TO Establishment

Kathleen Taylor

The former CEO of Four Seasons and former Chair of RBC is one of the most powerful grandees in the country.
OPM 4 min read

I had to write about Kathleen Taylor to appease my readers who want content about Establishment types. Her main claim to fame is that she was the handpicked successor of Issy Sharp as CEO of the Four Seasons hotel chain. She was also the first woman to chair the board of a Big Bank. Her tenure as Chair of RBC and director of CPP Investment Board ended earlier this year. She still holds multiple other prestigious directorships: at Air Canada, at billionaire Peter Gilgan’s Mattamy Asset Management and at global staffing giant Adecco, among others. She’s also involved with golf course developer Cabot Collection and chairs Altas Partners, a private equity firm that grew from startup to around $10B in AUM in about 10 years. Incidentally, ex-Rogers CEO Joe Natale is on the advisory board of Altas Partners. For a while, I was concerned with his situation (see below), but Joe Natale has now gotten a string of appointments, not to mention that he’s suing Rogers for wrongful dismissal.

I suppose an old-school journalist would fawn over Kathleen Taylor’s titles and accolades. But I see women as more than the sum total of their career achievements. I want to judge Kathleen Taylor based on her appearance.

In the lingo of headhunters, she “presents well”, as you can see. Although I do feel it’s a mistake to go to your hairstylist and say: "Give me the Stephen Harper".

Here she is giving a speech to Rotman's 2019 graduating class dressed as a hot librarian.

This is just cruel. Just because you're into female empowerment doesn't mean you can blue ball young men like this. By the way, the "True leaders should not be viewed as bosses." that you see captioned on the picture is pretty representative of an incredibly bland speech. If these are her best ideas, I am not surprised she relentlessly seeks “diverse perspectives”.

I believe the business press often dehumanizes female business leaders by treating them as mere economic agents. I won’t stand for it! Too much? Wikipedia’s entry for her says: “Kathleen Taylor (business executive).” Wrong! Misogynistic! It should be: business executive, hot mom and hot teacher. Actually, she’s not exactly a teacher, but in May, she was named Chancellor of York University. Here’s another one of her incarnations:

No one believes in personal branding more than NoBull Klev. Still, I believe it’s a mistake to go to your personal stylist and say: "Give me the Don Cherry". You can see her eyewear has gotten ever more flamboyant. Bruce Leboff must have gotten to her.

Predictably for a blue chip director, Kathleen professes to believe in the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion horses*it. Just to be clear, let me say I am also a strong supporter of the DEI horses*it. If KT is so concerned with the welfare of women, has she ever tried to get RBC not to sell crappy products to them? Not selling crappy products would do far more for the welfare of all disadvantaged groups than if every corporate board in the country was made up exclusively of transgendered quadriplegic black people. Kathleen Taylor is such a conventional thinker, if she had been born in Afghanistan, she'd be campaigning for women being able to wear more colourful burkas.

Kathleen Taylor's diversity-loving ways do not extend to sending her kids to study in Scarborough - she stuck with Upper Canada College and Branksome Hall. Her son Taylor Harris was given the Young Alumni Award by Huron University College in 2021, the same year RBC made a $200k donation. Shortly after graduating from Cambridge University, he already has an endowed a scholarship in his own name. But let's stick with the principal. Despite making her mark on Four Seasons over a 25-year career, KT was ousted three years into her tenure as CEO, once the company was under the control of Bill Gates and Saudi prince Al Waleed bin Talal. You might think that KT being an even bigger square than David Johnston, I am grasping at straws to find any kompromat on her. You underestimate me. I found this video, where, in an unguarded moment, KT admits that she gamed the educational system to get ahead.


I want to puke. She is still packing in extra-curricular activities, despite not being eligible for scholarships. This is part of a broader trend where women are dominating tertiary studies using such lowly tactics as reading, taking notes and doing their homework. For example, KT’s York University’s student population is now 56% female. But one way the patriarchy endures is by shifting the goalposts. Formal education, outside of vocational fields, is increasingly considered irrelevant. Much like serving on bank boards. I don’t think a twenty-something is dreaming: if only I could one day serve on the board of a Big Bank. I would bet most of you couldn’t name RBC’s current Chair, ie Kathleen’s successor. Who also happens to be a woman. OMG, you're such a chauvinist. The patriarchy is always shifting and coming up with new trophies.

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