers in the next decade,” said Carolyn Levy, President, Technologies, Randstad Canada.

Engaging and nurturing these ambitions – for women in all industries and at every point in their careers – will be critical for attracting and retaining talent. Having more women in positions of authority and influence is seen as the best means of ensuring women are encouraged to be innovators and put forward new ideas.

More than half of employed women (57 per cent) want to see women promoted to leadership roles; 36 per cent want to see more women represented in board of director roles and 33 per cent want to see women-led panels to discuss and promote women’s voices in the workplace.

Preparing for the Decade Ahead

When asked to rank the skills that will be the most important in the next decade, 73 per cent of women ranked the ability to adapt to new technology as the most important. Ms. Levy cautions that while this is important, there are other considerations that employers will look for. “Canadians need to remember that behind the technology there will still be people. An agile mindset, which includes working collaboratively, embracing inclusivity and creative problem-solving will be the skills that set workers apart in the next decade, across all sectors.”

Randstad Canada commissioned the survey as part of its Women transforming the workplace initiative, exploring women, innovation and the workplace in Canada. The program includes a podcast series, Women in motion: female innovation at work, featuring interviews with innovators, and think tank sessions on the topic of innovation and automation held in Montreal and Toronto in November.

Visit randstad.ca/women/ to access all elements of the program and our LinkedIn group.