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Gender Diversity on Boards in Canada – Recommendations for Accelerating Progress

This report was created to help Canadian organizations make progress on achieving gender parity on boards by promoting the adoption of targets. It also presents an analysis of the benefits of gender parity for board of directors, examines disclosures related to board renewal mechanisms, and describes best practices from leading businesses.

Recommendations for accelerating progress for women on boards include:

  1. Set the following specific targets, and achieve them within three to five years:
    1. 30 percent women board directors, if you currently have at least one woman director.
    2. One woman board director, if you currently have zero women board directors.
  2. Use at least one mechanism to facilitate board renewal (e.g. term, age limit).
  3. Establish a written policy describing how the company specifically plans to increase representation of women on its board.
  4. Review board recruitment policies:
    1. Require that lists of potential board candidates consist of at least 50 percent women candidates with the skills and profile sought, and ensure diversity among women too.
    2. Require that women – including women from diverse communities – comprise at least 50 percent of the interview pool for every open board position.
    3. Implement board effectiveness assessments, including gap analysis using skills matrices.
    4. Leverage broad networks – not just the usual suspects.
  5. Champion senior executive women for board service by:
    1. Reassessing and removing restrictions on external board service.
    2. Implementing programs to match talent with board vacancies.
  6. Address gender equity at all levels of the organization by:
    1. Reviewing, on a continual basis, all human resources systems to ensure they are unbiased.
    2. Investing in inclusive leadership training.
    3. Monitoring and tracking promotion rates, aim for proportional rates at each level.
    4. Evaluating and addressing pay equity by:
      1. Conducting periodic pay equity studies.
      2. Implementing “no negotiations” policies and paying for work, not potential.
  7. Adopting pay transparency policies.

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