Why are so few B.C. tech companies led by women?

Minerva Foundation CEO Adine Mees wants to engage with companies to accelerate women in leadership

Minerva Foundation scores companies on gender diversity

It will take B.C. 75 years to achieve gender parity in leadership positions, according to a report released by the Vancouver-based Minerva Foundation at a conference June 22. The 2016 Scorecard evaluates the percentage of women in C-suites and on boards at 50 organizations chosen from the BCBusiness Top 100 list of the province’s biggest business organizations by 2014 revenue.

Only six (12 per cent) had a female CEO, just 38 per cent had at least two women executives, and 50 per cent had no women on their board or didn’t disclose their board composition. None had women of Aboriginal descent in leadership positions.

“The project isn’t simply meant to be a scorecard,” says Minerva CEO Adine Mees. “It wasn’t about naming and shaming. It was really about identifying the companies with the greatest impact and influence in our province, and then setting a benchmark, evaluating performance and then reaching out to them and making an effort to engage them in accelerating women in leadership.”

Ten organizations did not disclose the composition of their board of directors, and five disclosed no information at all about the identity of their senior executives, which concerns Mees as these companies have a big impact on the province both through their employees and their supply chains.

She is also concerned about the information technology sector, which, although the sample was small, performed below Canadian, TSX and global benchmarks for gender diversity, unlike the B.C. companies overall. Minerva works with 16-year-old girls to help them reach their leadership potential, and its research indicates that gender parity will not be achieved in their lifetime. Yet those girls look at the industries of the future like information technology. “That’s a sector that is growing, that’s a sector that they would look at, and that’s a sector that is the poorest performing currently,” says Mees. “So that tells me we need to watch that and we need to improve on that, particularly in B.C.”

Compared to last year’s scorecard, five companies reported a higher percentage of women in senior executive management:

BC Liquor Distribution from 44% to 56%
Best Buy Canada from 38% to 40%
Insurance Corporation of BC from 29% to 33%
Telus Corp. from 13% to 20%
Westcoast Energy from 20% to 24%

Seven companies reported a higher percentage of women on their board of directors:

BC Hydro from 20% to 43%
Finning International from 15% to 17%
Goldcorp Inc. from 20% to 27%
Insurance Corporation of BC from 44% to 50%
Lions Gate Entertainment from 8% to 14%
Methanex from 18% to 31%
Telus Corp. from 20% to 23%

As well as the annual Top 100 list of companies, each year BCBusiness looks at women in positions of influence

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