Women make slow progress on boards of Canadian public companies: CSA report

More than 80% of issuers have at least one woman on the board – up from 49% six years ago

Women make slow progress on boards of Canadian public companies: CSA report

Twenty-two per cent of total board seats of Canadian public companies are occupied by women, representing an 11 per cent increase since 2015, according to the latest review of disclosures by the Canadian Securities Administrators.

Securities regulators in Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan and Yukon announced the results of the seventh annual review of disclosures regarding women on boards and in executive officer positions.

The review of the participating securities regulatory authorities covered the corporate governance disclosures of 599 non-venture issuers. The issuers disclosed the following findings:

  • Among total board seats, 22 per cent are occupied by women, compared with 20 per cent last year and 11 per cent six years ago;
  • Eighty-two per cent of issuers have at least one woman on their boards, up from 79 per cent last year and 49 per cent six years ago;
  • Six per cent have a female chair of the board, same as in the prior year;
  • Five per cent have a woman as their chief executive officer, also the same as last year;
  • Seventeen per cent have a female chief financial officer, compared with 15 per cent in the previous two years;
  • Sixty per cent disclosed having a policy regarding the identification and nomination of female directors, up from 54 per cent last year and 15 per cent six years ago;
  • Issuers with this type of policy had an average of 25 per cent of women on their boards, compared with 16 per cent for issuers without such policy;
  • Thirty-two per cent had targets for the representation of women on their boards, up from 26 per cent last year year and seven per cent six years ago;
  • Issuers that adopted this kind of targets had an average of 28 per cent of women holding their board seats, compared with 18 per cent for issuers without such targets;
  • Sixty-seven per cent had at least one woman in an executive officer position, up from 65 per cent a year ago and 60 per cent six years ago;
  • Six per cent have targets for female representation in executive officer positions, compared with four per cent in the previous year and two per cent six years ago.

The CSA also released new guidance to assist in enhancing consistency and comparability among disclosures on gender diversity-related representation, targets and term limits. The guidance recommends that issuers present such information in a common tabular format to make it easier for investors to identify and evaluate the data.

“In addition to building in new guidance intended to improve the comparability of diversity-related disclosure information between issuers, we’re forging ahead with consultations that will give us insight into how to evolve our current diversity disclosure framework to include broader diversity considerations,” said Louis Morisset, chairperson of the CSA and president and chief executive officer of the Autorité des marchés financiers.

The ongoing consultations were announced earlier this year with the aims of advancing the CSA’s existing diversity initiatives and disclosure requirements and assessing evolving investor needs and corporate governance practices ever since the participating jurisdictions first imposed the current framework in 2014.

The CSA’s review did not consider large Canadian financial institutions, such as major banks with year-ends on Oct. 31, given that it covers issuers with financial year-ends between Dec. 31, 2020, and Mar. 31, 2021, noted a bulletin from Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP.

The bulletin said that, while the CSA’s latest review reported generally positive developments in improving gender diversity in boards and executive officer positions of Canadian public companies, progress is still slow, including in relation to the proportion of women holding the roles of chief executive officer or chief financial officer and other executive positions.

Stacy McLean, Toronto-based partner and leader of the Blakes’ investment products and asset management group; Matthew Merkley, partner and co-head of the firm’s corporate governance practice in Toronto; and Veronika Stefanski, Toronto-based associate, authored the bulletin.

Related stories

Free newsletter

The Canadian Legal Newswire is a FREE newsletter that keeps you up to date on news and analysis about the Canadian legal scene. A separate InHouse Edition is delivered on a regular basis, providing targeted news and information of interest to in-house counsel.

Please enter your email address below to subscribe.

Recent articles & video

SCC relies on treaty in finding foreign company exempt from paying tax in Canada

Ontario court pilot shows trend toward family dispute resolution: lawyer

COVID-19 and the courts: Nov. 29, 2021 update

Thank you to our Advisory Panel for dedicating their time to the 2021 Lexpert Rising Stars Awards!

B.C.'s bill on electronic wills, remote witnessing to come into force this December

Law Society of B.C. is appealing tribunal decision to ban Richmond Hong Guo lawyer for a year

Most Read Articles

Announcing the 2021 Lexpert Rising Stars

Lawyers' petition protests 'erosion of our free society' through vaccine passports, mandates

COVID-19 has created challenges in completing some deals as potential buyers seek ways to get out

Last chance to take vote for the Top Intellectual Property and Labour & Employment Boutiques