Market Overview

Despite increasing pressures to improve gender diversity, the progression of women in board and executive roles in Canada remains painfully slow


Despite increasing pressures to improve gender diversity, the progression of women in board and executive roles in Canada remains painfully slow

Canada NewsWire

TORONTO, Sept. 14, 2018 /CNW/ - Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP's fourth annual report on gender diversity disclosure practices of TSX-listed companies finds continued, but slow, progress in increasing the proportion of women directors on the boards of TSX-listed companies, and little progress in increasing the proportion of women in executive officer positions. Canada's largest companies are doing the heavy lifting, as evidenced by the relatively strong performance of companies in the S&P/TSX 60 index across all data points gathered. 

"As we've tracked and analyzed the numbers over the past four years, we see little real progress overall for women in leadership roles at Canadian public companies and virtually no progress for women in executive officer positions. But current legal, political and societal developments are coalescing in ways we think will bring further focus on gender diversity — and for diversity reflecting characteristics in addition to gender — that should have a sustainable impact in moving the dial in the years ahead," said Andrew MacDougall, leader of Osler's Corporate Governance Practice.

"Although the headline numbers for the number of women in leadership roles were disappointing this year, we found positive trends in board renewal, a decreasing number of all-male boards, and increased adoption rates for board diversity policies that we hope foreshadow more meaningful improvement over the coming years," said corporate governance partner and co-author of the report, John Valley.

Some highlights of this year's Osler report include:

  • Women hold 16.4% of all board seats among all companies disclosing the number of women directors on their boards, while for S&P/TSX 60 index companies, this percentage increases to 28.4% of board seats being held by women.

  • 53.6% of companies disclose they have a written board diversity policy, an increase from 2017 and a significant shift from 2016 when only 34% did.

  • The percentage of companies without any women on the board declined to 31.3% in 2018 from 37.3% in 2017 and 46.3% in 2016.

  • At 3.5% of companies, a woman serves as board chair; and 3.3% of companies have a female CEO.

  • 53.6% of S&P/TSX 60 companies have adopted a target for the representation of women on the board, while among all disclosing companies only 17.2% have a target, though that represents an increase from 12.4% in 2017.

  • The proportion of companies with targets for the number of women executive officers remains low at 5.9%; once again, the S&P/TSX 60 index companies report stronger results with 21.8% having such a target.

The report was compiled by Osler's Corporate Governance Practice Group and involved an extensive review and analysis of diversity disclosure by all TSX-listed companies required to comply with the diversity disclosure requirements under applicable securities laws through to July 31, 2018.The full report is available for download.

About Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP
Osler is a leading law firm with a singular focus – your business.  From Toronto, Montréal, Calgary, Ottawa, Vancouver and New York, we advise our Canadian, U.S. and international clients on an array of domestic and cross-border legal issues. Our one–firm collaborative approach draws on the expertise of over 400 lawyers to provide practical legal solutions driven by your business needs.

It's law that works.

SOURCE Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP - Toronto

View original content:

View Comments and Join the Discussion!