Companies with gender diverse leadership reap many benefits including better returns on equity, according to Delaney Greig, engagement analyst at the Shareholder Association for Research and Education.

“Where there’s more woman on boards and in senior management you see that returns on equity tend to be higher and above the market, and the same goes for when there’s higher equality in pay,” she says, adding companies also experience better employee engagement, innovation, productivity and retention if both genders are represented throughout their workforce.

But despite the benefits, many companies have been slow to adopt policies that encourage women to take on more senior roles, says Greig. “One of the big issues is around board renewal . . . you have directors sitting for so long, you’re not able to get that new blood, including women, on the board.”

Read: Canada’s gender pay gap could close by 2035: study

The association is focusing its efforts on tackling gender diversity and gender-related pay gaps across Canadian organizations. For one, the association’s institutional investor clients have filed shareholder proposals asking Canadian companies that don’t have women on their boards of directors to develop a clear plan for change. And, when it votes shares on behalf of clients, the association says it will vote against the entire nominating committee if the board of directors has no women on it and doesn’t have a clear plan to address gender equity.

Read: Gender diversity needed in the investment industry: report

With its members involved in responsible investing, Greig says the association’s prioritizing of gender equality is a “no-brainer.” She also notes that since women comprise 50 per cent of society, there’s a responsibility that they be included and recognized for their skillset.

Last year, SHARE worked with OceanRock Investments Inc. to file a diversity proposal at Restaurant Brands International, Tim Hortons’ parent company, which resulted in one woman being added to its board. However, this year OceanRock is requesting a plan to address diversity across the entire company. SHARE has also put forward three other similar proposals for Canadian companies on behalf of its clients.

The response has been generally positive, says Delaney, but there are still some companies that are resistant to change. 

Read: What is the key to boosting gender equality at work?

Copyright © 2020 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on

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