A woman walks through Toronto’s financial district on Monday, July 30, 2018. Women remain underrepresented in boardrooms of Canadian companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange despite the introduction of disclosure requirements intended to boost their numbers, a study by the Conference Board of Canada has found. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy

A woman walks through Toronto’s financial district on Monday, July 30, 2018. Women remain underrepresented in boardrooms of Canadian companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange despite the introduction of disclosure requirements intended to boost their numbers, a study by the Conference Board of Canada has found. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy

Women still underrepresented in boardrooms despite ‘comply-or-explain’ rule: study

The study found more than half of the board seats that became vacant in 2018 went to men

Women remain underrepresented in boardrooms of Canadian companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange despite the introduction of disclosure requirements intended to boost their numbers, a study by an Ottawa think tank has found.

The Conference Board of Canada said that while there is some progress in the proportion of women on corporate boards, the pace of change remains slow.

“More needs to be done if we’re going to achieve that goal of parity earlier,” said Susan Black, Conference Board CEO and lead author of the study, in an interview.

In 2015, the Ontario Securities Commission and other Canadian regulators implemented a so-called comply-or-explain rule, which requires most publicly traded companies to disclose the number of women in key positions or explain why they have not met their goals.

Women only made up 15 per cent of Canadian boards in 2018 – an increase of just four percentage points from 2015, when seven provinces and two territories introduced the disclosure requirements, the study found.

“(The) improved ‘comply or explain’ disclosure requirements have failed to accelerate the entry of women into corporate boardrooms,” the Conference Board report reads.

The study said there is no compelling evidence that disclosure has accelerated the inclusion of women on boards since a faster pace would have led to a greater increase in representation since 2015.

Black said the numbers demonstrate that requiring organizations to publicly state what they’re doing is not sufficient to change behaviours and speed up progress toward gender parity in boardrooms.

The study found more than half of the board seats that became vacant in 2018 went to men and about a quarter were left unfilled or eliminated.

“The good news is women still filled a quarter of the board seats; the bad news is women only fill a quarter of the board seats,” said Black.

If men and women were added to boards on a 50:50 ratio, boardrooms would reach parity in five years, she added.

Black said some approaches organizations can take to achieve this is by having specific diversity targets and board term limits, as well as keeping a list of potential board candidates and making sure that list is diverse.

Companies that adopted such diversity practices had consistently higher representation of women on their boards, the study said.

It recommended that companies expand their pool of senior women executives to develop the talent pipeline for women board members.

The Conference Board study compiled all public disclosure reporting data released by the Canadian Securities Administrators from 2015 to 2018, which included data from 589 companies.

Using 2016 data, Statistics Canada did a similar study in 2019 that found only 19.4 per cent of seats on corporate boards of directors across public, government and private organizations were filled by women, while more than half of all boards were composed entirely of men.

“At the current rate in which women are being appointed to corporate boards, it will take another 17 years to achieve gender parity in Canada’s boardrooms,” the report read.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Denise Paglinawan, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

women in business

Just Posted

Regional District of Nanaimo directors discussed asking the provincial government for increased funding, awareness and enforcement against human trafficking. (File photo)
Regional District of Nanaimo asking province to better address human trafficking issue

Directors agree to write to the premier and solicitor-general after hearing from advocate

Kwalikum Secondary students are happy with the first edition of the ‘Kwalikum Observer’. (Submitted photo)
KSS students produce first issue of ‘Kwalikum Observer’ newspaper

Editor says the paper offers a good outlet for students

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Dr. Ben Chan remembers hearing the preliminary reports back in March of blood clots appearing in a handful of European recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Science on COVID, VITT constantly changing: A look at how doctors keep up

While VITT can represent challenges as a novel disorder, blood clots themselves are not new

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Queen Elizabeth II and Clive Holland, deputy commonwealth president of the Royal Life Saving Society, top left, virtually present Dr. Steve Beerman, top right, with the King Edward VII Cup for his drowning-prevention work. Tanner Gorille and Sarah Downs were honoured with Russell Medals for their life-saving resuscitation. (Buckingham Palace photo)
Queen presents Vancouver Island doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup at virtual ceremony

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)

Most Read