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

The owner of Mae’s Kitchen in Mirror, says hamlet residents were ‘disheartened’ by a recent anti-restriction protest. The restaurant is following all the health restrictions in place. (Photo courtesy Mae’s Kitchen Facebook)
‘We don’t need that’: Mirror restaurant against recent anti-restriction protest

Mae’s Kitchen is located less than two kilometres from The Whistle Stop

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta adds 1,195 new COVID-19 cases Saturday

Red Deer has dropped to 760 active cases

MP Damien Kurek receives his COVID-19 vaccination. (Photo submitted)
Local elected representatives get the jab

MP Damien Kurek and MLA Lovely get their COVID-19 vaccinations

(Historica Canada)
VIDEO: Heritage Minute marks 100th anniversary of work to discover insulin

Video centres on Leonard Thompson, 13, the first patient to receive successful injections for Type 1 diabetes

Abbotsford Regional Hospital. (Black Press Media files)
Canada marks 25,000 COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic began

6 in every 10,000 Canadians died of COVID-19 since March 9, 2020

Capt. Jenn Casey died in a crash just outside of Kamloops, B.C., on May 17, 2020. (CF Snowbirds)
Snowbirds to honour Capt. Casey, who died in B.C. crash, in 2021 tour

Tour will kick off in Ontario in June before heading west

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

Welcoming cowboy boots at the historic and colourful Last Chance Saloon in the ghost town of Wayne near Drumheller, Alta., on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019. The bar and hotel are up for sale. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘It was a going concern’: Remaining bar and hotel in Alberta coal ghost town for sale

The historic Last Chance Saloon in the ghost town of Wayne in southern Alberta is up for sale

The lights of several emergency vehicles could be seen near the Sunken Bridge on May 13. (Photo submitted)
Patient airlifted from Ponoka with serious injuries

RCMP, fire, STARS respond to single vehicle rollover May 13

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Restrictions will lift once 75% of Canadians get 1 shot and 20% are fully immunized, feds say

Federal health officials are laying out their vision of what life could look like after most Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19

An Israeli attack helicopter launches flares as he flies over the Israeli Gaza border, southern Israel, Thursday, May 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Singh calls for halt on Canadian arms sales to Israel as violence escalates in region

Government data shows Canada sent $13.7 million in military goods and technology to Israel in 2019

Most Read