November 2016

Slow progress for Canadian women on boards, in executive positions

By Cecilia Keating

Women on boards infographicWomen hold 12 per cent of board seats in publicly-listed Canadian companies, just a one per cent increase from last year, according to a report published by the Canadian Securities Administrators on Sept. 28. The mining industry, which made up 26 per cent of the surveyed companies, has the highest percentage of boards devoid of female directors – a number that actually increased from last year – and is one of the sectors with the lowest number of companies with women in senior executive positions.

Ontario Securities Commission CEO Maureen Jensen urged companies at the Toronto Board of Trade on Sept. 27 to make gender diversity a priority when appointing board members and senior executive roles. Jensen noted 85 per cent of 521 board seats vacancies were filled by men last year.

The report looked at “comply-or-explain” disclosures from 677 listed companies. The disclosures detail each company’s approach to adding women to boards and senior executive positions. The measure was introduced by regulators in most provinces, excluding Alberta, Prince Edward Island, and British Columbia, in late 2014 to improve female representation in senior roles in publicly-traded companies.

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