Skip To Content

Report: Diversity Disclosure Practices 2018 – Women in leadership roles at TSX-listed companies

Author(s): Andrew MacDougall, John M. Valley, Marleigh Dick, Bradley Lastman, Cory Bettel, Ramz Aziz, Tiye Traore

Sep 14, 2018

2020 Diversity Disclosure Practices - Diversity and leadership at Canadian public companies is now available.

Over the last year, institutional investors, regulators and the media have accelerated their focus on the diversity of board and executive teams in corporate Canada – but are TSX-listed companies responding?

The survey results published in our fourth annual report on diversity disclosure practices are encouraging, but they reveal more work needs to be done at the board level and results at the executive officer level remain disappointing.

Diversity Disclosure Practices 2018 [PDF] provides an updated snapshot on the representation of women in leadership roles in corporate Canada. Our Corporate Governance Group conducted an extensive review and analysis of diversity disclosure by TSX-listed companies, summarizing results for the full 2017 calendar year as well as for the period from January 1 to July 31, 2018. The report also highlights trends in results for corresponding periods for each year since 2015.

Report findings provide insight into the following areas:

  • breakdown and percentages of women on boards for full-year 2017
  • breakdown and percentages of women executive officers for full-year 2017
  • industry breakdown of women directors for full-year 2017
  • diversity policies and targets for full-year 2017
  • 2018 mid-year results regarding the number and percentage of women directors and women in executive officer positions by industry
  • board policies on diversity and policies related to the nomination and identification of women on boards
  • targets for women on boards and in executive officer positions


New this year, the report also includes statistics on the proportion of companies with a female CEO and companies with a female board chair.

The data presented in this report was obtained by surveying public disclosure documents filed by all TSX-listed companies that are subject to National Instrument 58-101 Disclosure of Corporate Governance Practices (NI 58-101), which requires disclosure respecting the representation of women on boards and in executive officer positions.

In addition to our survey results, Diversity Disclosure Practices highlights notable developments over the past 12 months affecting gender diversity both in Canada and internationally, and offers some examples of best practices for improving gender diversity among boards and executive teams.

DOWNLOAD PDF: 2018 Diversity Disclosure Practices


Video transcript

ANDREW MACDOUGALL: This is our fourth annual Diversity Disclosure Practices report. And like our prior reports, it is meant to inform readers not only of the number and proportion of women who are on boards and in executive officer roles and the number and proportion of companies that have adopted specified best practices, but also provides a summary of legislative, regulatory, investor, media, and research developments that have occurred over the past years to provide meaningful context for those numbers.

Our report is also meant to inspire readers by providing information about best practices that have been adopted by companies, and voluntarily disclosed by them to increase the representation of women, and by highlighting the names of companies that have achieved success.

Well, currently, the disclosure requirements are focused on increasing the proportion of female directors and executive officers. So companies are required to disclose the number and proportion of female directors and executive officers. They're required to disclose whether there's a written diversity disclosure policy focused on increasing the representation of women in those roles, any targets or goals that have been adopted, and whether the company considers the representation of women when recruiting directors or appointed executive officers. It's a comply or explain approach, so companies that do not comply with some of those practices are required to explain why.

This year's report demonstrates improvement, but at a very slow pace. Women currently hold 16.4% of board seats, but that represents an increase of only 1.8% compared to last year. Of the board positions that became available, women were appointed to the seats roughly a third of the time.

However, the number of all-male boards has decreased. More than 2/3 of all companies now have at least one woman on the board and a third of all companies have two or more women on the board. So there is some improvement. A majority of companies have now adopted written policies for diversity. But only about 40.3% of companies have disclosed that their policy on diversity relates to the increase in the number of women.

The pace of change has to improve. At the current rate, it will take us another 19 years to get to gender parity on boards. And just to get to a 30% level is going to take us another eight years. Companies are reluctant to adopt targets. Only 17% of companies have adopted targets for the representation of women on the board. Although a majority of the larger companies have adopted targets. But at the executive officer level there has been almost no change over the four years that we have been doing our reports.

There is currently about 1 and 1/2 female executive officers on average among companies, representing about 15% of the executive officers and that hasn't changed over the period of time. Companies tend not to adopt targets at the executive officer ranks. Only 6% of companies have done so, and only 20% even of the larger companies have done so.

Board composition including gender diversity needs to be a recurring topic at the board level. And senior management and the board need to support increasing diversity amongst the executive officer ranks. Diversity needs to be measured and monitored to identify potential bottlenecks.

In our report we've highlighted best practices that companies have adopted and voluntarily disclosed in order to attract and retain women and to develop women as potential leaders within the organization. We've also identified companies that have achieved gender parity, either at the board level or at the executive officer ranks.