Are institutional investors meeting diversity targets they’ve set for investee companies? – Benefits Canada

Andrew MacDougall

June 23, 2023

While female representation at the top level of Canadian public companies does not yet match the proportion of women in the population as a whole, the progress does represent considerable change from just eight years ago, says Andrew MacDougall, partner, Corporate in an interview with Benefits Canada.

“People say we should have made progress faster and it’s an absolutely fair comment to make, but progress is being made, which is very heartening to me,” says Andrew. “When you look back at where we were eight years ago, we’re in a very different environment.”

According to the most recent round of disclosures, approximately 34% of seats on the boards of S&P/TSX composite index listees are occupied by women, while 23% of executive roles at these businesses are held by women. The corresponding figures for female representation in 2015 were 18% of board seats and 15% of C-suite roles.

Andrew pinpoints 2017 as the turning point, the same year the 30% Club Canada’s investor group challenged the S&P/TSX composite to hit a target of 30% representation of women on boards and executive management teams by 2022.

“That where’s the difference comes,” he says. “The vast majority of issuers made no progress year over year until the institutional investors started requiring it. Once it became a requirement in order to access capital, companies really started to get on board with making a change to their board of directors at least, so they weren’t facing adverse vote recommendations at the {annual general meeting},”

Read the full article by author Michael McKiernan posted on June 23, 2023.