Get on Board Corporate Canada

Greater transparency needed for gender diversity on Canadian boards

Beata Caranci, SVP & Chief Economist | 416-982-8067

Date Published: March 7, 2013

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Highlights

  • A recent slip in international rankings marks a red flag on Canada’s progress in gender diversity on corporate boards of directors.
  • While other countries actively implement gender diversity policies within corporate governance, Canada sits silent. At the same time, women represent only 11% of board members for firms on the S&P/TSX composite index.
  • To advance women’s representation in the boardroom, some jurisdictions have pursued binding quotas. But, these can have unintended consequences and could impose a significant burden on Canadian corporations.
  • Increasing success has been achieved internationally with ‘comply or explain’ corporate governance policies on gender diversity. These policies have proven effective in moving the yardstick forward on gender diversity at the board level, even in the absence of penalties. This approach seems better suited to Canada’s corporate landscape
  • A good first step would be for publicly traded companies to disclose how gender diversity is considered in the nomination process for new directors. In addition, firms would disclose the proportion of women at the board and senior executive level of the corporation, so that progress can be measured over time. These steps would increase transparency, awareness, and accountability on gender diversity, and could help accelerate women’s representation in the upper echelons of corporate Canada.

Full report in PDF format is available here.

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