Women gain share of board seats but not executive roles

By James Langton | October 2, 2019 | Last updated on October 2, 2019
2 min read
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Companies are making progress at improving the representation of women in their boardrooms. But in the executive suite? Not so much.

A group of Canadian securities regulators released the latest data examining the proportion of women on corporate boards and in executive officer positions at public companies. The data shows some improvement in board representation, but little in executive roles.

The regulators’ review of 641 issuers found that 17% of board seats are now held by women, up from 15% a year ago, and up from 11% five years ago.

Additionally, 73% of issuers had at least one woman on their board, up from 66% last year; and, 33% of vacant board seats are now being filled by a woman, up from 29% last year.

Yet, when it comes to executive positions, the data is less encouraging. Only 4% of CEOs are women, unchanged from a year ago. Just 5% of board chairs are women.

The share of issuers with at least one female executive has also declined, from 66% last year to 64% in the latest review.

And, despite the improvement in board representation, the regulators note that there are still 170 issuers without a single woman on their boards.

The disparity between companies’ approaches to gender equity on their boards and executive positions is also reflected in their approaches to corporate policies in this area.

For instance, the data show that 22% of issuers have now adopted targets for the representation of women on their boards, up from 16% last year. Conversely, just 3% have targets for female executives, down from 4% last year.

Additionally, the regulators report that 21% of issuers have adopted some form of director term limits, and 36% have adopted other board renewal mechanisms (other than term limits).

“Publishing this data reflects our commitment to ensuring investors have information to help them make informed decisions,” said Louis Morisset, chair of the CSA and president and CEO of the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF).

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James Langton

James is a senior reporter for Advisor.ca and its sister publication, Investment Executive. He has been reporting on regulation, securities law, industry news and more since 1994.