Rearview shot of an attractive young businesswoman standing with her hands on her hips in the office

Public companies have made progress in appointing more women to boards and executive roles, according to a report from the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA).

The CSA’s sixth annual report on women in board and executive roles at public companies reviewed the disclosure of 610 issuers in Canada with yearends that fell between Dec. 31, 2019 and March 31, 2020.

The review found that women accounted for 20% of board seats in 2020, up from 11% in 2015. Seventy-nine per cent of issuers had at least one woman on their board, up from 49% in 2015.

The CSA reported that more than half (54%) of issuers had adopted a policy relating to the representation of women on their boards — a “significant increase” from 15% in 2015.

Despite these improvements, only 6% of issuers had a female board chair — although chair data is not a disclosure requirement. More than one-fifth (21%) of issuers had no women on their board.

Large companies appointed more women to boards, the CSA found. Women held 31% of the board seats at issuers with a market capitalization greater than $10 billion, but only 15% of the board seats at companies with a market cap smaller than $1 billion.

Sixty-five per cent of companies reviewed by the CSA had at least one woman in an executive officer position, up from 60% in 2015. Fifteen per cent had a female CFO, and 5% had a female CEO.

Only 4% of issuers had targets for women in executive officer positions. Women were most likely to hold executive positions in the real estate, retail and utilities industries, and least likely to serve as executives in the mining, oil and gas, and technology sectors.

“In addition to the work we are sharing today, the CSA has been considering its role in the broader diversity conversation and will continue to engage with issuers, investors and other stakeholders on this topic,” Louis Morisset, chair of the CSA and president and CEO of the Autorité des marchés financiers, said in a release.

For further details, see the CSA’s report.