Three EY partners named WXN 2015 Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winners

Women in leadership positions help enhance organizational performance

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(Toronto, 26 November 2015) –– EY is pleased to announce three of its partners – Fiona Macfarlane, Elise Rees and Colleen McMorrow – are among the Women's Executive Network (WXN) 2015 Canada's Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winners. EY has long been a strong advocate for the advancement of women in leadership positions, and has recently called on organizations around the globe to do more to accelerate progress on closing the gender parity gap.

“We’re very proud that these three women are being recognized for their achievements,” says Trent Henry, EY Canada’s Chairman and CEO. “Their accomplishments are varied and impressive, and their skills have contributed to all corners of our organization. They are great role models, and examples of why we need more women in leadership roles.”

EY - 2015 Canada's Most Powerful Women

Three EY partners named WXN 2015 Canada's Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winners (from left to right): Colleen McMorrow, Fiona Macfarlane, Elise Rees

Launched in 2003, the Top 100 Awards celebrate the incredible accomplishments of Canada’s top female executive talent as well as their organizations and networks. Fiona Macfarlane is EY’s Managing Partner in British Columbia, and is also the firm’s Chief Inclusiveness Officer. Macfarlane is being honoured for the fourth time, and is also being inducted into the WXN Hall of Fame. Elise Rees is a Transaction Tax Partner based in Vancouver who has been a leader inside the firm and within her community for more than three decades. Colleen McMorrow is an Assurance Partner based in Toronto, and is also the firm’s Canadian Strategic Growth Markets Leader and National Entrepreneur Of The Year Program Director. McMorrow is a strong advocate for recognizing entrepreneurial women whose businesses have potential, and helping them to think big, be bold and scale.

At the beginning of 2015, EY published a report, Women. Fast forward: The time for gender parity is now, that highlights how organizations can create more supportive environments for women to succeed and help companies and economies achieve greater economic returns. The report found that while 33% of women and 30% men agree that women must take a proactive approach to their own careers, this will not be enough to accelerate change.

“Men and women must work together to demonstrate how women’s careers can progress,” says Henry. “We need to eliminate conscious and unconscious bias, and establish progressive policies to close the gender parity gap.”

Women. Fast forward identifies three clear steps that organizations can take to help accelerate gender equality:

  1. Illuminate the path to leadership. Good opportunities for progression are considered a top enabler by men (26%) and women (35%), suggesting that organizations must work harder to make the path ahead clearer to women, demonstrate what is possible and show them career opportunities that match their skills and ambition.
  2. Speed up culture change with corporate policy change. The twin enablers of work/life balance and flexibility are high on the women’s list of accelerators. From its own experience and what the high-performer responses suggest, EY says informal flexibility for both men and women is highly effective in helping all employees balance their personal and professional lives.
  3. Establish a supportive environment and work to eliminate conscious and unconscious bias. Men cited unconscious bias as the number one barrier for women in the workplace. Twenty-seven percent of men said that in their own experiences having a supportive culture is the best way to support women’s career advancement. To advance women, EY recommends that leaders must spread an organization-wide message that bias is unacceptable.

For more information about Women. Fast forward visit:

Macfarlane, Rees and McMorrow will be honoured at a gala celebration at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre tonight, 26 November. The full list of WXN’s 2015 Canada's Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winners can be found at


About the winners
Fiona Macfarlane joined EY in 1983 in Cape Town, South Africa, and relocated to EY’s Calgary office in 1987. She has held leadership positions within the firm in both Ontario and British Columbia and since then has had a profound impact with her dual title as Managing Partner and Chief Inclusiveness Officer.

Elise Rees joined the firm in 1981 as a Staff Accountant. She worked her way up to a Senior Manager in the Assurance, then Tax practice, before assuming her current position as Transaction Tax Partner in 1998. She has been a leader inside and outside the Vancouver office and has helped changed the landscape for women during her career.

Colleen McMorrow joined EY’s Montreal office in 1978 and currently works as a Partner in the firm’s Assurance practice, advising high-growth public and private companies, from start-up to market leaders. She is also the National Program Director for the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year program.

About EY
EY is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. For more than 150 years in Canada, we’ve delivered the insights and quality services that help build trust and confidence in capital markets here and in economies the world over. We develop outstanding leaders who team to deliver on our promises to all of our stakeholders. In so doing, we play a critical role in building a better working world for our people, for our clients and for our communities.

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