Securities regulators release review of women in boards and executive roles

Women occupy 20 per cent of total board seats in 2020, up from 11 per cent in 2015

Securities regulators release review of women in boards and executive roles
Canadian Securities Administrators have released a review of women in boards and executive roles

Securities regulatory authorities in Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan have published the results of a sixth review of public disclosures regarding women on boards and in executive officer positions, the Canadian Securities Administrators has announced.

The CSA Multilateral Staff Notice 58-312 Report on Sixth Staff Review of Disclosure Regarding Women on Boards and in Executive Officer Positions, which was required by National Instrument 58-101 Disclosure of Corporate Governance Practices, covers public disclosures from 610 issuers which have year-ends between Dec. 31, 2019 and Mar. 31, 2020 and which have filed information circulars or annual information forms by Nov. 30, 2020, said a news release dated Mar. 10, the same week as the celebration of International Women’s Day.

The total number of board seats held by women increased from 11 per cent in 2015 to 20 per cent in 2020, with this number tending to rise alongside the size of the issuer and differing across industries. In the participating jurisdictions, 79 per cent of issuers reported having at least one woman on their board in 2020, up from 49 per cent in 2015. Six per cent of issuers had a female board chairperson and 30 per cent of vacated board seats were filled by women.

As for executive officer positions, 65 per cent of issuers reported having at least one woman holding such a role, with five per cent having a female chief executive officer and with 15 per cent having a female chief financial officer. Four per cent of issuers disclosed that they had set targets for the representation of women in executive officer positions, while 26 per cent set targets for such representation on their board.

While 39 per cent of issuers said that they did not adopt director term limits or other mechanisms of board renewal, 23 per cent of issuers set director term limits, sometimes with other board renewal mechanisms, and 34 per cent set board renewal mechanisms other than director term limits. As for policies, 54 per cent of issuers implemented a policy regarding female representation on their board, which was a notable increase from the 2015 results.

“In addition to the work we are sharing today, the CSA has been considering its role in the broader diversity conversation and will continue to engage with issuers, investors and other stakeholders on this topic,” said Louis Morisset, chairperson of the Canadian Securities Administrators and president and chief executive officer of the Autorité des marchés financiers.

The Canadian Securities Administrators will release the review’s full data by summer 2021 and will keep tracking trends relating to this matter.

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