Amid the frenzy over changes to OAS and the fate of the penny, one crucial initiative proposed by the 2012 budget has been overlooked; the government's plan to create an advisory council of leaders from the private and public sectors to promote the participation of women on corporate boards.
Women make up just 14.5% of directors on Canada's 500 largest company boards and only 10.3% of directors on the boards of publicly traded companies, according to a recent census by Catalyst.
Given that women remain under-represented on boards of directors, it's surprising that the government's proposal to remedy this issue hasn't received more attention.
Through the creation of an advisory council of leaders from the private and public sectors, the government plans to work with the private sector to link corporations to a network of women with professional skills and experience, in order to aid women in their pursuit of board positions and leadership roles.
"Increasing opportunities for women to serve on corporate boards makes good business sense for Canadian women and for Canada's economy. Thus, the Minister for Status of Women (Rona Ambrose) will work to promote the participation of women on corporate boards and champion their leadership," said officials in the budget overview.
Ambrose will work with the private sector to create this advisory council of leaders from the private and public sectors. As yet, there's no indication of whether any members have been chosen for the council.
The initiative is the government's first policy initiative to promote women on private sector boards, and comes as countries around the world increasingly adopt programs requiring mandatory quotas or voluntary targets for women on boards. Groups like Women Corporate Directors are also driving initiatives to help boost the presence of women globally.
On Friday morning, TD Canada Trust announced the appointment of Colleen Goggins, one of Fortune magazine's 50 Most Powerful Women in Business, to its board of directors.
Due to the push by the government and with the help of Ambrose, they may be the first of a long list of companies to bring women on board in the coming year.