A woman walks through Toronto’s financial district on Monday, July 30, 2018. Women remain underrepresented in boardrooms of Canadian companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange despite the introduction of disclosure requirements intended to boost their numbers, a study by the Conference Board of Canada has found. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy

A woman walks through Toronto’s financial district on Monday, July 30, 2018. Women remain underrepresented in boardrooms of Canadian companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange despite the introduction of disclosure requirements intended to boost their numbers, a study by the Conference Board of Canada has found. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy

Women still underrepresented in boardrooms despite ‘comply-or-explain’ rule: study

The study found more than half of the board seats that became vacant in 2018 went to men

Women remain underrepresented in boardrooms of Canadian companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange despite the introduction of disclosure requirements intended to boost their numbers, a study by an Ottawa think tank has found.

The Conference Board of Canada said that while there is some progress in the proportion of women on corporate boards, the pace of change remains slow.

“More needs to be done if we’re going to achieve that goal of parity earlier,” said Susan Black, Conference Board CEO and lead author of the study, in an interview.

In 2015, the Ontario Securities Commission and other Canadian regulators implemented a so-called comply-or-explain rule, which requires most publicly traded companies to disclose the number of women in key positions or explain why they have not met their goals.

Women only made up 15 per cent of Canadian boards in 2018 – an increase of just four percentage points from 2015, when seven provinces and two territories introduced the disclosure requirements, the study found.

“(The) improved ‘comply or explain’ disclosure requirements have failed to accelerate the entry of women into corporate boardrooms,” the Conference Board report reads.

The study said there is no compelling evidence that disclosure has accelerated the inclusion of women on boards since a faster pace would have led to a greater increase in representation since 2015.

Black said the numbers demonstrate that requiring organizations to publicly state what they’re doing is not sufficient to change behaviours and speed up progress toward gender parity in boardrooms.

The study found more than half of the board seats that became vacant in 2018 went to men and about a quarter were left unfilled or eliminated.

“The good news is women still filled a quarter of the board seats; the bad news is women only fill a quarter of the board seats,” said Black.

If men and women were added to boards on a 50:50 ratio, boardrooms would reach parity in five years, she added.

Black said some approaches organizations can take to achieve this is by having specific diversity targets and board term limits, as well as keeping a list of potential board candidates and making sure that list is diverse.

Companies that adopted such diversity practices had consistently higher representation of women on their boards, the study said.

It recommended that companies expand their pool of senior women executives to develop the talent pipeline for women board members.

The Conference Board study compiled all public disclosure reporting data released by the Canadian Securities Administrators from 2015 to 2018, which included data from 589 companies.

Using 2016 data, Statistics Canada did a similar study in 2019 that found only 19.4 per cent of seats on corporate boards of directors across public, government and private organizations were filled by women, while more than half of all boards were composed entirely of men.

“At the current rate in which women are being appointed to corporate boards, it will take another 17 years to achieve gender parity in Canada’s boardrooms,” the report read.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Denise Paglinawan, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

women in business

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Aldergrove Community Secondary. (Aldergrove Star files)
Noel Booth, Douglas Park, RE Mountain, and Aldergrove Secondary see positive COVID tests

As of Monday, May 10, 18 schools are currently on the Fraser Health exposure list

Email your cooking questions to Chef Dez at dez@chefdez.com.
ON COOKING: Chef Dez does parsley pesto

Pesto traditionally has fresh basil but it can also be made with another fresh herb

Langley’s Madison Sweeney a 5’8” forward who began her career playing for Walnut Grove Secondary, has signed with the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) Cascades women’s soccer team. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
Langley’s Madison Sweeney signs with UFV Cascades soccer team

UFV ‘checks all the boxes’ for former Walnut Grove player

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a ‘person of interest’ in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
RCMP identify ‘person of interest’ in Kootenay National Park suspicious death

Police are looking for Philip Toner, who was known to a woman found dead near Radium last week

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) makes a save on Winnipeg Jets’ Nate Thompson (11) during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Vancouver Canucks see NHL playoff hopes dashed despite 3-1 win over Winnipeg

Montreal Canadiens earn final North Division post-season spot

Elias Pettersson and the Vancouver Canucks drew a large crowd to the Abbotsford Centre in 2019. Canucks management hopes the crowds return for the planned AHL team this fall, and early returns are positive. (John Morrow/Abbotsford News)
Canucks: ‘Incredible’ early interest for Abbotsford AHL tickets

Team has had a strong response to both e-mail information and priority ticket lists

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)
B.C. election law could add six seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of an Indigenous woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation wants ‘massive change’ after its 3rd police shooting in less than a year

Nuu-chah-nulth woman recovering from gunshot wounds in weekend incident near Ucluelet

Nurse Gurinder Rai, left, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Maria Yule at a Fraser Health drive-thru vaccination site, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The site is open for vaccinations 11 hours per day to those who have pre-booked an appointment. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID vaccine bookings to open for adults 40+, or 18+ in hotspots, across B.C.

Only people who have registered will get their alert to book

Most Read