During his first trip as a global leader to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told his audience there was no better time than now for the world “to look to Canada.” He was speaking, among other things, about Canada’s very public recent emphasis on embracing diversity and its role in influencing the technological innovations changing the way the world works. He argued, “Diversity fosters new ideas. New ideas generate the experimentation needed to make the most of the 4th Industrial Revolution. And diversity is something leaders can do much about.”

This isn’t the first time the progressive, forty-something Trudeau has brought the issue of diversity and gender parity into the spotlight. This past November, he was asked why half of the members he appointed to his new cabinet were women and famously answered, “Because it’s 2015!” He even used social media to help recruit and encourage women to run for Parliament. As a native Canadian, I am absolutely thrilled to see a political climate in which diversity is not just embraced, but expected. 

And it’s clear that the 15 women appointed to Trudeau’s cabinet weren’t just for diversity’s sake — each one carries a resume with the experience and perspectives needed to lead. The new minister of justice and attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, is an aboriginal leader who had a legal career as a Crown prosecutor before distinguishing herself working on aboriginal issues. Diane Lebouthillier, the head of national revenue, is the previous warden of the regional municipality of Rocher-Percé as well as a business owner. Chrystia Freeland, the minister of international trade, is a former Rhodes Scholar and journalist. Marie-Claude Bibeau, the minister for international development and la Francophonie, was a successful business owner and corporate board member, and previously served at the Canadian International Development Agency.  

After all, it was 2015. And now that it’s 2016, I am looking forward to a year when the business community adopts a Trudeau-like approach to seeking out and hiring new talent. My particular area of expertise is banking – a traditionally male-dominated industry. Still, we’ve seen women ascend to executive leadership posts at some of the largest financial firms. And here at PwC, more women than ever before now lead our largest client service teams - the bread and butter for our firm.  

But I know there is more work to be done in this sector. In 2013, only 19 percent of senior level positions in financial services were held by women, even though women accounted for 60 percent of the employees in the industry. More troubling, only 14 percent of board seats were held by women and a mere 2 percent of financial services CEOs were female. 

PwC shed light on potential opportunities and trouble areas in this industry with our survey of Female Millennials in Financial Services. We found that diversity and inclusiveness are now competitive imperatives in the financial marketplace and something that investors, boards and clients all demand. Our research found a majority of respondents in this field indicated that career progression (most important) and being rewarded well (next most important) were key attributes they looked for in an employer. Millennials will leave employers if they don’t offer those opportunities. Not only are these future leaders ready to be challenged, they’re holding us accountable to reward them for accepting those challenges. 

In the past, lack of diversity was blamed on lack of talent, experience, or qualifications to lead. But that argument just doesn’t stand anymore. Our future leaders won’t wait to see a reflection of themselves in current leadership; they’ll find places where opportunities and leadership profiles mirror their qualifications and aspirations – or they’ll likely create their own. And who could blame them? Women have been full-fledged members of the workforce for decades now. For years they have made up a significant number of graduate school students and received the majority of post-graduate degrees. The reflection of that set of experiences and qualifications in leadership only makes sense, especially in 2016. 

As is often the case in politics, Prime Minister Trudeau is at the right place at the right time. This apparent leap forward in diversity simply captures the collective impact of societal shifts taking place for years. Do we have much more to do? Absolutely. Am I optimistic that we can take advantage of opportunities in front of us in 2016? Yes. After all, what year is it?