EU votes for action over Hungary’s anti-LGBT law

Good. Now if Ottawa could show more political courage with respect to Quebec’s breaches of the constitution and charter:

The European Parliament has voted in favour of urgent legal action over Hungary’s new law banning the depiction of homosexuality to under-18s.

The new legislation breached “EU values, principles and law”, MEPs said.

The parliament added that the law was “another intentional and premeditated example of the gradual dismantling of fundamental rights in Hungary”.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban insists school policy is a matter for Hungary, not “Brussels bureaucrats”.

In a resolution passed on Thursday with 459 in favour, 147 against and 58 abstentions, MEPs said the latest developments in Hungary followed a broader pattern of political censorship.

The parliament urged the European Commission to use a new tool that allows the EU to reduce budget allocations to member states in breach of the rule of law, to ensure that the Hungarian government reverse the decision.

It also urged legal action against Hungary’s right-wing nationalist government at the European Court of Justice.

Critics say Hungary’s new law, which came into force on Thursday, equates homosexuality with paedophilia.

“This legislation uses the protection of children as an excuse to discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation,” EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday, calling it “a disgrace”.

“Whatever they do, we will not allow [LGBT] activists into our children’s kindergartens and schools,” Prime Minister Orban responded.

What impact will the new law have?

The new rules introduced by Hungary focus on increasing punishment for convicted paedophiles, but an amendment was passed on 15 June banning the portrayal or promotion of homosexuality among under-18s.

While it could affect sex education and advertising, and even stop TV favourites such as Friends or Harry Potter being broadcast until late at night, there are also fears that vulnerable young people could be deprived of important support.

Teaching sex education in schools will be limited to people approved by the government.

It is not yet clear what the penalties for breaching the law will be.

What other rules has Hungary introduced?

Hungary has introduced a number of similar decisions since Prime Minister Orban took power in 2010.

In December 2020, parliament banned same-sex couples from adopting children.

Earlier the same year, the country passed a law preventing people from legally changing their gender.

Hungary also does not recognise gay marriage.

Mr Orban has been widely criticised in the EU, accused of curbing the rights of migrants and other minorities, politicising the courts and media, and tolerating anti-Semitism. He says he is defending Hungary’s Christian values in a Europe gripped by left-wing liberalism.

Source: EU votes for action over Hungary’s anti-LGBT law

Time for widespread gender-neutral language in federal policy, legislation, say advocates

Of note:

The very act of not being included in government policy is discriminatory, says Estefan Cortes-Vargas, former Alberta MLA, diversity consultant, and one of the first openly non-binary people elected in Canada, referring to the sparse use of gender-neutral language. It’s an issue the federal government says it’s trying to fix, piece by piece.

This area has recently been a focus for the B.C. government, with sweeping changes made to more than 70 laws and regulations in March, replacing 600 clauses with gender-neutral terms.

According to Ravi Kahlon, B.C.’s minister of jobs, economic recovery, and innovation, these changes were made in an effort to increase accessibility.

Sherwin Modeste, executive director of Pride Toronto, praised the changes as very progressive but said it’s something that still needs to be done federally, “because federal legislation carries weight through all the provinces and territories.”

However, the federal justice department told The Hill Times in an email statement that it has been implementing gender-neutral language, albeit in a “piecemeal” fashion.

“Over the years, the practice has evolved with the use of ‘they’ and its other grammatical forms and other drafting techniques in the English version of Acts. New acts are drafted using these techniques. When existing Acts are amended the drafters will, whenever possible, update the wording of the provisions that are being changed to reflect existing drafting conventions,” Justice Canada spokesperson Ian McLeod wrote.

In French, a gendered language, there are grammatical rules that could affect legislative language, he said. The department is studying this area, with the review being undertaken by departmental “jurilinguists.”

“The use of inclusive language acknowledges and values human diversity, and recognizes that individuals have differing experiences, values, beliefs, and lifestyles,” Women and Gender Equality Canada spokesperson Maja Stefanovska said in an email.

While she didn’t specify if they’re being followed, Ms. Stefanovska said the Translation Bureau has linguistic recommendations on inclusive correspondence in French.

While the English side of things generally has gender neutral replacements, like “spouse” for husband and wife, and “they” for he or she, French’s analogues are gendered, said Lee Airton, assistant professor of gender and sexuality studies in education at Queen’s University.

“It is an entirely different process to create gender neutral law and policy in French … it would be much more difficult, but no less necessary,” they said.

Practically speaking, Hélène Frohard-Dourlent, a bilingual senior strategist at gender consulting firm TransFocus, said one possible strategy is adding a dot before the final “e” in a word to indicate both masculine and feminine forms as well as the possibility of other grammatical genders. Another method is to rephrase sentences, they said, like switching “Alex is happy” to “Alex is a happy person” thus preventing happy from being tied to the person’s gender.

“And then, inevitably, if you are committed to neutral or inclusive French, you have to invent some new words and some new endings that are themselves going to be more inclusive,” they said.

The problem with this, Dr. Frohard-Dourlent noted, is that these words have to be socialized to the point where readers will actually understand them.

As for what these terms might look like, Joel Harnest, co-executive director of QMUNITY, an LGBTQ+ resource centre, said that cues should be taken from French-speaking trans folk, who can share the emerging language and phrases.

He also noted that not everything should be gender neutral. While it makes sense for certain words like husband or wife, he said that there is still a need for gender-based language when “you need to specifically call attention to or talk about a certain gender experience.” As an example, he pointed towards policy around gender-based violence.

“If we move too fast to this utopian ideal of a genderless future, we’re not really acknowledging the reality that those people have to live,” Mr. Harnest said.

Overall though, Liana Cusmano, who is interim president of the Green Party and uses they/them pronouns, says they’re receptive to the current approach for changing terminology.

“I think that’s definitely a good place to start, which is to slowly do revisions and then, when drafting new material, to apply the agenda … I don’t think that it would be a good idea to rush,” they said, adding that relying on people practiced in those legislative areas along with consultation with inclusive experts would be the best approach.

Their own party is in the process of implementing gender-neutral language in both English and French. The Liberal Party, according to spokesperson Braeden Caley, also uses gender-inclusive language, with regular policy and document review. The NDP and Conservative Party did not respond to requests for comment on their parties’ approach.

Jade Pichette, Pride at Work Canada’s manager of programs, said that there has been a lot of effort already made to move towards more inclusive language, such as changes to the style guides of the Public Service Alliance Canada—the federal government’s largest public-service union.

“Some of that work has already been done, it’s just being done on a subtle basis, where it isn’t a news story, where it isn’t necessarily picked up in the media, because we use they/them pronouns in our speech naturally,” they said. “We will just read through the document without even considering it.”

But even though some changes may happen without fanfare, they’re still critical according to inclusion experts.

Gender-neutral language has significant benefits, diversity experts say

“The very act of not being included in policy is discriminatory,” Mx. Cortes-Vargas said.

Mx. Pichette pointed towards the need to represent everybody who lives in Canada, including non-binary, agender, and two-spirit people “as a matter of respect but also as recognition of their lives.”

This broader representation, Mx. Airton said, not only has a symbolic impact, but also a practical one in terms of making policy and governance more accurate for the public and professionals. And, if there is no gendered language in a piece of policy, they said, then gender becomes less necessary to think about in a particular context.

“Gender, knowing if someone’s a man or woman, isn’t always relevant and can actually be a distraction because people use their common sense or folk knowledge about what men and women do or want to inform their decision making without realizing what they’re doing.’”

There may even be an impact on employers, Mx. Pichette said, with government stances influencing the polices and procedures of businesses.

According to Vandana Juneja, executive director of Catalyst, a women’s workplace advocacy group, this type of inclusion brings practical benefits to organizations, from enhanced financial performance to improved employee engagement and innovation.

On a more personal level, for Mx. Cortes-Vargas this sort of change would make it easier to navigate systems. For instance, when they go to the bank or fill out forms they have to pick gendered slots.

“They’ll say you have to pick one. And it’s like ‘no, I don’t—this is your problem, this isn’t my problem’ … I can’t go through and just fill out a form without having to negotiate existing in that space,” they said.

The benefit to changing these systems and writing things into policy would be a reduction of barriers, instead of continually having to ask if there’s room for them and having to get exceptions made, they said.

With gender-neutral language, Mx. Cusmano said they feel seen. While it’s difficult to put into words, the impact, they said, is huge and helps to build trust and effective collaboration.

“Gender identity is real to individuals and it has real impacts on their well-being,” they said.

Kai Scott, president of TransFocus, said the pervasive gendering of systems has significant impacts, with this “systemic exclusion” adversely affecting both mental and physical health and causing non-binary people to wonder if they’re important enough to be recognized in official documentation. “And the key thing is that if they have support and they’re affirmed, their social determinants go through the roof, they’re so positively impacted,” he said.

Mr. Modeste tied this to the economy. With more people comfortable and ready to get out there and work, the burden on society is reduced, he said. Respecting people’s gender identity is critical to alleviating these sorts of long-term impacts, he continued.

For him, gender-neutral language allows for authentic expression. In his case, having been married and lived part of the “straight life,” he said that if he had seen more gay men represented in the world when he was growing up his life would’ve been very different “in a positive way.”

Lawyer Raj Anand, a partner at WeirFoulds LLP with practice in constitutional law, pointed towards the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and its emphasis on gender equality, noting that implementing gender-neutral language would also put into action the promise the Charter was designed to have.

“When the federal government takes [gender-neutral language] on, it sends a huge signal to others, as well as internally,” Mr. Scott said. “It’s really important for employees that work for the federal government to see this change, and if it affects them personally, they benefit from it.”

“But then also for those who it doesn’t impact, they might go, ‘oh well, why is this happening?’ And then we can have conversations about the benefits of gender-neutral language just to bring everybody along on this journey that’s so important for a variety of people.”

Source: Time for widespread gender-neutral language in federal policy, legislation, say advocates

Osler: Diversity Disclosure Practices – Diversity and leadership at Canadian public companies

Useful comprehensive and detailed report, looking at representation at the board and executive levels, for Canada’s largest publicly trade companies, including sector breakdowns.

Previous reports have only looked at women’s representation, the current report includes all four employment equity groups. Summary below, along with tables for visible minorities, Indigenous peoples and persons with disabilities:

Women now hold over 21.5% of board seats among TSX-listed companies disclosing the number of women on their boards, an increase of almost 3% compared to 2019. The rate at which women are being appointed to fill newly created or vacated board seats declined slightly to 35%, compared to 36.4% in 2019. As in past years, Canada’s larger companies continue to lead the way as women hold 31.5% of board positions among the S&P/ TSX 60 companies and 28.3% of board positions among the 221 companies included in the S&P/TSX Composite Index. All-male boards continue to wither away, representing only 18.5% of the TSX-listed companies.

We anticipate that certain of our 2020 full-year results, including the percentage of board seats held by women, will be approximately 1% lower than our 2020 mid-year results as a significant number of issuers which historically have had below average diversity results took advantage of permitted extensions of normal deadlines to file their disclosure after our July 31, 2020 cut-off for our mid-year results.

The number of TSX-listed companies with written board diversity policies increased to 64.7% and approximately 97% of the time those policies included a specific focus on women on the board. This year we noticed a significant increase in companies disclosing that their board policy also considers other diversity characteristics – the most common of which was ethnicity/race, which was identified approximately 57.5% of the time.

However, we continue to see no progress being made at the executive officer level. The proportion of women executive officers has remained largely unchanged since 2015, and under 10% of TSX-listed companies have targets for women executive officers.

Our review of diversity disclosure by CBCA companies under the new CBCA requirements shows results on the representation of women that are comparable to those reported for TSX-listed issuers under the new CBCA requirements. However, there is a marked absence of directors from other diversity groups. Only 5.5% of the 217 disclosing CBCA company directors are visible minorities. And among the 2,023 board positions of the 270 CBCA companies that provided full or partial disclosure on their practices before July 31, 2020, there were only 7 positions held by Aboriginal peoples and only 6 positions held by persons with disabilities.

The key data tables:


Laurentian Bank CEO says diversity targets part of financial package for bank leaders

Money talks:

Laurentian Bank of Canada chief executive Rania Llewellyn says that early in her career, she was told by a manager that he was looking for a man to fill a job she was vying for.

“I remember, there was a vacant job. I was ready to go for it. I was trained,” said Llewellyn at a webcast event on Monday at The Empire Club of Canada, in a celebration of International Women’s Day.

“And he said, ‘I’m looking for a man and I’m looking for someone who’s older.’ And this was going to be my new boss. Right? So, I would say there’s lots of those little stories across along the way.”

Llewellyn’s speech came on the heels of a report from DBRS Morningstar, which found that the six largest Canadian banks score better than the Australian and U.S. bank averages on attracting, retaining and developing women into senior leadership positions.

But DBRS Morningstar also says BMO, Scotiabank, CIBC, National Bank, RBC and TD are on average falling behind the three large Australian banks on the issue of gender pay equity.

Llewellyn, who in October became the first woman to lead a major Canadian bank, said diversity and inclusion targets should be written into the financial packages that go to the board, just as there are financial targets for leaders at the bank.

Llewellyn said companies setting such targets should focus not only on recruiting diverse talent, but also on retaining women as they move up the ranks.

“That’s one thing I introduced at Laurentian. All of my leaders have targets on their scorecards, in terms of diversity targets. But more importantly, I’ve actually included in our financial package that goes to the board,” Llewellyn said.

Linda Seymour, chief executive at HSBC Bank Canada, also said on Monday that International Women’s Day had her “reflecting on what it took to get here.”

“I was recently asked if I had to fight to break through the glass ceiling. It wasn’t that I had to fight harder than my male colleagues,” Seymour wrote in a LinkedIn post. “It was that I had to navigate harder – to make sure I was heard, to constantly network, to demonstrate when I was not only as qualified, but more qualified than my male colleagues.”

Seymour wrote that she sees having a gender-balanced board and executive committee at HSBC Bank Canada as a business advantage, but called on leaders to generally be more open to being challenged by employees on diversity and inclusion progress.

The report from DBRS Morningstar said that the gender wage gap has been consistent for about 20 years for workers between 25 to 54 in finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing. But the report said that disruptions to the labour force caused by the COVID-19 pandemic may be behind a slight widening of the gap recently. Indeed, across industries, the female participation rate in Canada’s labour force fell during the pandemic, the report said.

Llewellyn said child-care infrastructure, flexible work arrangements in terms of time and hours, upskilling programs and early childhood financial literacy programs will be key to helping women recover from the effects of the pandemic.

“I think it’s systemic throughout our culture as well. I have a daughter and it starts very early on, in terms of some of these systemic biases in the system,” she said. “Words matter and how people behave and how we model is absolutely important.”

Source: Laurentian Bank CEO says diversity targets part of financial package for bank leaders

Gender Results Framework: Data table on gender representation in federal leadership roles

Text – Selected

Underwhelming. Overly general, no intersectionality data but will save some time for those like me who track this stuff. More interesting would be broader examination of federal leadership roles beyond MPs:

Statistics Canada’s Centre for Gender, Diversity and Inclusion Statistics has released a new data table on gender representation in federal government leadership roles. This information will be used by the Gender Results Framework, a whole-of-government tool designed to track gender equality in Canada.

Using open data from the House of Commons of Canada, the Centre has produced a table that shows the gender distribution of members of Parliament and of ministers appointed to the federal Cabinet. This information could be used to track, over time, gender representation in elected office and appointments to ministerial positions in the federal government.

Open data refer to structured data that are machine-readable and freely shared, used and built on without restrictions. The data included in this table are sourced from the House of Commons of Canada and are licensed under the Open Government Licence – Canada.

These new data will soon be housed on the Gender, Diversity and Inclusion Statistics Hub.

Personally, find employment equity public service, governor-in-council, judicial and senate appointments more interesting and relevant than this general dataset.

Hopefully StatsCan’s new hub will become more relevant over time and broaden its reach in cooperation with other agencies such as TBS, PSC and PCO.


Women at risk of long-term work disruption as pandemic alters jobs market, RBC warns [also visible minorities and immigrants]

More on the “she-cession” and “imm-cession:”

Women in Canada are at risk of prolonged unemployment as the COVID-19 pandemic accelerates structural changes to the job market, RBC Economics warned Thursday.

The health crisis has dealt uneven blows to the labour market – and often, to the greater detriment of women. There’s been a substantial increase in the number of women who are jobless for six-plus months, while many have dropped out of the labour force entirely.

At the same time, the pandemic is forcing many companies to adopt new technologies sooner than planned, while some consumer spending habits may have shifted permanently, the RBC report said. That could spell trouble for jobs at risk of automation, and in particular, for the women who staff the service industries most affected by health restrictions.

“As we reopen, the economy is changing,” Dawn Desjardins, deputy chief economist at Royal Bank of Canada and one of the report’s authors, said in an interview. “We need all hands on deck … in trying to get people re-engaged” in the labour market.

Using data from Statistics Canada, RBC pointed to a handful of indicators where women are lagging, and where the recovery process could prove challenging.

For instance, employment for women earning less than $800 weekly was down nearly 30 per cent from February, 2020, while for men it fell 24 per cent. Women have also sustained roughly two-thirds of the job losses in the struggling hospitality sector.

As well, nearly 100,000 women aged 20-plus have dropped out of the labour force – meaning they aren’t working or searching for a job – while fewer than 10,000 men have done so. Young and racialized women, female immigrants and mothers are among those who have suffered outsized work disruptions.

“The longer these women are out of the labour force, the greater the risk of skills erosion, which could potentially hamper their ability to get rehired or to transition to different roles as the economy evolves,” the report said.

Ms. Desjardins and economist Carrie Freestone wrote that accessible and targeted training is needed to help displaced workers, and that digital skills are crucial.

Such efforts could be unveiled in the federal government’s spring budget. Ottawa has said it will spend up to $100-billion over three years in fiscal stimulus, to help with the recovery process. And in a mandate letter sent to Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough in January, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called for “the largest investment in Canadian history in training for workers.”

Much like RBC, the Bank of Canada has flagged concerns over structural changes to the job market. In a recent speech, Governor Tiff Macklem said automation helps companies become more productive and creates new work opportunities. But the pandemic has sped up the transformation, and that comes with collateral damage.

“Some of the jobs that have been lost during the pandemic will not return,” Mr. Macklem said. “Many low-wage jobs have a high potential of being automated. And some jobs that are disproportionally held by women and youth, such as retail salesperson and cashier, are also the kinds of jobs where the pandemic has accelerated structural change.”

The RBC report also called for “more options” in affordable child care. “But it’s no solution if [low-earning mothers] don’t have jobs to return to.”

Ultimately, Ms. Desjardins said Canada should be working toward women participating in the labour force at the same rates as men. It’s a gap that predates the pandemic, but if closed would result in a much larger and dynamic economy.

“The idea of women participating at the same level as men in the labour market, and what that can add to our economy – it just makes that pie bigger,” she said.


Hamas court says women need guardian’s approval to travel

Of note:

A Hamas-run Islamic court in the Gaza Strip has ruled that women require the permission of a male guardian to travel, further restricting movement in and out of the territory that has been blockaded by Israel and Egypt since the militant group seized power.

The rollback in women’s rights could spark a backlash in Gaza at a time when the Palestinians plan to hold elections later this year. It could also solidify Hamas’ support among its conservative base at a time when it faces criticism over living conditions in the territory it has ruled since 2007.

The decision by the Sharia Judicial Council, issued Sunday, says an unmarried woman may not travel without the permission of her “guardian,” which would usually refer to her father or another older male relative. Permission would need to be registered at the court, but the man would not be required to accompany the woman on the trip.

The language of the ruling strongly implied that a married woman would not be able to travel without her husband’s approval.

The edict also said that a man could be prevented from traveling by his father or grandfather if it would cause “grave harm.” But the man would not need to seek prior permission, and the relative would have to file a lawsuit to prevent him from traveling.

The ruling resembles the so-called guardianship laws that long existed in ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia, where women were treated as minors requiring the permission of a husband, father or even a son to apply for a passport and travel abroad. The kingdom loosened those restrictions in 2019.

Hassan al-Jojo, head of the Supreme Judicial Council, told The Associated Press that the ruling was “balanced” and consistent with Islamic and civil laws. He dismissed what he called “artificial and unjustified noise” on social media about the edict.

He justified the measure by citing past instances in which girls had traveled without the knowledge of their parents and men had left their wives and children without a breadwinner.

Israel and Egypt have largely sealed Gaza’s borders since Hamas seized power from rival Palestinian forces in 2007. Israel says the restrictions are needed to isolate the militant group, which has fought three wars with Israel, and prevent it from acquiring arms.

The territory is home to some 2 million Palestinians. All Gazans must go through a lengthy permit process to travel abroad and largely rely on the Rafah crossing with Egypt, which only opens sporadically. The restrictions make it difficult for people to seek medical care or higher education outside the narrow coastal strip.

The ruling sparked criticism on social media, where many accused Hamas of rolling back women’s rights even as Saudi Arabia has eased its restrictions, including by allowing women to drive. The Palestinian People’s Party, a small left-wing group, called on Hamas to reverse the decision.

Zainab al-Ghunaimi, an activist who runs a Gaza-based group focused on women’s rights, said the ruling contravenes the Palestinian Basic Law, which grants equal rights to adults, and means that authorities are “going backwards in protecting human rights.”

She noted that the same legal body allows a woman to marry at age 16 and get travel documents on her own.

Hamas has not imposed the kind of harsh interpretation of Islamic law championed by other armed groups, such as the Islamic State group and the Taliban in Afghanistan. But it has taken some limited steps to enforce the territory’s conservative mores, including the imposition of an Islamic dress code on female lawyers and high school students.

Source: Hamas court says women need guardian’s approval to travel

Lente marche vers la mixité [corporate board diversity]

May have missed the english media coverage:

C’est droit devant, inexorablement. Les gains sont là, mais la marche vers la mixité des conseils d’administration et de la haute direction demeure lente. On l’imagine, la cible se veut encore plus éloignée lorsqu’on élargit le parcours de la représentativité à la diversité.

La plus récente étude sur la question de la diversité a été publiée lundi par l’Institut sur la gouvernance d’organisations privées et publiques (IGOPP). Sur la mixité, on y lit que « même si les gains réalisés au cours de la dernière décennie sont notables, il reste beaucoup à faire en matière de représentativité des femmes sur les conseils d’administration (CA) ainsi qu’au niveau de la haute direction des entreprises ».

L’IGOPP proposait, il y a 10 ans, une cible de 40 %. Une référence mondiale situe, d’ailleurs, la zone de parité hommes-femmes optimale au sein de l’équipe de gestion entre 40 et 60 %. Cette représentation féminine a, certes, presque doublé depuis 10 ans, mais, à un peu plus de 29 % au sein des conseils d’administration des grandes entreprises inscrites en Bourse et à 26 % au niveau de la haute direction, on se retrouve encore loin de la cible.

Que dire des minorités visibles, qui comptent pour 22 % de la population canadienne, mais qui occupent moins de 5 % des sièges aux conseils et moins de 9 % des postes de haute direction ?

Le regard de l’IGOPP a porté sur 76 entreprises d’incorporation fédérale pouvant représenter le tiers des sociétés composant l’indice boursier S & P / TSX. L’exercice vient mesurer un premier effet des modifications apportées par le gouvernement à la Loi canadienne sur les sociétés par actions ayant pour objectif « d’augmenter la diversité observée au sein des conseils d’administration et de la haute direction des sociétés inscrites en bourse », en vigueur depuis janvier 2020.

Outre la présence des femmes, ces modifications visaient plus large en s’étendant à la représentation des peuples autochtones, des personnes handicapées et des personnes qui font partie des minorités visibles, explique l’Institut.

Cet élargissement suit l’entrée en vigueur, au 31 décembre 2014, de la réglementation sur l’Information concernant la représentation des femmes au sein des conseils d’administration et des instances des émetteurs assujettis. Au Canada, les autorités de réglementation n’ont pas retenu la formule de quotas, préférant plutôt une approche de divulgation s’étendant à la haute direction selon la formule « se conformer ou
s’expliquer ».

L’on parle donc d’un engagement moral, mais non contraignant, qui s’insère cependant dans une mouvance plus généralisée d’adoption des critères environnementaux, sociaux et de gouvernance auprès des investisseurs reconnaissant la portée et la contribution de la diversité.

Beaucoup à faire

Certes, l’exercice de l’IGOPP comporte ses limites et l’on admet une probable surévaluation de la représentation mesurée pour les postes de haute direction, mais l’on peut se faire une idée sur le chemin restant à parcourir et sur le rythme de renouvellement des administrateurs et des hauts dirigeants, qui constitue un frein aux yeux de l’IGOPP.

Et l’on retient que seulement 47 % des entreprises observées s’étaient dotées de cible à atteindre en matière de représentativité des femmes au sein des CA. À peine 18 % se sont fixé des objectifs précis touchant la haute direction.

Ce constat vient rejoindre d’autres études sur le sujet. En décembre dernier, le cabinet KPMG indiquait que 96 % des 100 plus importantes entreprises inscrites en Bourse soumises à la loi fédérale comptaient au moins une femme dans leur conseil d’administration au 31 mai 2020, contre 67 % au 31 mai 2014.

Inversement, 4 % de ces sociétés avaient un conseil d’administration composé uniquement d’hommes et 24 % avaient une équipe de direction entièrement masculine. Ces pourcentages s’établissaient respectivement à 33 % et à 29 % au 31 mai 2014.

L’on écrivait aussi que, s’il y a amélioration, il y a toutefois disparité entre les postes de conseil d’administration et ceux de la haute direction. KPMG a mesuré que deux fois plus d’hommes que de femmes ont accédé à des fonctions d’administrateurs entre le 31 mai 2014 et le 31 mai 2020, et trois fois plus à des postes de haute direction.

À l’évidence, il reste encore beaucoup à faire. Dans une étude mondiale publiée par le cabinet Deloitte datée du 30 octobre 2019, on lisait que, globalement, les femmes occupent 16,9 % des sièges aux conseils d’administration, soit une maigre hausse de 1,9 point de pourcentage par rapport à l’édition 2017 de l’étude.

À ce rythme, il faudra plus de 30 ans pour atteindre la parité, disait Deloitte. Et l’on ne parle pas des fonctions de haute direction.

Source: Lente marche vers la mixité

Review finds successes, failures in Liberals’ feminist aid approach in Afghanistan

More failures than successes. Money quote: “…failure to ensure Canada’s attempts to increase gender equality included “a deeper understanding of Afghanistan’s local cultural context and Islamic tradition.””

An internal review of the nearly $1 billion in foreign aid that Canada quietly spent in Afghanistan after the Canadian military pulled out has found some successes but also many failures — especially when it comes to helping women and girls.

The Global Affairs Canada review covers the period between 2014 and 2020, during which Afghanistan remained a top destination for Canadian aid dollars even after the last Canadian troops had left and public attention drifted elsewhere.

Published on the department’s website late last month, the reviewers’ final report comes amid another round of peace talks between the Afghan government and Taliban to end decades of nearly continuous fighting in the country.

It also follows a Canadian commitment in November to contribute another $270 million in aid over the next three years to Afghanistan, adding to the heavy investment that Canada has already made in the country since 2001.

The reviewers found that the $966 million in Canadian foreign aid spent since 2014 was almost entirely focused on empowering and supporting Afghan women and girls, particularly after the Liberals launched their feminist-aid policy in 2017.

Those efforts led to some tangible progress, including the adoption of gender equality in some Afghan institutions, a decrease in violence against women in some communities, more educational opportunities for girls and better health-care services for both.

“Projects in the womens’ and girls’ rights and empowerment sector resulted in female beneficiaries becoming more active, confident and self-sufficient,” adds the reviewers’ report.

Yet the review, which included analyzing internal Global Affairs documents and interviews with Canadian, Afghan and international government staff and NGOs as well as average Afghans affected by the projects, found many problems as well.

Chief among them was a failure to ensure Canada’s attempts to increase gender equality included “a deeper understanding of Afghanistan’s local cultural context and Islamic tradition.” It also failed to include men and boys in its programs.

“The definition of gender roles was so central to Afghan society and culture during the period that any planned changes required not only consultation with male household members, but also with the larger community,” the report said.

Those shortcomings threatened to leave the perception of gender equality being imposed on Afghans, the report said, adding: “If not carefully managed, there was the risk that gender-equality efforts promoted by Western donors could lead to backlashes and harm.”

The reviewers cited several examples, such as women who used shelters to escape domestic violence being shunned by their families and women in the Afghan army facing direct threats, as among the unintended consequences of current efforts.

Memorial University foreign aid expert Liam Swiss, who has written extensively on the Liberals’ feminist approach to foreign aid, said the report’s findings reflected many of the concerns and criticisms that were voiced when the policy was first launched.

That includes a one-size-fits-all strategy that didn’t take into account the local conditions and culture in the countries where Canadian aid is being channelled — of which Afghanistan is one of the most difficult.

“That’s the problem when you kind of stake out a really broad set of priorities on your aid,” Swiss said. “If you’re trying to make them apply to all and to everywhere, you’re going run into a lot of issues of local appropriateness, local receptivity.”

The reviewers also suggested that Canada was guilty of the same sins as many of its western counterparts in Afghanistan, namely focusing its aid dollars on areas that it was more interested in than what was really needed in the country.

That was reflected in the lack of consultations with local communities and a limited consideration for the specific needs of the many different ethnic and religious communities in Afghanistan, which undermined their effectiveness and sustainability.

In fact, the reviewers found Canada did not actually have a strategy for its engagement in Afghanistan. Global Affairs also failed to adapt to the changing needs and environment as the Afghan government lost territory to the Taliban between 2017 and 2020.

The report instead paints a picture of Canadian diplomats and aid workers keeping their eyes firmly glued on their own priorities even as the Taliban was wresting more and more of the country away from Kabul.

To that end, the reviewers said nearly all of those interviewed as part of their study believed the progress made by Canadian aid efforts over the years will be threatened or completely undone if security in the country deteriorates further.

That possibility continues to loom over Afghanistan’s future amid the peace talks and as the world waits to see whether incoming U.S. president Joe Biden will continue the Trump administration’s work to withdraw American forces from the country.

Global Affairs spokeswoman Patricia Skinner said while the report shows progress has been made in Afghanistan, the department will address the reviewers’ six recommendations — including changing how it promotes gender equality — over the next two years.

Nipa Banerjee, who previously led Canadian aid efforts in Afghanistan before joining the University of Ottawa, said she hopes the review will lead to changes – including a more expansive approach.

“With all the insecurity and everything, shouting about women’s rights only, it’s not going to be very helpful,” Banerjee said.

“And Afghans themselves think that. They’re saying it is important, but without security and without political order, nothing will succeed. Women’s programs will not go anywhere. So there has to be compromises.”

Source: Review finds successes, failures in Liberals’ feminist aid approach in Afghanistan

Germany Moves Toward Requiring Women On Large Companies’ Executive Boards

Of note to Canadian regulators, broadening to visible minorities and Indigenous peoples:

Germany has taken a step toward requiring what has not happened voluntarily: putting women on the management boards of the country’s largest companies.

On Wednesday, Germany’s cabinet approved a draft law that would require stock exchange-listed companies with executive boards of more than three members to have at least one woman and one man on those boards.

The rule would affect about 70 companies – of which some 30 currently have no women at all on their management boards, the Justice Ministry said. These companies generally have more than 2,000 employees.

The draft law will now go to the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament, for a vote.

The legislation also contains a provision intended to improve the effectiveness of a 2015 law that requires leading companies’ supervisory boards — which are generally chosen by shareholders and don’t have executive powers — to have at least 30% of their positions occupied by women.

The new law would extend the 30% requirement to companies in which the federal government is the majority shareholder. That includes Deutsche Bahn, the German railway company. In addition, executive boards – responsible for managing the company – that have more than two members will be required to have at least one woman. These measures would affect about 90 companies.

Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth Franziska Giffeycalled the law a “milestone” that would ensure there will no longer be women-free boardrooms in these large companies. The law would make Germany better prepared for the future, she said, and more able to capitalize on its potential.

“We have seen for years, not many changes are made voluntarily, and progress is very slow,” Giffey said in a statement.

An October 2020 report by the AllBright Foundation, which advocates for boardroom diversity, found that Germany lags the U.S., France, the U.K., Poland and Sweden in the proportion of women on executive boards at leading companies.

The study found that in the U.S., women comprise 28.6% of the executive boards of the 30 largest publicly traded companies. In Germany, that figure is just 12.8%. And only four of Germany’s largest 30 listed companies had more than one woman on their executive boards.

Janina Kugel, a former Siemens executive who is now an equality advocate, told Deutsche Welle the new quota would be an important signal.

“The perception of Germany is that, because we’ve had a female chancellor for the last 15 years, Germany is very progressive in that matter, but actually it is not,” she said.

The U.S. has also begun to confront the issue of gender disparity in boardrooms.

In 2018, California became the first U.S. state to require companies based there to have women on their boards of directors.

And the U.S. stock exchange Nasdaq announced diversity requirements last month. Under the rule submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Nasdaq would require companies traded on its exchange to appoint at least one woman and at least one member of an ethnic or racial minority or LGBTQ+ person to their boards of directors.

Source: Germany Moves Toward Requiring Women On Large Companies’ Executive Boards