All on Board: Turning Evidence Into Action for Women’s Leadership

The Conference Board of Canada, 24 pages, September 23, 2020
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This report examines the current state of women’s representation on boards of public companies and provides a basis for further research on what works for comply or explain gender diversity disclosure grounded in the Canadian context.

Document Highlights

Progress on women’s representation on boards since “comply or explain” gender diversity disclosure requirements were implemented for the boards of public companies in 2014 has been slow. The largest companies covered by comply or explain have reached 30% representation, yet overall women currently hold only 18% of all corporate board seats. Part of the problem is a lack of rigorous evidence on the impact of different approaches to increasing women on boards, including in the Canadian context. A look at different legislative approaches across international jurisdictions (e.g., voluntary targets, mandated quotas) and how they tie to progress can help us better identify and understand strategies to address gender gaps. However, decision-makers need to understand the impact of disclosure on the representation of women in Canada so they can ensure the most appropriate legislative and policy levers to close gender gaps in leadership are in place. This report examines the current state of women’s representation on boards of public companies and provides a basis for further research on what works for comply or explain gender diversity disclosure grounded in the Canadian context.

Table of Contents

  • Key findings
  • What’s the issue?
  • Quick facts
  • The case for equal representation
  • Organizations and initiatives promoting women’s representation
  • How to address barriers to better representation of women
  • Women on boards in Canada: a report card
  • International insights
  • Where do we go from here?

Appendix A—Methodology

Appendix B—Bibliography

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