OTTAWA, July 30, 2013 /CNW/ - A study released by ITAC, the Information
Technology Association of Canada, reveals that while Canadian
information and communications technology companies are performing
about as well as other sectors in terms of the engagement of women on
their boards of directors, there are compelling strategic reasons to do
better. The boards of the 10 largest Canadian ICT companies are 16.5%
female compared with Spencer Stuart's 2012 Board index of larger
Canadian companies which average about 17%.
However, Karen Wensley, the author of the study Gender Diversity of Boards of Directors of Canadian ICT Companies, cautions against complacency and suggests there are a number of
benefits that would accrue to the industry if it improved its
performance. For example, she notes that the ICT sector lags
significantly behind Canada's five largest banks whose boards are
nearly 30% female. And she notes that Canada overall is falling behind
other countries, slipping to 9th place among industrialized nations.
The most compelling reasons to improve, however, stem from business
performance. The report notes "… studies have repeatedly found that, on
average, companies with the highest representation of women on their
boards financially outperform those with the lowest." Additionally, the
ICT industry chronically faces a shortage of skilled workers to fund
its growth and as the report notes "The ICT sector has struggled to
attract young women. And many young women in high school believe ICT
companies would not be places at which they would want to work. Women
board members can be role models who can help change this picture."
The report provides useful insight into the challenges early stage,
mid-market growth companies and large public companies face when
assembling inclusive boards of directors. Early stage companies are
typically seeking domain expertise and a network of business contacts
from their advisors or directors. The requirements change when
companies grow in size and acquire private or public financing.
Mid-market growth companies often look to directors to add or
strengthen skills the executive team may lack. They also seek credible
candidates with a track record that will, among other things, score
well with financial analysts. Large companies typically have more
resources and more latitude to use their board for strategy setting and
good governance which enables them to draw on a larger field of
candidates. It is typically at this stage that the industry finds its
leaders in the active recruitment of women directors. The paper cites
two excellent examples, Softchoice Corporation and Open Text, of
Canadian companies that have demonstrated that creating more diverse
boards is a matter of corporate will.
This study is part of a larger initiative by ITAC to address gender
diversity issues throughout the ICT workforce. Lloyd Bryant,
Vice-President and General Manager, PPS Canada for Hewlett-Packard
(Canada), chairs ITAC's Diversity Advisory Group. "The engagement of
women in our workforce has hovered around 25% for over a decade," he
said. "ITAC has made improving the gender ratio a priority for the
association. Women on ICT boards is an important focus for our work.
Diverse boards of directors are a very important public expression of a
company's commitment to a more inclusive work environment. If enough
companies step up to improve their board diversity, then the industry
itself starts to look much more welcoming to the major contribution
"ITAC itself has demonstrated the positive impact of a diverse board,"
said Karna Gupta, President and CEO of ITAC. "Several years ago the
association set a goal to change our level of women directors to 30%.
We achieved that goal over two years ago and today women represent 32%
of our board."
The report contains a number of recommendations to encourage broader
diversity in ICT boards of directors. "Karen Wensley has given us a
very important perspective on the status quo," Lloyd Bryant said. "She
has also presented some very practical ideas for improvement. ITAC is
committed to taking action in this important area."
A teleconference call to discuss this study is scheduled for Wednesday,
July 31, 2013 starting at 9:00 a.m. (EDT). The call can be accessed via
416-764-8646 or 1-888-396-8049.
The Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC) is the voice of
the Canadian information and communications technologies (ICT)
industry. ITAC represents a diverse ICT community spanning
telecommunications and internet services, ICT consulting services,
hardware, microelectronics, software and electronic content. ITAC's
community of companies accounts for more than 70 per cent of the
572,700 jobs, $155.3 billion in revenue, $6.2 billion in R&D
investment, $30.4 billion in exports and $11 billion in capital
expenditures that the ICT industry contributes annually to the Canadian
economy. The ICT sector currently represents 4.9 per cent of Canada's
gross domestic product (GDP) and accounted for 9.4 per cent of all real
GDP growth since 2002. ITAC is a prominent advocate for the expansion
of Canada's innovative capacity and for stronger productivity across
all sectors through the strategic use of technology.
SOURCE: INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY ASSOCIATION OF CANADA
For further information:
Senior Vice President, ITAC
(613) 238-4822 ext. 2223
Manager of Communications, ITAC
(905) 602-8345 ext. 2224