Disclosure rule leads to more women on Canadian boards: report

By Mark Burgess | November 30, 2020 | Last updated on November 29, 2023
2 min read
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Almost all of Canada’s 100 largest publicly traded companies have at least one woman on their boards, a jump of nearly 30% in the the last six years, according to a report from KPMG in Canada.

Since Canada’s “comply or explain” gender diversity mandate came into effect in 2014, more than one-third of appointments to large company boards have gone to women, the report said.

Kristine Remedios, chief inclusion and social impact officer at KPMG, said Canadian organizations have made “great strides.”

“Just six years ago, one-third of these boards were all male — today it is just one in 25,” she said in a release.

Concerns that the new regime would lead to under-qualified “token” directors have proven to be unfounded, Remedios said. Almost two-thirds (64%) of female directors have advanced degrees, compared to 54% of men, the report found.

Women appointed to boards are also more likely to come from outside the organization and to participate on “key” board committees, the report said.

However, KPMG found that fewer female directors are actively employed: 34% compared to more than half of men.

Executive appointments at the same 100 companies haven’t kept pace with boards. Over the same period, fewer than one-quarter of roles went to women, the report said, of which 39% were C-suite appointments. Almost half (47%) of the appointments given to men were at the C-suite level. The report also found that men appointed to executive roles were more educated than their female counterparts.

“The fact that only a third of the female directors appointed over the last six years were actively working and that women are not making significant progress gaining executive roles in Canada’s largest companies raises some questions about where the next pool of female directors will come from,” said Doron Melnick, a partner at KPMG in Canada and the report’s author, in a release.

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Mark Burgess

Mark was the managing editor of Advisor.ca from 2017 to 2024.