Alberta considers exposé on female execs

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Some of Alberta’s most prominent organizations could find themselves under the spotlight soon after it was revealed the province’s securities regulator is revisiting a previously rejected plan to publicize the number of women who hold top jobs in publicly traded companies.

“As hard as we work, the top has been out of reach for too many women,” said Stephanie McLean, Alberta's minister for the status of women. “This happens despite research that shows hiring women to leader positions is not only fair, but makes good business sense.”

Men currently hold around 90 per cent of boardroom chairs in publicly traded Alberta-based companies but McLean says the disappointing statistic could be improved by introducing “comply or explain” rules.

The Alberta Securities Commission (ASC) confirmed Wednesday that it will seek public comment on a proposal to adopt the rule, requiring companies to explain their policies regarding the representation of women on their boards and executive positions, including whether they have internal targets for women.

Similar mandates have already been implemented in New Brunswick, Manitoba, the Northwest Territories, Saskatchewan, Nunavut, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec and Yukon.

Alberta, British Columbia and Prince Edward Island were the only jurisdictions not to participate and, at the time, the ASC said it did not believe it had a mandate to get involved in board diversity issues.

The rule, open for comment until Oct. 14, wouldn't force organizations to add women to their ranks or adopt an official diversity policy but would require businesses to explain why they have opted not to have one. Companies would also have to report on the proportion of women on their boards and in executive officer roles.

McLean said she could not predict the outcome but said she would be disappointed if the ASC rejected the plan a second time.

“I would not be thrilled if we didn't move in that direction because that is the way the world is going,'' she said yesterday.

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