Author Archives: Positive Change

Can Women on Boards Help Save the World?

We have come a long way, and yet have a long way to go. This series of facts, stats and links will give you something to ponder during International Women’s Week. Pull it up as an icebreaker at your next meeting and enjoy.

Can women in power save the world?

Can corporate performance be improved by higher percentage of women on boards? Would the state of the world and our communities be in better shape if more women were in decision-making positions? Yes.

Women’s wisdom, women’s values and women’s virtues not only improve corporate performance, they can save the world! “Increasing the number of women in powerful positions has the potential to transform our workplaces and society,” declares a report from Catalyst, the company that advised the Wynne government on expanding its gender-equity initiatives. “Achieving gender balance on boards and throughout the executive ranks is widely recognized as a global economic imperative.” Margaret Wente, Globe and Mail.

Fast Facts

  1. The number of Canadian women serving on corporate boards is crawling up with only a 1% point increase since securities regulations were launched ordering companies to measure and disclose the number of women holding board seats. In the public sector, and particularly in health care and community support ranks, the numbers may be somewhat better – and guess what? Those positions are mostly volunteer.

Canadian data:

  1. Late 2016 Canada – women made up 12 per cent of all board seats for 677 companies listed on the TSX, only 11 % more than 2015.
  2. 45 per cent did not have any women.
  3. Of 521 vacant board seats, only 76 were filled by women. (= 85% of the time the seat was filled by a man)
  4. There has been almost no change getting women on boards in Canada, reports Sarah Kaplan, director of the Institute for Gender and the Economy (Rotman School of Management: .

“I think it’s basically the same number. One per cent is not movement,” she said. Kaplan concedes that there is no easy fix, but added “it’s not enough to say we want this and it will magically happen.” Increasingly, she believes that without quotas or penalties, “we are not going to move the needle.” Sarah Kaplan

  1. Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan: called for a minimum of three women on every board by 2020 or face delisting from the TSE.
  2. Catalyst issued a call to action in 2011 for Canadian corporations to increase the overall proportion of FP500 board seats held by women to 25 percent by 2017. Find out more at Catalyst.
  3. An interesting take on the question, Can Women in Power Save the World, in a Pre-Trump article by Canada’s Margaret Wente.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

  1. Norway: all boards must be 40 per cent women, or face penalties including forced dissolution.
  2. France: companies with more than 500 employees are required to have at least 40 per cent women directors by 2017. That’s now…
  3. United States: women hold only 16 per cent of board seats. If men and women joined in equal numbers, it will be parity will be reached by about 2056.
  4. United Kingdom: 2015 – women held 26.1 per cent of FTSE 100 board seats, now meeting a 25 per cent target.
  5. Australia: a diversity policy is required of companies, or disclosure about why they have not diversified. 2015 – women held 22 per cent of all board seats in ASX 200 companies.

Is it time for you to think about joining a board in your community? Yes.

Have a great week!

Gisele Guenard, Principal – VisionarEase & associates

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