Ontario sets gender diversity targets

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Canada’s most populous province yesterday confirmed its new gender diversity targets, set in response to a major business report which criticized the country’s slow progress and offered multiple recommendations for improvement.

“Canada continues to lag behind other developed nations in terms of gender balance on corporate boards,” stresses the study by Catalyst – a non-profit advocate for the advancement of women in business and government.

“Although more women than men graduate annually from Canada’s universities and colleges, Canadian women continue to be underrepresented on boards and in senior management,” it continues.

According to the Ministry of Ontario, women make up half of the province’s workforce and more than half of postsecondary graduates, yet they continue to be under-represented in leadership positions — as of 2015, 51 per cent of businesses listed on the TSX had no women on their boards.

However, since the introduction of the “comply or explain” disclosure requirements – which require TSX-listed companies to report publicly on the representation of women on their boards and in executive officer positions and related mechanisms, policies, considerations and targets – 15 per cent of companies have added one or more women to their boards.

Heeding the study’s comments, Kathleen Wynne’s government has set an ambitious target to have women make up at least 40 per cent of all appointments to every provincial board and agency by 2019.

Ontario is also encouraging businesses to, by the end of 2017, set a target of appointing 30 per cent women to their boards of directors. Once businesses set the target, they should aim to achieve it within three to five years.

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