Women remain underrepresented in company boardrooms and in executive positions, according to a new report. (iStock)

Women on corporate boards: pace remains slow


How’s Canada doing with issues of gender equality in the business world?

Depends on who you ask.

And when.

Almost a year ago, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development delivered a report praising Canada for making “significant progress” on gender equality, especially in education and employment.

The OECD report noted a gender-based wage gap with women earning 88 cents for every dollar of hourly wages earned by men and said Canada was lagging behind in gender parity in Parliament and, tellingly, on company boards of directors.

Having formal board evaluations, setting term and age limits, and implementing a gender diversity policy are some ways corporations can make progress in diversifying corporate boards. (Shutterstock/Fizkes )

Now, Statistics Canada has confirmed that last assessment.

In 2016, the last year such data was available, Stats Can found 20 per cent of board directorships in Canada were held by women

For comparison, Australia, Belgium, France, Norway, Sweden, Italy and Finland all average more than 30 per cent female directors.

It’s a battle women in business and their male supporters have been fighting for a while–a long while–,pointing out, among other things, that excluding women from boards doesn’t even make good business sense, but, they say, the problem persists.

“We have a long, long way to go before we really see not only the level of diversity across all boards that we would like to see, but also the level of diversity that we know drives real business results,” Camilla Sutton, chief executive of Women in Capital Markets, a not-for-profit organization committed to accelerating diversity in Canada’s financial sector, tells CBC News.

Sutton says that despite plenty of awareness of the problem there’s a distinct lack of action.

New numbers from Statistics Canada released today show 19.4 per cent of board of director positions are held by women in Canada. (Shutterstock / Jacob Lund)

She says too many companies are not taking concrete steps like having formal board evaluations, setting term and age limits and implementing gender diversity policies.

Heather Shantora, chief executive of medical services companies PT Health and InnoCare Ltd., says there is a lack of seats available for women on boards.

“Perhaps board positions need to be kind of limited and then they have to turn over, because is some cases there’s literally not an available seat for women,” Shantora told CBC News.

The gap is nothing new, of course.

A report in 2013 found Canada falling behind other countries when naming women to corporate boards.

In an April 2017, business leaders called for new laws to help technology companies in Canada get more women on corporate boards.

Two months later, a report showed that having women on boards pays off with higher stock price gains — as much as 50 per cent higher, on average.

With files from CBC, CBC News, CBC Business

Categories: Economy, International, Society
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