The Roadmap to Pursue Gender Equality in the Workplace

Transparency and Accountability

Transparency and accountability can help companies bridge the gap between commitment and action.

Transparency and accountability are crucial but often neglected components that can help companies bridge the gap between commitment and action. These key elements will ensure that the work outlined in the Leadership and Inclusion sections of the Blueprint is implemented, monitored, and continuously improved.

Throughout our consultations, private sector businesses have acknowledged that a lack of transparency and accountability is a major hurdle to achieving gender equality in the workplace. McKinsey & Company’s “The Power of Parity” study reveals that this shortcoming is prevalent across the Canadian private sector. In the study, 55 percent of companies had not set any targets for female inclusion, 75 percent did not reward leaders for fostering gender diversity, and 100 percent did not have monetary incentives tied to the promotion of gender diversity. 1

Internal and external transparency measures can be uncomfortable and intimidating at first, but both are crucial to ensure that organizations are held fully accountable for their gender equality commitments, creating opportunities for advancing meaningful action. For instance, Bill Morris, retired president and senior managing director of Accenture Canada, acknowledged that while sharing workforce diversity metrics on the company’s external website was difficult, he soon learned that the “power of transparency” could drive commitment and action internally as well as enhance trust within the workforce. 2

Ensuring transparency and accountability is important because:

  • Accountability refers to the obligation of an individual or organization to account and accept responsibility for its activities, and to disclose the results in a transparent manner. 3 Without accountability, any policy or initiative taken to improve gender equality within the organization will not produce a concrete outcome.
  • Transparency is an essential condition for a free and open exchange. Providing all the information required for collaboration, cooperation, and collective decision making reduces instances of mistrust, lack of awareness, and lack of support. 4
  • Transparency and accountability are becoming a corporate imperative, as more stakeholders demand these features. Ninety percent of investors believe a business’s reporting is indicative of the quality of its management, but only 28 percent believe management is sufficiently transparent about the metrics they use to plan and coordinate their business. 5
  • Transparency and accountability have the power to break systemic barriers and accelerate equality. For example, nearly three quarters of Canadians would be comfortable disclosing their salary if it revealed unfair discrepancies between men’s and women’s wages. 6

Transparency and Accountability Regulation in Canada

Regulatory changes are coming into place to ensure corporate transparency and accountability. In Canada, regulation supporting transparency and accountability includes:

  • Canada Security Administrators jurisdictions (excluding BC and PEI) are under a comply-or-explain regime requiring non-venture issuers to disclose female representation details, including issuers’ targets to address female representation.
  • Bill C-25, an Act to amend the Canada Business Corporations Act, the Canada Cooperatives Act, the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act, and the Competition Act, requires corporations to place before the shareholders at every annual meeting, information respecting diversity among directors and senior management.
  • The Pay Equity Act, legislated to achieve pay equity by redressing the systemic gender-based discrimination in remuneration practices and job classes, applies to the federal public services and to private sector employers that are federally regulated, as well as to organizations that do business with the federal government.

We have identified four key aspects for creating a transparent and accountable system:

  1. Baseline Assessment of Gender Equality
  2. Goal Setting
  3. Measuring and Evaluating
  4. Reporting


  1. Sandrine Devillard et al., “The Power of Parity: Advancing Women’s Equality in Canada,” McKinsey Global Institute, 2017. []
  2. Bill Morris, “Gender Parity: Closing the Gap Between Commitment and Action,” LinkedIn, 2018. []
  3. Business Dictionary, “Accountability,” 2019. []
  4. Business Dictionary, “Transparency,” 2019. []
  5. PwC, “Point of View: Tomorrow’s World: Enhancing Trust and Transparency Through Communication,” 2017. []
  6. Catherine McIntyre, “Nearly Three Quarters of Canadians Want Pay Transparency,” Maclean’s, 2018. []