Canadian Manufacturing

19.4% of board directors are female across all company types: StatCan [UPDATED]

More than half of all boards composed entirely of men

May 7, 2019  The Canadian Press

PHOTO: Women in Business/Cuatrecasas/Flickr

Women filled 19.4% of the seats on corporate boards of directors across public, government and private organizations, but more than half of all boards were composed entirely of men, according to a new study by Statistics Canada.

Using 2016 data collected from more than 12,700 corporations, the agency found that 28% of the boards had just one woman and 15.2% had more than one woman, but 56.8% of the boards had no women at all.

“Although the share of women on corporate boards in publicly traded corporations (public corporations) has been well documented, this release fills an important data gap, by providing the first estimates for private corporations, government business enterprises and public corporations,” Statistics Canada said in the report Tuesday.

In 2015, the country’s largest securities regulator implemented a so-called comply-or-explain rule which requires most companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange to disclose each year how many women are on their board and in executive officer positions, among other things.


Since then, the representation of women on publicly listed company boards has grown.

The latest Canadian Securities Administrators’ report based on those disclosures from nearly 650 publicly traded companies showed that 15% of board seats were held by women, but 66% of issuers had at least one woman on their board.

That marked an improvement from four years earlier, when 11% of the board seats were held by women and 49% of these boards had at least one woman.

Statistics Canada’s study published Tuesday shed light on the boards of government and private corporations—the latter of which had the lowest proportion of women directors.

Government business enterprises had the highest share of women on corporate boards at 28.8%, followed by public corporations at 20.5%, while private corporations had just 17.4%.

The agency’s report was based on 2016 data collected through the Corporations Returns Act from 12,762 corporations, among which 44,658 directors were identified as members of a board.

“Women were more likely to be represented on corporate boards in service industries such as finance, management of companies and enterprises,” researchers said.

Female directors were most prevalent on boards in the finance sector at 22.5%, followed by utilities at 21.4%, and management of companies and enterprises at 20.1%. The construction sector and manufacturing had the lowest shares, at 12.8% and 14.4%, respectively.

Meanwhile, the proportion of women on boards also depended on where the controlling entity of the company was located.

Canadian-controlled entities had the highest share of women on boards at 21.3%, followed by those controlled by entities in France—where companies are subject to gender quotas for boards—at 17.5%, the study showed.

“Generally, these patterns seem to be consistent with the representation of women on corporate boards in these countries, reflecting the relatively higher representation in France and lower representation in Japan,” Statistics Canada said.