Canada could be corporate diversity leader, says study |

Slow progress:

But this is unlikely, says the CBDC [Canadian Board Diversity Council], because the pace at which corporate diversity is improving is too slow. In fact, the report card reveals women currently hold 19.5% of FP500 organization board seats. That’s up from 17.1% in 2014, but Canada is still behind when it comes to bringing women on board. In the UK, for example, there are no all-male FTSE100 boards, while there are 109 such boards in Canada.

“The pace of change for board diversity is encouraging, but there’s more work that needs to be done,” says CBDC founder Pamela Jeffery. If each organization on the FP500 replaced one retiring male director with one female director, says CBDC, Canada would be among the leading countries for gender board diversity—at 30% female representation.


According to the CBDC’s report card, the OSC’s corporate diversity disclosure requirements are making a difference. When surveyed, almost half (49%) of directors indicated their boards have written diversity policies, up from 25% last year.

However, this data contradicts findings from OSC, adds CBDC. In a recent report, the regulator found that only “14% [of boards] clearly disclosed the adoption of a written policy, whereas 65% disclosed that they had decided not to adopt a written policy.”

“The findings of this year’s Annual Report Card show board disclosure requirements on diversity are having a positive impact,” says Michael Bloom, vice president of Industry and Business Strategy for The Conference Board of Canada. “However, achieving the goal of truly diverse boards with representation from women, Aboriginal peoples, visible minorities and people with disabilities will require much more of a leadership focus.”


  • Since 2014, there has been a significant increase in the number of directors who self-report to be a visible minority, nearly tripling to 7.3% from 2% last year.

  • The number of Aboriginal board members rose from 0.8% in 2014 to 1.3% in 2015.

  • Nearly all FP500 corporate board respondents (96%) say board diversity is very important or somewhat important, and that’s a substantial increase from 85% in 2010.

  • In the Utilities and Finance sector, representation of women stands at 27.1%. Meanwhile, women are represented at 27% in the Insurance sector.

  • In the Mining/Oil/Gas sector, representation of women lags behind at 12.2%. Same goes for the Construction sector at 9.3%.

  • Despite the higher-than-average rates of female directors on TSX60 boards (22.6%, up from 20.1% in 2014), there are only 20 visible minority directors, two Aboriginal directors and one person with a disability among the 31 organizations that completed the 2015 TSX60 survey.

Source: Canada could be corporate diversity leader, says study |

Securities regulators urged to make gender diversity policies mandatory

Hard to argue with greater transparency and reporting as a way to encourage change, which should also apply to visible minorities:

Canadian securities regulators should make gender-diversity policies mandatory for companies on the Toronto Stock Exchange after a majority of companies rejected voluntary standards this year, according to Women’s Executive Network founder Pamela Jeffery.

Ms. Jeffery, who heads the Toronto-based advocacy organization for women in business, told an Ontario Securities Commission round-table forum that Britain’s corporate governance code requires companies to report annually on their diversity policies, and the country has seen rapid improvement in the proportion of women on its boards and in senior executive roles.

“Given that only 14 per cent of [Canadian] issuers have disclosed the adoption of a written policy, we’d like to see issuers required to disclose a written board and executive board diversity policy,” Ms. Jeffery said.

Canadian companies should also be required to report annually on their internal targets for women, she said.

The OSC forum Tuesday was organized to discuss compliance to date with new voluntary standards, introduced this year, that recommend companies should create gender-diversity policies to get more women in senior roles.

A report released Monday by securities regulators shows only 14 per cent of 722 TSX-listed companies have created formal diversity policies in the wake of the new standards, while 65 per cent said they have decided not to have a policy and a further 21 per cent reported only informal policies or policies that do not mention gender diversity.

Osgoode Hall law professor Aaron Dhir, who specializes in issues of corporate diversity, told the OSC forum his research shows Australia and Britain both saw significant increases in the proportion of women on their boards after they introduced new reporting standards.

In Australia, for example, the proportion of women on ASX 200 boards grew to 20 per cent in 2014 from 8 per cent in 2011 after regulators introduced a rule similar to Canada’s new standard. In 2011, 61 per cent of Australian companies reported having a diversity policy, which has grown to almost 100 per cent this year, Prof. Dhir said.

Canada’s new standard is one of the best Prof. Dhir said he has seen compared to diversity rules in other countries like the United States, but companies need time to respond. He is “cautiously optimistic” more will adopt diversity policies in coming years.

Source: Securities regulators urged to make gender diversity policies mandatory – The Globe and Mail

Don Cayo: Time for corporate boards to take diversity seriously

More of corporate board diversity (or lack thereof) and the work of Pamela Jeffery of the Canadian Board Diversity Council to change this:

If you, like me, think most big Canadian companies have too few women on their boards of directors, then what should we make of the under-representation of aboriginals and other visible minorities?

The numbers for these two groups are much worse. To compare:

  • Women comprise 50.4 per cent of the Canadian population, or 51 per cent in Metro Vancouver. They hold just eight per cent of the executive positions in Canada’s 500 largest companies, but their representation on boards of directors has inched up and now is 17.1 per cent.
  • Aboriginals comprise 4.3 per cent of Canada’s population, although less than half that in Metro Vancouver. They hold 0.8 per cent of big companies’ board seats — a percentage that has been stalled for years.
  • Other visible minorities comprise 19.1 per cent of the population, but the number is much higher and growing briskly in Metro Vancouver. It had reached 45.2 per cent, mostly people of Asian extraction, by 2011. In 2010, members of this group held 5.3 per cent of big companies’ board appointments, but by 2014 this number had slipped to two per cent.

Pamela Jeffery, the founder of both the Toronto-based Women’s Executive Network and the Canadian Board Diversity Council, is pleased to see at least women making progress — although not enough, in her view, and not at a fast enough rate.

But she has a sinking feeling that women’s successes in getting seats at the boardroom table may come at the expense of aboriginals and other visible minorities. When boards decide to recruit beyond their usual source of new directors — that is, their old boys’ network — the easy way is to find a well-qualified woman and then look no further.

So, to tackle the worst problem first, Jeffery is working with the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business to beat the drum for more aboriginal representation on boards that oversee Canada’s biggest companies. The council has held back-to-back summits, one in Vancouver and one in Calgary, to engage business leaders on the issue.

Jeffrey doesn’t advocate quotas, and neither do I. The problem is that quota-driven recruitment can lead to candidates being selected solely on the basis of their ethnicity, not what they can bring to the table.

But boards undermine their own potential effectiveness when all their members are near clones of each other, with similar backgrounds, experience and attitudes.

Diversity can bring new insights to the table — new ways of looking at under-served markets, whether geographically or demographically distinct from the tried-and-true, as well as ties to new talent pools that a company could tap.

Don Cayo: Time for corporate boards to take diversity seriously.

Women gain on corporate boards but visible minority representation dips

Incredibly low number for visible minorities:

Women have climbed slowly but steadily in recent years from 10.9 per cent of directors in 2001 to 13.7 per cent by 2009 and 15.6 per cent in 2013, the study shows.

However, visible minorities hold just 2 per cent of board seats, a decline from 5.3 per cent in 2010, and people who report having disabilities fill just 1.4 per cent of board seats, down from 2.9 per cent in 2010. Aboriginal directors hold 0.8 per cent of board seats, a number unchanged from 2010.

Diversity council founder Pamela Jeffery said it is disappointing to see a decline in visible minority directors while Canada’s population – especially in major cities where head offices are located – becomes steadily more diverse.

“I think it underscores what we know, which is that most board seats are filled in a less-than-desirable way, with board members sitting at the table asking each other who they know,” she said. “Sadly, aboriginal people or people with disabilities are not in their networks.”

Ms. Jeffery said she is encouraged, however, that the rate of increase for women on boards has accelerated, growing by 1.5 percentage points between 2013 and 2014 after increasing by just 0.32 percentage points in each year on average between 2001 and 2012.

However, Ms. Jeffery said the level of gender diversity remains low compared to many other major countries. Britain, for example, will have 25 per cent women on boards of its top 100 companies by next year, she said.

Women gain on corporate boards but visible minority representation dips – The Globe and Mail.