Financial services among Canada’s best for women on boards

New figures from Statistics Canada reveals representation has only increased marginally across Canadian boardrooms

Financial services among Canada’s best for women on boards
Steve Randall

Gender parity among Canadian management boards is still a long way off according to new figures, although financial services does better than most other industries.

Statistics Canada data published this week shows that women made up just 20% of almost 18,000 director and officer positions in 2020, just 0.3 percentage points higher than in 2019.

The survey included publicly-traded corporations, privately held corporations and government business enterprises operating across a variety of industries in Canada.

It found that 60% of boards did not have any female members, 28% had one, and 12% had two or more.

Financial services had the second highest share of women directors among industries at 27%, ahead of utilities (25%), and transportation and warehousing (23%).

Although educational services had 50% of women directors on its boards – the only industry to achieve gender parity – this was based on just 30 seats, the lowest in the survey.

Government entities continued to lead overall with 35% of its board seats occupied by women.

Women officers

There was a slightly better showing for women in officer roles across Canadian corporations.

A rise of 0.8 percentage points year-over-year took the share of officer roles held by women to 31% in 2020.

However, this falls to 24% for senior officer roles compared to 36% for other officer roles.

Women in top officer roles were most likely to be executive vice presidents (28%) but least likely to be a chairperson (1.3%).

Representation of women as directors of private enterprises was lower than other corporation types, but at 32%, the share of women in officer roles at these firms was higher in 2020 than for publicly-traded corporations (28%) and government business enterprises (30%).