Canadian Manufacturing

Diversity 50 list puts focus on women, minority board members

The Canadian Board Diversity Council says regulatory changes are meant to increase the number of female directors in Canada

TORONTO—A leading voice in the fight to get more women and minorities on corporate boards in Canada has published its latest list of what it describes as highly qualified candidates.

The Canadian Board Diversity Council says its so-called 2015 Diversity 50 Cohort includes eight men and 42 women, six of whom currently serve on FP500 or Fortune 500 corporate boards.

The diversity council says the group includes six aboriginal candidates, up from five in 2014, as well as 11 visible minorities. All were vetted under a process endorsed by participating CEOs from 11 large Canadian companies.

According to the council, the Diversity 50 initiative has resulted in 22 board appointments to FP500 or Fortune 500 companies since its inception in 2012.

Meanwhile, it says recent regulatory changes have highlighted the ongoing need to increase the number of female directors in Canada.

So-called “comply or explain” disclosure requirements adopted by securities regulators in most provinces and territories now require core TSX-listed issuers to disclose both their approach and progress in achieving greater gender diversity on their boards of directors.

“More women than ever before are sitting on Canada’s corporate boards, but we need to do more,” said CBDC founder Pamela Jeffery.

“Canada’s future competitiveness depends on ensuring more boards are comprised of diverse, qualified candidates _ including women, visible minorities and aboriginal peoples.”

Late last month, the Ontario Securities Commission released a report showing that 51 per cent of the 722 companies included in its review did not have any women on their boards, while 40 per cent reported no women in executive officer positions at all.

Only seven per cent—49 companies—said they had a target in place for the number of women that should sit on their boards, while only 11 firms, about two per cent, reported setting a target for the number of female executive officers.

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