Women's Low Representation on Boards Slow to Change but Crucial for Corporate Canada's Success



    New Catalyst study reveals still no women in many Canadian boardrooms

    TORONTO, June 9 /CNW/ - The familiar image of men sitting around a
boardroom table is no longer representative of the winning business model,
according to the latest 2007 Catalyst Census of Women Board Directors of the
FP 500: Voices from the Boardroom, released today. In fact, the study suggests
that the persistent under-representation of women on corporate boards and the
extremely slow pace of change might have disturbing implications for company
performance and governance in Canada.
    The 2007 Catalyst Census found that women represent 13 percent of
corporate board seats in the FP500, an increase of only one percentage point
since 2005. Over 40 percent of FP 500 companies in Canada have no women
directors on their boards.
    "The tendency for boards to recruit from the same narrow pool of
candidates acts as a barrier to women seeking board seats," said Catalyst Vice
President North America, Deborah Gillis. "Board chairs, CEOs and corporate
governance chairs are in unique positions to jump-start the process and drive
change. By championing gender diversity and looking beyond the C-suite and FP
500 boards to find qualified women directors, they can provide a better, more
transparent environment in which Canadian businesses can succeed."
    Additional key findings from the study support casting a wider net in
order to increase women's representation in Canadian boardrooms.

    
    -   Over 20% of vacant board seats and 30.5% of board seats in public
        companies were filled by individuals already serving on a corporate
        board.
    -   Women were "recycled" in public companies at greater rates than their
        male colleagues - 40% of female directors as compared to 28.9% of
        male directors sit on multiple FP500 boards.
    

    Previous research from Catalyst shows that, on average, companies with
more women on corporate boards financially outperform those with the fewest.
The women directors we interviewed told us that enhancing gender diversity at
the board level raises the quality of discussion around the table. This has
the potential to yield real improvements in the overall quality of governance
which, in turn, will be reflected in company performance. Yet, despite this
compelling business case for more women on boards, the pace of change is
frustratingly slow.
    To understand why, Catalyst interviewed close to 60 FP500 women board
directors to understand their perspectives on the slow pace of change. They
responded that the positions, opportunities and networks which have been so
vital to their own success are still not available or accessible to many women
in corporate Canada. They also noted that while talented potential directors
exist outside the C-suite, recruiters seeking new directors usually return to
this group of "usual suspects" where women's representation continues to be
low.
    Although progress is slow, the Census study did reveal small signs of
progress:

    
    -   The number of companies with multiple women directors increased by
        2.5 percentage points since 2005 to 28.5%.
    -   Women's representation as board chairs increased 1.3 percentage
        points since 2005 to 3.4%.
    -   The percentage of key public company board committee chairs held by
        women rose one percentage point to 6.8%.

    The study outlines a few ways that companies can broaden their search for
potential candidates:

    -   Demand a diverse slate of candidates.
    -   Update and create skills matrices to determine what competencies are
        currently represented on the board, and what other skills are needed.
    -   Search out candidates who will fulfill a company's competency needs
        in various industries.
    -   Look beyond the C-Suite (i.e. COO, CEO, CFO) for qualified candidates
        with track records in other senior level positions.
    

    CIBC is the study's lead sponsor. McKinsey & Company Canada and
Pricewaterhouse Coopers LLP are the supporting sponsors.

    ABOUT CATALYST

    Founded in 1962, Catalyst is the leading nonprofit membership
organization working globally with businesses and the professions to build
inclusive workplaces and expand opportunities for women and business. With
offices in the United States, Canada, and Europe, and the support of more than
370 member organizations, Catalyst is the premier resource for research,
information, and trusted advice about women at work. Catalyst annually honors
exemplary organizational initiatives that promote women's advancement with the
Catalyst Award.





For further information:

For further information: Charmain Emerson, Building Blocks
Communications, Work: (416) 588-8514, Cell: (416) 857-9401, E-mail:
charmain@building-blocks.ca; Susan Nierenberg, Catalyst, Direct: (646)
388-7744, Work: (212) 514-7600 x 333, E-mail: snierenberg@catalyst.org

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