New evidence suggests women are making inroads when it comes to board appointments with Canadian publicly traded companies. Is it enough?
It’s definitely a start.
The top five companies by market cap in the Globe and Mail 1000 have 20 women serving on their boards out a total of 72 positions. That’s 27.8%, 700 basis points higher than the representation by women on the boards of S&P/TSX 60 companies.
Not surprisingly the best representation by women in this exclusive subset come from the big banks who spend more time on the global stage and generally are more attune to corporate governance.
A good example is Norway where legislation exists requiring public companies to appoint 40 percent
of its board seats to women. While they haven’t quite got there yet – 35.5% rate of representation – they’re way ahead of Canada and other developed markets.
Catalyst Canada, a non-profit organization dedicated to expanding the opportunities for women in business, just released its 2014 Catalyst Census: Women Board Directors
, a report that looks at women’s share of board seats at stock market index companies across three regions and 20 countries including Canada and the United States.
This year’s census is global in nature hence the tweet
by the Wall Street Journal.
Catalyst is calling for the proportion of women directors on FP500 boards to increase to 25% by 2017. In June 2014 a total of 26 companies on the FP list signed the Catalyst Accord
to meet this goal. If the push is to be successful it will need to seriously increase the pace at which Canadian companies appoint women to their boards.
That’s because in order to reach this goal there will need to be 1,250 women directors (an average of 10 directors per board multiplied by 500 and then 0.25) on the FP500 by the end of 2017. Applying the 20.8% rate currently found with S&P/TSX 60 companies across the 500 companies in the Financial Post’s list suggests Catalyst is 210 board seats short of its goal.
But that’s a very optimistic projection.
Because the farther one moves down the FP500 the less likely it is that the companies will have a representation rate of women board members anywhere near the big banks and some of the other sectors found to be doing a good job in 2014.
So, while the number of newly appointed women board members south of the border has almost doubled since 2009, the rate of progress still must be considered painfully slow.
Is it enough? Not nearly so.