Breaking the board’s glass wall (Guest Commentary)

Inequitable representation of women cheats boards and shareholders
By Lynne Sullivan
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 01/17/2006

The latest report by Catalyst Canada, based on 2003 data, shows that women hold just over 11 per cent of seats on the boards of companies on the Financial Post 500 list. Just over half of these boards have no women members at all.

The public sector does a better job. Almost 24 per cent of Crown corporation board members are women, compared with only nine per cent in FP 500 publicly traded companies and 10 per cent in private companies. Despite a 10-per-cent turnover of board members on companies listed in the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX), the representation of women on TSX composite companies has stood still at 9.4 per cent for the last three years, according to Tim Rowley of the Rotman School of Business at the University of Toronto.

Boards lacking equitable representation of women are cheating themselves and their shareholders. Women have consumer and economic clout, a fact that deserves more recognition. Employed women in Canada earn $120 billion a year. In five to 10 years, women in Canada and the United States will own half the wealth in North America.