CBC News covered a new study released by the non-profit group Catalyst Canada (promoting women in business), that shows that gender equality on corporate boards in Canada puts us in the “middle of the pack.”
As of October 2014, the study reveals that 20.8% of seats at the Board table of companies listed on the S&P and TSX 60 market index were filled by women. This adds to gender diversity statistics I shared in my earlier blog article, from the Ontario Securities Commission, when 448 responses to a survey they conducted revealed that 57% of Canadian companies had no women at the table, 28% had only one woman filling a Board table chair and 91% lacked any recruitment policy to attract and select women directors.
Comparing Canada to other countries, such as the U.S., enables the Catalyst study to provide a more “global” view of where Canada places on this issue. The Catalyst study suggests that we are squarely in the middle when compared with other countries. The study suggests “that Canada has a slightly higher percentage of women in Boardrooms of top public firms than Germany, Spain or Switzerland, and a slightly lower percentage than the Netherlands, Denmark or the U.K.” Norway was shown to lead the pack, with 35.5% of its Boards populated by women while “Japan ranked the lowest with just 3.1%.”
It appears that gender diversity improves corporate performance too, according to Catalyst. This may be why that beginning in 2015, the Ontario Securities Commission “adopted new [regulatory] rules” that require companies to identify how many women hold senior executive positions and sit on Boards. Companies must also identify policies “related to women on their Boards” and how gender diversity was considered by Boards in the selection of directors.
Alex Johnston, the Executive Director of Catalyst Canada says “I do think that we will be in a better place in two or three years. I think we’ll be in a much better place in five years.” It appears that women are beginning to make their presence known in Canada’s corporate Boardrooms so the glass ceiling seems to be cracking. If Mr. Johnston is correct, let’s hope for a real break through the ceiling by 2020, upping our ranking in the global pack, for the benefit of skilled and talented women and for corporate Canada.