TSX companies lag on board diversity, will not adopt targets: report – CIM Magazine

Andrew MacDougall

Oct. 27, 2017

TSX-listed companies are making “excruciatingly slow progress” in appointing more women to their boards and executive positions, Osler partner Andrew MacDougall tells CIM Magazine. In her article, author Kelsey Rolfe references Osler’s third annual 2017 Diversity Disclosure Practices Report: Women in leadership roles at TSX-listed companies (the Diversity Disclosure Report), which provides a snapshot on the representation of women on boards of directors and C-Suites of all TSX-listed companies, other than closed-end or exchange-traded funds. Osler’s report reveals that progress is being made, but there is much work to be done on multiple levels before Canadian companies are at par with international firms that have led the way in prioritizing diversity in their executive suites and on their boards of directors. Andrew, a co-author of the Diversity Disclosure Report and a partner in Osler’s Corporate Practice Group, says more change is needed on the board diversity front.

“We are making excruciatingly slow progress,” Andrew tells CIM Magazine. “I think in part it is a fact that companies are not adding women to the boards at a rate that would be necessary to show substantive change in a shorter period of time.”

Osler’s report reviewed disclosure made by all TSX-listed companies (700) in 2017 that are required to report on the representation of women on their boards and in leadership positions through National Instrument 58-101, and compared the findings to the prior two years.

In the CIM Magazine article, Andrew noted a report from the Ontario Securities Commission that revealed only one quarter of vacant board seats in one year were filled by women. “You would need to substantially increase the proportion of women that are added to the board when those opportunities come up,” Andrew tells CIM Magazine.

The Diversity Disclosure Report also revealed that of the companies that disclosed whether they had set formalized gender parity targets, only 12% had done so in 2017. Andrew says it’s crucial for companies to set targets as a catalyst for change.

“Adding a goal or a target is vitally important, because if you don’t have a goal or a target in mind you’re never going to reach it,” Andrew tells CIM Magazine. He also says that meritocracy was “too often used as a justification for non-action. There are absolutely extremely well-qualified women candidates for director that would meet any meritocracy test.”

For more details, read Kelsey Rolfe’s article “TSX companies lag on board diversity, will not adopt targets: report” in CIM Magazine, or download Osler’s 2017 Diversity Disclosure Practices Report: Women in leadership roles at TSX-listed companies.