The status of women in corporate Canada

Once you get past the disappointing reality—for starters, just 12.6 per cent of corporate board seats in Canada are occupied by women—there are signs of incremental improvement in the latest gender diversity report on Canadian public companies from law firm Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP. For example, the share of TSX-listed firms with no women on their boards fell to 37 per cent from 46 per cent in 2016, the average number of female directors per board rose to 1.13 from 0.96, and 47 per cent of companies now have a target for gender diversity among directors, up from 39 per cent a year ago. Unfortunately, change has been slower on the executive leadership front, with only three per cent of companies setting a gender diversity goal for their executive level and the proportion of female executive officers stalled at just 15 per cent. More companies need to take a leaf out of HSBC Bank Canada’s book; the Vancouver-based financial institution, led by one-time Burnaby branch teller Sandra Stuart, has achieved parity both on its board and among executives.