Pushing for Change: A 40% Gender Equality Target for Corporate Boards - New IGPPO Policy Paper Includes Key Practical Proposals

    MONTREAL, June 18 /CNW Telbec/ - Corporate boards of directors are not
taking full advantage of the benefits that including qualified, competent
women can bring. Representation by both genders on corporate boards should
thus be increased to a minimum of 40%. These are the key recommendations
included in an IGPPO policy paper released today.
    The report also recommends that the gender balancing process should take
place gradually, with target dates set based on the pace at which
organizations appoint new directors, and must not be done at the expense of
board quality. Companies should also integrate diversity and gender equality
into their corporate policies and report regularly on their progress.
    Since 1990, the percentage of women directors on boards of North American
publicly-traded corporations has stalled at 15%.
    According to Dr. Yvan Allaire, Chair of the Board of Directors of the
Institute for Governance of Private and Public Organizations (IGPPO), "The
proportion of women directors remains low despite the fact that the reasons
invoked to explain this situation - perhaps plausible in years past- have
since become largely excuses or equivocations ." this low level is no longer
    The policy paper was prepared by a working group made up of IGPPO board
members. The group was chaired by Monique Lefebvre Ph.D., a well-known
psychologist who specializes in executive coaching. The report was later
approved by the full IGOPP board (with one dissenting vote).
    "After two decades of minimal progress, it is time to increase gender
balance on corporate boards in Quebec and the rest of Canada," said Lefebvre.
"The governance of companies benefits from the balanced perspectives of men
and women oin their board.
    The Report makes the obvious point that competence remains an essential
quality for all board members, whether male or female.
    The IGOPP policy paper includes five major recommendations to help
increase the number of qualified women directors on corporate boards in Quebec
and Canada:

    1. A 40% gender equality target for corporate boards

       The IGOPP policy paper recommends that Canadian companies strive for a
       minimum of 40% representation of both genders on their boards.
       Achieving this target should be calibrated to the pace of change in
       board membership for each particular company.

    2. Integration of gender diversity into corporate strategies

       Companies should systematically seek out and compile a list of
       potential women candidates to replace outgoing board members. The
       nomination committee and the board of directors should thus establish
       competency profiles for potential new members in order for the board
       to add value to the organization.

    3. Use of professional recruitment firms

       Identifying and recruiting qualified women candidates as potential
       replacements for outgoing directors may require the use of outside
       recruitment firms. To increase the pool of potential candidates,
       recruitment efforts should extend beyond individuals who are already
       directors or chief executive officers of other major corporations.

    4. Disclosure

       The Working Group recommends that companies evaluate their progress
       with respect to women representation on their board and this
       information public and easily accessible. Boards should adopt a long-
       term succession plan for board membership, which would include
       measures and timelines to raise the representation of women. The
       company's annual report should describe these measures and report on
       progress achieved over the years.

    5. Coaching

       The report's final recommendation is that the board chair or a senior
       director should work closely with incoming board members to ensure
       their integration and to familiarize them with the dynamics and
       culture of that particular board.

    The Group advocates a gradual voluntary approach rooted in a clear
commitment to increasing the proportion of women on corporate boards at an
accelerated rate. "The recommendations do not involve legal mandates forcing
companies to increase the number of their women directors. The goal is to help
companies recognize the benefits that greater diversity can bring," concludes
Dr. Lefebvre.
    The full report can be downloaded from the Institute's website at

    Established in September 2005, the Institute for Governance of Private
and Public Organizations (IGPPO) is a joint initiative of HEC Montréal and
Concordia University (The John Molson School of Business). The Institute is
committed to promoting strong corporate governance practices among
organizations in Quebec and the rest of Canada. Its operations focus primarily
on key management activities, namely defining the corporate mission,
evaluating strategic management and financial performance, recruiting and
compensating officers and managing risk. It achieves this through research,
training, by issuing position papers and by the broad dissemination of
governance-related information. The Institute supports financially academic
research, organizes conferences and training seminars, takes part in public
debates on governance issues, reinforces governance-related skills and
promotes partnership and knowledge transfer.

    Members of the Working Group

    Monique Lefebvre, PhD
    Chair of the Working Group
    Psychologist, Executive Coaching, and Corporate Director

    Yvan Allaire, PhD, FRSC
    Chair of the Board of Directors
    Institute for Governance of Private and Public Organizations

    Hélène Desmarais
    Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
    Centre d'entreprises et d'innovation de Montréal

    Paule Doré
    Corporate Director

    Andrew Molson

    Robert Parizeau
    Chairman of the Board
    AON Parizeau

    Guylaine Saucier
    Corporate Director

    Majida Lamnini
    Working Group Secretary

For further information:

For further information: Monique Lefebvre, Chair of the Working Group,
Psychologist, Executive Coaching, and Corporate Director, (514) 340-6483;
Majida Lamnini, Working Group Secretary, (514) 340-6483

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Institute for Governance of Private and Public Organizations (IGOPP)

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