Workplace inclusivity starts with acknowledging systemic racism: report

Over the last year, companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange have seen little movement in the proportion of female executive officers on their boards, according to an annual report by Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt LLP.

The study, which looked at diversity disclosure practices relating to women in leadership roles by TSX-listed companies, found that, among companies that disclose the information, women now hold more than 18 per cent of board seats. This compares to 12 per cent in 2012 and marks the highest proportion since the law firm started the report five years ago. Among S&P/TSX 60 companies, women now hold 30.2 per cent of available board seats. 

Read: How institutional investors are turning the gender diversity dial on corporate boards

However, the data also showed that the year-over-year rate of increase in the proportion of board seats held by women is starting to slow. It was 2.5 per cent between 2016 to 2017, 1.9 per cent the following year and is now down to 1.7 per cent.

Fortunately, 22.5 per cent of all TSX-listed companies and a majority (52.7 per cent) of S&P/TSX 60 companies have adopted targets for the proportion of women directors on their boards, a five per cent increase compared to 2018. As well, a majority (51.9 per cent) of companies that disclose whether or not they’ve adopted a written diversity policy have now stated their policy specifically targets the identification and nomination of women directors.

Read: Employers including diversity objectives in benefits, culture programs: survey

The survey also found 76 per cent of all companies have at least one female director, while more than 90 per cent of S&P/TSX 60 companies have more than one female director. Women accounted for 36.4 per cent of the total number of newly created or vacated board seats over the previous year, up from 32.3 per cent in 2018.

However, few companies (6.7 per cent) have adopted targets for the proportion of female executive officers and only 3.5 per cent of companies have a female chief executive officer. 

In 2019, the most common target for female executive officers is 30 per cent. Companies that have reached this goal include Telus Communications, Hydro One Ltd., Sun Life Financial and Manulife Financial Corp.

Read: CPPIB highlights efforts to encourage women on boards in sustainability report