Where’s the gender diversity on smaller boards? – Investment Executive

Andrew MacDougall

Sep 14, 2020

A recent article in Investment Executive looks at companies’ efforts to improve gender diversity on boards, including the results of a joint report from non-profit group Catalyst and the 30% Club that offers a snapshot of progress for Canada’s largest public companies from 2015 to 2019. According to author Anne-Marie Vettorel, “large publicly traded companies are appointing more women to their boards — but the same can’t be said for smaller companies.”

 “The largest Canadian companies are leading the pack to accelerate progress for women on boards,” notes the report, but “[c]ompanies of all sizes across the TSX continue to have much work to do for women on boards.”

The gender diversity gap between firms of different sizes exists for a number of reasons, says Andrew MacDougall,  who leads Osler’s Corporate Governance Practice. Larger companies tend to have “bigger boards,” Andrew adds. That makes it a bit easier to expand the board — and also means there is a greater chance of someone leaving the board, creating an opportunity for a female candidate.

“As you get down to the smaller companies, of course, there’s less turnover,” says Andrew. Institutional investors first began scrutinizing all-male boards of companies listed on the S&P/TSX Composite. But now, groups like Institutional Shareholder Services have turned their attention to the entire TSX, Andrew tells Investment Executive.

For more information, read Anne-Marie Vettorel’s full article, “Where’s the gender diversity on smaller boards?” in Investment Executive.